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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. 

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! 

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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

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. 

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!

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.