Inside: Try these activities to enjoy rather than shopping to save yourself money, prevent clutter, and enrich your life.

A guest post by Rose Morrison

For many people, adding items to a cart — whether real or virtual — has become the go-to response when they need a little pick-me-up.

Shopping is now so easy it’s almost automatic since you only have to press a few buttons to order a new blouse or potted plant.

With all of the sales, scarcity tactics, and marketing that are constantly being directed at you, it takes intentionality not to get pulled in by the hype.

It’s important to remember that life is about more than consuming goods and there are better things you can do with your time and money.

Here are 15 activities to enjoy rather than shopping that can help enrich your life while saving you money and preventing clutter in your home.

The challenges of shopping for fun

If you have a shopping problem and constantly find yourself regretting your purchases or overspending, it’s helpful to find new activities to enjoy rather than shopping.

Retail therapy is really just a short-lived fix that can end up landing you in debt and with clutter in your home.

When you’re more intentional with shopping you can help to save yourself time and money, but it does require self-control and discipline.

When you have a habit that isn’t working for you, rather than simply stopping that habit it’s helpful to replace it with a new one.

The following are ideas of activities to enjoy rather than shopping. Not only can these things save you money and help you avoid clutter, but they can also enrich your life and relationships.

bike and man laying on grass

15 Activities to Enjoy Rather Than Shopping

Try some of these activities to enjoy rather than shopping.

1. Ride a Bike

Cycling gives you a completely new perspective on a familiar path — you take in more sounds, scents, and sights than you would in a car.

Feeling the breeze in your hair can lift your spirits and make you feel physically relaxed.

Plus, riding a bike is a fantastic form of aerobic exercise, with cyclists enjoying a 16% lower risk of heart disease.

If you don’t own a bike, see if you can rent or borrow one near your home. 

activities to enjoy rather than shopping

2. Have a Picnic

Even the most run-of-the-mill foods taste better when you enjoy them on a grassy knoll or under a shady oak tree, but why limit yourself to PB&J? Turn your picnic into a memorable date by bringing something a little more sumptuous. 

Snack on a charcuterie spread with goat cheese and sauvignon blanc or pack caprese sandwiches along with a bowl of figs. Dine on avocado summer rolls or couscous salad with a side of pesto. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious.

This also doesn’t have to be an activity you enjoy only when the weather is nice. You can get creative and move the picnic indoors when the weather is cooler.

family playing a board game

3. Host Game Night

Invite a few friends over to play classic board games like Monopoly, Scrabble, or Catan. You could even stick to just card games — there are so many ways to use a single deck.

There are lots of great board games for families with children of all ages. Pick a night of the week and make it a tradition to play games.

Another fun idea is to use an online platform like Jackbox, where you use your phones to play games that appear on a shared TV screen. Either way, you’re sure to have a great time. 

It’s a great way to get together with friends or enjoy quality time with your family.

kids at a parade

4. Attend a Parade or Community Event

Dress in red, white and blue and attend a Fourth of July celebration. Invite your family over to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while you cook, or bask in the twinkling lights at a Christmas parade. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider being part of the festivities. Participate by building a float, riding in a car, or distributing candy. 

Look for free community events and festivities in your area. They’re a great way to get to know people in your city while learning something new or being entertained.

activities to enjoy rather than shopping

5. Volunteer

Volunteering is one of the most fulfilling ways to spend your time. It helps you meet like-minded people and strengthens your connection to the community. 

Do trail maintenance at a nearby state park so you can exercise, get better acquainted with the outdoors, and improve access to the park all in one go.

Pick up trash at a park in your neighborhood, volunteer at a local animal shelter, or lend a hand at the food pantry and distribute food to people in need. 

There are so many great ways to help your community by simply sharing some of your time.

ice skating

6. Go Skating

When was the last time you went ice skating, roller skating, or rollerblading?

Whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned professional, strap on a pair of skates — which you can borrow at the rink — and head out to the rink.

This is a great nostalgic activity to enjoy with friends. You’ll likely encounter a lot of laughter.

Even if you’re not up to skating yourself, it’s a fun place to people-watch.

cookie dough on a cookie sheet

7. Bake Cookies

It’s always a good day to bake. Put on your favorite music, whip up a batch of batter, and indulge in the lost art of rolling dough. Mold your cookies into fun shapes with a knife or cookie cutters.

Then, sit back and relax as your whole house starts to smell like vanilla. Do homemade calories even count? 

