Everyone knows the stereotype of college students going wild and throwing parties with obscene amounts of illicit alcohol. For people who can’t or don’t want to drink, finding yourself in an environment where excessive drinking is normalized and accepted can be daunting. Luckily, there are many ways you can avoid this uncomfortable situation while still having fun on weekends, and if you are up for a challenge, you could plausibly fit every one of these activities into one night.
1. Have a sober dance party
There are few things more satisfying than letting loose without the help of substances, and a sober dance party is the perfect way to go wild without alcohol. Create a playlist of your favorite songs, get some snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, invite over some friends (optional), turn off the lights and dance with the abandon of a drunk person.
2. Show your friends your favorite movie or TV show
One of the only things more fulfilling than a sober dance party is sharing a show or movie you love with other people. Invite some friends to your room, pop some popcorn, plug in a speaker and share the wonder of the objectively best piece of media ever created. And if you’re in the mood for a larger audience, you could even convince your resident assistants to have a movie night in your dorm lounge and show your favorite movie to your whole floor. Sharing your love for something with as many people as possible is a nearly unequaled joy.
3. Bake some comfort food
Baking anything fancier than ramen in college is an adventure from start to finish, and a great way to spend a weekend evening. First you have to buy the ingredients, which could become quite the journey depending on the size of your school and its proximity to a grocery store. The next step is to find baking utensils. If you don’t have any, you should be able to find some in your dorm kitchen; otherwise, you can ask around and borrow what you need.
Assuming you don’t set off the smoke alarms by using a dorm oven that could be nearly as old as the school itself and is coated with unknown layers of burnt food from previous students’ failed baking adventures, the rest of the process should be a breeze. And once you’ve successfully made your pie, brownies, cookies, or whatever other comfort food you might be craving, you can make new friends by sharing your baked goods with floormates and classmates. Or you could keep your goodies to yourself. It’s been a long week. You deserve a treat.
4. Explore the campus
Especially if you’re a first year student, exploring your new home and the area around campus can be a fun way to spend a weekend. Find a group of friends to traipse around campus with and go to a restaurant for a late dinner or dessert, or maybe seek out a new study spot. You’ll thank yourself later when you want to ask someone out on a date but don’t know where to go for dinner, or when you’re looking for a change of scene after sitting in the library for hours during finals.
5. Go stargazing
If contemplating your smallness in the infinity of the universe seems like a more appealing Saturday night than going to a raging party, stargazing is the right activity for you. The insignificance of humanity aside, sitting with some friends in the dark and staring at the stars can be a lovely bonding experience and a wholesome addition to your exploration of campus. If you want to learn some astronomy while you’re out, you can download an app like Star Chart, which will show you name of the constellations you are looking at.
If you’re feeling crazy, you and your friends can go star tipping—tilt your head back, focus on one star and spin around until you are dizzy. Then get a friend to shine a phone flashlight in your eyes, and you’ll topple to the ground, most likely in a fit of giggles. If you do go star tipping, be careful not to hurt yourself: do it in a grassy area to soften your fall, and make sure you are with someone who can be your spotter. That being said, if you are careful and keep yourself safe, star tipping can be a fun, entertaining and substance-free way to spend time with old friends or make new ones.
6. Have a quiet night in
After a long week of classes and homework, you deserve some time to yourself on the weekend. Instead of going out on a Friday or Saturday night, stay in and do something you enjoy—read for fun, play video games, knit, listen to music, dance around your room, curl up in a blanket, go to bed early. The possibilities are endless, and none of them could be improved by any substance—unless you count cookies and hot chocolate as substances.
7. Go to a party and don’t drink
It can be fun to be the only sober person at a party—you get to experience all the craziness of strobe lights and loud music while still being in control of yourself.
If you do go to a party, though, people will push you to drink, and they will keep offering you drinks unless you have a cup in your hand. One way to avoid this is to bring your own drink—water, pop, juice, lemonade, tea, or anything else you might want, no matter how odd—in a water bottle or even a Mason jar. Otherwise, parties are usually stocked with red solo cups and juice or pop. By carrying around a cup full of one of these mixers, you can avoid offers of alcohol from overly helpful friends. Peer pressure can often be difficult to resist, but if you stand your ground and let people know that you’re enjoying yourself without drinking, you can easily avoid alcohol and have fun on your own terms.