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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Okay, listen. We all know how stressful college is and that, sometimes, it feels like we don’t have time to do anything except for papers, projects, assignments, meetings, and any of our other major responsibilities. A concerning amount of the time, I feel like I don’t even have time to eat! College is demanding, but that means that it is even more essential to find the time to destress and do literally anything that isn’t college related. As hard as it may seem, schedule this time for yourself like you schedule anything else that’s important. Force your friends to join you in this journey of self-care and use this scheduled time to do something fun and make some memories! College shouldn’t just be about graduating, it should be about having new experiences and strengthening lifelong bonds with friends. This is a list of my personal top ten friend dates, some of which I’ve done and some of which are on my to-do list. I encourage all of you to make a list with your friends, using some of these ideas if you would like, to plan your future dates and hangouts!

1. Day-Trip

Let’s face it: as college students, we don’t really have the money or the time to take a weeklong vacation to a foreign country in the middle of the semester. As much as we would love to travel overseas and go on grand adventures, something that might be a bit more manageable for us is a daycation (a day-long vacation). The idea is to travel to a town or city, perhaps within a one-to-three-hour distance from your town, and simply explore everything that the area has to offer. Walk around town, have lunch at a local restaurant, window shop at the mall, and try to find some unique spots! This can be as inexpensive as you would like, depending on the distance from your town and the price of the food. If you have the opportunity one weekend, I’d recommend a daycation since it allows you and your friends to have a mini travel experience and spend quality time together.

2. Stargazing at the Park

If weather permits, please do take at least one night to appreciate the stars, the vastness of the galaxy, and the beauty of nature. We all know you’re up late anyways, so why not grab a blanket, find a field, and bring a friend to stargaze with? If you happen to be feeling extra contemplative, take this time to talk to one another about some deep thoughts and get to know each other even better. The best part about this plan? It’s totally, 100% free.

3. Go Bowling (Seriously)

Ah, bowling. A sport that I struggle with more than any normal person on planet Earth. Like, I’m actually terrible at it. Somehow, though, I’ve gotten roped into doing it again and again and despite my incredible ineptitude, I still have a good time. Unfortunately, this isn’t free and therefore should be saved for when you have some pocket money, but it is a way for you and your friends to enjoy some (hopefully) healthy competition and perhaps improve your aim. No matter how many gutter balls I roll, I’m always down to bowl.

4. Group Volunteering

Volunteer with your friends!!! Not only is it a good way to hang out together, but you also get to help out in your community. Go to an animal shelter, find a soup kitchen, start a food or clothes drive– there are so many options! If you aren’t squeamish, maybe even donate blood or plasma. At the end of the day, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that you spent your time helping others, and you got to do it with your friends.

5. Have a Pasta Night

Despite what I said about feeling like I don’t have time to eat, you still have to eat. Instead of rushing through dinner, though, take some extra time to cook a meal with your friends if you have access to a kitchen. Something on my to-do list for my friends and me is to have a pasta night, meaning several kinds of pasta, a variety of sauces, and, of course, garlic bread. Most of these items can be found at your local Dollar Tree or Dollar General, and pasta is one of the easiest things to make! So even if you aren’t too great in the kitchen, pasta is your friend. Pasta is good. Have a pasta night.

6. Arts and Crafts

This might be the one that my friends and I do the most because it can mean anything that allows you to be creative with your hands! Painting, sculpting, origami, DIY… anything. If you make it, it is art. If you’re artistic and have tons of supplies, that’s great! If not, you can find the cheapest supplies possible and still make something pretty great. Even if all you can find is Play-Doh, I urge you to use it and get creative!

7. Spend a DAY AT THE MUSEUM

For those of you who have more sophisticated tastes, or for those of you who would like to pretend that you do, go to the museum! I don’t care what kind of museum, I’m not picky, just go somewhere you can learn something. An art museum, a history museum, a medical museum, or even a kids’ museum can teach you things and give you a new experience. Take your friends and go get cultured!

8. Fill a tIME cAPSULE

This one may or may not be a bit tricky depending on what you have at your disposal, but I think this idea is just so fun. Essentially, you and your friends should collect some items that represent or are important to each of you and your friendship, and place them in some sort of sealed container! A coffee can or something along those lines can work very well for this, and you can fill it with pictures, letters, ticket stubs, magazine clips, or anything you guys choose! We usually think of burying time capsules, but since we’re in college and not in our own backyard, that might be a tough thing to do. If you have somewhere memorable to bury it, please do! If not, hide it in the back of a closet, underneath someone’s bed, or somewhere out of sight and out of mind for a few years until you are all ready to open it!

9. Make Each Other cARE pACKAGES

Again I will stress: COLLEGE IS HARD. It’s okay to admit that you’re going through it and your friends probably are, too. If you have a little money and a little free time, do a Secret Santa-esque name swap and have your friends make one another a care package with some of their favorite (inexpensive) things. Snacks, candy, stationary, encouraging notes, or any knick-knacks they would enjoy. Make sure you all know how much you mean to one another and how much all of your mental health matters!

10. Create Personal kahoots

For a little extra fun, one of my friends suggested making Kahoots about yourselves and then playing all of them at a game night. Each person will make a Kahoot with facts about themselves, as obscure and detailed as possible, to see just how much their friends know about them. If you want to make it more interesting, have each person prepare a secret prize for the winner of their Kahoot!

Chloe Thomas

Winthrop '25

Chloe is an English major at Winthrop University. In her free time, she enjoys binging her favorite shows, spending time with friends, reading, and journaling. She has always loved writing and is thankful for the opportunity to create articles alongside the many wonderful members of Her Campus!