International Friendship Day, recognized annually on July 30th, gives us a day to celebrate the friendships we’ve made throughout our lifetime. Family aside, friendships are some of the first and longest-lasting relationships we develop. These bonds can tell us what kind of person we are, what we value, what we’ve been through, and what the future may look like for us. As important as these ties are, they deserve to be commemorated with something special, don’t you think?
From a game night to a full-blown party, a statewide road trip to a globe-trotting adventure, an International Friendship Day celebration should show appreciation for the special person or people who have been by your side for all the playful and pivotal moments in your life. We’ve got 20 ideas to help you show your pals just how much they mean to you while you create even more memories together!
How did International Friendship Day get started?
A Dinner Party Decision
While International Friendship Day is a fairly new concept that’s still catching on, its origins began back on July 20th, 1958, in Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay. During a dinner out with friends and colleagues, Dr. Ramon Artemio Bracho proposed the idea of celebrating similar relationships around the world. By the end of the meal, the group founded the World Crusade of Friendship, and it became their mission to ensure that friendships were annually recognized at the end of July.
Much to the credit of Dr. Bracho and his dinner companions, the first World Friendship Day was a hit! And “Día de la Amistad” has been celebrated on 30th July in Paraguay ever since. But the world friendship crusade didn’t stop there. Since its inception, the organization has remained determined to see to it that human beings across the globe had a holiday to celebrate the special bonds between human beings. For decades, they lobbied the UN to turn their idyllic vision into an official proclamation.
National Friendship Day
Fast forward to 1919, when J.C. Hall, founder of Hallmark greeting cards, began to encourage the idea of celebrating friendship by exchanging gifts and (of course!) greeting cards on the first Sunday in August. Although some balked at the proposal, considering it a mere scheme to get people to purchase more items from Hallmark, others got behind the sentiment. In 1935, the United States Congress proclaimed the first Sunday of August as National Friendship Day.
Commercial ploy or heartfelt sentiment, Hall’s move might have helped the World Crusade of Friendship, which held steadfast to its universal mission. Inroads were made, as evidenced by the fact that, in 1997, Mrs. Nane Annan, wife of then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, declared Winnie the Pooh as Ambassador of Friendship on Friendship Day.
Making It Official
Finally, on July 27, 2011, 53 years after Dr. Bracho’s dinner, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared July 30th “International Friendship Day.” The world’s ambassadors of friendship got their day!
Today, International Friendship Day is celebrated in various ways, and nearly every country has its own version of the holiday (which is actually quite special). On December 6th, India and Bangladesh honor the relationship between their countries on Friendship Day. The Republic of the Philippines observes Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day on July 30th to honor the cultural ties between the Philippines and Spain. In Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, Finland, Estonia, and the Dominican Republic, February 14th (Valentine’s Day) is recognized as Friendship Day to encourage love among everyone.
What is International Friendship Day?
International Friendship Day was intended to encourage relationships between people, regardless of lifestyles, country, and culture, and to promote peace and bridge-building between communities. The UN recommends that people use the International Day of Friendship to hold events, including public awareness-raising activities, to promote mutual understanding.
The official proclamation came after a proposal made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as part of its peace efforts. UNESCO defines a “Culture of Peace” as “a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors that reject violence and endeavor to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes with a view to solving problems.”
This special day brings to mind the value of the friendships we have and reminds us that, when we come together, we can accomplish our goals. It encourages us to extend our circles and welcome new people to our fold, and it promotes a peaceful planet.
How do you celebrate International Friendship Day?
There are many ways, both big and small, to mark International Friendship Day. It can mean making a conscious effort to offer kind words to acquaintances, get together with friends, or start a community outreach initiative.
Take time to celebrate those around you, and have a little fun! Whether that is with people you have known forever, people you’ve recently met, or someone you’ve reconnected with, it is important to take the time to do something with and for each other.
Here are some ways that you can celebrate:
1. Scratch-Off an adventure!
Want a little more adventure? There’s no time like the present! Adventures from Scratch: Friends Edition contains over 50 activities to do with your friends, ranging from quick and easy things you can do at home to full-on outdoor expeditions. In addition to the other interactive features within each book, you and your best buds will love the element of surprise, as you decide on a page and reveal your International Friendship Day adventure! Grab a copy, and pick up a few extras to gift to your favorite people.
2. Try a scavenger hunt.
Put your brains to the test and see how well you can work to find a town’s best attractions together! A Let’s Roam scavenger hunt is a wonderful way to get out and discover new things.
See your hometown in a new light, as you’re led to things you didn’t even know existed, or use a hunt as a way to see a city for the first time together. Find one nearby, or travel to a destination you and your friends have been curious about. With thousands of options to choose from, you can try a new one every year on Friendship Day and never run out!
