Cheap fun things for the weekend
May 7, 2009 4:01 AM   Subscribe

What cheap/free things can a couple do for fun during afternoons/evenings/weekends?

My husband and I are currently saving and have a small budget left over for fun (£100p/m or $150p/m). We are struggling for ideas on what we can do together that doesn't involve spending much if any money. We would like ideas on what we can do as a couple that is cheap or free in our spare time, which can be afternoons, evenings and weekends. For info we live in a flat (no garden) in a town (Hampshire, UK) and have a car to get around in. I would like us to have a balance of going out and staying in, always been in makes me restless!

So far I can think of picnics, going to the beach, walking in the woods, mini golf, flying a kite, body boarding when the waves are right (very infrequently), board games, cards, computer games, cycling, reading, listening to music, ... and then I get stuck for ideas! May seem like a lot, but it is starting to get a bit repetitive.

We aren't too fond of team sports, avoid crowded places, and prefer to be in places where children typically aren't!

Please help us so that we can save but still have a nice time together.
posted by lilyflower to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Get in touch with your local dog shelter and volunteer as a doggie walker.
posted by uandt at 4:22 AM on May 7, 2009

Inside: get ye to BoardGameGeek. There has been a bit of a renaissance in board gaming in the last few years. There are a TON of great couples games. 125 bucks will get you a decent game starting collection.

I'll copy pasta from my recent answer to a similar question.

Carcassonne - A tile laying area control game. My wife loves it because its somewhat like putting together a puzzle. A warning, this game can be VERY cutthroat in two player mode though. We were playing last night, and I set myself up to steal her 36 point City that only had one Knight on it.. Oh man was she pissed. This game is kid compatible too, my son has been playing since we started, and he was 5 at the time.

Blokus - Lay little colorful tetris like tiles to see who can get the most town. If you are going to mostly play two player, get travel blokus, otherwise pick the full game up. My son LOVES this game.

Bohnanza - A card based game of trading, planting, and selling beans. I know it doesn't sound interesting like that, but its a blast with a bunch of players, or just two.

Rat-a-tat-cat - This one is a kids game, but I find my wife and I playing it allmost as much alone as with our son. Try to get the lowest total among all your cards, the catch? Your cards are all face down, and you have to remember which is which.

If you guys are lucky enough to enjoy similar genres, a few other suggestions that I can hardly ever get my wife to play:

Race for the Galaxy - a Sci-fi card game where players race to collect the most victory points.

Last Night On Earth - Works well from 2-6 players. Some players play the zombies, the rest play the remaining humans in a small town. Great game with tons of missions and fun stuff to do.

RuneBound - Plays good solo or with multiple people. A fun Fantasy race to defeat the dragon lord. Can be played Co-op or competitive. Tons of small and large expansions for it.
posted by JonnyRotten at 4:30 AM on May 7, 2009 [7 favorites]

Check for local theatre productions. They may have free or inexpensive shows (theatre in the park?), and some amateur shows can be surprisingly good. Local lectures on interesting topics. Historical walks around town. Maybe become involved in city politics - I participated in some city building projects for my hometown a couple of years ago and it was very interesting and I learned a lot about the town and my fellow townsfolk. You say you have some money to spend - what about trying new restaurants? Not the really expensive high end ones, but various local chip shops or ice cream shops or pubs or family restaurants, the cheap out of the way places? Say a couple nights a month. Pick a new one each time, and something you've never tried before or is the speciality. Alternatively, have special dinner nights in, where you plan a special meal, and go all out with your best plates, the good linen, candles, flowers, the works. Do you have a balcony? Could you try a balcony or patio garden? Or an indoor houseplant garden? (not sure of how much of a green thumb you have). Are there other crafts you could pick up or a hobby you could learn together? Something neither of you do now but have been curious about. You could do puzzles together (my parents do this - my mom is better with colour, my dad pattern, and they make a great team).
posted by sandraregina at 5:30 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Good list of boardgames from JonnyRotten above, I'd like to add:

Pandemic. It's a (topical!) co-operative boardgame where 2-5 players (it says max 4 players in the rules but 5 works OK) work together to cure various diseases without getting overwhelmed or running out of turns.

Ticket To Ride. You compete to connect cities on a map with your train lines. Comes in various versions - US map, European map, or German map (called the Märklin Edition) for 2-5 players, there's a Nordic Countries version specifically for 2-3 players, and a expansion set of Switzerland for 2-3 players (the Switzerland set is only the board, you need one of the other full sets for all the pieces).

