30 FUN THINGS TO DO FOR CHEAP OR FREE
Here’s a list of things you can do that don’t involve spending a lot of money – to relax, entertain or simply change tack away from the couch:
1. Instead of storing them, cut up your old magazines and create inspiration notebooks to refer to. I find this process incredibly relaxing, from destroying the magazine spines (kneel on the ad tug) to snipping out bouffant hairdos.
2. Indulge in a single scoop of the most decadent flavoured gelato. My local has incredible flavours like Ferrero Rocher, Red Bull and Forrest Fruits.
3. Pick up brochures from your local information centre/historical society that give you self guided routes. Follow the walks to learn about your ‘hood!
4. Reorganise your CD/record/book/DVD collection with an alternate approach. Genre, year, alphabetical, spine colour. It’s time to get OCD.
5. Meditate. Focus on breath work first if you are having a hard time quelling your mind.
6. Set challenges for yourself. Abstain from alcohol, coffee, sex or chocolate for a month. Whatever your vice, keep away and you will be entertained no end. At the end you may even feel better. Too hard? How about a challenge to win $1000 worth of prizes in a month. Keep, swap, sell!
7. Attend art gallery openings. They are always good for filling those Monday and Tuesday evenings, and there’s almost always wine. Mm, wine culture!
8. Bands always need people in their music videos aka “a crowd of raging fans”. Go along and adopt a band, it’s always really really fun to rock out of control (even if they’re bad).
9. Feed ducks at your local pond. This is especially rewarding in spring when there’s ducklings and cygnets, aw.
10. Swim in the ocean. Or the lake! Try a variety of weathers – swimming in the sea when it’s raining is one of my favourite things ever.
11. Go camping for a single night in your nearest regional/national park. You get fresh air, a change of scenery and a mini hassle free adventure.
12. Become an origami expert - there’s lots of good videos on YouTube. A friend of mine is a champ at making tiny piglets!
13. Go thrift shopping, limiting yourself to $10 or less. What can you get? Something weird, classy, cool or for your best friend (I always buy old man cardigans for my bffs).
14. Make stupid videos - I spent serious time making this video as part of going away card. You can do better, rise to the level of internet meme… hours of fun!
15. Geek out and become the kind of person who can name plants and tell you all about their secret lives. Every time people see my tattoos they shoot me botany questions, so I am starting to gather a little knowledge on hydrangeas. Why yes, that is a Hydrangea macrophylla! (Boys who can name plants are incredibly sexy by the way. Swoon. Combine that skill with a picnic in a garden and I’m yours.)
16. On that note, organise a picnic with friends. Each of you is to bring one plate of treats, someone is to bring a blanket and voila! A modern feast.
17. Listen to the entire body of work by one musician/band. Form an opinion. Share that opinion. No idea? Start with Bob Dylan.
18. Likewise, read the entire body of an author’s work. Borrow these (potentially stacks) of books from the library. No idea? Start with Joyce Carol Oates.
19. Start a blog. I heart Wordpress and there’s a free hosted version available. Vent, rant, discuss, share what you’re thinking in that cute lil head of yours… and tell me when you’ve done so!
20. Scan old photographs and reminisce. Even better, do it with a friend. You can talk abut times that were, or the times that explain why you are who you are today. Fun.
21. Pub quizzes are grand. Drink a beer, squabble with your friends and learn some new facts. If you go every week your accumulated bar tabs will start covering the entire team’s drinks! Good for those empty Mondays and Tuesdays.
22. Acquire language tapes and learn a new tongue. I like putting Plimsleur lessons on my iPod and brushing up on my Japanese while running.
23. Make play-dough. I’m serious. Get back to your childhood and whip up a batch of dough (recipe here) and use food colouring to dye it wild hues. Sculpt and carve away your frustrations!
24. Plan that trip. Get into the nitty gritty of itineraries and budgets. Research: how much for that Cuban visa? How much for a meaty snack on the Trans-Siberian railway? What’s a good local coffee shop to visit in Glasgow?
26. Write letters to all your nearest and dearest letting them know some of the reasons why you appreciate them… “I love you because you are not afraid to be silly and dance like a maniac with me, we share a Japanese obsession and I can always encourage you to do shots.” Post them.
27. Craft haiku. Modern ones, innit. I’ve written haiku about Trent Reznor’s hair, the emotional toll of public buses and the smell of the sea when you’re in love.
28. Head to your nearest mega-chain-book store like Borders - the modern library. Sit down somewhere paw at all the latest editions of foreign magazines, lap up the latest sci-fi fiction or read some manga. Then leave, without paying a cent. Muahaha! Sometimes if I’m feeling saucy I take my pile of reading material to the cafe and splash out on a ridiculously named coffee.
29. Gig guides and event listings are your friends! You should be able to find a free event to attend every night of the week. Go forth and discover new venues, music styles and subcultures. Raves, Romanian folk or clubs laid out like rabbit warrens – explore them all!
30. Live near the country? See if there is somewhere you can pick your own fruit and vegetables, or head to your local urban farmers market. Then take your seasonal produce and get in touch with your domestic side. For example, if you could get cheap fruit, there’s a world of preserves and jams to explore. Failing that, grab a bottle of vodka – there is always litres of cocktails to be made!