3. Brave a bar crawl.
Is everyone in your group over the legal drinking age? A bar crawl might just be what you guys need! Turn a normal night out into an event as you make your way to multiple destinations and conquer as many challenges as you can in one night!
You’ll be tasked with special assignments at each stop, and they’re all worth points. This adds an aspect of competition that can lead to a really interesting excursion and adds an element of surprise. Every stop brings more unknown excitement just waiting to be unleashed!
4. Take an art walk.
Is your group a creative bunch? Even if you simply have an appreciation of the arts, a mural tour offers an ideal way for you to discover some of a city’s best public pieces. Learn about the town and its artists as you follow where the road (or the adventure app) takes you.
These carefully-crafted activities feature works from the best local and world-known artists to visit each town. While you roam, you’ll encounter trivia questions, photo challenges, and fun facts about creators who help make our streets more beautiful.
5. Go on a ghastly ghost hunt!
Within a city’s history, there often lies a fair amount of mystery, intrigue, and whimsy. If your and your friends love the strange and unusual, try going on a ghost hunt! Just choose a city, and delve into its past. Each spooktacular tour is like a lesson on the haunted history of the town.
Grab on to each other, and allow the Let’s Roam app to guide you, as you immerse yourselves in an out-of-this-world experience you’ll be talking about for years to come. Even better, every stop has its share of trivia, photo challenges, and more. Who knows what (or whom!) you might encounter along the way?
6. Host a game night.
Craving a friendly gathering away from screens and social media? What better way is there to bring everyone together than a board game night? This classic activity has endless possibilities that all come together to mean a few hours of friendly competition. Choose a nostalgic game you all love or take turns bringing your favorites to an annual International Friendship Day event. If you’re stumped, just take a peek at our list of board games to play with friends, and let the fun begin!
If you can’t manage to get everyone together in person, try a virtual game night instead! Just because you’re not in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t have a blast! It’s a spectacular solution that will help you honor your bond of friendship no matter where in the world you are.
7. Create a BFF Bucket List (or check off an item).
Do you have a long list of items you would love to do with your besties? You’ve got the makings of a Best Friend Bucket List! Putting your heads together and coming up with enticing, enriching, and memorable things to do together is an exercise in friendship at its finest.
Your list can be as long or short as you want and can range from easy short-term ideas to long-term adventures. You can even put a spin on the terms of a “bucket list” by creating a list that challenges you to complete items by a certain day, like the end of the year or even the end of summer. Whatever you choose, when you finish the list, you’ll be committing yourselves to many more years of experiences together!
8. Expand your horizons on a road trip.
Traveling is more about the journey than the main destination, and a road trip with friends is always an awesome activity. Whether you’re using International Friendship Day to plan a road trip or start one, be sure to include bonding activities along the way. Wherever you go, it’s bound to be a terrific time because you’re in the best company.
Need some help? Check out our lists of road trip essentials. And be sure to keep some conversation starters in mind, especially if this is your first long trip together. In between singing along with the best road trip songs, try road trip games to keep you laughing. When all is said and done, we just know your whole trip will be something to write home about!
9. Throw a party!
Sometimes, a simple celebration is what does the trick. A little party with your nearest and dearest friends is the perfect way to spend International Friendship Day! Want to widen the spectrum? Extend the invite to friends of friends so you can have as many people as possible attend.
If you are in need of more inspiration, we’ve got “20+ Sizzling Summer Party Themes” to get you in the spirit. With the right music, finger foods, and party games, your gathering is sure to be enjoyed by all!
10. Call everyone over for a cookout.
With International Friendship Day falling during the summer across the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the perfect time to host a cookout! (Heck, in parts of the Southern Hemisphere, the weather still might be nice enough.)
From prepping the party to the actual “cooking out” bit, there are plenty of opportunities to engage in enjoyable activities with your friends. Enjoy a delicious meal while playing games and swapping stories. This classic summer event is something that can be repeated as well, so don’t worry if you can’t fit everything into one night!
11. Head to the beach.
Another super summer activity well-suited for July and International Friendship Day is a beach trip. Whether a beach is near or far, the trip is worth it if it means a day with your besties. Pack up your umbrella, sunhats, drinks, and towels, and hit the sand. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Try to see if you can find a beach that features a boardwalk with shops and restaurants so, after a relaxing day on the beach, you can nip into a place for a bite to eat and do some retail damage together.
12. Enjoy a girls’ night in.
Remember sleepovers back in the day? Well, guess what—there’s no age limit on those. What? It’s true! Recreate that same energy with a girls’ night in!
Create a DIY spa experience and dedicate a night to just relaxing with your friends. Do things for yourself that you wouldn’t normally do, like giving each other makeovers. Or, if you’re in the mood for something more riveting, turn your event into a murder mystery party! Unlock your inner detective and take part in a “whodunnit” case featuring your guests. You and your gal pals can have the night of your lives doing whatever you please.
