With the majority of the country under shelter-in-place orders, most of us are spending our days confined to our homes. Whether you’re quarantined alone, with a partner or friend, or with children, it’s normal to feel a little claustrophobic and stir-crazy. Creative crafts and activities can help relieve these feelings and help the time pass while alleviating anxiety and providing a much-needed break from the news. Here we’ve got you covered, from craft ideas for adults and art activities for kids to suggestions and ideas for constructive and productive projects. Below are the 31 things to do when bored.
1. Make Candles
Looking for fun crafts to do when bored? Making candles is an enjoyable craft for the whole family. You can make candles for your house, for decorations for events, or for gifts. The main supplies you need to make candles are candle wax blocks, coloring, a double boiler, scents, candle holders, wicks, and pencils.
Though exact steps will vary based on the type of wax you buy, here is the breakdown of steps for preparing candles.
The first step in making candles is melting the wax. Don’t have a double boiler? Not to worry. Use two pots, with one that can fit inside of the other. Fill the larger pot about halfway with water and bring to a light simmer on the stovetop. Place the smaller pot within the larger pot, so that it is surrounded by water but not submerged. Place wax blocks into the smaller pot, making sure that water does not get into the wax. Heating the wax in this way allows for an even melting process.
While wax melts, set up your candle holders with wicks. If you’re using string wicks, wrap one around the middle of each pencil, for as many candles as you’re making.
When the wax is melted, turn off the burner and add coloring, if desired. Allow the wax to cool for a minute or so before adding scented oils. If you add scented oils when the wax is too hot, the scent will evaporate before you have a chance to create your candle. Stir to make sure both the scented oil and coloring are evenly distributed.
Finally, carefully pour the hot wax into your candle holders and allow them to harden overnight. Enjoy your homemade candle!
Each step of the candle-making process allows for creativity. Here are a few ideas to make unique candles for every occasion.
For candle colors, you can choose whatever color you like. For darker colors, add more dye. If you want to layer candle colors, pour the colored wax into your candle holders and allow it to harden before pouring another layer of colored wax.
You can make your candle smell like nearly anything you want. Though you can buy prepared candle scents, essential oils are an eco-friendly, natural way to add scent to your homemade candles. Clove, cinnamon, and peppermint essential oils give candles a warm smell that’s perfect for fall and winter. Citrus essential oils, eucalyptus, and lavender essential oils are lighter scents perfect for spring and summer candles.
Finally, get creative with your candle holders. You can use any heat-resistance container that you have on hand, including empty cans, mason jars, and pasta sauce jars. Decorate the holders with glitter, twine bows, or any decorations safe to use.
2. Work Out at Home
Spending most of your time indoors doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise. Don’t let your fitness goals fall by the wayside. Instead, complete at-home workouts that incorporate strength-training exercises, aerobic exercise, and flexibility exercises. To connect with others during your workout, tune into live-streamed workouts, or use Zoom or FaceTime to virtually work out with a friend.
3. FaceTime with Friends and Family
This one is especially relevant if you’re living alone and spending quarantine by yourself. Social distancing, though critical to slow the spread of coronavirus, can be detrimental to our mindset. Social connection is crucial to our mental health and wellbeing. Social media, though helpful in many regards, is not a substitute for face-to-face conversations with loved ones. Set up regular times to Skype and FaceTime your parents, siblings, cousins, and best friends.
If you have children, coordinate with parents to set up a FaceTime between your children and their best friends. This can help kids maintain their social connections until they can return to school and resume playdates and birthday parties.
4. Learn an Instrument
If you’ve been wanting to learn an instrument, why not use this unexpected downtime to dedicate to practicing? If you have an instrument at home, bring it out and look up YouTube tutorials. Or, you could sign up for virtual music lessons. Many instructors are switching from in-person lessons to online lessons. Pick a favorite song that you want to learn as your goal. This can help keep you motivated to practice.
