Help us have fun without The Almighty Cable
July 24, 2009 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Just moved my boyfriend into a new apartment, and he will be unable to afford cable tv for quite awhile. As admitted boob toob junkies, we are quickly running out of things to do when we just feel like being around the house. Suggestions of fun and relatively budget friendly (under $30 to accomplish, preferably with a re-usability factor) activities to do at home, without the magical box.

I live about 5 minutes away in my parents house, and we are getting sick of hanging out there, or having to go out (and thus spending money) when we get sick of sitting in his technology free pad. He has: no internet, no cable for at least 3-4 months (but we will be getting a free 35" tv in the coming weeks), minimal cell phone service in the apartment, minimal kitchen (2 burners, a toaster oven, and 1 old cruddy microwave that I'm afraid will give me cancer if I use it), but a very large living space/bedroom. The apartment is in the basement of a house, and has a large walk out patio area as well.

We do have my laptop, and have been subsisting largely on a dvd of 7 or 8 assembled Star Trek TNG episodes and season 1 of Flight of the Conchords. We have very few other dvds, but enjoy watching movies and would also appreciate suggestions of used dvd merchants or something of the like. When we eventually get sick of watching those, we have been known to just sit around and drink beer and talk, or just sit there in silence which is really pathetic.

We are both 23, and enjoy lots of off the wall kinds of activities but due to stress at my home and job, my usually creative brain is running on E. Please help us with some ideas of things to do on a budget with little to no technology...the crazier the better, we're up for anything and aren't afraid to act like children. To be specific, we are looking for at home/in the yard activities.
posted by Gonestarfishing to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (40 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have internet access? You know about hulu, right?
posted by oinopaponton at 9:18 AM on July 24, 2009

My ex and I would read plays together. They only take a couple hours to go through (by their very design) and you can expose yourself to some really great art that way.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:20 AM on July 24, 2009

Hit the pawn shops for used DVDs. We have a favorite shop that's constantly getting in new ones, and we only pay about $3-$4 per DVD. It's two activities in one -- finding and checking out all the pawn shops (which can be, well, interesting...) and then of course actually watching the movies!
posted by cgg at 9:20 AM on July 24, 2009

Game nights. Scavenge in your folks' closets for unused and forgotten board games, or make a trek to a local game store. The Settlers of Catan card game, though a bit tricky to learn, is made for 2 people and has led to many an entertaining night in our house (and, runs, if I recall correctly, around $20).
posted by amelioration at 9:21 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Most local libraries have videos. (They also have books!)

Games and puzzles are fun - board games, card games, jigsaw puzzles.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:21 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Get naked. Fun ensues.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:23 AM on July 24, 2009 [9 favorites]

Ever give netflix a shot?

Take your laptop somewhere where you can get internet access, sign up for an account and stick 30+ movies on there. 3-movies at a time plan is under $20 per month.

You can even divide it into the movies you want to see and what he wants to see and have netflix pull a movie from both lists.

Just occasionally check on your lists to make sure you aren't running out of movies.
posted by royalsong at 9:23 AM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

UM... guessing you live in the US so why not get a digital converter box when you get a tv? I got one and now I have 30 channels.
posted by parmanparman at 9:23 AM on July 24, 2009

Also, board games! Yard sales are great for finding these used. Warning -- don't play Risk. I t may jeopardize your relationship.
posted by cgg at 9:23 AM on July 24, 2009

Try the library! Both of my local branches allow patrons to check out DVDs for free.

Seconding phatkitten. My local library is starting to accumulate a large number of TV show seasons.
posted by bassooner at 9:25 AM on July 24, 2009

Best answer: I need to read more carefully. Sorry, didn't mean to rub the awesomeness of the internet into your face.

When you acquire cheap/free DVDs, try turning the sound all the way off so you and your boyfriend can make your own soundtrack and dialogue. Like MST3K, but with any movie you want! (This helps if your selection is really shitty)
posted by oinopaponton at 9:27 AM on July 24, 2009

Was going to suggest board games, puzzles, card games, etc. Obviously that's covered. For outside fun, you might try cornhole. The boards can be expensive to buy, but they are pretty cheap and easy to make if you have access to tools. This is lots of fun on pleasant evenings.
posted by jeoc at 9:31 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Build an adult sized couch fort. Supplies I use: push pins, rope, lots of blankets, clothes pins.