13. Plan a guys’ night out.
As kids, boys always seem to love just hanging out or going on adventures together. Again, there is no age limit on that!
Men, get ready for guys’ night out. From axe throwing to whiskey tasting, you’ve got options. Even if you prefer to head down to the local dive bar and throw a few back while you play pool and shoot darts, you’re bound to be in your element with your favorite friends in tow.
There is nothing like bringing people together through stressful fictional scenarios. Escape rooms have become increasingly popular because of their high-stakes scenarios and the ridiculousness that comes from people who purposely go somewhere just to try to get OUT!
Seriously, though… An escape room is a whole lot of laughs and tons of fun. Nothing tests a friendship like being in a precarious situation you have to figure a way out of.
15. Set up camp.
Disconnect from the everyday world for a bit and go on a camping trip with your friends! Honestly, it’s one of the best bonding activities you could ask for. Set up a site in the woods and rough it, or rent a charming remote cottage for some glamping, and spend some quality time together.
Taking time for simple pleasures is incredibly important since everything nowadays is digital, so turn off those devices and give in to whatever tranquility the days bring you and your friends.
16. Volunteer for a cause you believe in.
Many countries participate in the celebration of International Friendship Day, but it’s just as important to spread the love within our own communities. We don’t often discuss this holiday very much as a society, but the ideas it is built upon are incredibly important. Why not honor those values and start a yearly tradition of recognizing this day by performing some community service in your area?
Get some good friends together, decide on a worthy cause, find an organization to support, and spend International Friendship Day giving back. The experience is sure to be rewarding, and the act of charity might motivate you to make volunteerism a more regular part of each of your lives.
17. Get that adrenaline pumping!
If you’re a risk-taker, this might be the right day to tackle some adrenaline-pumping activities together! Nothing brings people closer together like shared experiences, especially when those experiences come in the form of climbing to the top of the tallest mountain or skydiving.
Sometimes doing things like that can be intimidating or even scary, but that’s exactly what makes them exceptional activities to do on International Friendship Day! You’ll be creating lifelong memories with your closest friends while conquering fears at the same time.
18. Reconnect with old friends.
While celebrating this day with current friends would be fun, it might be equally appealing to take a trip down memory lane and see if you can reconnect with friends you’ve lost track of over the years You can plan a simple gathering with an old friend group that you haven’t seen in a while or reach out to that old college roommate you’ve been meaning to call.
Recovering a lost friendship could be just what you need at this time in your life, and this holiday gives you the reason you need to open up and tell your old pal you’ve been missing them.
19. Meet new friends.
While close friends are a treasure, interacting with your community and meeting new friends is precisely what International Friendship Day is all about. Check for places nearby that offer events for adults to meet, scan Meetup for groups and activities, or just make your way to a popular spot in town like a boutique, a park, or a cafe, and see what sorts of new connections you can make.
Putting yourself out there is the first step. If you’re lucky, you might even meet a new best friend to celebrate with next year!
20. Get to know each other better.
Do you have a fairly new friend group? Perhaps it’s been a while since you and your friends got really real. Either way, “getting to know you” games are a terrific way to learn more about each other!
You can start on the surface level with easy questions, then dig deeper as the night goes along. Delivering questions as part of a game allows you to get personal without things getting awkward. It also takes away the drudge work of trying to think of new things to ask.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll enjoy it so much you’ll make it a regular thing!
Where do we go from here?
While the officiality of International Friendship Day is still fairly recent, the concept of coming together as friends and strengthening community bonds is certainly nothing new. Also, considering the fact that we sometimes take our friends for granted, it’s good to have a day to check in and place value on the relationships we have outside of work and our families.
But let’s not just do this one day each year! International Friendship Day serves as a reminder that we need to make an effort to keep in touch and to look out for one another. Staying connected is important, and technology helps make it easier now than ever before.
Be inspired by Dr. Ramon Artemio Bracho and his friends, who came together for dinner one evening, decided to change the world in their own small way, and did. There is a community of people out there, many of whom are just waiting to interact with others, and you can change their lives by bringing them into yours. Whether that means doing a good deed for a stranger or reconnecting with a person from your past, every act of friendship makes a difference.
Have a happy Friendship Day! Any way you spend it, we hope you use it to connect.
Frequently Asked Questions
Simply put, International Friendship Day is about celebrating friendship. It might involve small get-togethers or large-scale community events, but it always involves connecting in the spirit of peace and understanding.
National Friendship Day, proposed by the founder of Hallmark, was declared a holiday by the US Congress. International Friendship Day originated with the World Friendship Crusade and is recognized by the UN.
International Friendship Day is the perfect day for all of the activities you and your friends talk about doing but never do, like trying a new adventure or learning about your community on a scavenger hunt.
To make your best friend feel special on International Friendship Day, invite her over for a girls’ night in take him for a guys’ night out! Doing special activities like this can bring you and your friends closer.