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Friend Dates: Cheap Places to Go

Updated on January 30, 2013
theclevercat profile image

I have suffered through some terrible and hilarious dating and friend experiences, and came away with some advice that I'm happy to share.

There are plenty of fun friend dates you can do for just a little pocket money!
There are plenty of fun friend dates you can do for just a little pocket money! | Source

Whether you are out of work or are simply on a budget, low-cost hangouts abound for those difficult-to-plan friend dates.

A friend date is a hangout between a woman and a man who are not romantically involved.

With a little planning, enjoy these ideas that range from under $20 for two people, all the way down to free!

Do you have friends of the other sex?

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Things to Do Under $20 for Two People

Shoot pool. Choose from places like Jillian’s, Dave and Buster’s, a local bar or arcade, or your buddy’s house if they are lucky enough to own a table.

Rates range from four measly quarters per game at local bar to about $10 per hour at Dave and Buster’s or $15 per hour at Jillian’s locations. Scour the internet for coupons or play on half-price days (i.e. Wednesdays at Dave and Buster’s).

Play an hour of pool and share winning tips or show off those behind-the-back shots.
Play an hour of pool and share winning tips or show off those behind-the-back shots. | Source
Paint a beautiful mug, have it fired, and enjoy plenty of morning coffee in your own creation.
Paint a beautiful mug, have it fired, and enjoy plenty of morning coffee in your own creation. | Source

Paint pottery. For the price of the pottery piece and a studio fee, embrace your artistic side and doodle on a dish. For example, You’re Fired in New Hampshire offers all-day use of the studio for $8 and their pieces of bisque (unpainted pottery) begin at $8.00 and can easily be painted in one studio session.

Plan ahead by checking out current promotions and take half off studio fees during Ladies' Nights (BYOB!) or during teenager or senior discount hours. Remember that you will have to return to pick up your pottery after it has been fired, but you won’t need to pay a studio fee for that.

Or, go to the dollar store and buy a few plates. Doodle or write your favorite lyrics, poems, jokes, or anything meaningful using a Porcelain 150 Pen, and bake! The design will be permanent and you'll have something by which to remember your fun day together.

Bring a selection of tasty deli salads to your friend date... why not get something garlicky?
Bring a selection of tasty deli salads to your friend date... why not get something garlicky? | Source

Picnic! I’m not talking about homemade pb&j sandwiches and the remainder of last night’s potato chips, or even a pizza in the park (although there’s nothing wrong with those).

But why not hit the market for a nice crusty loaf, a small wedge of aged cheese, a few slices of Parma ham or smoked fish, a jar of olives, and a bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies for a grown-up picnic.

Grab a couple of deck chairs and enjoy those tasty tidbits together!

Join a free trivia night and enjoy a drink and chitchat. Don't forget to tip your waitress!
Join a free trivia night and enjoy a drink and chitchat. Don't forget to tip your waitress! | Source

2 People, $12 Bucks

Video games at Dave and Buster’s. Power Hour nets you a full hour of video games for a tiny ten bucks.

Trivia night. Many local bars offer Stump! Trivia nights and the cost of playing is free.

A beer apiece and a tip for the wait staff make this a no-brainer… especially since if you know your stuff, you could net some neat prizes (concert tickets, gift certificates, etc.).

Things to Do for $5 and Under per Person

Granted, these mostly involve home activities, but they can be just as fun as hanging out somewhere else… and the host will save on gasoline!

Popcorn Flavors

  • Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil (or spray) and oregano
  • Butter and salt
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Caramel
  • Mini or chopped up candy chips (chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, etc.)

Movies and popcorn tasting. Utilize your Netflix subscription (one of you is bound to have one), grab a couple dollar rentals from Redbox (sometimes you can even find a coupon for a free rental, so why pay more?), or pop in a favorite DVD.

Pick up a few packs of microwave popcorn and pop them up separately, sprinkle with various spices, and settle in while hosting a mini movie-marathon. Here's how!

A pile of random movies
A pile of random movies | Source

How to Host a Movie Marathon

Watch the whole series at once! Some of the best movies for hanging out are:

  • Harry Potter series
  • Indiana Jones series
  • Bridget Jones movies

Alternatively, choose a theme:

  • Chitchat about funny or embarrassing things that occurred during your formative years with coming of age movies like Riding in Cars with Boys, Freaky Friday, or 13 Going on 30.
  • Compare dates from hell with movies about love gone too far, like Fatal Attraction, Sliver, or Misery.
  • Or swap stories about your wedding or that time you were part of the bridal party with Wedding Crashers, Bridal Wars, or Bridesmaids!

Or, choose an actor and watch their movies on their birthday. For example:

  • Adam Sandler, September 9th
  • Johnny Depp, June 9th
  • Kate Winslet, October 5th

Video, Board, and Card Games

Video games. Rock out with a rhythm game. The friend with the instruments can either host, or schlep them elsewhere. Attendees bring soda and snacks. Those who aren’t playing can be the administrative help and separate the M&Ms by color!

Other fun party games with plenty of non-musical action are Mario Kart (racing) or Wii Resort (various sports). If you prefer the added excitement of shoot-‘em-up games, choose a James Bond 007 game (rated Teen) or one of the Call of Duty games (rated Mature).

Board games. Play board games like Dominion (strategy), Bananagrams (words), Imaginiff (personal knowledge), what have you! Or go old-school with Rubik’s Race and relive one’s youth. (Lik’M’Aid and Pop-Rocks optional.)

Card games. Each friend brings a bag of wrapped candies. Choose a game (i.e. poker) and bet using the candies. Winner takes all!

Groupons, AmazonLocal, or Daily Deals

Sign up for these coupon sites and make out like a bandit when you purchase their discounted deals!

Pick a park and take a walk.
Pick a park and take a walk. | Source

Free Activities for Friend Dates

The lowest-cost, and probably highest-payback activity for friends would be to perform volunteer work together. Choose an activity or cause that you are both passionate about, drive to the site together, and share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences on the way back.

Or, put on your kicks and stroll around the nearest park (or mall, in winter) or local landmark for chitchat and exercise… no need to power-walk if that’s not your thing. Leave your cash and credit cards in the car and do some window-shopping and people-watching. If you dislike sneakers, do choose something with plenty of support as concrete will make even the ankles of lightweights sore after an afternoon of pounding that pavement.


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