Things I Do With Friends That Aren’t Just Going To Dinner

If I have to split one more check on Venmo…

Photo of The Culpepper in London by Shani Silver

There’s a habit in adult friendship that’s causing staleness. It’s like someone left the bag open on modern ways to hang out and we’re all kind of disappointed every time we take a bite out of being friends. I worry this limiting habit, this only doing one thing will actually cause friendships to wither, too, and I’d like to do my part to expand quality time between friends to activities beyond bar seating.

These will take a little effort on your part, that’s the catch. I know we’re all quite comfy with how effortless Resy, OpenTable, and the 9–10 hour workday have made it to meet for dinner and feel that we’ve sufficiently tended to our friendships for the following 2–3 months, but I am excited for you to see how much richer your life and hangtime can be with the exuding of a morsel more effort. The ROI is impressive, I promise.

  • Seasonal Activities: Sign up for a newsletter, will you? Start informing yourself of seasonal activities where you live. We are currently in the middle of the gold standard in local seasonal happenings, everything from apple picking to ice skating is on the table from here til January. Stop batch deleting those Thrillist emails—actually go to one of the things inside them. Taking yourself out of your usual space and trying something new is at least refreshing, and at best you have a new tradition. There’s a reason that “stuff” is always going on—it’s good stuff! This summer I watched a brass quartet play in the courtyard of a museum. It cost me $15. This fall, I attended a cider tasting at a Botanical Garden—I’m a member, so it was free. I am extremely happy I did these things instead of not doing them. I had fun with friends, we experienced something interesting together, and we’re always excited for the next one. FYI, it’s an art fair.
  • The Daily Dream: Once a day I text a friend of mine a dream or goal I have for myself, and she sends me one back. She lives across the country and has three children so it’s not always easy for us to stay connected or maintain an awareness of what’s going on in each other’s lives. But we do know each others personalities well, and the Daily Dream gives us insight into each other in a really meaningful (and massively easy) way. Find a friend that needs to be reminded that we can dream as big and as often as we want. Set a reminder every (weekday) morning. Get texting and tell me it isn’t a delightful part of your day that helps you stay in touch.
  • Bowling League: I really did join a bowling league. We have the second to lowest score overall. We hate our t-shirts. We are terrible, we are slow, but we are having the best goddamned time. For the bargain price of $90 I got eight weeks of bowling with six other women who also have no idea why we did this but are super happy about our life decisions. We have a few drinks, we roll a few balls, and we get to cheer on our friends with very reckless abandon and very little actual logic behind our enthusiasm. Fun fact: Most of the team didn’t know each other when we started. We made it our mission to bring women together to gutter ball while making new connections and we have been successful in our efforts. I am a garbage bowler, but a good friend.
  • Podcasting: I will not lie, starting a podcast is an effing brilliant way to make new friends, and to spend quality time with existing ones. I have hung out in real life with no fewer than three of the guests I’d only known on the internet before my podcast, and with old friends I’ve essentially just recorded several catchup sessions wherein I happened to ask them questions beneficial to my audience. I’d definitely be hanging out with more guests but they live around the world because that’s the brilliance of podcasts. I have been amazed by the friendship and quality time opportunities afforded to me by podcasting. Stop rolling your eyes at this medium thinking it’s just dudes in a basement talking about CBD dosing. That still happens, but many other things do, too. Look into it.
  • Google Hangouts: Recently, a group of friends I’m connected to wanted to get together for dinner to discuss some personal growth work we’ve all been undertaking. It was tough to find a time that worked for all of us within a reasonable window when we were all in town, so we booked a Google Hangout meeting instead. Wherever we are, whatever we have going on, we can all find an hour at home to genuinely discuss things on our minds without having to put on BB cream or take any form of public transit. What matters is that we’ve got discussion topics we need to dig into, and we’re making it happen creatively. And extremely cheaply, while we’re at it.
  • Sharing Opportunities: I am in the freelance space, and as a result of working in this world I have met fellow freelancers. Opportunities tend to swirl around. You hear things, you see things, I get a weekly newsletter on the topic, and not every gig is a fit for you—but I bet you lots of them are a fit for someone you know. I make it a point to distribute cool opportunities I come across to friends, as a method to hopefully help them out, but more so to show that I think of them, and that I think they’re talented. It feels like we’re opening up a dialogue where once things used to feel competitive, and it makes me feel like I have more community despite the fact that I work from a kitchen table that’s giving me terrible neck and shoulder pain.
  • Getting On Airplanes: Sometimes, you’ve gotta fly. I think we all need to get on planes without wedding invitations more often. I think we need to visit each other the way grandparents visit—for no specific reason other than we love and miss you. We tend to wait for “reasons” or “excuses” to visit our friends. Stop this. Go see someone(s) you miss. Invite them to visit you. Spend a weekend hanging out and waking up and having coffee on the couch and remembering why you’re friends in the first place. You can’t get that over a clam pizza special, you just can’t. Sign up for emails from airlines that haven’t screwed you over yet, and keep an eye out for sales. I’m going to New Orleans this month for less than $300. My friends and I have been texting about how excited we are for just this time together since we booked the flights two months ago. Buy yourself some time.

In sum, do a little more. Think a little more creatively. Don’t just settle for the easiest common denominator when it comes to spending time with the people you love having in your life. Friendship maintenance is a valuable time spend—I just think we could be spending it in more ways than we tend to. Restaurants are delicious and I will never stop being their dedicated patron and Instagrammer. But I will also be putting more effort into more ways to experience life with people I care about right beside me. Make some off-menu memories. They’re delicious.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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