The older I get, the less I want to sit at a restaurant across from someone while we eat our way through an average meal. Oh, and then get slapped with a giant bill at the end. Creativity is key when it comes to thinking of things to do with friends. While I love spending time with friends, I like doing things that we both get something out of. It could be any number of things, but here I outline 8 things to do with friends that can really spice things up. Let's give these a whirl, shall we?
1. Host a Dinner at Your House
I’m always looking to feed people. It’s in my genetics. My grandmother fed us constantly. She never let us come over without some glorious meal whipped up in a flash. She never made it seem like a big deal, either. I was taught to always be prepared for company. There is nothing better than an impromptu get together. Monday nights in New Orleans are for red beans and rice. There is quite literally nothing cheaper that feeds so many people in the world, so I frequently enjoy making them and sharing them with friends and family. It’s a win-win, and it provides a space for our family and friends to have great conversations. Pick a favorite meal, get your delicious ingredients from the farmers market, and have your favorite people join you for a dinner however often you want. Trust me, it’s a joy, and it typically gets everyone off of their phones and engaged.
My Bestie, Tater Tot, on a Walk
2. Walk, Talk, and Photograph
What better way to spend time with someone than to walk, side-by-side, and have the best conversations? While I am guilty of pulling out my phone to take photos, mostly I’m there for company. Walking became a big mental release for me during the pandemic, and I’ve continued to rely on it for breaks in my day. Sometimes I walk with my bestie (my dog whose name is Tater Tot), but when I want to see a friend, walking is a great way to see each other and catch up. I especially love going to parks, the swamp, our local sculpture garden, and specific neighborhoods. Best part is that it’s healthy, too. Wrangle someone to walk (and sweat) it out with you. You'll be be much healthier for it.
Watching a Band at a Converted Church
3. There is Nothing Like Live Music
I know not all cities have a heartbeat that sounds like live music, but New Orleans does. It’s why people live here, move here, and visit. You can find it all over the place. Walk through the French Quarter streets and see full bands playing on the street at no charge. Well, you could tip them to be generous. For little to no cover cost, you can pop into the dozens of venues along Frenchmen Street with music playing any day of the week, anytime. Heck, restaurants and little local dive bars even have music. My point is, you can enjoy music with your peeps by just walking out of the door of your house. Connecting over music is special and something we should all experience every now and then.
French-Themed Wine Party!
Did someone say wine? How about getting a few of your favorite pals together and doing a blind taste testing? Each person brings a bottle of his/her favorite wine. Winner gets bragging rights! I have had so many great moments with friends over a glass of wine, and that is not going to stop anytime soon. Maybe a wine tasting is not up your alley. Grab a reasonably priced bottle and enjoy it on your back porch or on a blanket near a body of water. In New Orleans, we can also take alcohol to the streets, so sitting on Bayou St. John or in City Park could be another beautiful setting to enjoy your favorite vino and spend quality time with one another. In the photo above, I planned a French-themed wine party and invited my favorite gals and it was an absolute delight. Wine and conversation are hard to beat. Game options are endless. From badminton to Scrabble, I love a good game night. Keeping it on the smaller side is my cup of tea, so 2-6 people is my ideal night for playing games. It gets the brain going, gets you thinking, talking about topics you may not think of unless you’re playing a new-to-you game. Personally, I’m a creature of habit when it comes to games, so Scrabble is my go-to and favorite, but I also like Bingo, Po-Ke-No, Battle (card game), and I love, love, love puzzles. Trivial Pursuit is another fantastic one, and so is UNO. Try one out for yourself and your pals and put together a monthly game night.
A Few of the Books I've Read and Loved
Starting a book club has been on my list for, oh…years? I finally pulled the trigger and started one after meeting a lady while traveling solo. I told her how I wanted to start a book club. She asked me what has been stopping me. I had no response. That night, I went back to my hotel, put a message out on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to join, and several folks did. The deal is that we read an improvement book and I get to pick it. I have read a plethora of books that I have been dying to share with people, and I finally have my moment to shine. I started a book club! And random people come each time and contribute amazing stories and anecdotes. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done for myself, and I am so glad for the lady I met who pushed me out of my comfort zone and into being a book nerd. A link to some of my favorite reads is here.
Floating in My Stock Tank Pool
When I heard of it and then saw it, I had to have it. I didn’t want an inground pool because they would cost me an arm, a leg, and all three of my pets. No traditional above ground pool, either. Sorry, but that ain’t my style. But a stock tank pool? That is my version of an adult baby pool and I am here for it. I had a deck built around it and my dog and I float on my big cat raft and enjoy a cocktail in the 90 degree water. It is like heaven on earth. Additionally, we invite our loved ones over for a sip and soak. Even kids love this thing, at 10’ round and 2’ deep. They are not the first on my guest list, but sometimes they come with the package and we do enjoy their joy out of this quirky little investment.
8. Hit the Farmers Market
Farmers markets are the best. When you go with another person, you can peruse the stalls together, purchasing some of your favorite fresh items. While I typically go by myself, I love seeing friends there. Naturally, birds of a feather flock together, and we happen to go to the same one at the same time. Supporting local has become somewhat of an obsession with me, and I enjoy cooking with the best of the best ingredients. Greg your bud, your reusable bags, and hit the farmers market. Not convinced? Read my article of reasons to shop at the farmers market. Maybe I'll change your mind.
You see? There are so many things to do with friends that don't involve going out to eat. I'm not vehemently opposed to eating out, as I do it all the time. But...I do like to shake it up, and save some money while doing spending time with the people I love. I hope you enjoy trying any or all of these activities. Heck, maybe you already do some or all. If you do, you know how great it is to be the creative genius behind the fun-filled activities. I'm off to sit in my pool now.