If you don’t have an instrument at home, you could always order a cheap keyboard or guitar on Amazon to start with. Alternatively, learn how to sing! Technically, your voice is an instrument that you can bring everywhere with you. A common misconception is that people are born knowing how to sing. Though this may be the case for a very select handful of people, most people learn how to sing over time. Though not all of us are gifted with a voice like that of Celine Dion or Beyoncé, we can train our voices to hit the right notes and at least sound pleasant.
A good dance party is all you need to lighten the mood and add some much-needed fun and activity to your day. Create a playlist of your favorite songs from each decade.
6. Make a Scrapbook
Going through old photos with your family can be both a heart-warming and hilarious experience. Put together old pictures in a scrapbook and write captions to commemorate good times. Going through old pictures provides a bonding opportunity for you and your family members. Discussing old memories is nostalgic and evokes lots of laughs.
7. Plan a Spa Day
Extra downtime is a great excuse to incorporate more relaxing activities into your day. Plus, exercising self-care is critical during these stressful and unprecedented times. Enjoy a hot bubble bath with bath bombs and a glass of wine and put on some soothing music.
You can also plan a spa-day for the whole family. Your kids will love putting on moisturizing face masks, painting each other’s nails, and participating in relaxing activities.
8. Making Puppets
Your kids will love making puppets. Simply set up the kitchen table with brown lunch bags, glue, scissors, markers, sequins, plastic eyeballs, and string. If you don’t have brown lunch bags on hand, use old socks. Let the kids decorate the bags or the socks to look like puppets. Have the kids make as many puppets as they want. Then encourage them to plan a performance for you using their cast of puppet characters.
9. Organize Your Room
Have you been wanting to declutter space but just haven’t been able to find the time? Using time in quarantine to organize your room is a productive use of the time that will have lasting benefits. First, start the organization process by getting rid of as many items as possible that you don’t need. Set aside one box or bag for donation and another box or bag for the garbage.
Then go through your belonging and store your items in drawers. Use shoebox tops, boxes, and small bags to organize your items. Keeping your counter and desk surfaces clear is crucial for destressing the mind and creating a sense of peace in your environment.
10. Take a Road Trip…Going Nowhere
Whether you’re quarantined at home alone or with your children, taking a drive can provide welcome relief from the feeling of confinement. Make a playlist of your favorite songs or download podcasts to listen to on the road to make the drive a relaxing experience. If you live in a densely-populated urban or metropolitan area, drive outside of the city center to more open country roads and scenery.
11. Karaoke Competition
You don’t need a karaoke machine to do karaoke. Simply download the karaoke versions of your favorite songs or pull up the karaoke music with lyrics on YouTube. Appoint one family member to judge the performances, just for fun. Even if you don’t sing, karaoke is a fun way to enjoy music and spend time with others.
12. Hike or Bike Ride
Getting outside is important, when possible, in order to help stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Head to a local hiking spot or walking path. If you want a challenging hike, choose a trail that gains elevation and is at least three miles long. Just take caution to abide by social distancing regulations to ensure the safety of yourself and others.
Even if you haven’t historically had a green thumb, now is the time to rediscover gardening. Plant a small garden in the backyard and involve others in your household. For example, children will love digging holes, planting seeds, and watering the plants. Encourage kids to document the process of germinating plants over time.
You don’t need to have a yard in order to enjoy planting and gardening. Get a long box that fits on your windowsill or porch. Plant your favorite flowers to add an uplifting and aesthetically pleasing aspect to your space. Or, if you enjoy cooking, plant your favorite herbs like rosemary, basil, and thyme. That way, you’ll always have fresh herbs on hand to add a burst of flavor to whatever dish you’re preparing.
14. Learn a Language
Learning a new skill helps keep you occupied while challenging the mind. In fact, learning a new skill helps maintain brain plasticity. Online resources, old textbooks, and smartphone apps can all be helpful in learning a new language. Join a virtual chat for people who want to practice new language skills.
15. Focus on Nutrition
On the normal treadmill of life, finding time to focus on nutrition and cooking can be extremely challenging. With nearly all restaurants closed and more time at home, it’s easier to carve out time to cook and prepare healthy meals! Plus, if you have a condition related to metabolic dysfunction such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, or fatty liver disease, cleaning up your diet can have a huge therapeutic impact on the course of your disease.
