Things To Do With Other People
This is an ultra-basic article. At times it will talk about stuff that's quite obvious. Maybe you're wondering why I'd even think to write down such common sense information. But this is a pretty common question I get through email. Someone will write me and say, "I want to invite people to hang out with me, but I have no idea what to do with them." I've seen similar sentiments on forums. People will post something like, "I don't have many friends. What do people my age actually do in their free time?" I'll talk about some general principles first, then list some common things friends do together.
Some principles of doing things with other people
Spending time with other people is always at the heart of hanging out with them
Here's that obviousness, but sometimes more socially inexperienced people can make the mistake of thinking spending time with someone is all about coming up with the perfect event to attend. If they can't come up with anything spectacular enough to do, they may even conclude there's no point in hanging out.
When you choose to be with someone in your free time, a large part of the reason you're there is to enjoy the other person's company. Talking to another person, especially someone whose conversation and personality you like, is a rewarding experience on its own.
The activity you're doing together has a few purposes:
- To add background color to spending time with other people, and to enhance the experience. Talking is all well and good, but if you always talked at your place it would get boring. So you get out of the house. You see and try new things. You get put in a good mood. You gain things to talk about as the activity unfolds. This factor is always at play, though sometimes it's more at the forefront (e.g., going to a coffee shop to talk instead of sitting around your living room).
- To be fun in its own right. Pretty much everything you do with other people is fun in and of itself, even little things like deciding to talk while walking around downtown as opposed to on your couch. Easy examples would be seeing a movie or going to an interesting destination. Still, without another person around many of these activities feel a bit flat or hollow. When you see a movie with a buddy you can talk about it afterward, and share your excitement before it starts. Seeing the same film yourself is more business-like and you may think, "I wish someone was here to share this with." Hanging around people gives you access to activities you couldn't or wouldn't really want to do on your own.
If you don't enjoy someone's company then doing the greatest thing in the world together won't help you have fun. You see this all the time on dating shows where two people go out on a blind date and always seem to be paragliding or horseback riding. If they don't have chemistry, doing something a bit new and unique like going on a hot air balloon ride doesn't make a difference. On the other hand, if you really click with someone you can have a great day just watching TV and joking around.
Picking things to do with people is often more about doing variations on a few solid activities rather than coming up with something incredibly original each time
As I mentioned, a misconception is to think that every time you're with someone you have to come up with some novel, ultra-interesting activity to do with them. Most of the time friends spend with each other is doing the same old things. You don't need to do something new and special each time. This gets back to the idea of socializing with people you like being at the heart of things, not what you do. If you like your friends' company than you can easily do things like:
- Hang around the same person's house several times a week.
- Frequent the same coffee shop, diner, or club every week.
Here are some common standbys:
- Hanging around someone's place - Just mentioned it.
- Grabbing coffee/a light snack/a drink - Also just mentioned it. This is mainly about talking to your friend(s).
- Going out to eat - You could eat at the same place or handful of places, or try new restaurants.
- Seeing movies - Same activity, different movie. Could apply to streaming them at home or seeing them in theaters.
- Watching TV - Same thing, different shows, or different episodes of the same 'appointment' show.
- Wandering around or hanging out aimlessly - Could be at the same location, or checking out new areas.
- Keeping each other company on day-to-day errands - You could include shopping here too.
- Bars/pubs/clubs - Go to the same place or handful of places all the time, or go to new ones.
- Organized regular activity - e.g., band practice, bowling league, racquetball, D&D session, etc.
Most pairs/groups of friends do these few things over and over and occasionally throw in a day trip or weekend getaway. They may be regulars at the same bar every Friday night, but it's consistently fun and a little different each time, so there's no need to reinvent the wheel each week.
Get togethers are often planned around one activity and others follow spontaneously from it
Sometimes you can call a friend up and ask them if they want to sit around and play video games all day, or wander around the market. A lot of the time though you'll text them to do more of a purposely fun activity and then end up falling into something else after it's over. Like you might see a movie together in the afternoon and when it's over go, "What do you wanna do now?" "I dunno, what do you wanna do?", and then end up grabbing a bite to eat before renting a movie and going back to their apartment.
List of things friends often do together
I could categorize this a number of ways, but I decided to group them based on the activity. Of course, many of these items often overlap each other. Some I've covered already, but I'll throw them in again and go into a bit more detail.
Hanging around and talking
I've already said this is at the center of all activities. Usually you're doing something else at the same time. This works best with people you have natural chemistry with, and less well with friends that function more as partners for particular activities.
Not much else to say about this. Just an excuse to relax and talk somewhere. Maybe sit on a patio and people watch.
Going to restaurants
Sometimes these are an event in themselves, like when you try to a new place, or have planned a celebration with nine other people, or you're going to a fancy bistro. At other times you just need to refuel at a donut shop or hot dog vendor or McDonalds while spending the day with someone.
Grabbing a drink
Basically just a variation on getting coffee. Could be splitting a pitcher on a summer afternoon or in the evening. May be having a glass of wine somewhere, or getting martinis in a lounge. Could be having some beers while watching TV at a buddy's place. Mostly a pretext to sit around and talk, just under a slightly different atmosphere.
