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Quarantined at home: 30 ideas to help you pass the time

Quarantined at home: 30 ideas to help you pass the time

You’re probably about to spend a lot of time at home.

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, national and local officials have called for people to stay in and practice social distancing. Movie theaters have closed, concerts and stage shows have been canceled or postponed, and most restaurants and bars have shut down or moved to takeout/delivery only.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a good time when you’re stuck at home. We’ve put together a list of ideas to help you get through a lengthy quarantine, whether you’re living alone, with a significant other or with kids. And most of these ideas are universal — even if you’re living alone, FaceTime, Skype and even just plain old phone calls can help you stay connected with family and friends.

1. Learn to play an instrument — or practice the one you already play

Music can make anything better. Maybe you bought a guitar that sits in your closet. Maybe your parents willed you a piano. Maybe you have a beautiful voice you’ve never cultivated. There are plenty of tutorials online.

2. Test your knowledge of the news

If you Google “online news quizzes,” you’ll find plenty of current events challenges created by everyone from the New York Times to Bill O’Reilly. It’s a perfect thing to do in solitude, considering the family arguments that might ensue with discussions.

3. Visit online trivia sites

Quizfreak is a personal fave, but there are plenty of others. They’re very affirming.

4. Write letters

If you’re feeling isolated, think about elderly people. Most homes for seniors are not allowing visitors. Call an assisted living center and ask the social director or other staffer for the name of someone who might enjoy being your pen pal. You also could set this up with a relative. Take hand sanitizer to the mailbox.

5. Take a risk

Reenact Tom Cruise’s iconic scene from “Risky Business,” that is. Be sure you’re not expecting company (and that you don’t slide past windows without shades).

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6. Play Hearts, or Yahtzee, or even Whist

You don’t need human opponents. will let you face off with Bill, Mike, Lisa or your choice of customized foe in a variety of games. Your significant other shouldn’t worry — these people are fake.

7. Take a drive

You will, at some point, feel claustrophobic. If you get in your car by yourself and make no stops, you can have a sojourn in the Loess Hills, along River Road in northern Douglas County or other scenic spaces. Mom would tell you to use the facilities before you leave home.

8. Cultivate some culture

This may be the perfect time for a free introduction to opera. Google “Met Opera on Demand” for programming from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. They’re not kidding when they say “on demand,” however. If you want to avoid a wait at the site, apps are available for Apple, Amazon and Roku devices and Samsung Smart TVs.

9. Get in touch with your inner artist

A pencil and paper are all it takes to start, but you could combine cleaning with creativity by repurposing newspapers, mailed circulars, trinkets, gadgets or anything else around the house in collages or other things. And since you live alone, nobody will see your endeavors unless you want them to.

10. Learn to dance

Online tutorials can help you dazzle your friends, family and potential partners with hip-hop, jazz or ballroom moves. You’ll want to kick back when you’re done keeping your distance.

— Betsie Freeman

11. Binge-watch some TV

Kinda obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. With all your weekend plans likely on hold, you’ve finally got plenty of time to watch every season of “Game of Thrones” (maybe skip the last one) or “The Wire” or all of those other prestige-y shows you never made time for before. Or, you know, just watch every episode of “The Office” for the 100th time.

12. Complete a puzzle

You’ve gotta have at least one puzzle lying around your home, maybe as a long-forgotten birthday gift. (Mine is a 3D puzzle of Westeros from “Game of Thrones,” because I’m a giant dork.) The more pieces, the better — remember, you’ve got a lot of time to pass.

13. Team up in a video game

While multiplayer video games are usually competitive, there are a handful designed for cooperative play. “Overcooked” has players work together to cook and serve food. (Fair warning: This game will probably trigger at least one fight after someone accidentally throws an entire pizza in the trash.) Or you can slay demons together in “Diablo III,” punch supervillains in “Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3” or build your dream house in “Minecraft.”