Focus on eating a balanced diet that encompasses these macronutrients:
- Protein: Protein is vital for supporting muscle synthesis, neurotransmitter synthesis, and enzyme production. Beyond simply the amount of protein you consume on a daily basis, the quality of the protein is extremely important. High-quality proteins afford optimal ratios of essential amino acids that the body needs to function on a daily basis. Lean meats, low-fat dairy, and fish provide optimal ratios of amino acids. Plant-based proteins like tofu, beans, brown rice, and nuts must be combined throughout the day to provide optimal ratios of essential amino acids to support your health.
- Fats: Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are healthy fats that support our health. You may have heard of omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats with powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the body. You can find healthy fats in nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish.
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates in the diet should come from complex carbohydrates sources, primarily plant-based foods. To get complex carbohydrates, reach for whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, fruits, and vegetables. On the other hand, stay away from simple carbohydrates like sugars and refined grains, which can spike your blood sugar and lead to metabolic conditions.
Many people are stocking up on frozen prepared meals and canned goods. However, keep in mind that depending on your location, you’re not limited to dried and frozen foods during this time. Fresh produce is still abundant in many grocery stores. Reach for produce that keeps well in the refrigerator, on the counter, or in the pantry.
- Vegetables: Choose hearty vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, purple cabbage, carrots, celery, and beets, which keep beautifully in the fridge for longer than a week. Leafy kale may get slightly wilted, though it’s a great addition to stews and side dishes when chopped and cooked. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions, and garlic can be stored in a dark, dry area of the kitchen. When stored properly, these vegetables can last several weeks.
- Fruits: Fruits tend to be a little trickier than vegetables when it comes to long term storage. When choosing fruits that will last in your refrigerator or kitchen, go for fruits with a thick peel or rind. Watermelon, cantaloupe, pomegranate, pineapple, oranges, lemons, limes, unripe bananas, and unripe avocados are excellent options.
16. Try Cooking New Recipes
Using your new knowledge of nutrition, experiment with cooking healthy meals. If you’re unable to go to the grocery store and buy new ingredients, don’t sweat it! Challenge yourself to combine the foods already in your pantry and fridge and see what kind of meals you can come up with. Test the recipes on other members of the household to get feedback. You never know, you might just come up with something fantastic!
If you have access to more ingredients, practice making something that you’ve always wanted to learn. For example, maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to make gnocchi or roast a perfect chicken.
17. Make a Few Treats, Too
Though it’s a great time to focus on nutrition, splurging on treats during a quarantine is necessary. If you’ve never learned to bake, now is a great time. Try preparing cakes, bread, and cupcakes with your favorite flavors. If you want to make a treat that doesn’t involve baking, try preparing stove-top s’ mores. As a family, roast marshmallows over the stovetop. When sufficiently roasted, create a sandwich using two graham cracker squares as the bread, and chocolate and marshmallow as the filling.
For an extra challenge, try to make healthier versions of your favorite treats. For example, swap out oil for applesauce or avocado. Or, add a few tablespoons of flaxseeds to add more nutritional value. Flaxseeds even serve as a binding agent in baked goods and can replace eggs.
Looking for art ideas? Try decorating a cake like a pro and challenge your kids or housemates to do the same. Try making fondant, making icing roses, and writing on the cake. Think out of the box and enjoy the final result.
A particularly fun treat idea during quarantine is making a “Baked Alaska.” This involves baking a cake and topping it with ice cream. Prepare the ice cream portion by freezing it in a large bowl. Coat with meringue, brown in the oven, and drizzle with rum that you can light on fire for a little extra pizzazz. Just be sure to be safe. Kids will love watching Baked Alaska come alive with a few flames. A Baked Alaska also makes a perfect exciting cake to celebrate a birthday indoors.
