What are the best men’s group activities? How can you get a group of guys to have a good time and start gabbing?
If you’re looking for some great men’s group activities to get your social group started, look no further. We’ve been running men’s groups and facilitating activities for groups of guys for the last 10+ years.
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Why Do Men Have A Hard Time Socializing?
It can be hard to get men to open up and engage. It doesn’t matter if it’s small groups or large. It doesn’t matter which men’s group topics you try to lead the men into. Even if the group knows each other very well, men can still struggle to socialize and engage with one another.
It’s not their fault either. Men have been conditioned over the years to not share and talk about sensitive issues with other men. Most men feel uncomfortable with one on one hangouts or even small groups.
We men desperately want to be around others – connection is in our DNA – yet we feel scared to show this part of ourselves, from fear of being seen as weak or being ridiculed. This study on men’s social connectedness and masculinity from the American Journal Of Men’s Health outlines the challenges men face with engaging socially.
And it doesn’t matter if your men are in a casual social setting or in a men’s group therapy session. The men’s group topics don’t matter either. The men will face the same internal struggle with showing sensitivity in front of other males. Even guys that appear confident will often feel awkward or uncomfortable on the inside.
So with all of that going on behind the scenes in the minds of men, how can you get guys to interact and engage with one another? How can you facilitate a good time?
It’s More About Setting The Culture Than The Men’s Group Activity
Before we get into our list of men’s group activities, it’s important that you understand a few key points about how men share activities and socialize:
Keep it casual: It’s a mistake to step into a group of guys and say “Let’s connect and talk about sensitive, vulnerable stuff and lovingly support one another.” This kind of language makes a lot of guys cringe, myself included. Instead, keep it casual. Make it sound fun. Position it as just another hangout with the guys. Guy time. And if you use our suggestions and list of best men’s group activities below, guys will open up on their own.
Make it private – You don’t need to explain that you’re doing this to your buddies, but guys will engage and share more if they are in a small, private group. For a number of reasons that we figure have to do with biology and mating, we’ve observed that most men will hold back engaging with the guys if there are other people around, especially women! Guys need to know that whatever happens or gets spoken about – especially in a men’s support group format – doesn’t leave the activity.
Lead by example: The leader sets the atmosphere in which the guys will interact during their activity. So if you want them to engage with each other openly, and to have meaningful conversations, you have to do that first. For me, this often meant sharing a sensitive story first and asking the guys for their thoughts (even though I didn’t need their input) as an example. Each man sees that the others aren’t being ridiculed for sharing openly and he too feels safe to share. You want the guys to get chatty? Get chatty. You want them to be boisterous? Want them to ask more questions? You start by asking good questions. Lead the way with the same energy.
Use plants: Not the green living things in your house or salad. The word “plant” was used in conference sales to describe when the salesman/woman on stage would put someone in the room who would ask a specific question or give testimony to help him or her make sales. The person in the audience looks like just another audience member but in reality, they’re in cahoots with the salesmen. The same goes for men’s group activities. If you want the guys to laugh, tell one of the guys beforehand to tell some jokes. If you want the guys to get into real-talk, ask one of the guys before the social activity to bring up his recent divorce. Just like leading by example above, this will show the other men that this group is a safe place to share that kind of thing.
Choose your activity wisely: There are activities that naturally encourage socialization, and then there are activities that make hanging out and conversation more challenging. Skiing is an example of an activity that makes it more difficult to socialize. Skiers are rarely at the same level of expertise and thus can’t ski together. Furthermore, the only time you get to talk is on the hill. Other activities that encourage roughhousing – a trampoline gym – can be fun but lead to more of a testosterone-fueled interaction that won’t lead to a ton of conversation. We suggest you consider your goal with the hangout and choose your activity accordingly.
Prioritize mingling: Not everyone in the group will like each other. Different people will have different levels of commonalities with one another and will gravitate to certain people more than others. There is nothing worse than meeting up with a men’s group and being stuck talking to someone that you don’t have anything in common with. What’s better is to set things up so that the guys can move around and mingle. Mingling is the act of having brief conversations with multiple people in an effort to see who you want to talk with more. So instead of sitting guys down at a big table where they can only talk to the one or two individuals next to them, choose to set the guys up at some stand-up cocktail tables. This will allow them to move around until they find someone they connect with.
Keep it light and fun: It doesn’t matter if you are meeting with a group of guys for a bible study, a support group or just as a social group. When you are learning how to start a men’s group and make it thrive, keep in mind that everyone wants to have a good time and laugh. So it will benefit you to inject some humor and lightness wherever you can, especially when discussing heavy topics.