You can also consider whose day you could cheer up by dropping off some cookies at their home.

activities to enjoy rather than shopping

8. Take a Hike

Whether it’s warm and sunny or frost has settled on the trees, getting outside is good for your body and mind alike.

Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the natural world by going hiking. To appreciate the experience even more, bring along your favorite snacks and a drink. 

There are so many benefits to spending more time outdoors. Fresh air is good for your physical and mental health and can boost your mood.


9. Visit the Library

Without spending a dime, checking out books can satisfy your urge to shop. Who knows what fascinating reads you can find at your nearest library?

Brush up on your history, get caught up in an adventure, or browse a field guide of local butterflies. You’re almost certain to find something you love. 

Libraries also usually have flyers advertising upcoming concerts, classes, workshops, and other events around town. Snap pictures of these posters to give yourself more ideas for fun activities. 

If you prefer ebooks or audiobooks, that is an option as well. Learning new things is good for your brain.

activities to enjoy rather than shopping

10. Go on a Scavenger Hunt

You’re never too old for a scavenger hunt — you only have to be young at heart.

If you live in a city, odds are there are official scavenger hunts you can join. has an interactive map of all the places you can participate in the U.S.

You could also download the Geocaching app to search for hidden treasures near your home. 

Another idea is to set up your own scavenger hunt and let your kids — or friends — hunt for items you hid. 


11. Grow Plants/Start a Garden

While you may have to start the seeds, bulbs, or cuttings indoors if it’s cold outside, you can plant a garden anytime.

Just picture it — in a few weeks or months, you could be basking in the scent of crisp cucumbers, sweet tomatoes, and lush, vibrant roses you planted yourself.

You could use homegrown mint to make your own tea. Cultivating a garden engages all your senses, and many people find it very relaxing. 

You aren’t limited to a traditional garden, of course. You could also try your hand at transplanting succulents, trimming bonsais, or even growing edible mushrooms from a mycelium block.

Maybe you’ll find you have a green thumb after all!

activities to enjoy rather than shopping

12. Make Art

Don’t worry if you’re not artistically gifted. While the goal of drawing or painting is often to make something beautiful, many people use art as an outlet for self-expression. Have fun with it! 

Reconnect with your inner child by making a messy fingerpainting. Form modeling clay into the shape of your dog, using a toothpick to add details like eyes and a nose.

Experiment with dip pens and try your hand at calligraphy. Even if the result isn’t something you want to display, making art is always a worthy use of your time. 

friends having coffee

13. Have Coffee with a Friend

Can you think of a friend that you wish you had time to catch up with but haven’t?

Be an intentional friend by inviting them out for coffee. Enjoy focused undistracted time talking by having a drink or a meal together.

It will cost you less than shopping, won’t add clutter to your home, and provide time to connect more deeply with that friend.

activities to enjoy rather than shopping

14. Start a New Hobby

Are there hobbies you’ve been interested in trying but haven’t? You can combine this one with going to the library so you can check out books on activities you think you might enjoy.

YouTube is also a great resource for learning new skills. Whether you have an interest in knitting, sewing, canning, scrapbooking, redoing furniture, or something else completely, spending time doing a hobby you enjoy is good for the soul.

You can enrich your life as you continue to pursue your interests and passions.

woman putting on dance shoes

15. Take Classes

Is there a skill or sport you’d like to improve on? You can find classes on anything from yoga to cooking to dance to a myriad of other options.

A benefit to taking classes is that you can meet other people who are working to learn that same skill. You may find a new friend in the process as well as get additional exercise depending on the class you take.

Enhance your skills as you join a new community of people learning alongside you.

activities to enjoy rather than shopping

Expand Your Horizons with Activities to Enjoy Rather Than Shopping

There’s more to life than shopping. If you look around, you’ll likely realize your life is already rich with material goods, and you can turn your attention to doing meaningful things instead.

Sharing these experiences with others is one of the greatest gifts you can give — and you don’t even have to wrap it.

Rose Morrison is a freelance writer who covers home décor and organization tips. She is also the managing editor of Renovated. You can check out her Twitter to see more of her work.

What are your favorite activities to enjoy rather than shopping? Let us know in the comments section!

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  1. Study the stock market; play sudoku; ride the city bus touring my city; practice yoga poses; read a mystery book on my hammock under a tree, learn pickleball; take a class in college for fun..

  2. Learning how best to cope with aging and my expanding health issues. Finding great resources that I didn’t know about such as this website and meeting some ‘golden’ people wanting to work together on similar issues.

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