Laughing with our friends is one of the best things we can do for our mental health, but how do you navigate spending quality time with them in the current economic crisis? We share eight low-cost and free things you can do together

The current economic climate has seen many of us take to money-saving hacks and low-cost spending as we try and negotiate the colder months. During this period of uncertainty, it is important that we continue to support our mental health. One of the best ways we can do this is by socialising.

Laughing with our closest friends releases feel-good endorphins, which is just what we’re all in need of right now. So, how do we balance meeting up with friends whilst still setting boundaries for our spending? The good news is that there are many free and low-cost things you can do whilst still enjoying some quality time with your pals.

A dinner party

Rather than going out for a meal, why not try hosting a dinner party instead? Ask each of your friends to bring a plate of food, whether that’s something cooked or just some nibbles. If you don’t fancy trying your hand at cooking a meal, you could try cooking together, with each of you bringing an ingredient.

A movie night

This is guaranteed to be a night of giggles. With October just around the corner, you could get together for a series of Halloween films complete with snacks and cosy drinks. If you’re struggling for some inspiration, here’s our top Halloween movie recommendations for a spooky night in:

  • Halloween (1978 / 2018)
  • Hocus Pocus (1993)
  • The Shining (1980)
  • IT (2017)
  • Ghostbusters (1984)

A spa day

Rather than paying for a day out at the spa, why not bring the spa to you? You could get your friends to bring lotions, foot scrubs, face masks, and anything else that may make you feel pampered. Complete the day with some snacks and fizz and enjoy a relaxing time full of laughs.

Do some outdoor activities together

Whether that’s getting together for a game of football, going out for a walk or just spending time in nature with a picnic, getting outside with your friends is a great way to reap the benefits of both socialising and the outdoors. Getting fresh air and taking a moment of mindfulness to embrace the beauty of nature will do wonders for your mental wellbeing.

Volunteer together

Giving back to the community is a great way to boost your feel-good hormones, drive positive change and build social connections. Even better, get your friends involved and make a day of it, or schedule time to make it a regular occurrence. Try and decide on a common interest and something you’d all like to do together. If you can’t commit to volunteering regularly, you could go to a local organisation or food bank and ask if they need any one-off help.

Visit a local town

Another great low-cost activity to do with your friends is to get up a map and pick a local town that you’ve not visited before. Perhaps there’s a historic monument you could visit or you can do some window-shopping and stop for a coffee. By chipping in on fuel and spending the day taking in the sights of your local surroundings, you can have a great day out without spending too much money.

Bake together

For keen bakers, you could get together and each bring an ingredient to bake a cake, cookies or any other sweet treat you fancy. What’s more, once it’s ready, you can have a good catch-up with a cuppa and sample your delicious bakes!

Games night

Getting together for a games night is a great way to connect with your friends, have a laugh and spend some time away from screens. All of which will benefit your mental health. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Cheating Moths
  • Monopoly
  • Heads Up
  • Charades

Our finances aren’t generally something we’re comfortable discussing, even with our closest friends. While these ideas will go somewhere to help you spend time with your friends without breaking the bank, it’s important to set boundaries and have a conversation with them about money. Being clear that you’re on a budget and can’t afford to spend money on pricey activities will help maintain friendships whilst keeping costs down. Be honest, suggest alternatives and don’t let money stop you from having fun together.