Uneasy about returning to pre-pandemic life? Here are 100 fun, productive things to do at home


Coronavirus infections in the U.S. are dropping and 50% of American adults have been fully vaccinated, according to new data. This means many are stepping out for the first time in a long time. Concerts and sporting events are returning (though at a lower capacity) and airport traffic is picking up with eager travelers.

New CDC guidelines advise that vaccinated adults can ditch their masks and stop social distancing outdoors and in most indoor settings.

We can’t quite call the pandemic over. There are still active infections around the world and currently no vaccine for children younger than 12 years old. And some Americans still feel unsure about getting back out there.

A recent survey by the American Psychological Association found 46% said they don’t feel comfortable going back to their pre-pandemic life.

“Behaviors take time to implement and adopt. They also take time to un-adopt,” says Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Remember, it’s not an on and off switch.”

If you’re still spending more time than usual at home, we’ve compiled 100 suggestions to help make it as interesting – and perhaps even as productive – as possible.

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1. Complete a puzzle: The more pieces the better! Feeling extra saucy? Take on a Rubik’s Cube. More of a word person? Crossword puzzle!

2. Start a journal or blog. Sure, it can be about the pandemic, but it could also be about a specific interest from chess to cheese.

3. If it won’t bother your neighbors: Dust off that old instrument and practice.

4. Text all your exes just in case you have one more thing you wanted to get off your chest.

5. Write poetry. Perhaps you can craft a haiku, or something without a specific structure. Just try it!

6. Watch all the really long movies you’ve avoided until now.

7. Download Duolingo, or a similar app, and teach yourself a foreign language.

8. Finally read “Infinite Jest,” “Les Miserables” or even “The Stand.” Go all in and read “Ulysses.” You got this.

9. Meditate. Try lying down with your eyes closed, palms up and while focusing on your breath. Or spend 20 minutes sitting crosslegged and repeat a soothing word to yourself in your head. (The latter is more like transcendental meditation.)

10. Face masks, moisturizer, oh my! Treat yourself to a 10-step skin care routine you don’t have time for during a normal work week.

11. Look at pictures of puppies.

12. Put together the most attractive charcuterie board possible, but you can only use foods you already have in your fridge and cupboard.

13. Take note from “Tangled” star Rapunzel, who has an entire song about how she’s spent her days alone in a castle. Activities included in her ditty: Ventriloquy, candle-making, papier-mâché and adding a new painting to her gallery.

14. Write actual letters to family and friends. After that? Write thank-you notes to service people who you remember went out of their way for you.

15. Learn calligraphy. YouTube can help.

16. Finally read the rules to those long and intense board games you’ve never played with the family. Encourage the family to play.

17. Put on a soap opera. Mute the sound. Create your own dialogue.

18. Have a space in your home where all of the Tupperware goes? Organize it and actually match lids to containers.

19. Try on all your clothes and determine whether they “spark joy” á la Marie Kondo.

20. Better yet, go through this process with your junk drawer and supply shelves.

21. Have a roommate meeting about how to be more considerate of one other, especially while you will likely be spending more time together. Bring baked goods.

22. Bake those goods.

23. Watch the films that won Oscars for best picture.

24. Watch films that won Independent Spirit Awards for best picture.

25. Watch films that critics say should have won those aforementioned awards.

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26. Read all the New Yorker issues piled on your desk.

27. Watch every Tom Hanks movie chronologically. The actor was one of the first celebrities to reveal a COVID-19 diagnosis.

28. Knit or crochet.

29. Use Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts or Marco Polo to video chat with your long-distance friends.

30. Try out at-home aerobics or yoga videos. Consider downloading a fitness app with curated workout playlists.

31. Look at yourself in the mirror. Attempt a self portrait with pencil and paper.

32. Take a bubble bath (bonus: Add a glass of wine).

33. Make a classic cocktail, from negronis to Manhattans and Aperol spritzes. Don’t forget the garnish.

34. Coloring books: They’re not just for kids.

35. Take time to reflect: What have you accomplished in the last year? What goals are you setting for yourself in the next year?

36. Write a short story or get started on that novel.

37. Actually try to reproduce something you see on Pinterest. Probably fail. Try again.

38. Clear out the family room and camp indoors with all blankets, popcorn and scary movies.

39. Finally get around to fixing that broken door knob and loose tile or cleaning scuffed up walls.

40. Acquire a foam roller and treat yourself to some physical therapy.

41. Pretend you’re 13 years old and fold a square piece of paper into a fortune teller you put your thumbs and pointer fingers into. Proceed to tell fortunes.

42. Learn how to braid (fishtail, French, etc.) via YouTube tutorial.

43. Throw out all your too-old makeup and products. (Tip: most liquid products have a small symbol on them noting expirations, usually six months to a year. This includes sunscreen!)