18. Plan Your Bucket List
With some extra downtime, take a little time to think about things you would like to experience or accomplish in your lifetime. When we’re stuck in a rut of the daily routine, it can sometimes be difficult to look ahead further than just getting through the next day. However, with a little more free time on your hands, allow yourself to dream and think about what you would really love to do. Take a little time each day to do some journaling. Write down activities you want to experience, places you want to explore, and countries you want to visit when travel opens up again. For example, do you want to go sky diving, run a marathon, and visit Antarctica? Write it down!
Planning a bucket list is also a fun activity for children. Allow them to get creative when writing their list. For extra involvement for kids, make the bucket list planning into a craft. Encourage the kids to make a vision board, filled with images of how they view their future and things they want to do. Provide a piece of poster board for each child, as well as old magazines, pictures, scissors, glue, construction paper, colored pencils, and markers.
19. Play Board Games and Card Games
Classic board games and card games can help pass the time and make isolating inside more tolerable. If you want, start a tournament with all housemates and keep track of who wins the most games. Whoever has won the most games is the champion.
- Board games: Clue, Monopoly, Life, chess, and checkers
- Card games: Poker, Rummy, War, Go Fish, and Crazy Eights
20. Interactive Games
Interactive games like charades can help everyone let loose and unwind a little, in the face of the current situation.
- Charades: To play charades, cut a single sheet of paper into 50 small slips. Have each person in the household write something on each slip of paper. You can write anything from an inside joke to a favorite family trip, as long as it’s something you are able to act out and that the other members of your household will understand. Fold up the slips of paper and place them into a bowl or a bag. Split the individuals in your household into at least two teams. One team starts by having one member pull a slip of paper out of the hat. Putting 60 seconds on a timer, the individual acts out what’s written on the paper. If the team guesses it correctly within 60 seconds, that team gets a point. Alternate teams until all slips of paper are gone, then tally up the points. The team with the most points wins! Charades is guaranteed to evoke lots of laughs and provide comic relief.
- Taboo: Taboo is a game set that includes cards that include the activity you are trying to describe, as well as a list of “taboo” words. When it’s their turn, the players must describe a word without using any of the taboo words. For example, let’s say the chosen word is “cooking.” You may have to get others on your team to guess this word by describing the action without using the terms “food,” “eat,” “prepare,” “pots,” and “stove.” Taboo is a fun and challenging game that will have everyone laughing in no time.
- Heads Up: This is a fun game that can be played simply using an app on your smartphone. The person guessing will hold the phone up to their head, while their team acts out the word. To add even more fun, the game will film those acting out the word. This makes for a lot of laughs when watching the video.
Puzzles are excellent projects that can be occupying for several hours, or even several days. Jigsaw puzzles with hundreds or thousands of pieces are satisfying to complete and help keep the mind busy while you pass the time. Crossword puzzles are a fun way to learn new words and trivia. The Rubik’s cube is a fun three-dimensional puzzle to challenge the mind.
22. Brain Teasers
Just like puzzles, brain teasers get your mind going and exercise creativity and deep thought. Anything that challenges the mind is a productive way to pass the time when sheltered at home. Enjoy pondering riddles, analyzing optical illusions, and solving other word problems.
23. Start a YouTube Channel
Do you have a unique skill that you want to share with people? Or, maybe you know a foreign language, have developed your athletic skills, or become proficient in a musical instrument. If you want to share it with others, YouTube is a great way to do that. Film a series of videos on how to learn these new skills. Get creative with video editing, filters, effects, sounds, and music.
Do your kids enjoy filming scenes? Allow them to get creative with their YouTube content and help them edit and post their videos. Maybe they want to share their art in their video or share ideas for crafts they love to do.
24. Watch Movies and Shows
Though this pretty much goes without saying, watching movies and shows is a relaxing way to pass the time while confined indoors. If you’re feeling anxious, put on funny and relaxing shows that make you laugh. Watch Disney movies and old classic films for a sense of nostalgia.
25. Art Activities for Kids
Do your kids want to do an art project? Have them make signs for their rooms with their names on them using markers, glitter, magazine cutouts, and paint.
If kids want to make other cool crafts, try origami or making paper airplanes. Have a contest to see whose paper airplane travels the furthest. Another fun paper activity is cutting snowflakes out of paper. A seasonal variation on this is using multicolored paper to cut similar designs. But instead of calling them snowflakes, call them flowers! Make a paper garden by cutting stems and leaves out of green construction paper, and top with a colorful “snowflake.”
