Crafty, low-gear-required couples activities
April 28, 2020 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Please help me brainstorm creative activities for my partner and I to do together that minimize buying new specialized equipment!

My girlfriend is sheltering in place with me. We’d like to find some new things to do together, since we don’t have a ton of overlapping hobbies and lately our evenings have turned into “read separate things together.” In the before times, we had good luck assembling big LEGO sets together (we’ve got a tradition now of doing a big space set on Valentine’s Day — we did the Saturn V and the Lunar Module together that way). But in the shelter-in-place era, we’re out of interesting LEGO sets that both of us are into (I mean, I’d build the new A-Wing, but it doesn’t grab both of us the way the real NASA hardware kits do, and I’m intentionally saving the ISS for next valentine’s day) and don’t want to order unnecessary things anyway.

We seem to do well at following instructions together — a few years ago we built Flite Test foam RC airplanes together (gluing up pre-cut foam sheets with some minor additional cutting) and we both really enjoyed that. Lego but with foam core and glue.

One of the challenges is we have somewhat different hobbies, overall. She’s a musician (French Horn for 25 years). I’m a visual artist (mostly digital, both 2D and 3d), and while I dabble in music, I’m more “guy with a guitar who can read a tab and play badly”, and I screw around with Ableton Lite sometimes. It’s hard for me to keep up with her, musically, and there’s not much call for Horn-guitar anyway!

In the before times, we’d go for light hikes or to museums together, which isn’t really possible now. We have been following along with the FanFare Star Trek TNG Re-watch, which is fun and at least TNG is sort of comfort-food because even when it’s terrible you know the crew is going to figure it out, etc. That isn’t really a social activity, though, aside from that we can do it together.

We talked about getting into plastic model kits, but we don’t have the paints on hand, and trying to get paints, safety gear, and ideally an airbrush/airbrush booth right now seems not-wise.

I saw a thing online where somebody built an ornate cat house out of cut up cardboard boxes (think shutters, shingles, all kinds of fun detail), but in the absence of plans I’m not sure how to make “let’s figure out how to do this and then design something and do it” into a couples’ project.

Any ideas? I know it’s hard without having a full inventory of stuff we do have. For the record, money is not an object Re: reasonable new gear, but availability and desire to not add strain to the delivery infrastructure is.
posted by Alterscape to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
One or two-player pen-and-paper RPGs? For example A Quiet Year or Artefact. These two require a mix of creative story telling and doodling/drawing. The D&D Essentials Kit has everything you need to play D&D and also provides rules for playing D&D with just one player and one dungeon master - D&D can provide hours of collaborative story-telling, improvisation, and character development.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:34 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Crafty couples ideas I've enjoyed:

- Making and decorating gingerbread houses (from a kit)

- Decorating simple cookies. If you're trying to make 3-D cookie structures you need a specific kind of icing that dries like glue, but if you're just doing cookies, buy a can of ready made white frosting, spoon it into a few ziploc bags, colour them by squishing in food colouring, cocoa, smashed berries, etc, and you can stiffen up the icing a bit by massaging in some icing sugar. Then snip a corner and use the ziplocs as piping bags.

- Refurbishing an old piece of furniture - sanding, varnishing or painting, hardware mending...

- Make a piñata

- There was a British craft show called Fingertips that had lots of crafty ideas that might appeal? Made for kids but easily adaptable for adults.

And some non-crafty ones:

- Learn a dance together and videotape yourselves doing it, tik-tok style (but any kind of dance, doesn't need to be the trendy ones)

- Read movie scenes together - every script you can imagine is on Script-O-Rama

- Learn a fun body trick, like a yoga balance or human belt

- Go for a walk planning to photograph things that fit a certain theme. Perhaps make a funny ABC of your neighbourhood, or photograph anything you see that's lime green, or anything you see that occurs in groups of 3.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:50 AM on April 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

Carving rubber erasers into stamps is super fun and the materials can probably be picked up along side your next trip to the grocery store. You can also carve potatoes to make stamps, but those stamps don't last forever. There are lots of fancy carving tools, but you can make things with an exacto, especially when the purpose is to just have fun. In fact, many house hold items can be used as a stamp if you get creative!
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:50 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Since you mention cardboard crafting, as a fellow Lego builder, these look cool:
Geometric Cardboard Lamp
Crazy Geometric Cardboard Sculpture
posted by librarianamy at 9:50 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

posted by sixswitch at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2020

Oooh, I bought The Quiet Year a while ago and I think it needs to hit the table. has some good online boardgames. The interface is a bit clunky.