14. Cook a romantic dinner

Who has the time to make from-scratch pasta? You do, now, along with any other dish, assuming you have all the ingredients on hand. But if that still seems too daunting or time-consuming, just warm up your food in the microwave like normal, then dress it up with some fancy dishware and a couple of glasses of wine. (You did buy wine during your panic-shopping, right?)

15. Bake something

Did you see something you wanted to make during your binge-watch of “The Great British Baking Show”? Give it a shot. Who cares if the dough needs two hours to prove? If it turns out well, have it with or after your romantic dinner. (You can get recipes from nearly every baker on the show at

16. Do some cleaning

You’ve likely got at least one messy room or problem area you’ve been ignoring for a while. Now’s the time to give your home the deep clean it needs, organize your closet or clean all the expired food out of your fridge.

17. Do some redecorating

Now that your home is clean, why not freshen it up a bit, too? It could be as simple as rearranging the furniture in your living room.

18. Look over some old photos

You’ve probably done some cool things in your life: gotten married or traveled somewhere far away or dressed up for a party. And you probably took photos of those things. Take some time to look at them and reminisce about those moments. Create a scrapbook, too.

19. Do some planning

Speaking of all those cool things you’ve done … At some point, this will all be over, and life will return to normal. So think about what other cool things you’d like to do when that time comes. Maybe go on a vacation, or buy a new TV.

20. Give yourselves some alone time

During a lengthy quarantine, it’s a luxury to be able to spend time with another person. But everyone needs some time to themselves. It’s OK if you steal into another room to read a book, practice an instrument or guilt-watch “Love is Blind.”

21. Read books

This is your chance to read a bigger book together, like “Harry Potter” or “The Hobbit.” We’ve started reading a few pages at a time of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” My husband even does different voices for the characters, and my kids love it. If you have older kids who read, assign everyone a character and have one narrator. Then, everyone takes turns reading their lines.

22. Bake

Nothing solves boredom like baking cookies or another delicious treat. It takes time, and you’ll have something to enjoy after everything is said and done.

23. Build a fort

I loved building forts when I was a kid. It was fun gathering all the blankets and pillows in the house for the biggest and best fort ever! Plus, it kept us busy for hours. We’ve even set up our tent inside the house and let the boys sleep in it overnight. It’s a fun activity, and since it’s not an all-the-time thing we do, it gets them extra excited.

24. Plan a special dinner

Get fancy. Pretend you’re at a restaurant. Set the table with your good plates. Pour some sparkling grape juice for the kids. Light candles. Play music.

25. Have a sleepover

No, not with other people. Bring all the sleeping bags together in one room. Have some snacks, watch a movie, play a game and then, when it’s time, it’s lights out together.

26. Put on your own theater show

Dress up in costume. Make up your own play or base it on your favorite movie. Heck, you could even make puppets out of socks or small paper bags and put on a puppet show. Make it fun!

27. Play outside

Head outside to play a game or simply get some fresh air. But have the kids wear a mask, recommends Bridget Barnes, director of Common Sense Parenting at Boys Town. “They are wearing the mask to limit their cough spray in the air and so they can play freely outside without stopping to cover their mouths,” she said. She suggests making it fun by pretending to be superheroes or even having a mask decorating party at home.

28. Make crafts

If you’re like me, you have enough craft supplies on hand for at least 10 Pinterest-worthy projects. If not, I recommend: construction paper (in varying colors, including white), markers, crayons, scissors, washable paint, paint brushes, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, yarn, glue gun and glue sticks, paper plates, stickers and tape. Need craft project ideas? We have a long list of crafts on

29. Get moving

There is no shortage of workout videos on YouTube. Bring up one, put it on the TV or computer and get the whole family involved. You can also get creative and play hide-and-seek or put together an indoor obstacle course. You can even make up a scavenger hunt and have a prize at the end for the person who finds everything on the list. Another favorite in my house: dance party. Turn the music up and get crazy!

30. Do some video chatting

Miss grandma and grandpa? Or your cousins or friends? Get out your phone or computer and start a video chat. It’ll be good to catch up, and kids can even take the device with them and have a fun virtual play session.

— Ashlee Coffey

20 fun crafts your family can make together


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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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