You know the typical scene in college movies: crazed students, party houses, and plenty of booze. But real college life doesn’t always match the film version — and opting out of drinking, for a night or for your college career, doesn’t mean that you are giving up on fun.
While drinking is a big part of the college experience, you can still enjoying hanging out with friends without the company of alcohol. A little creativity and the right group of people can create unforgettable memories and more chances to make friends. Try these alcohol-free activities to get started:
1. Host a Movie Night
Instead of crashing on your bed and watching Netflix alone, pack your friends into a dorm room and microwave the popcorn your parents got you at the beginning of the year. Pick movies with a theme, such as foreign film, a movie that passes the Bechdel test, or an independent film, better yet make your own independent film. Go crazy, the sky’s the limit!
2. Have a Throw Back Night
All the fun you had as a child doesn’t need to be lost just because you’re a “young adult.” You can create a blanket fort in your dorm room with your hallmates, and eat some PB&J (crusts cut-off?) while you tell silly ghost stories, or just recount memories from your far gone youth. You can ask your friends to print out baby pictures and put them in a pile. Then, take turns guessing which picture belongs to each of your friends.
3. Get Cooking and Get Competitive
See who can use Ramen the most creatively, or make an outing to the grocery store and cook something a little more gourmet, Guy’s Grocery Games-style — where you can have a group of your friends compete to make gourmet dishes out of ingredients that might not go together. You can also score recipes from Pinterest or videos from Epic Meal Time for ideas.
4. Break a Sweat With Friends
If hitting the machines at the gym doesn’t sound like fun, form your own intramural team (with an extra-ridiculous team name) or join a class with a few friends, like Yoga or Zumba. If space allows, you can even get fancy in your dorm room by scouring Youtube for some workout videos. Follow up with recovery snacks and smoothies.
5. Go “Shopping”
You don’t even need to buy anything. Compete with your friends to see who can find the most expensive, weirdest-looking, or flashy item — bonus points if you can model your discovery. Take pictures, it’ll make for a great Facebook album.
6. Make Next Friday a Theme Party
Just about anything can become a party theme: holidays, “Mad Men,” Luaus, “Harry Potter,” the Super Bowl, disco, “Doctor Who,” and plenty more. You can even have a theme party where guests have to dress up as their favorite party theme. All you need are costumes, appropriate party snacks, and games at the ready to tie into the theme.
7. Find The Most Adventurous Thing on the Menu
Get a group of friends and go to that new place in town that has a kind of cuisine you’ve never tried, or go to an old favorite and get the strangest thing on the menu. Who knows, you might end up eating Palak Paneer or those spicy chicken wings that they pay people to eat.
8. Have a Game Night
If you can’t find your own board games, you may be able to borrow some from your RA. There are also plenty of games that only require a pen and paper at most: pictionary, charades, hangman. Get creative by coming up with arbitrary extra rules like playing Truth or Dare with anyone who loses.
9. Host a Murder Mystery Night
Have you always wished that you could bring the Clue board game to life? Now you can by buying a murder mystery kit, or getting one online. With this kit, you and your friends will embody different characters, all suspects in a murder. You will be given clues to solve the mystery by the end of the night. Expect an evening of eccentric characters and flying accusations.
10. Get Outside
You don’t always need special gear to have fun outdoors. Play Frisbee at night with a light-up disc, go hiking, organize a touch football game, try slack-lining, roll down a few grassy hills, make sleds when it snows, or plan a night time picnic. You’ll never run out of options.
Don’t feel obligated to consume alcohol or go to the same parties every weekend if they don’t appeal to you. Grab some friends and try alternatives to the run-of-the-mill drinking scene — you might have more fun than you expect.