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Even if you’re someone like me who prefers the cool, crisp air of October to the heat and humidity of July, it’s hard to deny that there’s something magical about summer. Lounging in a pool with your elbows propped up on the edge, holding a book in one hand and a drink in the other. Hanging out at the beach with your closest family and friends. Taking vacations to tropical locations. Except… it’s likely that if you live somewhere without any outdoor space, you’re probably spending plenty of time indoors this summer.
Sure, as more and more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s safer to partake in some activities with other fully vaccinated people. But kids under 12 still can’t receive the vaccine, and after a year indoors, you might want to ease back into life “outside.” If you aren’t lucky enough to have a patio or backyard, all that indoor time can feel limiting, to say the very least. It also means that it’s time to get creative about how you spend your free time.
15 Things to Do at Home This Summer
So whether you’re a true homebody or someone who is taking your summer plans one day at a time (hey, maybe you’re both), here is a list of 50 things you can do from the comfort of inside your own home — even if you’d rather be somewhere else.
The best part? Not a single one of them requires a special outdoor space, patio, or backyard. Some of them might require a little imagination or getting outside your comfort zone, but all of them are a fun, interesting, and different way to pass the time than just mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or anxiously watching the news. And that’s always a win, right?
1. Start an Indoor Herb Garden
2. Make Over Your Entire Wardrobe
You know that romantic comedy scene where a person takes an afternoon and cleans out their entire closet, making way for a new life? This is actually a great (and productive) way to spend time. Take everything out of your closet and be honest about what you actually need to keep, then donate the rest.
3. Find a New Workout Routine
If you’re used to a gym, the idea of working out at home can seem miserable. But instead of putting yourself on an at-home workout schedule you hate, make it a goal to try a new, different DIY workout each week. YouTube is great for this.
4. Make a TBR Pile and Commit To It
If you have an untouched bookshelf, go through it and select a stack of books. This will be your TBR (“to be read”) pile for the rest of the summer. Go through the books one by one and donate the ones you know you won’t read again.
5. Start a Virtual Book Club
…and if you want to make it even more fun, then start or join a virtual book club (sites like BookClubz can help!). Gather friends on a video call every few weeks and talk about books, life, or anything in between. It’ll inspire you to read and get you to socialize creatively.
6. Create a DIY Cooking Competition
If you live with a partner, challenge them to an at-home cooking competition one evening. Choose an ingredient or a flavor category and compare recipes at the end of the evening. The prize can be anything you want!
7. Perfect Your Favorite Recipe
You know that thing you love to eat, but have never attempted to make yourself? Maybe it’s fluffy, perfect pancakes or a specific type of dumplings. Maybe it’s a cocktail. Whatever it is, challenge yourself to perfect making it yourself—no matter how many tries it takes.
8. …Or Work Through an Entire Cookbook
This one is admittedly inspired by the movie “Julie & Julia.” Choose a favorite cookbook — “Vegetable Kingdom” was Kitchn’s summer cookbook club pick last year — and commit to making every single recipe in it by the end of the summer. (You can even watch “Julie & Julia” first if you want some inspiration for this project.)
9. Start a Journal
We’re still in an unprecedented time. There will be many, many history books written about the pandemic—so why not write about your own experience as well? Odds are, one day you’ll want to look back on it and see exactly what you were doing, thinking, and feeling.
10. Develop One New Daily Routine
Think about your daily routine. What does it look like? Is there one part of it that frustrates you or makes you feel anxious or nervous? Well, now’s the time to change it. Identify the most unpleasant part of your daily routine and make it better. Try changing your annoying alarm clock out for something more pleasant, or investing in a new workout tool that will improve your exercise routine. Whatever it is, change it up!
11. Makeover an Entire Room For $0
You know that room you don’t love to spend time in? Maybe it’s an office or a guest room or your basement. Challenge yourself to make it into something better with no money at all. Move around furniture or find some free items on Facebook Marketplace to decorate the space. Spending just a few hours of concentrated effort on a room (instead of avoiding it) can make all the difference.
12. Sit Down and Take a “Life Inventory”
Have you ever sat down and thought about all aspects of your life and what’s working? Have you ever taken note of what isn’t working and committed to changing it? If not, it’s time to take a life inventory. Write down a handful of life categories that are important to you (like family, friends, travel, finance, or health) and list some ways you can improve upon the most frustrating parts. Set goals.
