83 creative ideas for winter lockdown

The idea of spending winter in lockdown can easily provoke a bad case of doom, gloom and boredom. This year has been like no other, and as the seasons change we will once again have to adapt and make the best of it. With the sun gracing us with its presence less and less, being stuck indoors and turning to the TV for entertainment comes easy, but we all know how tedious this can become. Rather than muddling through aimlessly, we have been making plans. Here we present 83 creative, cheap, productive and amusing ways to while away the winter and fend off the creeping ennui. Let us know which are your favourites or what ideas you have come up with in the comments. Check out This Is What We Are Doing Now Part One and Part Two for more ideas!

  • Make a fort.

  • Bake something tasty.

  • Spend a night watching schlocky vintage horror movies on YouTube. The Bat (1959), What's The Matter With Helen (1971), and House on the Haunted Hill (1959) are all excellent places to start.

  • Make a scrapbook out of old gig tickets.

  • Learn how to juggle.

  • Write a letter to a friend far away who’d appreciate it. It is SUCH a treat to have fun post come through the letterbox, and its perfect for those who don't like to talk on the phone.

  • Make chutney and jam. The ingredients are quite minimal and you can finally find a use for random jars you can’t help but collect.

  • Write a quiz and once again rally your friends for a night on Zoom.

  • Have a staring contest with your pet.

  • Make a zine. Handwrite it, type it, or use a newspaper and start collaging.

Person with coffee and sketch pad
Image: Rachel Gorjestani
  • Do something nice for someone or ask someone how you can help them.

  • Rearrange your furniture.

  • Sew up your much loved but rather holey clothes.

  • Give yourself a bizarre makeover and design yourself an absurd alter ego for a day.

  • Stretch.

  • Make up limericks about your friends and send them a surprise text.

  • Read the dictionary and write down your favourite words.

  • Learn a dance routine on YouTube. (Deceptacon by Le Tigre is our favourite)

  • Listen to an album from start to finish and read all the lyrics like its 2002.

  • Take an aimless wander (or as the French would say derive) around your neighbourhood and try to spot the things you’ve never noticed.

  • Buy a bag of googly eyes and make faces on random objects. (Extra points if you do this on the aforementioned walk).

  • Do that thing you’ve been putting off (but will actually only take ten minutes.)

  • Have a kitchen disco.

  • Pay someone a compliment.

  • Listen to the latest albums of an artist you love, but have forgotten to keep following.

  • Teach yourself a party trick. (There will be parties again one day!)

  • Indulge in your guilty pleasure. Could be a song or film you can’t help but love, or eating peanut butter with a spoon, doesn't matter).

  • Look through old photos. Stick them in an album or sketchbook or send the files off to be printed.

  • Write about your year. There will be strange, mundane details you will one day forget. It will be a fascinating piece of social history to look back on and help when you regale the youth with the story of 2020.

Googly eyes on a traffic sign
Image: Sarah Mutter
  • Make a list of the classic movies you have always meant to see and instigate a regular Classics Night with popcorn and pizza.

  • Research your house. Find out when it was built. Imagine who lived there before you.

  • Throw yourself into a new creative project. Start painting, embroidering, knitting, making pop-up books, learning the harmonica - whatever you like. If you're terrible to start with, IT DOESN'T MATTER.

  • Dust off that other creative project you’ve been procrastinating on.

  • Learn a card trick. Confuse the kids.

  • Make an action plan of something you want to achieve. Break it down into small sections so it’s not a mountainous task. Complete the first step.

  • Promote a friend’s business on social media or write them a glowing review.

  • Spend an evening getting absorbed in ideas by binging TED Talks.

  • Write a letter to yourself in the future, or make a time capsule, and hide it somewhere deep in your house.

  • Make compilations for your friends. Extra points if you go ‘old-fashioned’ with a CD or tape and add your own artwork.

  • Go to an international supermarket and buy mystery vegetables and ingredients, then spend some time on the internet looking up what you've got and what to do with it.

  • Look up interviews on YouTube of someone who inspires you. Here's one of our favourites with the legend that is Tom Waits.

  • Make a video diary of your day. (Or check out the Life in a Day, a documentary compiled with snippets of home videos from all over the world, filmed on the same day in 2010).

  • Call an old friend and reminisce about old times and the silliest things you used to get up to. Its often amazing how many shared antics you may have forgotten about.

  • Buy yourself some ridiculous slippers.

  • Make a bucketlist of audacious ambitions.

Image: Donald Giannatti
  • Pretend you’re on a cooking show and provide narration as you make dinner.

  • Buy a jolly looking plant and give it a name.

  • Ask your family elders questions about their life.

  • Pretend you are a 19th century dandy. Dress up, drape yourself on the sofa, perhaps drink some gin, and lament your sorrows with dramatic gesticulations.

  • Clean out your inbox and unsubscribe to any annoying email lists.

  • Tell someone you love them.

  • Give your plants a bit of TLC. Snip of the dead bits, repot them, or give them some nutrients.

  • Get crafty and make some decorations for the festive period. Don't forget to decorate the window for passers-by.

  • Make a list of all the things you want to do when the pandemic is over.

  • Organise your food cupboards and treat yourself to an ingredient you’ve never used.

  • Make some homemade cleaning products with lemon, vinegar and essential oils.

  • Meditate. If you can’t turn off your mind, try counting breaths, downloading an app, or reflecting positively on something good.

  • Buy a puzzle book and get deeply addicted to the crossword.

  • Send a care package to a friend.

  • Re-read your favourite book. Preferably whilst wrapped in a blanket.

A wall of colourful books
Photo: Robert Anasch
  • Start a journal.

  • Subscribe to a print magazine that will fall on your doorstep and bring joy every so often.

  • Invent a new cocktail and give it a name.

  • Instigate Fancy Fridays. Dress up to the nines, have a tipple, make a sumptuous dinner and listen to some tunes.

  • Learn the difference between something you’ve never got the hang of. For example, types of wine, trees, birds or art periods.

  • See if your local art gallery or museum has any online events or walkthroughs.

  • Read poetry aloud. Anything is acceptable, from Byron to tongue twisters!

  • Practise your signature. Make it FANCY.

  • Find a new comedian to make you chuckle. Actually just indulge in anything that gives you big belly laughs.

  • Write down the things that have been on your mind, then burn the paper.

  • Make scrabble happen.

  • Cull anything in your wardrobe that is uncomfortable, ugly, or you never wear.

  • Plan out the narrative for a book you want to write. They say everyone has a novel in them somewhere!

  • Start a doodle diary - no matter what your drawing skills - and draw one thing a day.

  • Wrap up warm, find a bench and get down to some people watching. Make notes. And of course wear some shades for extra mystery.

  • Write a love letter to yourself. Make it as dramatically passionate as you like.

  • Fix something that has been knocking around broken for too long. We all have something we've been meaning to fix.

  • Practice breathing. Enjoy the calm.

  • Make some art. Doesn't matter if its bad, just enjoy the process. Try pointillism, fingerpainting, or drawing with your eyes closed if you need somewhere to start.

  • Make a wanderlist of places you want to visit.

  • Try the surrealist technique of automatic writing. Enjoy the feeling of getting your thoughts out onto the page, allow yourself to be surprised, and don’t judge what comes out.

  • Potter around the house. Do nothing, but revel in being cosy and safe. Resist any feelings of guilt.

  • Come up with a list like this yourself. Stick it on the fridge.

Whatever you get up to stay cosy, stay curious and remember this time will one day be a thing of the past.

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