Activities for the hip and homebound
February 24, 2017 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Woman in her 30s can't leave the house (for the very long term) and is bored and isolated. Also has no wifi. What can I send?

Frequently asks for iOS games she can play without an internet connection, recently asked for old magazines.

She's now subscribed to every magazine I can name, so that's handled. She likes that because it keeps her "up to date." What else can I mail her or subscribe her to to keep her occupied and uplifted? I can spend some money.

Difficulties: memory, focus and cognitive issues so no crossword puzzles or anything like that.

Looked for activity books but anything she can do is probably marked with an age range that would be insulting. Doesn't want to color. Long books wouldn't fly, books of essays or short stories might. Also, has every reason to be drepressed so I'd like to send uplifting things.

Also small kids at home, so nothing they can make a mess of or lose pieces to.

Was historically edgy/punk rock but uh, life circumstances/illness.
posted by OrangeVelour to Human Relations (35 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Can you buy a cheapo mP3 player and load it full with podcasts or other things she likes to listen to? When I was homebound with illness I pretty much survived on the How Stuff Works stable of podcasts. They occasionally touch on somewhat depressing topics, but are mostly upbeat and fun. Also Wait Wait and Car Talk are good for repeat listens.
posted by backwards compatible at 1:22 PM on February 24, 2017 [11 favorites]

This may be a stupid question, but does "ios games" refer to iphone games or mac games? Does she have a computer? Would a game system be affordable? I think there are games that are entertaining whether you go about doing your own thing in the game world or you can choose to go on some sort of challenge or whatever (that you dont need to be online for). Like, there is a huge giant world to explore and things you can do and you wont be killed if you lose focus. Skyrim is one of those, i think. Ill try to think of non-vidoe game things
posted by miss so and so at 1:28 PM on February 24, 2017

"Crafts?" I get why she doesn't like the coloring wheeze, but unskilled crafts might be in a different category. You end up having made something useful. I mean, sort of.

My wonderful friend sent me a big book of decoupage projects and a pack of fancy paper. Add mod podge and you have basically the best present ever. With a kit like this, your friend could cut up those mags after she's finished reading them and collage all the surfaces in her house.

Further pursuant to the dumb crafts idea, I'm also making a yoyo quilt (google for instructions on youtube--it is very easy) out of old shirts, and this renders bad television entirely watchable. The resulting quilt is going to be hideous, but whatever, it's still really fun and makes this mortal coil easier to bear.

Books on tape--stories rather than novels, maybe? Ooo, or jokes. George Carlin recorded his books.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:30 PM on February 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

Weekly deliveries of beautiful, seasonal fresh flowers.
posted by anastasiav at 1:32 PM on February 24, 2017 [7 favorites]

Graphic novels! I'm really enjoying Paper Girls at the moment which is both beautiful and a great story.
posted by ukdanae at 1:34 PM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Seconding backwards compatible's podcast suggestion. Maximum Fun network has great podcasts in a variety of styles covering a variety of topics (Stop Podcasting Yourself, The Flop House, and Judge John Hodgeman are my favorites). A couple of other good podcasts that are informational, but that wont lose you if you forget part of what they are talking about are: Presidents are People Too, and The Bugle (w Andy Zaltzman). I have a really long list of podcasts i can recommend so if you have any interest in more recommendations let me know

ps to my last post. Minecraft might be a really good game for her
posted by miss so and so at 1:37 PM on February 24, 2017

Thanks for the help so far - by iOS, I meant iPhone games. Has no game system and if I send her one, I imagine it would immediately become property of the kids.

Crafts are good - something non-messy?
posted by OrangeVelour at 1:38 PM on February 24, 2017

If she has any form of internet, podcasts. When my partner was housebound and couldn't read due to a concussion, I spent my evenings filling up his iOS device with hours and hours of podcasts. I bought an iPod speaker to make it more pleasant for him.