13. Create an At-Home Movie Theater
You’ve likely watched a lot of TV lately, but there’s something to be said for creating a more special viewing experience. String Christmas lights up, pop some popcorn, order all those weird snacks you only eat at movie theaters (Snow Caps, anyone?) and queue up a few newly released movies that you can easily rent on iTunes.
14. Recreate Your Favorite Date Nights At Home
Do you and your partner have a favorite date night? Maybe it’s going to a museum or a cooking class. Whatever it is, there are ways to do it at home. For example, you can take a virtual tour of a new museum exhibit or take a virtual cooking class together.
15. Create a Documentary Club
16. Learn a New Language
…or at least try to. Is there a country you’ve always wanted to visit? You might not be able to go there right now, but you can at least use the extra time to learn a few key phrases (or more than that, if you’re feeling ambitious) to use when you do go there.
17. Organize Your Fridge or Pantry Once and For All
This might not sound like much fun, but trust me, it is oddly satisfying. Invest in a few affordable storage solutions and create the dream fridge or pantry you’ve always wanted. And if you don’t want to spend any money, then get creative. My favorite tip is to use deli cups to store cut-up veggies or pre-made salads.
18. Switch Up One Space in Your House Entirely
If you’re lucky enough to have multiple living spaces or bedrooms in your home, try switching them up. Make your guest bedroom the office or your main bedroom the guest bedroom. Move your dining room to your living area. It might not be perfect, but it may just end up being the refreshing change of scenery you need.
19. Find a Summer Pen Pal
Writing letters is kind of romantic, but it’s something that’s very, very easy to not do. Whether it’s someone you’re dating, an old friend, or a distant relative, find yourself a summer pen pal. Just think of how interesting the contents of those summer letters will be to look back on in 10 years!
20. Start Something From Scratch
When’s the last time you started something from scratch? This can be a recipe, or a brand new arts and crafts project, or anything at all. Whatever it is — start it from nothing at all. You’ll feel extra accomplished at the end!
21. FINALLY Clean Out Your Phone
If you’re someone who has 50,000 photos on your phone that may or may not ever see the light of day, take an afternoon to clean out your folders. It’ll free up some space on your phone and make your life much less stressful.
22. And Upload Photos to a Hard Drive
To make sure the photos you do like actually get seen, make a point to upload them all to a flash drive or hard drive. That way, your photos and favorite are protected forever.
23. …And Finally Print and Frame Them
While you’re managing your digital photos, print out and frame your favorite ones. It’s all too easy today to never get around to having our favorite images exist anywhere other than our phones or online. So take some time and actually hang your favorite ones up sometime soon, even just with washi tape or binder clips. It’ll make your home that much happier. Maybe even make a gallery wall.
24. Create a “Summer” Time Capsule
Save the things that remind you of this very odd time and put them in a time capsule to look at later.
25. Make Five Sustainable Household Swaps
This might not sound super fun, but it’ll bring you a lot of satisfaction in the long-run (plus, it’s good for the environment). Take a day to identify five household items that you can find more sustainable solutions for. Maybe swap out regular paper towels for reusable paper towels. Maybe try reusable plastic bags instead of the traditional kind. Consider replacing plastic cleaning bottles with glass ones that are refillable. The options are endless, and it’ll feel great to never buy them again.
26. Have a Board Game Tournament
Choose the games. Choose the rules. And then have an all-day board game tournament, complete with whatever fun stakes you want.
27. Optimize a Frequently Used Household Area
If your junk drawer, entryway, or bathroom always makes you feel less than relaxed, then it’s time to change that. Make some simple changes that make the area less stressful, crowded, or cluttered, and your life will instantly get less stressful.
28. Challenge Yourself to Write a Short Story
How many of us have said “I think I’d like to write a book,” but have never even tried to write a short story? Spend an afternoon writing a short story and challenge some other friends or family to do the same. You can compare and contrast them all later.
29. Plan, In Specific Detail, Your Dream Vacation
Even if it’s difficult to make concrete plans right now, it is still possible to dream of your dream vacation. This way, when it is OK to travel, you’ll be ready to book things ASAP. Now’s the time to take an afternoon or two to do all the research. You can even plan specific ways you’ll save for the trip, too.
30. …And Make a Vision Board For It
While you’re at it, make a vision board for the vacation. Manifesting good and happy things is more important now than ever.
