10 Creative Clubs to Start With Friends

From wine clubs to a monthly art night, these ideas stray far from boring book clubs.

By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

Book clubs always sound like a good idea — but if you find yourself with the best intentions yet little time to actually read the book, you’re not alone. So why not skip the book and get right to the fun part? If your goal is simply to spend some extra time with your friends or neighbors, there are plenty of creative ways to make that happen that don’t involve a lot of prep time. From wine clubs to a monthly art night, here are 10 ideas for creative groups to start this month.

Club 1: A.Jennison Interiors, original photo on Houzz

1. Cookbook club: Choose a cookbook (could be a new one or a classic tome) to focus on, and try out at least one recipe from the book at some point over the course of the month. Your group can decide how to handle the gatherings: The host could cook a dish from the book, or you could bring ingredients and cook something from the book together, then discuss your thoughts while you munch.

2. Wine tasting club: Sipping wine with friends in the name of education? Sounds good to me! Choose themes for each month’s tasting as a group (wine growing region, grape varietals) and instruct each member to bring a bottle that fits the theme, along with some tasting notes from the wine seller. You may wish to set a price range in advance that everyone feels comfortable with. Then swirl, sip and compare notes.

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Related: Store and Display Your Favorites Wines in a New Wine Rack

Club 2: Alice Design, original photo on Houzz

3. Small-batch preserving club: A fun way to learn more about the art of preservation is to do it as a group experience. Each month, choose an in-season ingredient and a recipe to showcase it (such as pickled cucumbers or black raspberry jam). Have the host of the month sterilize the jars and canning equipment beforehand, then make the recipe together.

4. Art night: Wish you had more time to devote to your creativity? Start an art or craft night with a group of friends. Once a month, meet up to draw in your sketchbooks or create a project together. If it’s a simple sketchbook drawing session, each person can be responsible for bringing their own materials; if you want to do a different project each month, you may want the host to provide specialty materials for everyone.

Club 3: decor8, LLC, original photo on Houzz

5. Potluck dinner club: Think of this as a more organized version of your typical potluck dinner. Choose a theme and have each member sign up to bring a dish or an extra (flowers, place cards, wine) and gather on the big night to savor and enjoy. Using a shared online document or spreadsheet can help keep everyone organized.

Related: How to Have a Successful Potluck

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6. Big-batch cooking club: This club is ideal for busy families because it allows you to stock your freezer with yummy homemade meals (think lasagna or chili) and catch up with your friends at the same time. Choose a single recipe in advance and split up the shopping. If you’ll need extra pots or pans, have group members bring their own, along with freezable containers to take home their share of the food. Open up a bottle of wine, put on some music, tie on your aprons and get cooking!

Club 4: Nadja Endler | Photography, original photo on Houzz

7. Flower-arranging club: Doesn’t having a beautiful handmade floral arrangement or wreath each month sound delightful? Cut down on costs by purchasing big armfuls of flowers at your local farmer’s market or floral mart (where the florist’s shop) and divvying them up among the group. Check out online tutorials or books ahead of time, then help one another with your creations. Remind members to bring their own vessels to take home their finished products, and trade off on purchasing supplies.

8. Periodical club: No time to read a full book? Try a periodical club instead. Simply choose a thought-provoking article (or several) from a magazine or independent journal each month and meet to discuss it. There’s no right or wrong periodical to feature, so go with what your group is interested in.

Club 5: Gardens of the Sun, original photo on Houzz

9. Harvest + handmade swap: If you have many friends and neighbors with bountiful gardens, this can be a wonderful excuse to get together. Set all of the produce to be shared on one table, snacks on another, and make swaps at the end of the evening. If you live in an area with cold winters, you could always transition from a “harvest swap” to a “handmade swap” once the gardens have been put to bed for the year. Trading a few handmade items can be a lovely (and cost-effective!) way to start collecting holiday gifts.

10. Outdoor dining club: If you live in a mild climate, you could keep this going year-round. Cook up dinner on the grill and relax outdoors afterward. Light a fire in the fire pit (or just light candles) and pour hot drinks to keep the party going.

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