Radiotopia is a network of podcasts which generally combine 'smart' and 'short', especially in "The Allusionist" and "99% Invisible."
posted by flibbertigibbet at 1:41 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe buy *two* cheap mp3 players and exchange them regularly, with you refilling the one you get with all the new. Friend of mine does this for his dad for long drives.

Hard to guess what crafts would be possible right now -- amigurumi and felting come in small cute kits, make small cute animals. Felting is probably easier. Paper (quilt) piecing, if yo-yo quilts don't appeal -- you can buy kits for that, too.

Music? Something to sing along to?
posted by clew at 1:47 PM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Does she have a TV and DVD player? Or a laptop with a DVD player? Netflix still does disc deliveries.
posted by Automocar at 1:49 PM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Crafts are good - something non-messy?

The easiest crafts are rughooking or needlepoint on printed canvas, which come in kits. If she is up to learning a new skill and able to tolerate a learning curve, you can go with something that will take more focus and skill, such as counted cross stitch, weaving, beaded jewelry, knitting, crocheting, tatting, macramé.

Another possibility is to get her art supplies and an art instruction book of some kind. Perhaps she'd like to learn to draw or paint, or to do something more specialized, like cartooning, fashion illustration, or calligraphy.
posted by orange swan at 1:52 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Musical instruments are very expensive, bulky, and take many years of practice to get good/be fun."


Harmonica, melodica, recorder, mouth harp, kazoo, kalimba, tambourine... these are all inexpensive, and can be fun even in the first afternoon. They can fill a lot of down time. Easy for anyone else to jump in and play along, no prior experience required.
Music can also be very expressive and therapeutic. Maybe an ex punk rocker is too cool for this stuff, but maybe it's right up her alley :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:54 PM on February 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

Audio books, puzzle, tv shows on dvd.
posted by theora55 at 2:00 PM on February 24, 2017

I really like making no-sew blankets. No link, but google has tons on this. These are really easy, and only require a few yards of fleece, a decent-sized working space, a good pair of fabric scissors and the hand dexterity to tie knots. I find the repetition of the knot tying sort of soothing, mistakes don't really matter too much, and in the end I have a cozy blanket. Once you have too many blankets you can donate them to animal shelters - cats in particular really like these types of blankets because they're soft and cozy and the edges are fun to play with! Downside is that fleece can get expensive :(
posted by cgg at 2:02 PM on February 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

The older Kindles, you can find one used, don't require WiFi. They connect directly through the towers and don't charge you for that service. What you can do easily: download books from Amazon (including lots of free books if she likes). Download some games for the Kindle. Audiobooks for those that had a speaker.

What you can do with more difficulty: it has a clunky internet interface, so you can browse, but slowly and typing is a nightmare. (It seems to update with a five second pause for each letter typed.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:11 PM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Can you buy her internet? 6 months of WiFi would be a great gift I'd think.
posted by fshgrl at 2:21 PM on February 24, 2017 [10 favorites]

Quick question
Does she have no wi-fi because of preference or financial reasons?
If financial maybe you can help her find assistance for the monthly cost?
If preference then never mind...
posted by calgirl at 2:24 PM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Beautiful children's books that she can share with her children and also enjoy herself? Visual puzzle books for all ages like "Where's Waldo?", Arthur Geisert and Graeme books, also might be enjoyable. Some adults would probably find these "too young", but I'm 38 and I still love them.
posted by epj at 2:36 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you go the musical instrument route, I strongly suggest ukulele.
posted by bunderful at 2:45 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have no idea how feasible this is for you or her, and I truly am not trying to be flippant at all but....

A cat. Can you get her a cat?
posted by JenThePro at 2:52 PM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

The isolation is he bigger problem. Can you help alieviate that? My library, for example, has volunteers visit with himebound patrons and brings them books, audiobooks and DVDs. Libraries also do adult programming, I just had a paint night where I used a local service organization to provide the free transportation to the paint night I ran. Are there local organizations SHE can volunteer with?Fostering shelter animals for example?
posted by saucysault at 3:03 PM on February 24, 2017

Does she have GarageBand? Easy to make music. Also, if you are looking for craft ideas I recommend Crafting with feminism

There are also the very popular box of the month clubs I would recommend. Socks, beer, puzzles. Anything you can think of, there is a box of.
posted by saucysault at 3:06 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is she having dexterity problems?