Tidy Time-Lapse: Underwear & Sock Drawer
31. Clean Out Your Underwear Drawer
Save yourself the stress, anxiety, and frustration of an overstuffed underwear drawer full of uncomfortable and ill-fitting undergarments and take the time to clean out the thing. Only keep the things you reach for again and again. And those items you only wear if there are no other options available? Get them out.
32. …And Your Email Inbox
Remember when you promised to get yourself to inbox zero one day? Now’s your chance. You and your partner could even turn it into a fun challenge. For every 100 emails organized, one glass of wine? One episode of a show? Make it fun.
33. Create a Comedy Club in Your Living Room
If you love comedy, make a comedy club in your living room. Queue up stand-up specials, dim the lights, and hand out drink tickets that you and your family can use throughout the evening.
34. Have an Early-2000s Theme Day
Whatever age you were in the early 2000s, odds are you remember it fondly. Watch your favorite early ‘00s movies. Listen to the music you listened to then. Wear “vintage” clothing. Have fun with it just because.
35. …Or a 1990s Theme Day
And hey, if the ‘90s are more your thing, you can do that, too.
36. Host an at-Home Sleepover for One
Picture this: Pizza. Popcorn. Ice cream sundaes. Face masks. Nail polish. Scary movies. Celebrity gossip. Whatever sleepovers used to be for you, recreate them in your own living room as an adult, by yourself or with your housemates. The best part is you get to sleep in your own bed at the end of the evening.
37. Upcycle Clothing You Don’t Wear Anymore
Take that old pair of jeans you never wear and turn them into cut-offs. Tie-dye old unused t-shirts. Be creative about turning old clothing into something trendy and wearable today.
38. Have a “Find A Hobby” Weekend
If you’ve never really had a hobby you could pour yourself into, take a weekend to find one. Order supplies ahead of time and try out knitting or painting or indoor gardening. At the end of the weekend, pick the hobby you like the most (or a couple you loved!) and stick with it.
39. Host a Virtual Dinner Party
Just because you can’t get together with people in real life doesn’t mean you can’t have a dinner party. Choose a recipe that you and a few friends can all make (separately) and then turn on a video call when you’re all about to eat. You can discuss life, the recipe, and whatever else you want!
40. Shop Your Own Closet
It may be a while since you’ve worn “real” clothes, so now’s as good a time as ever to shop your own closet. Try on things you haven’t worn in a while. Donate things you have no interest in ever wearing again. Re-discover your favorite items.
41. Pretend You’re On a Cruise—Formal Night And All
If you’ve ever been on a cruise, then you know it can feel a little ridiculous—but it’s still fun. So plan some daytime activities, make some piña coladas, and end the day in full formal wear just because. No bingo required—unless you’re into it. Hey, no judgement.
42. Have a Karaoke Night (With Late-Night Pizza)
Have a few drinks. Turn on that karaoke machine. Have the time of your lives. And at the end of the evening, order a late-night pizza to enjoy.
43. Create a “Beach Day”
…but without a beach. The easiest way to do this is to put on a breezy summer dress, turn on a movie that makes you think of vacation and sunshine, and eat some fresh seafood. Frozen drinks are cool, too.
44. Make a Beach-Product Spa Day
45. Have a Hackathon
Essentially, a “hackathon” is a day that’s exclusively dedicated to brainstorming big ideas and solutions to problems. So why not have a hackathon for your home or your life or your finances? Take a day to do nothing but brainstorm.
46. Wash the Things You Never Wash
That down comforter? Throw blankets? Pillows? Dish towels? Take all the things you don’t wash regularly and make sure they’re all squeaky clean.
47. Have a Wine-and-Painting Night
Choose a YouTube painting tutorial video, buy a canvas or two, pour a glass of wine, and get to work. You may not end up with a perfect work of art, but it’ll be fun.
48. Call Someone You Haven’t Talked To in a While
Literally anyone. If you haven’t talked to them in a bit, make a point to call them. You probably have the time, and even if talking on the phone isn’t really your thing, odds are the person will be happy to hear that you’re thinking of them and that alone should make you feel great.
49. Watch Your Favorite Childhood Show
Whatever your favorite show was as a childhood, take an afternoon to watch it back as an adult. A little nostalgia is never a bad idea.
50. Have a Family Photoshoot
If you have a tripod and a smartphone, taking good photos is easy. If you’ve never shot photos in your home of you and your family (or you and your pet, or just you!), then why not try. Watch some easy DIY photo tutorials and set up that self-timer!