50 Ways to Have the Most Fun Staying in with Your Friends

published Aug 9, 2023
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Hands of someone playing cards at table. The cards are bright and colorful. Snacks and other games on table
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Level up your next chill day at home with our guide to having your best low-key home sesh ever. This content is presented in partnership with La-Z-Boy; it was created independently by our editorial team.

Under the right circumstances — and with the right people — staying in can be way better than going out. I love being social, and I am an extreme extrovert. But the further I delve into my 30s, the more I crave a night spent at home with good company. 

It’s exhausting to head out every time you want to see your crew, but you also don’t want to settle for sitting in front of the TV at someone’s house. In my friend group, we love to mix things up when we spend an evening together. 

From elaborate games that require planning to last-minute hangs you can quickly throw together, here are 50 ways to have the most fun staying in with your friends. (These ideas are especially helpful when you have friends in from out of town, because the last thing they may want to do after traveling is get ready for a big night out!)

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1. Virtually shop for a mansion (or a studio).

Connect a laptop to a TV, and shop for real estate around the world with Zillow. To make it a game, set a budget (say, $1 million), and see what that buys you in different cities. You’ll be shocked at what you can get in New York City versus a smaller town.

2. Host a “beauty favorites” night. 

The idea is simple: Bring travel sizes of your go-to beauty item for everyone you’ll be hanging out with. By the end of the night, you’ll have a bundle of new goodies to try. Plenty of great products like mascaras, dry shampoo, and perfumes come in those little bottles.

3. Give each other makeovers.

Like you’re in middle school … exactly like you’re in middle school. Break out the glitter, butterfly clips, and all the bronzer. The wildest look wins. Please don’t over-pluck your eyebrows for real, though.

4. Learn TikTok dances. 

Or better yet, ’90s boy band dances.

5. Swipe right.

Hook up your phone to the TV, and pull up your dating apps (if you’re on them). Let your friends help you sift through the profiles and decide who you should start chatting with!

6. Have a permanent bracelet party.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a bracelet welded together around your wrist so it never comes off, until you want it to. Find a local vendor who will travel and host a party at your place. Talk about the ultimate friendship bracelet.

7. Sing karaoke.

No, it’s not embarrassing.

8. Play “Name That Tune.”

Pull up YouTube videos and play “Name That Tune.” We’ve guessed everything from TV themes to Disney songs.

9. Play digital party games.

Grab your phones, and get ready to play. Jackbox games allow players to use their phones instead of a controller. Choose from trivia-based games, strategic games, and more to keep the competition strong all night long.

10. Break out the retro board games.

Bring back childhood classics like Pretty, Pretty Princess or The Game of Life. Bonus points if you can find Mall Madness! (Any other ’90s kids here?) With nostalgia in the air, be ready to recount all your best middle school stories. 

11. Play throwback video games.

Anyone still have an old N64? If not, Mario Kart is available on newer consoles like the Nintendo Switch.

12. Play new video games.

I promise — even if you aren’t a gamer, there are plenty of games you’ll enjoy. My friends and I have spent hours playing Overcooked, a chaotic co-op kitchen game. And you can even play online with friends who can’t be there IRL.

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13. Have an old-fashioned card night.

Don’t overthink this one. Break out a deck of playing cards, and play whatever game the group is feeling. From Texas Hold ‘Em and Blackjack to Spoons, there are so many possibilities. 

14. Put together some puzzles.

You can either tackle a 500- or 1,000-piece puzzle as a group, or make it a competition. Split up into teams, and see who can put together a smaller puzzle the fastest. The first team to complete their creation wins!

15. Throw a murder mystery party.

These are a favorite among my friends — we love a theme. You can buy boxed murder mystery games (try HomeGoods) that have different stories and settings. Assign everyone a role in advance, show up in costume, and prepare to become detectives. Bonus points for themed eats and drinks.

16. Plan the next trip.

My friends take a yearly trip, and planning is half the fun. Even if you’re only going a short drive away for an overnight staycation (which I highly recommend), spend the evening planning everything from outfits to dinner reservations.

17. Or pick your next trip.

You’ve probably seen this on TikTok. Everyone writes down three to five places to visit on your next friend-cation. Put all the sheets of paper in a basket, and then pass it around. As it goes around the table, each person pulls out one paper, and says, “We’re not going to … ” and they say the destination on the paper. Pass around the basket until there’s one sheet of paper remaining; the last idea is your next destination.

18. Host a mini spa night. 

All you need are some sheet face masks and a comfy couch to cozy up on. Add on lip masks for extra pampering.

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19. Give each other manicures.

No matter how easy manis seem, it’s always useful when a friend helps you with your non-dominant hand.

20. Create a book club.

This one requires some homework, but there’s something so fun about a group of friends discussing their most recent read! I’m in a book club that also brings six-packs of local craft beer to every meeting, so we mix and match throughout the event and take home swapped extras.

21. DIY your own trivia night.

Designate a host, or take turns playing host if everyone wants to play. Make sure everyone submits topics so the trivia is based on things you actually enjoy!

22. Make DIY candles.

Pick up the supplies at a local craft spot, and spend the night mixing up custom scents and pouring wax into aesthetic jars. 

