Hey! Let's wear food service hairnets to an art gallery opening!
March 22, 2009 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Please help me compile a list of offbeat things to do with a friend or friends, to serve as a reference for when I'm sick of the same old plans.

I've had some of the best times of my life doing harmless, silly activities with friends, but my creativity quotient is running low these days. I'm getting bored with the "go to a museum" "go to a book-signing" "volunteer" "get a beer" "take a walk" "shoot pool" "go bowling" outings and would like to get some ideas.

Apparently, xkcd had a list of date ideas that would serve as a good example of the kinds of things I'm looking for. I can't find it online, but check out this blog post, which references it.

Please don't limit your responses by geography--urban, suburban, rural scenarios are all good. I have access to all of these things. Also, though I'm approaching this as friend-level activities, feel free to list good stuff for dates, as well.
posted by Stewriffic to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 209 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Play kickball.
Try to get onto the roof of some public building. (safely).
Build a catapult.
Dust off the N64 and have a bond tourney.
Support local theater.
Go rent some horses and ride around on said horses.
Hot-air balloon rides and skydiving are cheap in the current economy.
Go watch a high-school football game.
Paper lanterns rule.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:15 PM on March 22, 2009 [5 favorites]

I think this is the xkcd list in question (not a comic though).
posted by mullacc at 3:15 PM on March 22, 2009 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks mullacc. That is indeed the list.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:17 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One of the most gloriously goofy things my friends and I came up with to do when we were broke college students was something that, for lack of any other name, I call "surrealist's poker." It's just poker. But the catch is -- you can bet anything. No, seriously, ANYTHING.

The actual game play is just straight-up, five-card-draw poker. Everyone gets the five cards, they get to bid, they get to trade cards, then they get to bid again.

The bidding is where it gets different. Now - each player announces what they bid, instead of actually producing said item. And there is ABSOLUTELY no limit to what they can bid -- an opening bid I remember once was just "three cacti". I also remember bids like "a herd of stampeding Mogwai" or "1953" or "teenage angst". Someone -- for sake of convenience, let's make it the dealer -- writes down each bid on a list.

You can keep the bidding going as long as you want. The real fun actually comes in figuring out the bidding -- if the last bid was "yahtzee", does a bid of "100 paper-wrapped dry cleaner hangers" MATCH that bid or RAISE it? When everyone has matched the bidding, and everyone's agreed that no one wants to raise it any more, then you all show your hands, and the winner gets the pot -- or, the winner "gets" the list of items, which the dealer then reads aloud in one big list.

It is HOPELESSLY silly. But dammit, I'm proud to have won 1953 in a hand...

(The origins of this game actually happened when a pair of my college friends were playing strip poker, and ran out of clothes -- but still wanted to play poker instead of doing anything naked-sexy, for reasons the rest of us to this day are unable to ascertain. So they they decided to bet sex acts, and kept track of them on a list. The idea of keeping track of bids on a list was then adapted for general audiences.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:19 PM on March 22, 2009 [41 favorites]

I think perhaps this may be a copy of the now non-existent date project list.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:19 PM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

ack shoulda previewed
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:20 PM on March 22, 2009

figure out something one of you knows how to do that the others don't, and heve them teach everyone over drinks. I have taught one friend painting techniques, and lately another frieind and I are doing paper mache.

actually, any sort of craft night is fun - you could have an orange swan party!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:33 PM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Go to small town summer festivals that are within a couple hours drive....It usually doesn't cost much, and some places have the most ridiculous fests.
posted by mjcon at 3:41 PM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Get out the old camera, buy a roll of film, and make a photo collage of your street ala David Hockney. Do it again from the same spot 5 years later.

Make an encouraging banner or do any of the other assignments on Learning to Love You More.

Buy a small sketch pad and some colored pencils then try to draw each other at a coffee shop or bar.

Make up a band name, make signs of said band names performances at made up places with a date that has passed already and post them around town.

Take a small tape recorder to a loud busy place - like an amusement park or the subway and record interesting sounds. Do it without talking to each other the entire time.

Get into mail art.

Take your video cameras to a nearby town or tourist spot. Video water, air, earth, and fire. Edit them down to 1 minute clips and have a filmfest in someone's back yard.

Build and fly a kite.

Go to any convention that comes to town - the further away from anything you're familiar with the better.
posted by dog food sugar at 3:52 PM on March 22, 2009 [4 favorites]

Make and decorate your own hula hoops and then play with them.
Play horseshoes, bocce or croquet. We used to have multi house croquet games that would start in one yard, go out the gate to the front yard, across the street to the neighbors yard and back again.
Have a game night. Invite people over to play board games. Try getting an old pictionary game and a couple of cans of play doh and sculpt your clues instead of drawing them, it's easier than it sounds and really fun. Use a plate or a cutting board so you don't get play doh all over your table.
See if there is anything in your area at roadsideamerica.com
Go indoor skydiving
Go Contra Dancing. It's like square dancing. They usually have a lesson 30 - 60 minutes before the dance, you don't need a partner and it's cheap. I always have to be forced to go but I've always had a good time when I did. These look like they might be in your area.
My public library has lots of free activities. Go check and see what yours offers.
posted by BoscosMom at 4:02 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hi Stewriffic! Since I know the area (sort of) where you live, I can recommend some local tours. The Carnivore Preservation Trust is pretty cool; you have to schedule in advance, and there's a fee, but you'll get to see cute animals you've probably never heard of PLUS a number of tigers. It's laid-back, out in the countryside a little, and you might learn something. Like, not all carnivores (by their definition) eat meat.

