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10 cheap and fun games and hobbies to do, if you're stuck at home

10 cheap and fun games and hobbies to do, if you're stuck at home
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You're bored. We get it. You're looking for fun games and hobbies that you can do indoors because the coronavirus is forcing millions of people to stay at home. Scientists and doctors agree that the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19, for which there is no treatment, is for all of us to assume that we are infected and to stay indoors and away from others out of fear that we could pass the virus on to to others, especially the more vulnerable members of the population.

While this isn't the ideal way to live for many, especially younger people who spend a lot of time with their friends and families, it's absolutely crucial for everyone to follow the instructions that will eventually help "flatten the curve." 

To help folks find hobbies and pastimes that will allow them enjoy their time at home a little more, we've compiled a list of ten things anyone can do at home that will fit any budget. 

1. Yoga: Invest in your mental and physical well-being

Being stuck at home for all hours of the day can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. We are social beings, and being able to go outside to enjoy the fresh air and to see others is part of our freedom. Now that most of us are stuck inside, it can be hard to find balance. Yoga can take care of both the mental and physical toll of quarantine, self-isolation, or social distancing. Learn to breathe properly to help soothe your mind and work toward goals, like becoming more flexible or finally being able to do a split. Staying mentally and physically engaged is one of the most important things you can do right now. There are even personal trainers giving away free lessons online, for those stranded at home. 

Calm 3mm Yoga Mat: $6.58 at Walmart
If you're looking to get into yoga while you're stuck at home but not sure how you'll like it, this under-$10 yoga mat is a good choice for you. While your mental and physical health are priceless, this cheap option will make your investment easy on your wallet. View Deal

2. Baking: 'Quarantine baking' is real, so make yourself a cake

What's more comforting than a warm piece of cake? Not a whole lot, by the looks of it - except for when it's homemade cake. Baked goods are delicious, but we can guarantee you that they will be even more delicious when you've made them yourself. It doesn't matter what you choose to bake, whether it's the humble scone or a fabulous frosted cake: there's science behind why baking is so therapeutic. Of course, it'll help pass the time and you'll get to eat something delicious when you're done - but it's also about following a recipe and working with your hands. When your hands are occupied and your mind is focused, you're staying happy and healthy! 

Silicone Muffin Pan- Nonstick Cupcake/Muffin/Brownie Reusable Baking Tray: $7.21 at Walmart
Next time you go to the grocery store, pick up some flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. You may feel inspired to bake something delicious - and the best part? You won't be forced to share with others. View Deal

How to Bake for Beginners: An Easy Cookbook for Baking the Basics: $12.32 at Walmart
If you're just starting out, don't worry: baking is a very straightforward process, as long as you have everything you need. This book will teach you the basics of baking while you're stuck inside. Take up a skill and eat some delicious baked goods? Yes please!View Deal

BakerEze 20 Piece Bakeware Set with Cooling Rack & Baking Accessories: $22.43 at Walmart
'Quarantine baking' is real, and for good reason: now that most of us have some extra time on our hands, there's nothing wrong in testing out a new hobby. Once you have all the right tools, baking is one that you can easily - and cheaply - sustain. View Deal

3. Cooking: Teach yourself the basics or take your skills to the next level

updated version of my old risotto recipe, with shiitake mushrooms and fresh spring peas! you can use frozen peas too— just them sit out and thaw while you're stirring the risotto (it'll take a good 25-30 minutes, perfect time to listen to a podcast and work out those forearms). I included my vegan parmesan recipe below too; for a nut-free version search for "toasted hemp parmesan" on my blog! risotto-making has always been very therapeutic for me and I hope you find it calming too 🥄 . . Shiitake Spring Pea Risotto (serves 2) 4 cups vegetable broth 1 tbsp olive oil 8 oz fresh shiitake (or baby bella) mushrooms, roughly chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped, or 1 leek, white and pale green parts chopped 1 cup dry arborio rice 1/4 cup dry white wine (or more broth) 1 cup shelled green peas (thawed, if using frozen) 1/2 cup vegan parmesan (recipe below) freshly ground black pepper In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté mushrooms with a pinch of salt, until liquid is released and mushrooms began to brown. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl, then add remaining olive oil and the chopped onion/garlic. Sauté for 10 minutes until softened. In a separate pot, bring 4 cups broth to a simmer over medium heat; reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm. Add rice to onions/garlic and stir to combine, then add white wine and stir until liquid is absorbed. Begin to add the broth to the rice, a ladleful at a time. Maintain a simmer on low heat and add in the broth slowly, stirring each time until incorporated-- this should take about 20-25 minutes, until mixture is creamy and rice is tender but still firm to the bite. When done, add mushrooms, peas, and vegan parmesan, and stir until peas are cooked through. Season with salt to taste, and serve topped with fresh pea shoots/micro-greens (or chopped scallions), and a crack of black pepper. Vegan parmesan recipe: In a food processor, pulse 1 cup dry raw cashews (or walnuts/toasted sunflower seeds), 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powd. and 2 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast, until a fine meal forms. Store remainder in an airtight container for two weeks in the fridge. HANNAH CHE · vegan recipes