23. Have a clothing/jewelry swap.

Whether it’s for loaning or for keeps, this is a fun way to spice up your closet without any cost.

24. Host a PowerPoint night.

Everyone prepares a presentation — five minutes or less — on literally anything. I promise you’ll laugh, and then plan the next PowerPoint party ASAP.

25. Volunteer your time.

Did you know there are organizations that need remote volunteers? A few places to start: Digital Volunteers for the Smithsonian and Amnesty Decoders.

26. “Premiere” your favorite TV pilots. 

Take turns having everyone “air” the pilot episode of their favorite show (new or old). You might even find a new favorite series! 

27. Rewatch TV shows from your high school days.

Transport yourself back to the early 2000s with a trip to The O.C. or Dawson’s Creek.

28. Rewatch movies, too.

You’ll probably cringe at Twilight or She’s All That, but that’s what makes it so fun!

29. Have a Disney movie marathon (or other childhood faves).

When’s the last time you watched Anastasia? That’s right — it’s been way too long.

30. Watch Shark Week.

Or, find another animal documentary. The twist? Provide your own (clearly incorrect) narrations.

31. Stream all the holiday episodes. 

Pick a TV show and a holiday, and watch every available episode. For example, start with every Thanksgiving episode of Friends or every Halloween episode of Brooklyn 99

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32. Come up with your Real Housewives taglines. 

Even if you’ve never seen the show, you can create a quippy opening line for what you’re all about. To take it up a notch, everyone writes down their tagline and puts it in a bowl. One by one, you pick a paper out of the bowl, read the tagline, and try to guess who wrote it about themselves.

33. Plan your dream celebrity dinner party.

While having dinner with your besties, chat about your ultimate guest list. Make it more challenging with categories (one musician, one movie star, someone from the 1980s or another decade, etc.) or with a rule that each celeb can only be chosen by one person. You better have backups!

34. Have a fast-food taste test.

Everyone brings the same item from various fast food restaurants (e.g., fries, pumpkin spice lattes, burgers). Have a blind taste test to see if you can identify which one comes from where — and put them head to head to decide which one is the best.

35. Pour a wine taste test.

Have all your friends bring a bottle of vino. Pour tasting portions of wine into glasses for everyone to try, and have someone document on an answer sheet which wine is in which glass. Take turns trying to identify each while blindfolded. You may be surprised which is your favorite. Not a wine drinker? Swap in beers, sports drinks, or non-alcoholic wine.

36. Host an apps and ’zerts party.

Let’s be honest: Appetizers and desserts are usually the best parts of a meal. So why not have a potluck featuring only those courses? Parks and Recreation fans will understand the title, but everyone will enjoy the event. 

37. Have a themed cocktail competition.

Pick a theme: Harry Potter, Disney villains, Sex and the City, anything! Have everyone create a round of drinks based on the chosen topic.

38. Hire a personal chef.

Instead of going out for sushi or pizza, hire a private chef to prepare a fancy meal at home. 

39. Take a cooking class. 

For a more interactive dinner, find a cooking instructor who will come to your house to teach you and your gang how to make a favorite cuisine.

40. Sip wine, and create a painting.

Create your own version of this popular night-out activity. Follow along with a YouTube video to craft a project that’ll add a pop of color to your home.

41. Have an international snack taste test.

Grab some treats from a local market or online, and sample foods like potato chips or different candies from around the world.

42. Do a throwback candy/snack night.

It’s the grown-up version of swapping lunches! Everyone brings their favorite candy or snack from whatever year it was when they were in, say, first grade. If you were born in 1990, you’d bring a popular candy from 1996/1997. Pass it around, and rediscover the sweets of your youth. 

43. Try your hand at cake decorating.

Buy plain, undecorated cakes from your local grocery store (just ask!) and colorful tube icing, then put your artistic skills to the test. They might not look great at the end, but ultimately, you get to eat a lot of cake, so it’s a win regardless.

44. Have a hot sauce challenge.

Write down embarrassing or funny questions, and take turns answering them as you try chicken wings doused in hotter and hotter sauces (à la “Hot Ones”). If you don’t own an obnoxious amount of hot sauce, you can usually find a sauce kit at shops like HomeGoods.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

45. Chow down with “board” night.

No, not board games — we already mentioned that one (number 10!). Think: charcuterie boards, but mix it up! Have everyone bring their dinner contribution, and it has to be served on a board. You could do sushi boards, dessert boards, or game-day boards. Basically, if it’s finger food, put it on a board.

46. Host a family-favorite recipe potluck.

Does your grandma make amazing cookies? Does your mom crush a potato casserole? It’s time to share those dishes with your besties! Everyone brings something for the meal, but it has to be a family recipe. 

47. Dig into an ice cream sundae bar.

Yes, like when you were a kid.

48. Make your own pizzas.

Buy pre-made dough and fixings, and let everyone craft their own masterpieces!

49. Have a fondue night.

It’s called fondo for a reason. Start with a classic cheese version, and close it out with a chocolate sauce you’ll want to dip anything and everything in. 

50. Whip up your version of Chopped.

Present everyone with a mystery basket of items, including something a little out of the box, and see who can create the tastiest treat within a certain amount of time.