For every parent who’s wanted more family time, well, we’ve got it. Maybe not in the form we imagined—no road trips or parks—but it’s all ours. We’re all having to get more creative about family activities, and we’re making meaningful moments, traditions, and memories…all from home.
I’ve collected ideas for fun at-home family activities from my online friends: fellow working-with-kids-underfoot Hallmarkers, Facebook pals, and Instagram over-sharers. Here’s some inspiration to help you make the most of this crazy, unexpected-but-not-necessarily-unwanted time with your family.
This post is part of our Caring and Creating during Tough Times series.
Inspired? Create and share by tagging @Hallmark.
Our board game and puzzle closets are getting more use than ever. And not just around the kitchen table—we’re taking them digital and making them life-size.
“My sister Amy has set up a weekly family game night. Every Friday at 7, our whole family piles on our couch, then we get on a call to play a game. It’s pretty amazing. After the games are over and the kids are tired, the grown-ups stay on to talk about everything going on. It’s one of the few times throughout the week where I feel like I can think or talk about everything going on without overwhelming anxiety, because I’m ‘with’ my people.” —Zach L.
“Make an obstacle course in the backyard. We made a kid version of American Ninja Warrior: Run to the swing set, jump over both swings, jump eight times on the trampoline, hang from the third branch on the tree, and go up the slide—all while trying to get the best time.” —Amy T.
“My kids had a ton of fun when we did carnival games. We set up in the driveway and used what we had on hand. We did a ball toss into buckets, knocking down pins (two-liter bottles), ring toss, etc. I decorated it all with sidewalk chalk to make it more exciting and to set the scene. It was a hit!” —Sarah M.
“We did casino night: We taught our tween boys blackjack, craps, and poker. We made mocktails, distributed poker chips, then just set up the casino tables in our kitchen.” —Kelly H.
Moms and dads are tasked with keeping the days from blending together—and that’s where themes come in. We’re stealing this idea from schools and making it our own.
“We wanted to make Friday evenings feel different than all the other evenings. So, we bought a little firepit and are going to make some margaritas and sit outside for a bit, playing music and setting up lawn chairs. We’re calling it happy hour.” —Angela C.
“My daughter’s teacher has a different theme every day. It’s so fun for her to prepare for and to have something new to share with her classmates on their video calls. Last week, they did pet day (show your pet), cereal day (eat your favorite cereal during the call), fun hat day, and crazy hair day. It’s a great way to break up the sameness and get the kids excited.” —Sarah M.
“For my preschooler, each week we have a letter of the week and every day has activities, crafts, books, music, and food that start with the letter. We only do our letter of the week lesson plans Monday through Friday to try and keep a separation between weekdays and weekends.” —Alyssa D.
We can’t go on vacation—so we’re bringing the vacation to us. All these family activity ideas take are a little imagination and a lot of scavenging.
“Mom and Sis had crazy hair and makeup day, while Dad and Son buzzed their heads together. We’ve also used washout dye to try new colors.” —Eli D.
“We’re doing spa days once a week. The kids make our ‘menu’ and signage, we use play money and pay for ‘services.’ We’ve done facials, massages, foot rubs, hair brushing. Can’t beat it.” —Tiffany E.
Pro Tip: Facial masks can be made with simple ingredients from your pantry—search online for easy DIY facials.
“Set up a tent in the living room or backyard and throw in glow sticks or a lantern to make it more camp-ish. If you’re feeling really motivated, make microwave or firepit s’mores, too.” —Amy T.
“We’re doing Escape Rooms. My kids love going through the clues and working together to figure out how to ‘escape.’ My husband and I are enjoying it, too. I’ve used Pinterest (search DIY escape room) to find new ideas for them each week.” —Stephanie S.
Parents, I see you. I feel you. We can only do so much art-ing and craft-ing. We’ve dried out all the markers, the fridge is covered in “masterpieces,” and all the magazines are cut up. So here are few different creative activities for your family to try.
“We’re learning to sew. I ordered a sewing machine to make masks since they are sold out everywhere—there are tons of online video tutorials for beginners. First, we were making them by hand and now we are making on the machine. I have ordered patterns so we can now make clothes.” —Elana P.
“We’re planting a ton of seeds—stuff we’d never have planted or even attempted before. We’re winging it and just Googling what’s best to plant in our area and climate. My boys and I have had a ton of fun planting (and playing) in the dirt and can’t wait to see what brightens up our May.” —Christy W.
“I printed a black and white coloring picture and sent the link to my sister to do the same for my nieces. We each colored it in our ways and with different styles and colors. Then she mailed their completed art to me. I cut them vertically in thirds and then taped it back together using a third from each of ours—a unique and colorful creation we made together! I even framed it.” —Kate C.
“We’ve made a paper chain to mark each day we’ve been at home. We cut up uniform strips of colored construction paper and, each day we write something we’re grateful for on the slip, then add to the chain. It brightens up our living room mantel.” —Trina E.
Have we ever cooked this much? (No. The answer is no.) But as long as we’re dirtying up more dishes, we might as well make being in the kitchen fun.
“We did a cookie showdown. We each tried a different recipe from a different source, then did anonymous voting. Winner got to choose what we made for dinner.” —Dave M.
“We’ve been tired of trying to come up with new meal ideas, so we did breakfast for two days—every meal. We tried everything from frittatas to eggs benedict to homemade muffins to cereal, and it was fun trying to outdo each other.” —Cara F.
“We’ve tried our own version of cooking competitions, with a time limit and at least one required ingredient. We make sure we keep it simple—apples, marshmallows, popcorn—and have complementary ingredients on hand. Everyone cooks and everyone judges.” —Trish B.
“Reminiscent Recipes! I have a super-old tin of family recipes my mom and grandmas loved. We’re making some of my old favorites—I love that my kids are eating the same dishes I loved at their age.” —Darlene D.
Pro Tip: Try a new culture or cuisine. Indian food one night, Mexican another, German, etc. Fondue is another fun one to try.
Let’s all just take a minute to be deeply grateful for screens. And maybe try some new popcorn recipes. Sitting on the couch counts as a family activity, right?
“Try a new trilogy. Watch a movie from the trilogy every night in a row. Examples: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Back to the Future.” —Derek M.
“We’re doing a week of ’80s favorites. So far, we’ve watched E.T., Goonies, Gremlins, Princess Bride, and The Neverending Story. Up next: John Hughes marathon.” —Pete D.
Pro Tip: Add in a movie-inspired snack that correlates to the movie or era, like Reese’s Pieces for E.T., Tab for Back to the Future, Baby Ruth for Caddyshack, or Rocky Road ice cream for Goonies.
“We love double and triple features of remade movies, like The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and I Am Legend (2007) all based on the 1954 book I Am Legend. It’s interesting to see how the times influence the ways stories are told. (Ummm…maybe save this particular triple-feature for older kids.)” —Trish B.
I hope these family activity ideas help you keep the fun going (and keep your sanity) for a few more days. Some days will feel more successful and fulfilled than others. That’s okay. We may run out of recipes or ideas for our kids, but we’ll never run out of love for them.