Winter is usually when we spend the most time indoors, especially as the days are so cold and short but this year we have the added incentive of a global pandemic. However, this doesn’t mean that we have to try and complete Netflix by watching every special they release or play video games all night. So to counter this easily triggerable trap of TV and games I’ve compiled a list of genuinely fun activities to try at home with friends, family or flatmates.
1 – Cooking
Now this category will encompass a few ideas that are all related to an essential part of life which is food. Certainly a lot of my friends have really taken to cooking up elaborate meals with all the extra time in the evening and these suggestions will highlight cooking and all things food related.
The first in this category being a themed eating experience; and this can be based on whatever you can think of. For example you might prepare an international dinner from somewhere you’ve visited or not. Maybe you can try to recreate some dishes native to Indonesia, a dessert from Iceland or a snack from Egypt. Of course, your ingredients may be limited by the local supermarket but there’s always room for improvisation; it doesn’t have to be an exact copy. Through experimentation, you might even discover combos you never thought were possible!
International food creations is just one branch on this idea tree but it can easily extend to recreating your favourite Subway sandwich, trying to make bubble tea or even brew a beer or wine! You can theme your ideas on a region, chain restaurant or just invent a reason to get creative.
2 – Writing
As we approach Christmas it’s still common (believe it or not!) for people to send cards and letters. Not everything needs to be seen or read instantaneously; sending letters and cards is a thoughtful way to check in with loved ones. I always appreciate the effort that went into sending a card or letter despite online communication being as quick as the touch of a button.
It’s not only being creative with cards that is an avenue for indoor entertainment but also the content of the cards themselves is another lost art. When was the last time you wrote a letter to a friend or even a stranger? Maybe you prefer to chat over the phone or on a video call but there is value to writing out a letter to somebody; care and effort has been made. There are now a lot of pen pal websites who can unite people who enjoy the process of writing and receiving letters from all over the world. Even if you might have run out of things to say to your parents, it’s still fascinating to learn about life elsewhere.
If you prefer to keep your writing to yourself, why not try writing a short story? Emphasis on short, even a couple of lines gives plenty of opportunity for creativity. I’ve always wanted to write a story but have never had the time to do so but now I’m enjoying just writing a paragraph of whatever just to enjoy the process of creating a narrative, regardless of quality or even logic sometimes! It’s a great activity to just play around with and have fun.
3 – Board Games
It may be that your experience of board games has exclusively been the classics: monopoly, cluedo, trivial pursuit and maybe a handful of others. These are all phenomenal games and classics for a reason but there is more out there. There has recently been somewhat of a board game revival in recent years. Maybe with the increasing popularity of video games, people are looking for an offline alternative? Whatever the reason, board games offer huge entertainment value and are something that you can easily pick up and play together, even over video call if necessary.
There are intricately designed strategy games that can take a good while to learn and master, and there are games that are immediately accessible from the first move. A personal recommendation and one that I’ve really gotten into over the past few months is Codenames, a game that tests yours and your teammate’s word-association knowledge. Perhaps not a great description admittedly but it’s most definitely worth a spin. Another fantastic game is Azul which has you as interior decorator for the King… Another I’ve probably not sold well but that is genuinely engaging, fun and encourages strategic thinking.
4 – DIY
Not just relegated to the realms of home improvement, this category extends far beyond putting up shelves and assembling flatpack furniture. DIY encompasses the true nature of constructing and fixing; things like upholstery, tailoring and even darning! Today it really is easy to at least find an instruction manual for anything, look up how to fix or create something on youtube and as long as you are patient with the project, you’ll find a way.
In recent weeks I’ve repaired a couple of old pairs of trousers that had just worn out over time and had come apart at some of the seams. Despite one of the pairs being one of my favourites because they fit so well, I had stopped wearing them altogether because of their frayed state. So I thought that I wouldn’t seek a replacement this time but I’d repair them myself so that’s exactly what I did with a bit of extra fabric and a needle and thread. Now I’ve not only given a second life to a favourite pair of trousers but I’ve also personalised them which makes them even more special.
Jewellery too can be a fun project to try at home. Obviously metalwork, gem-cutting and smelting require specific tools to make but a lot can be improvised and done at home. A necklace can be crafted with such simple items as a chain and sea glass for instance. You might need a few more supplies than your average toolbox may contain but with persistence and some improvisation, you can create simple and cute jewellery and maybe even go on to more elaborate items with time and practise. Another bonus is that homemade jewelry is a thoughtful gift for loved ones!
5 – Photography
With the impressive array of editing software and high quality images being offered by every smartphone on the market, now is a great time to really delve in and get to grips with your smartphone camera. Despite this list being for indoor activities, capturing life from your window or in the garden can offer a novel perspective of your immediate surroundings. The great thing with photography is that it’s up to the photographer where the process takes place. Limiting the process to the indoors or just within your immediate environment allows for plenty of adaptation and creativity within defined parameters. One idea is to explore capturing portraits of your pets or even of willing family members; compare natural expressions or directed poses.
I’ve extended the reach of my photography to the edge of my garden and discovered a love of bird-watching, specifically trying to capture them as they flit about overhead. Photographing wildlife has been great not only in terms of learning about framing and composition but also the editing process, learning about the variety of birds that visit my area and their behaviours. It’s also quite amazing the quality of image that can be made with the help of editing. Messing around with the filters and colours can also lead to some fun and surprising images.
All in all I think that with a little creative license and not putting any pressure on the result, creating and discovering activities at home can be a great investment of time. I can personally vouch for the value of a number of the above suggestions!