44. Interview your grandparents (over the phone, of course) and save the audio. Can you create an audio story or book with that file?

45. Go through your camera roll, pick your favorite pics from the past year and make a photo book or order framed versions online.

46. Go on a health kick and learn how to cook new recipes with ingredients you may not be using already, from miso to tahini.

47. Create a Google document of shows or movies you’re watching and share it among family and friends.

48. Make a list of things for which you are grateful.

49. Have your own wine tasting of whatever bottles you have at home. Make up stories about the journey of the grapes to your mouth.

50. Work on your financial planning, such as exploring whether to refinance your loan or ways to save more money.

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51. Perfect grandma’s bolognese recipe.

52. Make coffee, but this time study how many beans you use, which types, how hot the water is, how long it brews and whether any of that makes a difference.

53. Buy gift cards from your favorite local businesses to help keep them in business while we quarantine.

54. Watch “Frozen 2,” which went up early on Disney+. Another movie on the streaming service: “Stargirl.”

55. Write a book with your family. Pick a character and each member writes a chapter about their adventures. Read aloud to each other.

56. Have a Scrabble tournament. Or Bananagrams. Pictionary, anyone?

57. Get into baking with “The Great British Baking Show,” but your technical challenge is baking something with the ingredients you have on hand (that you didn’t already use in the charcuterie board).

58. Indoor scavenger hunt.

59. Alternate reading the Harry Potter series with your kids and cap each one off with the movie.

60. Dye your hair a new color. No one else needs to see it if you don’t like it.

61. Read Robert Jordan’s 14-book “Wheel of Time” series before it streams on Amazon, starring Rosamund Pike.

62. Write a play starring your loved ones. Perform it via a video call.

63. Go viral in the good way by making a quarantine-themed TikTok.

64. Rearrange your sock drawer. Really.

65. Stop procrastinating and do your income taxes.

66. Make lists of all the museums, sporting events and concerts you want to visit when they finally reopen.

67. Get into comics with digital subscriptions on your tablet, like Marvel Unlimited.

68. Rearrange your furniture to make it seem like your home is a totally different space.

69. Practice shuffling playing cards like a Poker dealer. Be ready for employment opportunities once all casinos open back up.

70. Organize your spice rack alphabetically or get crazy and do it by cuisine.

71. Teach your dog to shake. Hand sanitizer optional.

72. Memorize the periodic table. You never know when that will come in handy.

73. Order and put together some IKEA furniture. Time yourself.

74. Get a free trial of a streaming service and binge-watch as much as you can before it expires.

75. Apply for a new job. You have remote work experience now.

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76. Learn a new style of dance via YouTube, from bellydancing to break dancing.

77. Update or write your will and organize your affairs. Yes, it sounds melodramatic and morbid but let’s face it: This is a task many of us avoid because we never have the time. Now we do.

78. Perfect your corned beef and cabbage recipe for annual St. Patrick’s Day dinners.

79. Bring out the Legos. Build your house inside of your house.

80. Watch the “Star Wars” movies in this and only this order: Rogue One-IV-V-II-III-Solo-VI-VII-VIII-IX.

81. Two words: Coronavirus beard! Grow it, moisturize it, comb it, love it.

82. Learn the words to “Tung Twista.” Get them so ingrained in your brain that you can rap them as fast as Twista can. Impress everyone.

83. Been meaning to get some new glasses? Try on new frames virtually on sites like GlassesUSA.com and Warby Parker.

84. Attempt things with your non-dominant hand, from writing to brushing your teeth. Prepare to be frustrated.

85. How many words per minute can you type? See if you can get speedier by taking a typing course.

86. Prepare to verbally duel a bully who wants to discuss the evolution of the market economy in the Southern colonies, by memorizing Matt Damon’s “Good Will Hunting” speech.

87. Learn origami. Make cranes for your loved ones.

88. Stretch. Work on your flexibility. It’s possible to get the splits back, right?

89. Try to speak in pig Latin. Or, “ig-pay, atin-Lay.”

90. Talk to your plants. How are they doing? Make sure they are getting the amount of sunlight they should be. Check their soil. Water if necessary.

91. Deep condition your hair and put paraffin wax on your hands. Enjoy your soft hair and nails.

92. Consider donating money to food banks to help families struggling to get meals.

93. Write a song. If you want to make it about your time inside and put it to the tune of “My Sharona” and replace “Sharona” with “Corona,” do what you have to do.

94. Study the art of beatboxing.

95. Try moving in super-slow motion. It’s OK to laugh at regular speed.

96. You know how there are dozens of ways to wear a scarf, but you only wear it the one way? Learn the other ways.

97. Learn Old English words. Pepper them into your conversation. Wherefore not?

98. Try on a new shade of lipstick. See how long it takes your partner to notice it.

99. Take deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.

100. Sleep. Get lots of it.

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