12 Low-Key Things to Do With Friends That Don’t Involve Simultaneously Scrolling TikTok

Planning outings or getting dolled up to go out to dinner with friends has a certain excitement associated with it that I love to love, but I’d be lying to you if I said that during busy seasons of life, I dread it big time. The thought of making plans, choosing an outfit, and actually getting myself there after a long day is enough to send me into a tailspin, cancel plans, and subsequently, end up in a social slump. But I know good and well that there are plenty of things to do with friends that are low-key and easy to fit into a packed schedule, so being busy isn’t an excuse to go no-contact with them until life slows down.

Here’s the thing, though: “Low-key” can easily translate to “boring” if you’re not intentional with how you spend your time. We’ve all been in this scenario: You invite a friend over to hang out without an actual plan to do anything, and the next thing you know, you’ve both spent the past hour silently staring at your phones, saying nothing to each other except for the occasional monotone “that’s so funny” as you send each other TikToks and memes. When you part ways, you realize your quality time lacked some, well, quality.

Having an activity to do together can totally save you from this trap, and we’ve got a few in mind. Ahead, we’re sharing 12 things to do with friends that will keep you off your phone and fully engaged—without zapping all your energy.

1. Go virtual house hunting

Whether you’re in the market for a new home or just having fun, recruit your bestie to browse through the latest listings with you. Log into Zillow, Apartments.com, or StreetEasy, set your parameters (budget, square footage, location, and more), and see where you end up! You could explore beachfront villas, cozy cabins in the woods, or urban loft apartments—all from the comfort of home. Who knows, you might find a dream house for your vision board, or if you’re in your Joanna Gaines era, a fixer-upper to fantasize about making your own.

2. Have a viewing party for your favorite show

I know you and your friends probably already watch TV together all the time—and you likely spend a good amount of that time not even looking at the screen in favor of a smaller screen (your phone). But you can turn this common pastime into quality time by making this standard hangout sesh an actual event where you watch something everyone is super into. Set out some snacks, bring out your coziest blankets, and dim the lights for the perfect show-watching atmosphere. If you’re really into the show, consider setting aside time before and after each episode to talk about theories, favorite characters, iconic quotes, and reactions to plotlines. Don’t forget to implement a “no phones during the show” rule for everyone to abide by.

3. Sketch what you see

Unleash your inner artist with a low-stakes sketching session. Grab some pencils and sketchbooks (looseleaf paper works, too), and draw anything around you. You can do this from home, sketching a potted plant, your bed, or the view from your kitchen window, or if you’re feeling up to it, take the party outside to capture your surroundings. You could even turn your attention to each other and take turns drawing each other’s portraits. For some people, this will be a great activity to show off (or maybe even discover) an artistic talent, but even if you think your works of art should never see the light of day again, you’ll always have the memories of trying something creative with a friend.

4. Do a workout video

If you want to get moving but have zero desire to leave your home, consider heading to YouTube to find a free exercise video. With the wide variety of exercise channels on the platform, it won’t be hard to choose something that suits your collective interests and fitness levels. Some of my favorites include Yoga With Adriene for yoga, MadFit for dance-cardio, and Emi Wong for strength and Pilates, but the options are limitless. Just be sure to create plenty of space in your home to move around, check in with each other to ensure you’re both feeling good throughout the workout, and stay hydrated! If you have time afterward, you can make a protein-packed meal to enjoy together.

5. Have an “article club” meeting

Book club meetings are long-beloved activities for friends to get together and feel connected, but they also require a lot of time and effort. Everyone has to decide on a book, buy or rent it, read it, and prepare discussion topics. As a lower-lift alternative, try an article club! All you have to do is collectively decide on a newspaper, magazine, or digital media article to read (ideally something that’s trending online or particularly relevant to your friend group), have everyone read it, and then devote some time to discussing it, sharing your insights, interpretations, and favorite lines. The best part is, since so many articles can be accessed online (often for free), you can have an impromptu article club any time you’re together with friends. (Might I recommend this hot take about long-distance friendships to get you started?)

6. Journal together

Journaling may seem like a solitary activity, but believe it or not, it’s also great for a duo, trio, or group. Set the mood for introspection by lighting a candle and playing some calming music, then set a timer for 10, 20, or 30 minutes for everyone to put their thoughts down on paper. Once time is up, you can all share snippets of what you wrote (to the extent you’re comfortable). Whether you prefer freeform writing, guided prompts, or even just doodling, this self-care activity is an outlet for self-discovery and creative expression, and doing it with friends will help you connect and feel closer to one another.

7. Try each other’s favorite cosmetic products

Is there anything better than raiding your friend’s cosmetic bag to discover new products? I think not. Plus, girl time with a side of pampering is always welcomed. Spend the evening talking about your favorite new products or your trusty repurchases and try each other’s out to decide if you need to add them to your arsenal, too! Let this go beyond makeup and haircare, too! We’re talking scalp massagers, dry brushes, and anything that makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Afterward, you’ll feel refreshed and excited to treat yourself on your next Sephora trip.

Source: @anastasia-shuraeva | Pexels

8. Go stargazing

Sometimes, all you need to do to avoid a mutual doomscrolling rut is to get out of the house. Find a spot where you can see the sky—whether that’s in your backyard, on your building’s rooftop, or at a public park), lay out some blankets or lounge chairs, and marvel at the sky above you. If you’re something of an astronomy nerd, feel free to bring along a telescope for a closer look at the moon, planets, and constellations. Or, if you’re just there for the vibe, simply lie back and soak in the night.

9. Have a snack potluck

Traditional potlucks are already a low-lift alternative to hosting a dinner party, but a snack potluck? That’s even easier. Instead of asking your friends to find a recipe, cook it, and transport it to your home, just have everyone bring something that’s easy to make (or, better yet, something you don’t have to make at all). I’m talking frozen Trader Joe’s hors d’oeuvres, bags of chips or candy, and store-bought baked goods—anything that tastes delicious, doesn’t require prep, and brings you and your squad joy. Lay out your smorgasbord on your countertop or table, and enjoy the feast!

10. Host a board game night

Dust off your favorite board games or pick out some new ones you’ve never tried before, and prepare for a marathon session filled with friendly competition. Whether it’s strategic bartering in Settlers of Catan, wordsmithery in Scrabble, or card-dealing chaos in Exploding Kittens, there’s a game to suit every taste and skill level. Keep everyone fueled with snacks and beverages, put on a lively playlist, and get ready for a full night of fun.

11. Go on a photography walkabout

Upgrade your usual hot girl walk by turning it into a hot photographer walk. Whether you and your friends are seasoned photographers or novice enthusiasts, this activity offers endless opportunities for exploration, artistic expression, and fun. Arm yourselves with your smartphones or cameras and hit the road. You can take your usual route (and view it through a whole new lens) or explore a new place for the first time. Challenge each other to snap artistic pics of your surroundings, or have each other strike poses for some new Instagram material.

12. Order takeout

When you’re craving great food with even better friends—but without the hassle of dining out, opt for a cozy night in with takeout. Forget about reservations and dressing up; simply gather your crew, browse through your favorite restaurant’s menu, and indulge in a delicious feast delivered straight to your doorstep. From gourmet pizzas to mouthwatering sushi to Tex-Mex delights, you can satisfy just about any craving at home thanks to all the delivery and pick-up options available these days. Best of all, if you can’t decide where to order from, there’s nothing stopping you from getting dishes from multiple spots! (That’s not exactly something you can do when you go out to eat, is it?)

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