Now that you understand how to properly set up the environment for the success of your men’s group activity, now it’s time to talk about the specific men’s group activities that we have seen work best.
A List Of The Best Men’s Group Activities
Without further adieu, here it is, out the list of the best men’s group activities:
- Build something: It doesn’t matter how big it is or how it will be used. Working with your hands with others provides a common goal and lots of opportunities for interactions. Invite the guys over to chop wood, build a shed or fix up your garden.
- Adventure activities that don’t require any skill: activities like this allow everyone to participate and get in the mix. Surfing or hunting you need a specific set of skills to keep up. Go-karts, inner tubing at a ski resort, white water rafting or bungee jumping are activities that any guy can participate in and will get them opening up over the shared experience.
- Speed dating style introductions: This is no joke. For a structured men’s group experience, there is nothing better than to give the guys introductions to one another at the beginning of the event so that they can quickly figure out who they want to talk to later. At the start, this always feels forced, but guys always say that it was the most efficient way they could have discovered who they share commonalities with. We recommend giving them a few specific questions for them to ask each other, to make it easier to start talking.
- Old guy sports: It sounds funny, but guys of all ages love and easily bond over bocce, badminton, shuffleboard, bowling and table tennis. These activities are accessible to everyone and naturally get the guys interacting with each other.
- Games night: The competitive nature of most men will have them engaging within a few minutes. Some simple games we can recommend are Monopoly Deal and cards against humanity. Or you can play poker and put a few bucks on the line. Lots of social clubs host game nights due to their popularity with groups of men.
- Video games: I haven’t met a man who doesn’t enjoy a good video game with friends. Most guys aren’t gamers but when the guys are in a small group and competing virtually, men always get engaged and have a good time.
- Shared goals and learning: Guys do well with learning and achieving goals together. Perhaps you and your guys can learn about investing. Maybe you want to get really fit. Having shared goals will bring the guys together. It gives you an excuse to interact and communicate more often. This helps the guys get to know each other!
- Self-care activities: On men’s group trips that we have lead in the past, we would often schedule a self-care focused activity right before a big dinner. Why? Because the guys would be way more present with each other after doing activities like yoga, meditation, and others.
- Support group style conversations: This doesn’t have to be cheesy, but you can just go around the room and update each other on your lives. If a guy has something he would like to get feedback on,
- Book clubs: Again, it sounds lame, but in my experience, guys love sharing their thoughts on something. So if the group isn’t finding commonalities on their own, you can create one by choosing a book and a regular time to discuss it.
- Go for breakfast: A lunch meeting feels like a business meeting and dinner can feel a little forced. But when is the last time you went for breakfast with the guys? It’s a fun way to start the day.
- Trivia night: It doesn’t have to be at night, but lots of guys like being a part of a trivia or quiz competition. Shuffle the teams often and it will be a great way for the guys to get to know each other!
- The compliment game: If you’re looking for a more structured way to get the convo flowing, you can play the compliment game. Each man can stand up and the other guys will share what they like about him. You can do the same with gratitude or constructive feedback as well.
- The Brag circle: Get the guys to sit in a men’s circle and encourage them to share their top 3 accomplishments or whatever they feel most proud of. This is great because guys don’t usually have the opportunity to bring them up and they make for great conversation starters and bonding topics later.
- Get out into nature: It sounds simple, but some guys’ demeanors change once they get out into nature. Go for a group stroll in a beautiful place. Go for a hike. Go fishing. Something easy to access in a peaceful place will do.
- The pool or hot tub: My guy friends and I have made visits to the pool a regular occurrence because there’s something about sitting in a hot tub that encourages conversation. Perhaps it’s just a change of environment – being in water – but it lends itself well to mingling. You can work your way between the pool, hot tub, and sauna and mingle with the different guys in your group.
- Dog walks: There’s something about dogs and other animals that gives men to open up and engage more. The animal is the shared topic and there’s always something to comment on.
And if you are looking for more suggestions on things to do with a men’s group, we recommend these two articles:
1. Men’s Group Therapy Activities – Positive Psychology
2. Group Activity Ideas List – Groupon
A Last Word On Activities For Men’s Groups
I hope you found this list of men’s group activity ideas useful. You may also find this article on what is a men’s group useful. The last piece of guidance we’d like to share is to encourage you to just get out there and try things with your men’s group. If you try an activity and it doesn’t go well, you can always try something new next time. The guys will still have a good time and you’ll learn a lot for the next group meeting.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below!