A photo posted by @hannah__chia on Mar 23, 2020 at 6:01am PDT

If there's anything we should all be learning to do better right now, it's cooking. It's one of the top skills to have in life, and with the vast amount of take out and delivery we consume, our cooking skills may not be up to scratch. With many of our favorite restaurants and cafes closed for the time being, we've been left to our own devices in terms of sustenance - so instead of eating the same few meals every few days, try switching it up, or creating a mealtime adventure for yourself. Can't travel around the world right now? Visit other countries by making their national dishes. Do it yourself or with the people who live with you - you'll all get to enjoy the delicious bounty at the end. At the very least, get one of the best pressure cookers, and start to make your own meals.

How to Cook Everything The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food (with 1,000 Photos): $33.30 at Barnes and Noble
Tired of the same meals over and over again? Expand your recipe repertoire with Mark Bittman's book about the basics. After reading this, you'll have the right tools to get creative in the kitchen - after all, we could all use a warm and comforting homemade meal right now. View Deal

Cindy's Supper Club: Meals from Around the World to Share with Family and Friends: $35 at Barnes and Noble
Travel around the world while you're stuck inside: food is one of the best ways to experience a culture, so get cooking while you have the extra time. View Deal

4. Adult coloring books: the next best thing to meditation

It's simple: all you need is a set of colored pencils and a pencil sharpener and you're all set to spend hours coloring in an adult coloring book. While you're stuck inside and at home during the coronavirus outbreak, coloring is one of the best ways you can pass the time and cope with uncertainty - researchers have proclaimed it the next best thing to meditation. With your brain so focused, the hours and minutes will pass easily. And who knows? Maybe you'll love your creations so much, you'll want to frame them. 

Color Me To Sleep: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Promote Relaxation and Restful Sleep: $7.98 at Barnes and Noble
It's true: coloring can help you focus, relax, and can even help you get better sleep. There are a ton of health benefits to coloring for adults and kids alike, so do it alone or as a family - there's no wrong way to color. Get creative and color your worries away!View Deal

Prang Colored Pencil Set, 50-Color: $7.57 at Walmart
With these colored pencils, you won't spend a fortune to achieve hours of fun while you're isolated at home. And they're versatile, too: if adult coloring books aren't for you, you can try your hand at drawing, among other kinds of creative activities. View Deal

5. Jigsaw puzzles: make the hours fly by

You probably remember doing puzzles as a child, and we're pleased to say that they've come back in vogue, and for adults too. There's been no better time to invest in a jigsaw puzzle if you're stuck at home and need to fill the hours. Challenge yourself and buy a 1,000-piece puzzle to do by yourself or with anyone you're self-isolating with - we can guarantee that hours will fly by without you even noticing. Plus, you'll end up with a pretty picture or design you'll want to frame when you're done. 

Clementoni Paris, Montmartre 1500 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle: $26.95 at Barnes and Noble
The time to invest in a jigsaw puzzle has never been better. Revisit a childhood favorite and engage your brain whether you're bored at home or just looking for a new hobby. Pick out a design or a picture you like, and get to work!View Deal

Coffee by the Lake 550 Piece Puzzles: $14.99 at Barnes and Noble
Puzzles aren't just great tools to pass the time, but believe or not, they stimulate the imagination. Dream about all the places you want to go to and help yourself visualize with the help of a puzzle. Put on a some soothing music or your favorite podcast and start sorting those pieces. View Deal

6. Board games: Sit down for some good family fun

Stuck at home with your family? Have kids who need to be entertained? Sit down for some good family fun around some board games. It's an old-school way to pass the time, and you and the people you're self-isolating with will bond over the shared experience. Plus, you'll learn something along the way: get a better grasp of strategy with a few classics, or try a game you've never heard of before to learn something new. 

