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Free weekend fun

Economist Milton Friedman said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Maybe not, but not every date requires a credit card. What’s so entertaining about eating, anyway? Over 60 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease. Experts say eat less and exercise more.

Remember summer nights after fourth grade? Capturing the flag? Hide-and-seek? Neighborhood kids didn’t have money but they had imaginations.

Here are several fun ways to spend your time without spending your money.


This team version of hide-and-seek is a reason to dress up, go out and get the blood pumping on a Friday night. To play:

Split up into two teams of at least three people.

Determine boundaries for where teams may hide.

One team is “It” (call the team the Grovers). While the players count (with eyes closed for a predetermined amount of time), the other team hides (the Rambos).

Rambos may choose to hide together or individually.

After counting time is up, Grovers set out to find all Rambos.

Rambos members may roam freely, alternating between hiding and doing all they can to avoid detection.

The game is over once all the Rambos are found. If Grovers cannot find any Rambos, the Rambos win.

Jeans, dark sweaters and black shoes work well as camouflage. USF at night is the ultimate playground; dark empty buildings, trees and random lighting provide endless hiding spots and cast tricky shadows across campus. Just be safe.

Progressive Dinner Parties

A little teamwork can make for a delicious dinner production, too. A staged dinner party is an easy way to get a cheap, several-course meal without spending hours slaving over the stove alone. Here’s how to work it:

Each person offers to cook or provide part of a meal. For example, someone takes care of an appetizer or salad, someone else prepares the main course and another is in charge of dessert.

All of the participants prepare their respective courses at their own homes for the number of people participating.

The party starts with everyone meeting and eating at the home of the person providing the first course.

Once the first course is done, diners move on to the home of the second course, where dinner is waiting. They eat.

This continues. Parties can include as many or as few courses as participants are willing to make and eat.

Dinner parties are easy excuses to try new recipes. Moving from home to home allows the eater to take a breather, enjoy the intervening conversation and even meet new people.

There are no limits on what to eat, where to eat or how many people to eat with. Fondue — cooking and dipping bite-sized pieces of bread, fruit or meat in hot chocolate, cheese or oil — can be an appetizer, main course or dessert and is a low-hassle route to use (non-moldy) odds and ends from the fridge and freezer.

Using themes such as ethnic cuisines, vegetarian dinners or all-smoothie meals can tie courses together. Find a common interest and cook on it.

Find it First

A photo scavenger hunt can make the most out of any location. Sound cheesy? Try it and see how easy it is. This weekend’s forecast includes temperatures in the 60s and crowds offer endless photo opportunities. Between chasing pirates down Bayshore and grabbing for plastic beads, grab the nearest digital or $5 disposable camera and:

Make a list of things to photograph. (Common, everyday objects like cars or street signs are easy to find. Scouting for people wearing ski boots or Steelers jerseys at this year’s Gasparilla parade might prove harder).

Set a time and place to meet back together.

Each team (of two or more people) takes a list and a camera and starts shooting (pictures).

The team to come back first or to get pictures of the most items on the list wins.

Photo hunts can happen morning, noon or night. History buffs might peruse downtown Tampa and scout out the oldest restaurant, or produce a photographic tour of the city’s war history — through University of Tampa’s historic gardens and H.B. Plant Museum. The purpose does not have to be to snap the most beautifully composed photos, nor does it matter whether teams actually end up finding the listed items. The point is to capture the good times.