10 Ways to Bond With Female Friends That Have Nothing to Do With a Book Club

There are much more colorful reasons to hang out and talk.

Ever since Girls aired on HBO, female friendship has been the catchphrase du jour. That’s not surprising news to most of us, who would be lost without a close circle of girls with whom to commiserate and celebrate. But without structured activities, making time to see friends can take a backseat to work and family commitments. A book club might seem edifying and fun…at first. But we can’t think of anything more awkward than sitting in a living room, nibbling crudités while trying not to compare protagonists to each other’s exes for an hour. Thankfully, there are dozens of alternatives. We’ve listed just a few of them here.

1. Play kickball.

Girl’s nights out are stereotypically sedentary activities — drinking wine, or going to the spa. That’s fine for some, but what if you and your friends are a little more active? When the weather’s nice, meet up in the park after work with a cooler and a few camp chairs. The more friends you bring, the easier it will be to kick the seventh-graders off the baseball diamond.

2. Brew beer.

Homebrewing is an arduous process. Like other labor-intensive pursuits, it’s easy to put off shopping, boiling and bottling until your carboy is coated with an inch-thick layer of dust. Take turns meeting at each other’s houses and choosing recipes. A little extra help and company goes a long way. As an added bonus, you can throw a party every few months with the finished product!

3. Take a trip.

Granted, there aren’t too many examples of the female buddy road trip that don’t mention the names “Thelma” or “Louise.” But even a journey as small as to a local campground with burgers and marshmallows will give you and your best female girlfriends an experience to share. And stepping out of your comfort zone together is a great way to come up with new things to reminisce about.

4. Host a clothing swap.

Going shopping is the ultimate girls’ day out activity. But our feelings on fast fashion and conspicuous consumption are well-known. Luckily, there’s no reason to buy new clothes when your friends probably have unworn dresses and shrunken sweaters that they’d be happy to pass on — and so do you. Don’t forget to wear a clean pair of undies.

5. Start a knitting circle.

You don’t have to meet at each other’s homes either — or quote Little House on the Prairie. Enliven your weekly knitting circle by meeting up at a bar to knit over a pint or two. If you’re a little inexperienced, or have a low alcohol tolerance, make sure that you use washable yarn.

6. Make a zine.

For an example of what friends can create together when they have a little spare time and a common fascination, check out Girl Crush Zine, an ode to Nora Ephron, Charlotte Gainsbourg and all the random women who inspire us. If a few of your friends have a way with words or a pen — or even if they don’t — brainstorming ideas is a great way to spur conversations and inspirations.

7. Sing karaoke.

There is no better bonding experience than complete and repeated public humiliation — just ask any drill sergeant. If the idea of standing in front of strangers at a local bar sounds more terrifying than fun, there are karaoke bars that rent out private rooms.

8. Learn a new skill.

All of us have relatively simple tasks that we need to outsource. Some of us can’t change a car’s oil or hem a pair of jeans. Harness the power of the collective and find out if one of your friends has some skills that she could pass on to you in a Sunday afternoon lesson. If you can’t find a single person who knows how to repair a fence, send out for a pizza and put all your wits and hands to the task.

9. Rock some bar games.

Women have an undeserved reputation for being catty and competitive. This myth is, in fact, almost the exact opposite of reality — most women are conditioned to be nurturers, to be empathetic and to downplay their successes. A little healthy competition between you and your friends will help all of you learn how to encourage each other. Try to rack up the highest points at skee ball or make teams for shuffleboard.

10. Watch Sex and the City.

Okay. So perhaps watching this supposedly iconic television show wouldn’t be our preferred activity to bond with any of our friends (at least, if the stated intention is to make those bonds stronger, instead of weaker). Maybe instead, we could all dial a few numbers and spend some time on the phone, hearing real live voices and finding out what each of our nearest and dearest would like to do, instead of catching up via Facebook?

Image: sparkleawk, Oberazzi, carobe, melloveschallah, JudyGR, andie712b, hellojenuine, derekGavey, buhtterfly, Mr. T in DC, Eva Abreu.