The Duke Primate Center is another cool place to tour; again, you have to schedule in advance, but I believe it's free (they take donations, though), and you see lots and lots of lemurs, considering that we're in North Carolina and not Madagascar.

I actually enjoyed seeing the lemurs more at the Museum of Life and Science, which is pretty close to where you live. You've probably already seen it, but if not, there's a pretty good outdoor area walk with bears, wolves, and lemurs, all walking around in large fenced areas.

Finally, for the more offbeat, I give you my brother's past date activity of playing croquet in a public park. I believe they dressed up 1920's-style, also. There were hats and wickets.

As you probably have heard, we have roller derby too. Not sure when that is. The one time I watched a match, it was pretty fun.

You could also go on a farm tour; Celebrity Dairy (they have a lot of goats) is on the tour, which is how I heard about it. I visited during the annual Valentines' Day open barn event, and got to hold a baby goat! It was so fun!

This is kind of touristy stuff, but it's Chapel Hill / Durham, so it's not that attractive to tourists. Hope this helps.
posted by amtho at 4:45 PM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Bus roulette. Go to the closest bus hub (where more than one bus originates) and hop onto one randomly. Get off the bus anywhere you see something interesting, or at the final destination. Works better in a city or large town, of course, and has the bonus of giving you a great mental map of the city. Even if you don't find any good locations, the people on the bus might be interesting.

Explore archeological or architectural history sites nearby. Go to the local State Historic Preservation Office website, and see what kind data they have available. Usually, there will be maps with buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and/or maps of additional state/local level registries.

Do a photo safari where you look for bugs or animals or flowers, or cool buildings, or whatever in your area. Even having just a point-and-shoot camera can be enough if you are looking for fun things to shoot.

Scavenger hunt. Works best with groups of people, but you get two activities out of it - planning the hunt with one or two close friends, where you come up with all kinds of fun things to get (usually works best with a photo hunt, although some physical stuff would be OK most of the time), and then a second time doing the actual scavenger hunt.

For a date type activity, you can do a treasure hunt instead - depending on your level of commitment, I guess. I have written up the treasure hunt I did for my husband's birthday, for example. (Self link, obviously.)
posted by gemmy at 7:22 PM on March 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Works great with two couples/groups of people, and in a grid-like city such as New York. I call this game HUNT.

You divide into teams and define the streets and avenues that are fair territory. After that, the teams split up, and each finds something visually interesting and unique in the area (but gettable) and pic-msgs it to the other squad. The picture your team recieves is the target. Which ever team finds its target first wins that round. It's sort of like an interactive scavanger hunt.
posted by milestogo at 7:39 PM on March 22, 2009 [8 favorites]

Hide-and-go-seek tag -- in the dark. Works best in a park with lots of shrubbery, but I've played this in a house before too (turn off all the lights though). It's best if you restrict the playing area with boundaries, and no flashlights allowed during gameplay. After several variations, I've found it's most fun if every person caught then becomes part of the "it" team until no one is left. I also recommend you wear black and good runners :P
posted by lizbunny at 8:40 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: when i was a boy we'd do a "night hunt." gather up our flashlights and head into the woods. eventually we'd put the flashlights in a pile and run away into the dark in different directions. leaping over piles of roots and puddles, thick brambles and fallen logs. running, in the dark, through the dense hickory forests until we were completely alone and out of breath. then we'd turn back, make our way back to the pile of flashlights and lanterns, calling if we were lost, until we were all together again. we'd make a small fire and sleep in the woods under the stars.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:06 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dress up in your fanciest duds and crash a wedding using fake names (good for a date or just with friends) not original, but I HAVE done it.
posted by lizbunny at 9:14 PM on March 22, 2009

Have a mustache party, best mustache wins a prize (with an option for categories - real, fake, creative, etc).

Go to an actual arcade and play the old-school games

Find a little kids' playground and play tag on it. i like tag...

Hunt for 4-leaf clover

Build a fort in your backyard using recycled materials
posted by lizbunny at 10:00 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Food fight


Not Dead Yet Poet's Society - Get together and read poems by living poets. You'll probably be exposed to something new, you'll all get to here some lovely poetry and you'll practive your public speaking.

Spoil a Friend - Pick a friend who's having a rough go of things and make them a package of things to cheer them up.

Get together to plan a great party and then a few weeks later you'll have something to do when you attend the party.