The good thing about Carcassonne (mentioned above) is that there are a ton of small expansions that each add a few pieces and new rules so if you get a bit bored with the basic game you can add in various extras.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:03 AM on May 7, 2009

I'll second JonnyRotten - get your friends over for a game night, or just have one between the two of you. It doesn't have to be something too simple like snakes and ladders or too long and horrifying like Monopoly. There's a huge range of modern board games in which you can cooperate, compete, negotiate or just plain stab each other in the back. Hilarity will ensue, trust will be built, friendships will be ruined, etc etc.

Of the games JonnyRotten suggested, I agree that Carcassone is good fun. It works equally well as a 2-player or group game, so it could be a good starting point. I haven't tried the rest of JR's suggestions, but the ones I've heard of had positive reports from friends of mine.

If you can get some friends over, I suggest the hugely popular and endless-awards winning "Settlers of Catan", which works nicely with 3-5 people (or 7 with an expansion pack). Simple rules and setup then a bit of luck, a bit of strategy, and a lot of negotiating with your friends to make trades. A typical game for my friends lasts 45-75 minutes, about right for most people.

"Shadows over Camelot" is also good fun - all the players co-operate in trying to defeat the game itself. Except that one of you might secretly be a traitor, working against everyone else... a very satisfying game if you can get three or more people together.

BoardGameGeek is an excellent site, but if that's a bit intense have a look at this Good Gift Games page: short reviews of popular games chosen specifically for people who are new to them.

Non-boardgame suggestions:
Look on to see if there are any local groups that interest you
Donate some time to a volunteer group of some sort - your local council and/or church will probably have some suggestions.
...and my standard suggestion for people looking for hobbies: learn to juggle together! It's great fun and practically free :D.
posted by metaBugs at 6:11 AM on May 7, 2009

If you like being really nerdy and want something that will grow with time, you could start collecting, painting and gaming with miniature figures - there are dozens of good tabletop games out there. The assembly/painting is great for a solitary activity when you're bored, and you can easily get started with 2 player games for £100 or even less and build up a very impressive collection over time.
posted by fearnothing at 6:51 AM on May 7, 2009

Learn how to cook together. You can make gorgeous, elaborate meals and each take tasks towards the end goal (divvy up who makes the bread, meat, sides, etc). Shop together at local produce markets and learn how to pick out the best items. Visit local farms to get even fresher ingredients.

Eating gourmet food can become a way of life! And if you get bored you can just try new types of cuisine. Then you can learn how to really pair wine/beer to the meal. Then you can learn how to make pastries.

The fun just doesn't stop. :)
posted by sickinthehead at 7:00 AM on May 7, 2009

Naked Saturday. No clothes all day. Always leads to something to keep you occupied.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 7:41 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Becoming active for something you care about can be very satisfying.
Learn a new language together, which can lead to many other activities.
Art exhibition openings often even offer free drinks or concerts.
Check local bookstores for public readings or discussions.
posted by dnial at 7:53 AM on May 7, 2009

Go to your local library and borrow movies or CDs. Ours has DVDs as well as the older VHS format. Documentaries and travel videos are also available. We've seen some of them before, but are nice to watch over again on a rainy or snowy afternoon. Even television series are there. All free. Combine Hugh2d2's suggestion along with some movies and........popcorn. ;)
posted by Taurid at 3:49 PM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: Here's the local directory of community groups. evolve.

My suggestion is, decide on an activity that gets you out of the house, and make it something you can commit to doing regularly. Maybe take a night-class together, or join some interest group.
posted by Catch at 5:15 PM on May 7, 2009

I'm guessing you might be in the UK, since you stated pounds first. We just bit the bullet and joined the National Trust. If 2 people join together its £79 total for a year's membership... which sounds like a lot, but for that you get free entrance and parking at all the National Trust properties for the year. We now go and wander around a garden, wood or stately home on 1 or 2 weekend afternoons a week (the frequency may decrease a bit as the novelty wears off!). We find it enjoyable and relaxing, with the only ongoing costs being fuel and the coffee shop. In fact we've just decided to reduce the coffee shop costs and have invested in a stylish stainless steel flask to take our excellent coffee from home.
Don't know if this is your sort of thing but we are really pleased we did it.
posted by alicegoldie at 2:59 AM on May 9, 2009

Have just read question again and seen the bits I missed. So in Hampshire you are very close to us and there are loads of National Trust sites around here. We particularly like Winkworth Arboretum, with great woods and more formal plantings of trees and beautiful pheasants.
posted by alicegoldie at 3:03 AM on May 9, 2009

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