Kids also love working with clay. Have them use kid-friendly clay to construct small figurines, bowls, jewelry, or anything else they come up with.
Finally, all kids love painting. Depending on the age of your children, finger painting is an enjoyable activity. Put poster boards or large pieces of paper on the kitchen floor and provide nontoxic paint for kids to use to paint with their hands.
26. Art Ideas and Craft Ideas for Adults
Arts and crafts aren’t only for kids! Adults can make cool crafts as well. Try painting on a canvas. Recycle old jars and cans to make candle holders or pots for herbs. Learn how to crochet or knit and make a scarf.
You can also do DIY projects. Simply look around the house for things you might need. For example, do you need a holder for your makeup brushes? Simply take an old jar, fill it with pebbles or dried beans, and decorate the outside. You can conveniently store makeup brushes in this container, to be ready for use when you need them.
27. DIY Protective Face Masks
This craft, though maybe not fun, serves a noble purpose of helping slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Having a mask on hand is necessary in the case that you must leave the house to get food or access medical care. Covering the nose and mouth are crucial for preventing particles from leaving your body, becoming aerosolized, and potentially infecting others. Wearing a protective covering is also important for helping prevent infection from others.
Because of the shortage of facemasks in hospitals and medical centers across the country, it is advised that all surgical and N95 masks be reserved for medical professionals. The general public can create their own from household items.
The Center for Disease Control provides helpful tips for making your own facemasks at home. (1) You can cut and sew a variety of materials available in your house from old T-shirts, bandanas, or socks. Use rubber bands to secure the mask to your ears and hold the mask to your face.
28. Get a Pet
Getting a pet is a wonderful thing to do if you are quarantined alone or with a family. Getting a dog can help relieve unpleasant feelings associated with social isolation and anxiety. Taking care of a dog can also provide purpose and structure throughout your day, and also provides a home for a puppy in need. Dogs make wonderful companions for adults and children alike. Getting a puppy for children during this time can provide them with company with they’re restricted from socializing with other children. Taking care of a living creature also instills the importance of responsibility for children.
If you don’t quite have the right setup for a dog, consider a lower-maintenance creature like a cat, gecko, parakeet, or hamster.
Though meditation doesn’t exactly sound fun, it’s a skill that is extremely difficult to master. While the benefits of meditation are proven, so many of us are hesitant to try it in our everyday lives because it requires us to press the “pause” button in our busy lives. Why not try meditating when you have more time than usual? The Calm app and Headspace app are helpful resources for learning how to meditate.
Meditation has been shown to make a positive impact on mental and physical health and wellbeing. Mentally, meditation serves to center the mind and strip power from anxious thoughts. Physically, the relaxing effect of meditation decreases stress hormones like cortisol, promoting healthier immune function and metabolic function.
During this chaotic and unprecedented time, finding ways to soothe anxiety and center thought is crucial for mental health.
30. Plan a Post-Quarantine Trip
Research destinations as a family and decide what excursion you want to do once shelter-in-place orders and travel restrictions are lifted. Planning a post-quarantine trip can give your family something to look forward to and help everyone realize that this quarantine won’t last forever.
For example, you could plan an excursion as simple as going to your favorite restaurant as a family. Or, you could plan a road trip to the beach or even plan a flight across the country or to Europe.
Study the constellations and on a clear night, lie outside and see if you can spot any of the constellations. If you need to get away from light pollution, drive to an unpopulated area and lie on the hood of the car and gaze up at the stars. Watching shooting stars can be an exciting experience as well and provide a welcome relief from the confinement of being indoors.
Wondering what to do when bored? Try any of the 31 things above to help relieve your boredom. Being quarantined at home can quickly lead to feelings of cagey-ness. Having an array of ideas on hand for fun ideas to keep you occupied. When the COVID-19 pandemic has finally blown over, you could come out of isolation knowing a new language, how to cook new recipes, and being a master of puzzles.