Monopoly Game: $15.88 at Walmart
Stuck inside? Try playing Monopoly. It's a classic you'll want to revisit time and time again - get better each time to win and you'll have something to brag about. It's a classic for a reason!View Deal

Classic Jenga Game: $10.27 at Walmart
Another classic - a simple game that's great for all ages. Whether you're stuck with family or roommates, or even by yourself, playing Jenga can get your mind off being in isolation. View Deal

7. Watch TV: Catch up on TV or revisit some old favorites

Streaming services are stepping up to help people pass the time while they're self-isolating at home. Disney Plus released 'Frozen 2' weeks ahead of schedule so parents can distract their children for a few hours, and other services like Hulu and Netflix are bringing fresh new content to their subscribers. The best TV streaming services have a ton of features you can binge-watch - just because you have a few extra hours in the day doesn't mean you have to be productive. Go ahead and watch your favorites. And if you aren't a subscriber of these services, consider it - you don't know what you're missing. 

Netflix: $8.99/month
Netflix is one of the bigger players in the streaming market and is one of the best movie and TV streaming sites you can choose from. With thousands of titles, there's a whole lot to choose from - plus, to ease the pain of social distancing, Netflix introduced Netflix Party to let you watch with your friends - but from a distance, of course.
View Deal

Disney Plus: Get your free trial
Get seven days of Disney Plus absolutely free when you register. After that, you'll pay just $6.99 per month. With titles like 'The Mandalorian', 'Frozen 2', and 'Moana', you can keep the kids - and yourself - entertained for hours. View Deal

8. Learn something new: Language, music, and more

If you really want to make the most out of the extra time you now have, try learning something new - anything. If you're thinking about a language, try the best Spanish learning apps or the best learn French software and apps. If you have an instrument but need to brush up on your skills, consider the best online piano lessons. It's a great time to add to your skill set, and learning anything will keep your brain engaged during this trying time. Plus, parents will be able to keep students occupied by getting Rosetta Stone free for students

Rosetta Stone: 3 free months of Rosetta Stone for students
Keep you student engaged by getting them 3 free months of Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone is one of the best language learning software options out there, so you can't go wrong with a free trial. View Deal

Get 3 months free of online guitar lessons with Fender Play
Have a guitar at home and want to brush up on your skills? Get three free months of Fender Play by clicking "Get Code." But act quickly - only the first 100K new subscribers are eligible, and a deal this good is likely to go quickly. View Deal

9. Try photo editing: your best pictures can look better

Indoor photography can be just as stimulating as outdoor photography: you'll force yourself to pay attention to the tiniest details, and you may notice things you've never seen before. Snap some cool and interesting photos and take your art a step further - round up photos you've taken before self-isolation and photos you've taken inside, and edit them in the best photo editing software. Play with light, shadows, and color, and you'll never know what you end up with. 

Free 7 day trial of Creative Cloud, then $19.99/month
Perfect your photos by signing up for Creative Cloud. Gain access to programs like Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, InDesign, and more. View Deal

90-Day free trial of Affinity
In response to the novel coronavirus, Affinity is offering some pretty stellar deals to support the creative community. Get a 90-day free trial of Affinity Suite. Or, if you would rather buy than subscribe, get a 50% discount on your order. View Deal

10. DIY: Take up knitting, journaling, and more

For a relaxing solitary endeavor that's also productive and stimulating, try out some DIY projects. There's no limit on what you can do - some more popular options include knitting, journaling, podcasting, and more. Look around you and see what you can use, and you'll sure to be surprised by the versatility of some of the objects in your home. If you can spare some pasta from your pantry rations, try some macaroni art (your kids will love it). Or, get started on some early holiday gifts by knitting scarves for the whole family. There's no wrong way to get creative!

Knitting for the Absolute Beginner: $17.96 at Barnes and Noble
Want to try knitting but don't know where to start? A good place is this book, where you'll be introduced to a ton of materials and techniques so you can pick which one is for you. View Deal

Bullet Journal: Pineapple : Notebook Dotted Grid, (5.5 x 8.5): $5.99 at Barnes and Noble
Keep track of your mental and physical health by buying a bullet journal. They're all the rage and they really work: it's a place where you can keep a schedule, log how much water you drink, what you've eaten, and how you feel. What you write is up to you. View Deal

Sophie Kaemmerle

Sophie is TopTenReviews’s Hobbies and Lifestyle Editor. She is a born and bred New Yorker who, paradoxically, loves being in the great outdoors. Her favorite pastimes include running, baking, and writing. She also spends her time volunteering and leading volunteer projects with the Good+ Foundation and Achilles International when not providing information on the best deals, products, and services on the internet to TopTenReviews readers.