My boyfriend and I once killed half an hour with the extremely fun contest, "Who Can Draw The Most Fucked Up Thing?" We want to have a larger competition with this, actually, and anonymous voting.

Turn old clothing into hand-printed high fashion with potatoes.

Carve: soap into sculptures, linoleum into stamps, radishes into flowers, apples into swans.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:32 AM on July 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Road trip to nude beach!

Boombox dancing!

Homemade pictionary!

Homemade gestures!

Hommade scategories!

(There are a lot of games you can make yourself at home if youve seen or played them once. Buy a pack of index cards at the dollar store and go to work!)
posted by WeekendJen at 9:32 AM on July 24, 2009

Chinese checkers is the best game in the world. My wife and I played it a lot when we first started dating, and it's still a major part of our lives. It's right in the sweet-spot between mindless and involved: you can play it while talking or doing other things, but there's still a lot of replay value. And when you have people over, you can play 6-player chinese checkers, which is the most fun thing humans can do clothed.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:35 AM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You've got lots of room, so try out yoga. You can pop a DVD in the laptop to get you started.

Have friends over and cook. Plan a menu with them, and split groceries.

Invent crazy projects, and use your recycling bin for materials. Make a forrest of cardboard monsters, a hanging window garden out of soda bottles, paper-mache from flour and newspaper.

Get library cards. Pick out your favorite books, and switch with each other.

2 person card games

And after you get all limber from yoga...
posted by fontophilic at 9:36 AM on July 24, 2009

Two player board games. Two player card games. Once you have a tv, rent a games console for a rainy weekend. Rent tv shows from your local library. Read out loud to each other (this is completely lovely). Act out short plays.
posted by jeather at 9:42 AM on July 24, 2009

I haven't had a TV for years! And its the best thing that I ever did...

The RADIO! NPR (i like it in surround sound) is way better than the television. Or listen to podcasts of great shows like This American Life or Radiolab. Podcasts are FREE!

Have sex! Remember when you used to have sex??

Modge Podge something, like a table. It doesn't take a lot of creative energy.

Get good at cooking. Seriously. Your future self will thank you.

Board games yes.

Break a world record - like make the world's longest rubber band chain. That's pretty mindless and it will keep you busy for a long time - and hey, then you'll have accomplished something!

Read. Seriously, books are mad awesome.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:45 AM on July 24, 2009

Nthing the library. I have no cable and no Netflix and don't expect ever to grow bored with my public library's DVD selection. (And if your library's like mine, it probably has lots of good, in-demand stuff that rarely spends time on the shelf -- look stuff up in the catalog and put a hold request on it.)

(The book, graphic novel, and music selections aren't to be sneezed at, either.)
posted by Zed at 9:49 AM on July 24, 2009

I second royalsong - give Netflix a try if you miss snuggling up on the sofa together to watch a movie. It can be cheap - ~$10/mo to get one movie at a time (you get a new one within a day of sending back the one you just watched, so you can get at least 2 a week) plus unlimited movies online if you have internet access. It also opens you up to other movie genres you might not have watched before. Have fun!! :-)
posted by garnetgirl at 9:54 AM on July 24, 2009

Two burners and a toaster oven is still plenty of kitchen to try and enjoy new and delicious meals. I'll pile on and suggest the library as a source for cookbooks...
posted by onshi at 9:55 AM on July 24, 2009

Just as a twist to the book suggestions, lots of couples enjoy reading a book to each other. They'll pick a shared favorite and take turns reading chapters. This can be spread over the course of several evenings, so that you have a plot resolution or a touching character moment to look forward to.
posted by philosophygeek at 9:56 AM on July 24, 2009

Wait, what? Have you heard of these things called books? They don't require any electricity or internet connectivity, and are very cheap used, or free at your local library.

Other things that are free at the library include: internet, videos/DVDs, CDs, magazines, and many more.

Other things that are free at home: Sex.

