Follow these simple steps for planning an activity with friends. 

If you are a transition student, you’ve probably gotten pretty good at making plans. Students make education plans to succeed in school, financial plans to use paychecks wisely and transportation plans to ride the bus around town. Some students even make meal plans for cooking and grocery shopping.

In all these examples, plans help break down a big challenge into simple parts. Sometimes goals feel too overwhelming to tackle all at once. But when you take it step by step, it’s amazing what can happen.

Maybe one of your goals is to do more social activities and get together with friends more often. We all want to build a friend network and add fun events to the calendar. For some of us, meeting new people is as natural as breathing. For others, being social is more difficult and we’re not sure how to begin. Would a social plan make that challenge less stressful and more successful?

Social connections are an important part of every person’s wellbeing, according to Margie Blackmore, Transition Network Facilitator. “Connecting with friends helps keep away feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can feel overwhelming and make us sad.  We all need to find ways to nurture the relationships in our lives,” she said.   

Are you ready to do some social planning, but not sure where to start? Here are eight steps to use for planning. Think through each of these steps to be sure you cover all the details needed for a fun, memorable get-together.


Step 1: Choose an activity

Social planning starts by finding something that you and a friend or two like to do. Do you all like bowling, or movies or playing cards at home? Brainstorm ideas together, and maybe you’ll end up trying something new! You can also check online for ideas, especially if your town has a visitor’s information page. For example, Visit Bend  lists local favorites from pickleball courts to vintage video arcades.


Step 2: Consider your budget

Will the activity you’ve chosen cost money? If so, how much will you need, and does this work for everyone in your group? Sometimes the best gatherings cost little or nothing, like a game night at home or free local concert in the park. Hosting a pizza baking night at home can be more fun than going to a restaurant, and everyone can bring an ingredient.


Step 3: Set the time, date and location

Time to get out your calendars! Find a time that works for you and your friends. If you’re planning to go to a scheduled event, like a concert, make sure you’re available. Think about how long it will take to get to your activity, how long your activity will last and how long it will take to get home. Be sure you block off the whole chunk of time in your schedule and note the exact place you’ll be meeting, too.


Step 4: Decide how you’ll keep track of your social activities

Once you start making plans with friends, keeping track of them is important. Will you keep the details on your phone, in a notebook, or on a paper calendar? Whatever system works best, you’ll need one spot to write down all the details, like the date, time, location and who you’ll be meeting. You can also list anything you need to bring with you–such as money, snacks or warm clothing for outdoor events.


Step 5: Plan your transportation

What is the best way to get where you are going? Should you walk, bike, carpool or take a bus? Maybe a parent can help with driving. All of these are great options for getting around in a community. One key to arriving on time is to plan ahead: check the bus schedules, ask parents if the driving time works for them or check the route for walking or biking.


Step 6: Swap contact information so you can confirm your plans.

Imagine this: you’re looking forward to getting together with a new friend, but you’re running late.  What if you don’t have their contact info? They might think you forgot about them. Be sure to share your phone numbers or emails in case plans change (and sometimes people do forget). One way to prevent this is to give friends a quick call or text to confirm the plans.


Step 7: Share your plan with those who need to know

Who are the people in your life who should always know where you are? It might be your parents or family, or a trusted friend. Be sure that someone knows where you are going, who you are meeting and when to expect you back. Sharing these details is important to keep you safe in case of an emergency.


Step 8: Review how your social plan worked

After your social activity has happened, take a moment to review how it went. Did everything go according to plan? This is the time to think about what you might want to do differently next time. Would you add another friend to your group, or try something new? Did this activity spark ideas for another get-together? As the old expression goes, practice makes perfect! The more social activities you plan, the better you’ll get at gathering friends and filling your social calendar.