If not, something like knitting could work really well. It sounds like an old biddy sort of thing, but it's gotten pretty modern and lots of young people do it. :) Being able to CREATE something is really satisfying, and it's good for a bit of gentle cognitive training because keeping count/mental math/complexity can be as big or as little of a deal as you make it. It's also pretty easy to pick up and put down, if there's kids and stuff around. Focus/memory might be a little rough, but I guess it depends on the person.

No wifi means the giant web community may not work ideally, but it's...Knitting Facebook. Lots of patterns and things to print, if someone is helping out with that sort of thing.
posted by aggyface at 3:32 PM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Dartboard & darts? They can be pretty fun to just throw for a few minutes while waiting for the laundry to finish or whatever, it's something one can improve on solo over time, and can be something to play with other people when they come over.
posted by eelgrassman at 4:45 PM on February 24, 2017

Paint By Sticker is a fun, non-messy craft that's quite easy to put down and pick up again later.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:55 PM on February 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Would she be into snarky cross-stitch or some fun embroidery?
posted by bile and syntax at 5:14 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


I understand that the "everybody strumsticks" are relatively intuitive for those with some basic understanding of music. I imagine that for most people even the simple instrument suggestions above require a basic understanding of music.
posted by she's not there at 5:20 PM on February 24, 2017

Re knitting: perhaps a loom would be easier. The linked loom is adjustable, i.e., multiple configurations and 4 different pin sizes, e.g., smaller pegs create finer stitches, so it should suit a variety of ability levels.

I just bought one at a thrift store, but haven't used it. It comes with several frame pieces and a bazillion little pegs (which is what makes it so flexible, of course). However, once it's assembled for a project, she would just be dealing with a loom and yarn.
posted by she's not there at 5:36 PM on February 24, 2017

Maybe a dumb suggestion, but could you send her a wireless router?
posted by kevinbelt at 5:46 PM on February 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

I love love love Paint By Sticker (suggested by BlahLaLa above) and just want to add that if you send her paint by sticker, please include a pair of tweezers with it. It makes the project easier.
posted by janey47 at 5:53 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

The above-linked Subversive Cross-Stitch deluxe kits are great--everything is included and they're very do-able for beginners. When she finishes you could send her some supplies to frame the piece. A basic frame (or one of their fancy gold frames), plus foam core and stitchery tape make it easy to frame a finished piece.

I also think no-sew blankets are really fun.

I also like the idea of having two iPods that you swap back and forth with podcasts. I personally like to listen to podcasts while I craft, so she could combine those. You could probably buy them used for cheap on eBay or Swappa.

Also yeah, if she doesn't have Netflix already, the disc-only subscription would probably be really nice. If she doesn't have a TV (or the kids are always watching or whatever), you can buy portable DVD players for not that much.
posted by radioamy at 6:00 PM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love the Best American book series. Every year, a new series of books comes out. Best American Non-Required Reading is my favorite but there's also Best American Sports, Travel, Graphic Novels, etc.
posted by thewestinggame at 6:04 PM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Crafts are good - something non-messy?

Origami or kirigami. If glue is not too messy then quilling, card making or scrapbooking.
posted by pianissimo at 8:59 PM on February 24, 2017

I don't know how much you want to spend on this, but if the lack of wifi is a matter of circumstance rather than preference you might be able to set her up with a mobile hotspot and plan, a tablet with sim card and plan, or a phone plan (and phone if needed) that allows for wifi tethering.

Maybe she'd like some subscription boxes and/or signing up for pen pals and swaps as a way of having periodic things to look forward to? There are some craft subscription boxes that might be interesting.
posted by trig at 8:30 AM on February 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Duct tape crafts. They can be done at all kinds of levels.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:11 PM on February 26, 2017

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