Things that cost a nominal amount of money but provide many hours of entertainment: board games, video games, gardening, drinking beer, drawing pictures, painting, knitting, card games, cooking (no, his microwave won't give you cancer). I can't remember the last time I had TV at my house, and likewise can't remember the last time I was "bored".
posted by booknerd at 9:56 AM on July 24, 2009

nthing libraries. Free here too. Also inter-library loans.
posted by notned at 9:58 AM on July 24, 2009

meaning free DVD checkouts
posted by notned at 10:01 AM on July 24, 2009

Blockbuster also has a similar service (25/month) that includes games if you guys have a 360, wii, ps3.
posted by doorsfan at 10:17 AM on July 24, 2009

Uncle Barry will buy you a TV converter box if you sign up here: Depending on where you live, you'll probably be able to get at least a few free channels over the air. But hurry - the offer expires next week!
posted by spilon at 10:22 AM on July 24, 2009

You know that tv exists without cable, right? If your tv isn't digital, you can get a digital converter/tuner and watch whatever magically appears on your set. The choices are a bit more limited but it's still tv.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:25 AM on July 24, 2009

Atari or Colecovision - Scavenge the thrift stores or craigslist for an old videogame system. Get Video Olympics for the Atari and two sets of paddles and you can have the most insane retro multiplayer experience EVER. Endless fun for cheap.

Make soap - Requires a little bit of outlay, but your local craft store can get you up and running for $30 or so. teachsoap is a good website for ideas and techniques.

Make paper - So you can wrap your new soap in cool paper! This can be a lot of fun especially on warm days where you can dry your screens/paper outside.

Learn as many different cardgames as possible!

Read lots of books!

Play with Legos!

Seriously, this could be the coolest most fun time in your entire life so enjoy it!
posted by Skrubly at 10:25 AM on July 24, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the awesome responses! I really like all the book suggestions, I'm a book nerd myself but I'm afraid my SO is very averse to reading, which is why I haven't explored that route already. He's extremely dyslexic and finds reading to be quite the chore, even if it's about a subject he enjoys in a large print book. I will take to heart the suggestions to read to each other, though it will end up being one sided and may not prove to be a long-lived activity.
I also knit, and cook well, but have found that SO does not enjoy these as much as I do.

Also will be checking out the library, don't know why I hadn't thought of that yet.

I'm really enjoying the more atypical ideas such as making a fort, printing with vegetables on old clothing, etc. and would appreciate more along that vein of thinking if possible!
posted by Gonestarfishing at 10:31 AM on July 24, 2009

Response by poster: Also meant to add that we already have lots of sex (like 2x/day at least), and while greatly appreciated, tv-related activities that don't involve cable are of lower priority since we're both kinda burned out on technology (hence, can't use our brains to think of fun, petty activities)
posted by Gonestarfishing at 10:36 AM on July 24, 2009

Do a crossword/sudoku together?

Get some simple weights and/or a yoga ball and do excerise routines (many free DVDs with instruction at library.)

Get a cookbook (from the library) that intrigues you both, and try out a new recipe every night. For an extra challenge, try to incorporate ingredients or techniques you've never tried before.

Go on walks/bike rides together.
posted by np312 at 10:39 AM on July 24, 2009

nthing Netflix. If you know someone who has an account, you can get a free trial, but it is really cheap to continue. Also, you can get DVDs of tv shows that you like or wanted to watch but never got around to it.

Also, most snark aside, what about going starfishing? By which I mean, once it's dark outside, you can go out and lay under the stars and chat and point out what pictures you can find in the stars (like cloudwatching, but for stars).

Also also, nthing library. You can have fun going to the library and picking out DVDs or books to enjoy together.
posted by Night_owl at 10:44 AM on July 24, 2009

Best answer: -Make marshmallow fondant, and create an edible 3D sculpture (OF LENIN) out of brownies/rice krispies covered in fondant.

-My boyfriend and I trade off who has to tell a bed time story every night we don't fall right asleep. some stories have included The Scenester Ghost, Claude and Lorena Get a Time Machine, Claude and Lorena build a riverboat*, and The Tale of the Little Blue Dog.