Try some new and different board games. There really are quite a variety out there.
posted by shesbookish at 11:49 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm kind of a geeky type, but if the people are right . . . . I sometimes set up my own little architectural/historical tours using listings on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. A location like Raleigh-Durham has dozens of sites listed on the Register. Your State Historic Preservation Office has a comprehensive list of sites on the Register in your state by county. Not for everyone, but interesting, if you're into that sort of thing. I once impressed girls with this combined with my unending knowledge. :-) Hope that helps.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:15 AM on March 23, 2009

Response by poster: These are really good, thanks! I love how there are such a wide variety of suggestions.

Of my original intent of silly, offbeat activities, these seem to fit the best:
*Go watch a high-school football game. (I'd want to be *really* enthusiastic with maybe face paint?)
*Surrealist's poker
*Encouraging banner (especially if you see if you can hang it up somewhere as a public service)
*Bus roulette.
*(Urban) HUNT
*(Rural) Night Hunt
*Crashing a wedding or other party.

Keep 'em coming!
posted by Stewriffic at 7:56 AM on March 23, 2009

- Go for a run, or train for charity run together. (My friends and I do a weekend run followed by a BIG brunch that you're only invited to if you've done the run - walking is okay too)
- Go try on prom dresses at the Goodwill (bring a camera)
- Thrift store Prom - have a party where everyone wears thrift store attire. Create a photo background for pictures, make punch, slow dance, vote for king and queen.
- Guilty Pleasures Potluck - everyone brings the food they're almost too embarrassed to admit that they eat
- Make a movie and edit it
posted by jrichards at 9:17 AM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Cake crawl: like a pub crawl but instead you aim to visit as many cake shops as you can and eat the grossest cake you can find there. Repeat until you collapse on the street in a sugar coma.

Supermarket games .The not so subtle: Supermarkets in Space (& variants). Get a bunch of people together to go shopping. When someone shouts out 'Meteor Attack' everybody starts lurching from side to side like they are in a bad B movie then resumes shopping as if nothing had happened. Ditto for 'Moon Landing' (pretend you are walking in low gravity) etc. You can substitute different themes e.g. farm animals.

Subtle: Supermarket Tableaux. Noticed how people change their mind and put stuff back on the shelves where ever they are standing? In this game people deliberately misplace them. The idea is to go in and out of a super market individually, over a period of time, and assemble all the ingredients/utensils you need for something in one place. You win if you do this without being noticed or the item getting re-shelved.

Go on a Dérive.

There is a huge list of Improv games at the Improv Encyclopedia.
posted by tallus at 10:07 AM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ice blocking
posted by Paragon at 1:04 PM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

Have a formal picnic. Find a public park someplace in town and invite your friends to a picnic, with the stipulation that they must come in formal wear. Tuxes, evening gowns, prom dresses, hats, bridesmaid dresses, feather boas, whatever. Then have a long table with white table cloth, stemmed glasses, and food and drink, anything from BYO to pot luck to catered. Then play on the kid's stuff, merry-go-round, swing set, climbing gym, slides, etc; have walking cane sword fights; swim in a fountain, or whatever.
posted by buzzv at 2:09 PM on March 23, 2009 [6 favorites]

Oh! The "formal picnic" buzzv mentions above sounds like what my friends and I did in high school, so I can concur with that -- whenever it was one of our birthdays or something, the rest of us collaborated on bringing in a tablecloth and cloth napkins and sparkling grape juice and good tableware, and we ate our regular bag lunches in an elegant setting there in the school cafeteria. The first time we tried that, one of the lunch monitors came over and asked if we wanted to see a wine list, so we knew we had their blessing.

But also towards that vein, there is a fun book called Instant Parties I stumbled across once that has a bunch of fun-things-to-do-with-friends ideas (ignore the fact that the Amazon link says it's pre-order: this has been out since 2001). Some of the ideas are really kind of corny (a 60's theme party? Really?), but some are almost completely free and require next to no effort, and even the corny ones sound pretty fun. The idea behind the book was that you could prepare things spontaneously, so a lot of them require no more than a quick run to the 7-11 or the corner store to get all the food and stuff.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 PM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

Supermarket games

On behalf of retail workers everywhere, I beg you not to do this. We have enough work to do without bored folks using our work space as their personal playground. Sorry to be a fun killer, but there's plenty of fun to be had that doesn't require someone else to clean up after you.
posted by jschu at 10:32 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Squirrel fishing!
posted by pahool at 3:48 PM on March 25, 2009 [5 favorites]

My friend introduced me to the game Monkeys in the Sand. It's basically Marco Polo, but on playground equipment.

Get a group of friends and find a decently sized playground, preferably one with sand or some other soft ground covering.

One person is it. They must keep their eyes closed until they tag someone. This person starts play by counting to ten.

The other people must stay on the playground equipment. If someone touches the sand the person who is it can call out "monkey in the sand," much like "fish out of water" in Marco Polo, and the sand-bound person becomes "it."
posted by Korou at 6:35 PM on March 30, 2009

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