My wife and I primarily worry about the kids, cook and clean.

It is too bad that you are not in a situation to go for walks. We are fortunate in that we live in the suburbs and the sidewalk density is very low. Here is a list of activities. Most of these are ridiculous or not practical, but I offer them up in the spirit of brainstorming in the hopes they will help you come up with something better.

1. French Horn and Guitar Duets get a copy of Garage Band or the equivalent and cut an album for family and friends

2. lightly curated list of highly rated, two player boardgames that aren't too heavy

3. You can build some wonderful things with a glue gun, cardboard, and patience

4. Pepakura 3d paper modeling

5. Write paper letters to isolated friends and loved ones

6. Ping Pong

7. Giant Papier Mache Masks

8. Writing Poetry

9. Collaborative interactive fiction: Twine

10. Shooting air pistols requires you to calm yourself and breathe carefully. I find it almost meditative. You need 10 meters of hallway for best results. Be sure to wear protective eyewear and Google for tips on how to make an indoor backstop.

11. Making Comics is good for any skill level, by Macarthur Genius grant recipient Lynda Barry.

12. Carcassone is a great couples' board game that can be contemplative or lead to divorce, depending on your playing style.

13. There has to be a lockdown-friendly Alternate Reality Game out there.

14. Postcard exchanges

15. I hesitate to include service-oriented activities, because it can feel like self-righteous finger wagging, but this looks too interesting to ignore: Letters for the Elderly

16. Spiel by Web has two games I love--Santiago and Wallenstein. You'll have to find a couple of other players. These are guilty pleasures.

17. Yoga videos on Amazon prime

18. Books every couple should read

19. Mail your tiny art projects anonymously to strangers or friends

20. Couples meditation
posted by mecran01 at 10:39 AM on April 28, 2020 [5 favorites]

You can design and she can tune junk wind chimes.
posted by Botanizer at 10:42 AM on April 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

With some old business cards (or packs of index cards or similar), you could have a go at a Menger sponge... all right, you'd need a lot of cards to make a level-3 one like the one shown there, but a level-1 sponge only takes 120 cards, and even a level-2 one, if you find the level-1 one fun, "only" needs 3456.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:58 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Paper crafts? Bonus for upcycling any paper that would otherwise be chucked.

The wind chimes suggestion reminded me of my Science Olympiad days. The link goes to a list of K-6th grade events. For me, I recollect really loving the homemade instruments event, catapult event, and the egg drop event.

Create a Jeopardy game together and then run it for friends together?
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:25 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Stop motion animation with objects from around the house seems like it would be fun with your combination of skills and interests. The full version of the Stop Motion Studio app (available for both iOS and Android) is only $5, a tripod is helpful but not strictly speaking necessary. Also stop motion takes fucking foreeeeever so you'll fill up a lot of time.
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:36 PM on April 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

If my husband were into crafting, I would totally get him to do a crocheting project with me. There are a decent number of Youtube video tutorials where they basically walk you through how to crochet something, step by step, and a good number of them require making say X squares and then you join X squares together to create something bigger like a blanket. Start up costs are pretty light - some yarn, two crochet hooks, and then you're good to go.
posted by ellerhodes at 12:38 PM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Modular origami might be a fun project-you could spend an evening making a kusudama or two.
posted by LadyNibbler at 1:01 PM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I came in to say modular/unit origami too! A friend who does unit origami recommends books by Tomoko Fuse.
posted by doift at 2:26 PM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

OH OH addendum to my earlier suggestion: LEGO animation!
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:47 PM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

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