When a close friend of mine told me that she was going to stop going to the bars to socialize with friends, part of me wondered if I'd ever see her again. Not that I am a bar fly, spending my nights at the bar before stumbling home or anything like that. Honestly, I hardly ever drink. But living in a college town, I've learned that going out to the bars is a guaranteed way to spend some time with friends, watch whatever sporting event happens to be on and to play a good game of pool or trivia. But after realizing that it's what I do about 95% of the time I want to hang out with my friends, I totally understood where she was coming from. Are we all just getting a bit lazy when it comes to going out and entertaining ourselves? 

After talking with my friend, we actually came up with a lot of really good ideas to mix it up a bit when it comes to friend-time. These ideas are definitely a nice change of pace, some of them save money and it's actually better quality time than hanging out late at night and dropping a lot of money at the bar. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Get into a television show or movie that none of you have seen, and have marathons at each other's houses!
My friends and I all got into Mad Men around the same time, and exhausted our Netflix Instant Queues watching all of the episodes together! We all got together at each others' houses, everyone brought some snacks and/or drinks (not just alcohol, there were some coffee runs involved too!) and just hung out and watched all of the episodes that we could. If you don't want to drop the money on a ton of DVDs and Redbox rentals, check out your local library. I was able to check out shows like True Blood and Dexter for free with a library card! Awesome!

2. Get together for some drinks. No, really.
Don't get me wrong, as much as I love my happy hour patio adventures with my friends, every now and then, I feel that my liver and metabolism (alcohol seriously slows that down, by the way) just need a break. Find some local tea rooms or coffee shops and spend some time together there. Try some smoothies, tea or local coffee. My friends and I recently discovered some boba tea places and we can't wait to try those!

3. Order some pizzas and bring over some nail polish and clothes/accessories/purses you want to trade.
I know, I know, so Junior High, right? Well, one of my friends did this a few months ago and it was AMAZING. You never know, something that you're never going to wear again could be something that your friend falls in love with, and vice-versa. And I can never turn down pizza...or a manicure by a friend.

4. Throw a board/video game night!
Grab some friends, get all of your board games/video games together and have at it! I have a ton of old NES/SNES games on my Nintendo Wii, and one of my favorite things to do is to get a bunch of people and play Mario Kart or Super Mario 3 all night. It's so nostalgic and fun! Even if your friends aren't really that into old video games, Wii Bowling is for everyone.

5. Spend time with friends and get some exercise in, too!
I've recently started taking walks with my friends, and it's a pretty great way to just talk/vent about things going on in your life and get some exercise!

6. Put together a potlock dinner!
This one is definitely on my list for later this month. Since I've started getting really into cooking, I'm always looking for an excuse to make something and share. Pinterest is such a good source of easy (and typically inexpensive to make) recipes, so it shouldn't be too hard to find something easy and delicious to make.

7. Have some attached friends that you hardly ever see? Group date night!
When some of my friends started dating someone new, it was like I hardly ever saw them again after that. Honestly, I was guilty of that whenever I first started dating Mark, but I started coming back around shortly after we met. I see my friends and their partners out and about sometimes, but I really miss that quality time I got to spend with them while they were single. What better way to see your long-lost friend and get to know her partner a little better than a group date night? Get together for dinner or go bowling! A lot of bowling alleys have special nights of the week with really good specials, check it out! It's also a great way to mix up date night a little, if you're also attached! Who knows, all of the boyfriends could hit it off really well and it could lead to many more group activities in the future.

I hope some of these ideas help! I'm certainly not giving up the bar scene altogether (I have a quite the trivia reputation to protect, after all), but I'm all about getting in some unique quality time with friends this holiday season.

Will you try any of these ideas, Lovelies? How to you normally spend time with friends? Any ideas to help those of us that are in an entertainment rut?

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