Watching TV or a movie at home
Kills a few hours and allows you to relax around the house with your friends. I'll throw playing video games, or sitting around someone's computer and browsing funny YouTube clips, under here as well.
Throwing a dinner party
May be fancy, a summer BBQ, a potluck, or an informal meal with several of your friends.
Hanging around somewhere
Just going to a certain area and talking, and maybe meeting up with other people there. Examples: mall, beach, skate park, certain area downtown.
Seeing a movie
This also tends to lead to doing something after, like grabbing a bite to eat.
Seeing a concert
Could be an all-day outdoor affair, at a large venue, or at a smaller music hall or bar.
Seeing live music
I'd consider this like a concert, but instead of getting tickets in advance for a group you know you want to see, you more show up that evening and listen to whoever is playing. Could involve hanging around a low key hole in the wall watching a grab bag of three local bands. Often like going out to a bar, but with real people supplying the tunes instead of a DJ or jukebox.
Seeing some stand-up comedy
Maybe at a comedy club, or maybe just at some obscure bar's Open Mike night.
Seeing a play or other kind of performance
Aside from plays, there's public seminars, symphonies, operas, book and poetry readings, quirky alternative productions, and so on.
Can be more of a social outing or just keeping a friend company while they buy something they need. Leads to opportunities to do other things in the store/mall/district.
Exploring a neighborhood
May be deciding to check out the sights and sounds of Chinatown on a nice summer day, or you can just end up doing it because you have nothing better to do. Or maybe you're hoping to stumble onto something like a weird store or a cheap theater playing a movie you always wanted to see but forgot about.
Going for a walk
May be around a neighborhood or on a path along the river. Could be somewhere outside of the city. Going for a leisurely bike ride could fall here too.
Keeping someone company while they run errands
Maybe you have to get a gift for your parent's birthday or pick up a new part for your computer and your friend says they'll tag along. Just a reason to spend time together.
Watching a game
You could make an event out of it at home, or go to a friend's house or a bar to watch.
Playing a team sport together
Could be a bunch of guys getting together to play a game of football, or two friends playing tennis. Could be spontaneous or a regular, organized thing.
Doing an individual sport together
The example to comes to mind is a bunch of friends going skiing or snowboarding together, or going to a skate park.
Going to a game
For some people this is a more rare event, but it can be more regular if you have season tickets or you're in the habit of attending lots of cheap games over the summer.
Working on something together
Training for a sport together
It could be someone spotting you at the gym, or a jogging partner, meeting at the park to practice your cricket batting, sparring together, or belaying each other at the rock climbing gym.
Working on something more artsy
e.g., band practice, a writer/illustrator graphic novel project, a movie you and your friends are making, etc.
Taking part in a hobby
This is getting away from the informal 'hanging out' or 'inviting people out' theme of the article a little, but friends often take part in a hobby together (e.g., hiking, gaming, playing a game of D&D, photography, etc.)
Meeting with your club or group
You may not be friends with every person there, but it's close enough. Examples could be organizing an event, or rehearsing a play your theater group is putting on.
Going to a pub or bar
Besides from getting a drink, this has its own relaxed atmosphere and you may play pool, darts, or a game like foosball. There's always sports to watch on the TV's as well.
Going to a club
Clubs share the drinking element of pubs, but everything about the environment is cranked up and way more stimulating. More intense atmosphere. Way more people. Louder music and flashier lights.
Going to a house party
Could be low key and really more like a bunch of friends hanging out than anything, or it could really large and crazy.
See this other "basic" article: What Do People Actually Do At Parties?
Drinking, getting drunk
Not everyone's cup of tea, but you gotta admit that some people are into it. Often this is mixed with something else (e.g., clubbing, playing golf), at other times some friends will make a night solely out of getting wasted.
Definitely not everyone's thing, but I'd rather mention it here because it is a common enough activity people do, rather than gloss over it. Among the people I know who use weed, "Wanna come over to my place and smoke up?" is a common excuse to get together. It's like an instant activity you can pull out of your pocket. People will make an event out of doing other drugs as well (e.g., taking shrooms and sitting around a park all day).
Trying to meet romantic/sexual partners
Also a little cheesy to mention, but sometimes a group of guys will go out with the main goal of meeting girls, or a group of women will go out hoping to get picked up.
More one-off activities
Visiting a local tourist attraction
e.g., a museum, gallery, botanical gardens, zoo, land mark, historical building, amusement park, etc.
Going to a yearly festival or carnival
e.g., a parade, Jazz/Blues festival, county fair, Taste of the (neighborhood) weekend, some sort of city-wide music, theater, or restaurant week, a cultural event (e.g., Chinese New Year, Gay Pride, Little Italy's summer party), etc.
Checking out a show or convention
For example, a sci-fi convention, car show, boat show, comic convention, psychics fair, dog show, etc.
A day trip out of the city
Could be to do something outdoorsy or to visit an attraction an hour or two away. Maybe to visit a friend who lives nearby.
Organizing an original, one-off outing in your city
e.g., a group of people all going to try paint ball, going bungee jumping, taking a single pottery class as a group, etc. Pretty much the opposite of the stable, common activities I listed earlier. You can go crazy trying to come up with one of these every weekend, but they're fun every so often.
Going on vacation together
e.g., road trip, long weekend at the cottage, ski trip, Vegas, another country, etc.