Reading as a family

Hobbies you can do from home

By Dana Poizner

Posted on March 29, 2021

Leisure is important for our health. We all benefit from having spare time to do the things we enjoy, whether those hobbies are relaxing, creative, or both.

These days, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are spending more time at home than ever. For a lot of us, that means watching TV and movies or playing video or computer games in our free time—and while these things are fun, we might also be looking for something new to try. Here are a few ideas for activities you can do from home. Many of them are affordable or even free and easy to get started with using online resources or books.

Home fitness

With gyms closed, people are mostly exercising at home. Fortunately, there are so many online workouts that don’t need equipment. Now might be the time to pick up a new physical activity like yoga, boxing, Pilates, or dance. You can try different activities to learn what you enjoy.

YouTube is an easy place to find a huge variety of workouts. There are also some free fitness apps like Nike Training Club or 7 Minute Workout, and many other apps available at a cost. Your local fitness studios may also be offering virtual classes with free trial sessions.

Cooking and baking

Everyone needs to eat, so cooking can sometimes feel like more of a chore than a fun activity. But people do find ways to enjoy cooking and baking. (Step one: make food you like to eat!) Millions of recipes are easily searchable online, or you can experiment and create your own. If you’re new to cooking or baking, it’s helpful to start with simple recipes. As you become more experienced, it’s fun to try new techniques and ingredients. Make something inspired by a dish you saw in a movie or try a recipe that resembles your favourite takeout meal. It doesn’t have to be complicated: You can cook one-pot meals (which makes cleanup faster) or just try a dish that’s different from your regular diet.

Cooking can be a social activity. For company, you can cook with people in your household, or set up a video call with someone you don’t live with and make the same recipe. You can also follow along with YouTube tutorials, so you’ll be entertained while you cook.

The best thing about this hobby? You can eat the results!

Plant care

Houseplants brighten up any living space and caring for them can be relaxing and rewarding. The website Plant care for Beginners has guides for how to take care of starter plants.

Plants can be practical as well as a nice way to decorate your home. Save some money at the grocery store by growing herbs indoors to use in cooking. Aloe vera grows very easily, and it can be used to soothe sunburnt or irritated skin.

If you have a yard, you could consider planting an outdoor garden with flowers, herbs, and vegetables. To get started, do some research online or get advice from a local garden centre, and find out which plants grow well in your climate. To learn more about gardening and plant care, check out this article on how to grow and maintain plants indoors and outdoors.


Knitting and crocheting are relaxing hobbies, as they give you the chance to make something with your hands. You can make a blanket, a scarf, or other warm items for the cold Canadian winter.

There are easy tutorials in books and online, like these articles on How to Knit for Beginners or How to Crochet for Beginners, which include pictures and videos. As you get more practice, you can try using different patterns and types of yarn. Craft stores often have pamphlets with free patterns, and of course there are a lot of patterns online.


Writing for fun requires very few materials—just a pen and paper or a computer. There are thousands of ideas online for inspiration, like these creative writing exercises for beginners.

Creative writing is not the only option. Many people keep a personal journal to record their thoughts and feelings. You can write about anything, which sometimes makes it hard to decide what to write about. If you’re stuck, try using journal prompts. For example, you could write about your day, a moment from your past, or a trip you want to take in the future.

Virtual museum tours

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t travel or even visit most of the attractions in our area, but there are ways to enjoy educational and cultural experiences from home. Many art, history, and science museums around the world offer free virtual tours, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., the Louvre in Paris, and the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Catalonia.

For animal lovers, many zoos and aquariums also have virtual tours and live cameras, like The Houston Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They live stream the animals in their habitats, so you can see what the polar bears, jellyfish, or gorillas are up to from the comfort of your couch.

Arts and crafts

There are countless art projects you can do from home. For beginners who want guidance, there are drawing and painting tutorials online or in craft books. Colouring for adults has also become a popular hobby over the last few years. You can buy a book of designs to colour in or find printable colouring pages online.
A scrapbook is a blank book that you fill with collected paper items and decorate. If you have photos, newspaper clippings, tickets, or cards, this is a fun way to keep them organized and in good shape. Scrapbooking materials from craft stores can be expensive sometimes, but there are creative ways to keep this hobby affordable. Online resources like this “Scrapbooking on a Budget” list have tips for how to decorate your scrapbook without buying too many expensive supplies.


Reading is a classic hobby. When so many of us are spending most of our time at home, it’s a great way to experience a different world.

Most cities in Canada have public libraries. If you have a library card, you can borrow books and other resources for free (just make sure they’re returned on time!). During COVID-19, some libraries offer curbside pickup for people who want to borrow print materials. Many libraries (like the Toronto Public Library also have digital resources, including ebooks. Check your local library’s website to see what services they offer. You can also find a wide range of digital reading materials for free, including some from Canadian libraries, at Internet Archive (an American non-profit digital library).

With so much choice, it may be hard to decide what to read. Many libraries have a list of book recommendations for different interests and reading levels. You can also talk to a librarian or bookstore employee for more personal suggestions.
Reading as part of a family

If you want to make your reading experience more interactive, you can join a virtual book club, or even start your own with some friends or coworkers. If you decide to start your own, do some research, choose a book, and set up a virtual meeting time. The club can be as formal or informal as you like. You can try:

  • Coming up with discussion points for participants to share their thoughts
  • Using a quiz app to create questions and test the participants’ knowledge of the book
  • Picking a book with a movie or TV adaptation to watch and comparing it with the book

Reading can also contribute to many other hobbies: Consider using cookbooks, crafting books, or books about history and science as part of your other activities.

Activities to do with kids

Several of these activities can also be made kid-friendly. Art, cooking, reading, and exercise are all great for engaging your kids and will help them stay healthy and teach them valuable skills.

This article describes some organized social activities that kids in Canada participate in. During COVID-19, many people are entertaining their kids at home, and a quick internet search will bring up plenty of ideas. You might try searching for:

  • Easy craft ideas and instructions – These crafts for kids are arranged by theme, and some even use natural materials that you can find outdoors, like leaves.
  • Recipes for adults and kids to make together or recipes for kids to make by themselves – Check out general tips for cooking with kids of different ages for ideas on how to get them involved in the kitchen.
  • Books to read aloud together – Reading together is an excellent way to spend quality time and can help parents be more aware of the things their kids might be learning. If you are new to Canada and English is not your first language, reading English language books with your kids can also help you build your own English skills.
  • Exercises that will help kids be active while having fun
  • Fun educational materials and activities for kids – Kids who are interested in art, history, or science may enjoy the virtual museum tours. For the ones who love animals and nature, the San Diego Zoo Kids website offers fames, stories, videos, and more.

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