-Make stencilled t-shirts with freezer paper or stencil blanks. Cutting the stencil out probably takes the most time. If done with drawings you did yourself and multiple layers, you can get a really rewarding one-of-a-kind t-shirt for under $10 and kill a lot of free time. If you're not artistic, use images from Zee Internet or even get creative with pre-cut stencils.

-Cookie cutters work surprisingly well as stencils to create an all-over pattern like that potato-stamping tutorial I linked.

-You can reuse the plastic stencils from t-shirts to spray-paint graffiti.

-Dress in all black and stalk around your city throwing up handmade stickers, stencils, or freehand spray paint masterpieces. Don't hit private property and don't get caught.

-Make disguises and craft goofy scenarios for those frequent sex-havings. Make your boyfriend put on a fake mustache and be the train inspector from Zurich, &c.

-I have been wanting to make a crazy Karen O style headdress using this origami crown as a base for a while.

-Hot glue googly eyes onto everything you own.

-If you have a blender, pretend you two are up and coming milkshake chefs with the hottest little diner in NYC (cupcakes? so last year. milkshakes = the big thing in oh nine). Experiment with different mixtures for your ever-changing menu. Nutella and banana, cocoa powder and strawberry marshmallow, blueberries and lime zest...

*that link is not us. i wish. you should build a riverboat.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:59 AM on July 24, 2009

You could try listening to audiobooks together... that's another thing your library will have.

There are also plenty of exercise options that can be done cheaply indoors.

Previous threads of interest:

reclaiming the marital entertainment space
Fun stuff for couples other than the obvious
Early Date Advice
..other than sex.

And these (that are currently in the related questions links for this post):
Cheap fun things for the weekend
free me from my free time
posted by Zed at 11:05 AM on July 24, 2009

Many, many great suggestions here, but please don't forget to get that digital converter box, unless the TV you'll be receiving is already digital. When the switch happened, I set up a small TV in my home office and discovered that it received about triple the number of channels that it had under analog. That includes 24-hour movies and weather, among other things...
posted by Robert Angelo at 12:21 PM on July 24, 2009

ticklefights? indoor picnic? try and figure out the constellations while its still summer? learn poker, so that when you go to vegas you can amass your fortune?

does one of you know how to play an instrument? do you have a friend that does? do you have cds? friends with cds/ipods? have people over, byob or whatever. The most fun I have involves sitting on a porch and shooting the shit with some friends, music, and a few beers.
posted by shinyshiny at 4:02 AM on July 25, 2009

a very large living space/bedroom. The apartment is in the basement of a house, and has a large walk out patio area as well.

Get a nerf ball and play catch (out on the patio if you have lamps and stuff you'd knock over indoors, but if indoors is safe, I'm thinking bouncing the nerf ball off the walls and stuff would be all kinds of fun).

Check out some library books on dancing (or some videos, if you prefer) and teach each other new dance moves. Can you foxtrot?

Also, ask your librarians what they have besides books, CDs and DVDs. Some libraries have board games you can check out. Some have power tools. Find out what yours has.
posted by kristi at 12:31 PM on July 25, 2009

One thing that's worth considering: cable companies are usually quite happy to dish out a free trial period. This period can easily be extended by calling to say that you're switching to their competitor. Well, so says my cousin who hasn't paid for cable for about 8 months now.
posted by 913 at 8:26 PM on July 25, 2009

My ex-boyfriend and I unearthed some old instructional swing-dancing DVDs and taught ourselves how to west-coast swing dance -- first in the living room, then when we were a bit better, we went out to jazz/blues bars to practice -- $5 cover charge at most, always practically-empty dance floors, appreciative bands (they love it when people dance!), and ultimately a slightly-embarrassing-but-very-flattering ton of compliments from other patrons. Dancing is awesome fun in itself, a skill that comes in handy in surprising ways, and a great way to increase intimacy and communication skills (physical and verbal) in a partnership. Plus, we met other dancers and made some great friends that way. I bet the public library has learn-to-dance DVDs -- and I've also taught myself other dances via youtube videos.

On preview, kristi made this suggestion more concisely -- so consider this a seconding of that comment!
posted by obliquicity at 1:42 PM on July 27, 2009

« Older Blogs about the twin cities or Minnesota   |   iPhone directory for Ontario, Canada? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.