5 Inexpensive Hang-Out Ideas

There’s no doubt about it: most college students don’t have a steady stream of cash at their fingertips. So how are you supposed to do anything fun?? It’s tough enough to make sure you have enough money each week to foot your grocery bill, let alone having enough left over to spend on gas, school books, and other necessities.

While it can be tough counting pennies, rest assured—you’re probably learning some really valuable lessons about how to budget and save your money. And not only that, there are a bunch of things you can do for fun that don’t cost gobs of money. We put together a little list of some entertaining ideas that are just plain fun and won’t break the bank.

1. Dinner party

While dinner parties can be expensive when you’re the one cooking everything for everyone, there’s another way to go about this sort of thing. Plan a dinner party on a day when several of your friends are available and have everyone bring a dish. That way, everyone’s contributing something, and even if they don’t get a chance to run to the grocery store before the get together, chances are pretty good that they’ve got at least one thing in their fridge or cupboards that will do the trick.

Mix it up and make things interesting by planning the party over brunch or a Thanksgiving meal made up from the conglomeration in your cupboards before everyone heads home for the holiday. Light a few candles (or put them on a candle warmer if your school won’t allow candles in the dorm), turn on music, plug in some twinkle lights, and the stage is set for an evening of ambience.

2. Game night

Never underestimate the power of a good board game! Or lots of good board games. Set up a few stations around the room, and get the games going. Once you finish one board game, move on to a new one. Have everyone bring an inexpensive snack or drink to share, and you’ve got yourself a night full of strategy, intellectual prowess, and silly fun (depending on the game of course).

3. BBQ outside

If you’re attending school near an ocean or lake, you can barbecue on the beach, or if you’re not near a body of water, head over to the nearest local park. Arm yourself with blankets, picnic essentials, frisbees and footballs, some charcoal and your friend who loves to grill, and get things going. Cook up some burgers and hot dogs, and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery. If the temperature gets chillier in the evening where you live, find a park that has a fire pit, bring a guitar, and cozy around the flames with s’mores.

4. Play a sport

Whether you’re talented at sports or not, a night playing PIG at the basketball court or checking out some rackets to play tennis is always fun. Most colleges have a wide variety of intramural sports available with equipment that can be checked out. If your school is by a body of water, check to see if you can check out canoes, kayaks, or paddle boards. Yes, you may end up paddling around in circles at first, but that can be kind of funny too. Pack a picnic and head to the beach!

5. Girls night or guys night 

If you’re a gal, host an all-girls night, and if you’re a dude—an all-guys night. For ladies, you could unpack the nail polish and face masks, turn on some Netflix, bake some cookies, and you’ve got a lovely night in. For guys, cook up some wings and break out the soda and video games or turn on the football game. There’s something relaxing about doing something low key and simply enjoying one another’s company.

Get creative

College campuses have a lot to offer, and most of the time, the college itself is hosting a variety of free events on any given night. When all else fails, get creative and invite your friends to brainstorm along with you—the odds are pretty good that you’ll come up with something intriguing to do. Even if it is just taking a walk to the cafeteria to get ice cream with your meal cards.