Item based experiences under 75$?
January 13, 2022 5:42 AM   Subscribe

What experiences - eg nice bath, cool craft project, bizarre sensation - can I purchase for under 75 dollars?

Thanks to corona, work from home, etc, my life is severely lacking in novelty right now. I don't get to go new places or do new things. Sometimes quarantine/lockdown means I'm not even leaving the house for days on end.

In short, I am going a bit mad, and I am willing to throw moderately large quantities of cash at this problem.

So please, recommend me any novel experience I can buy and experience at home. Anything at least mildly interesting/rewarding. My plan is to try treating myself once a month or so, thereby having some kind of regular something to look forward to again.

Some examples of the types of things I'm looking for:

-I just ordered a bath bomb and I am hoping it will provide an interesting novelty experience for me, a person who has never used a bath bomb before.
-I also ordered a little clay polymer craft kit, to satisfy a craving to do something hopefully tactile, although I don't have the time for anything too involved (so not, say,buying yarn for an involved,many hours project. If you have a 1-2 hour start to finish for amateurs crafts project to recommend, that works)
- Months back I also tried a remote improv lesson recommended by mefi and it was amazing
- those weird head tingler spiders

But mention anything within budget even if you're not sure it qualifies, since I'm most interested in anything I couldn't possibly think of myself.
posted by Cozybee to Shopping (23 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Pick a city you'd like to visit, and have a 'day trip' there. Order some typical food in advance from that part of the world. Put on some local music (maybe just pop music in the local language, doesn't have to be schmalzy folk tunes), sit down and wander round the place on streetview. If you google virtual tours, there are video tours of places where someone might actually add in an informative commentary while they walk around the city. Check in advance if there are museums/galleries/attractions that offer virtual tours or good online sites and get them ready and set up so you can drop those into your tours. Then make your food, and eat it while watching a TV show from there, with subtitles. Finish up with some local drinks that you've bought in adance.

I did this early in lockdown for a place I'd already been and loved, and really enjoyed it.
posted by penguin pie at 5:56 AM on January 13, 2022 [15 favorites]

Best answer: A musical instrument you've always meant to learn but haven't gotten around to + (online?) lessons.

I did this with the Bass at the start of 2021 and it's helped keep me sane. Just jamming to songs for 15 minutes gives me a serious endorphin rush.
posted by signal at 6:19 AM on January 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Fountain pens and other new stationery, for new sensory/tactile experiences and a new thing to fiddle with.

I like the Preppy as a first fountain pen but Jetpens alone has hundreds of options if you want to go down a research rabbit hole.

If you like writing with it, a good way to try out a lot of different kinds of inks is to get a Preppy standard international cartridge adapter, a blunt syringe (for easier cleaning/reusing of cartridges), and one or more of the Diamine multi-packs of standard international cartridges.
posted by All Might Be Well at 6:26 AM on January 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding musical instrument. A used acoustic guitar from craigslist or FB marketplace would be something you could enjoy for a while. You can order a brand new mandolin with case and starter books for just above your $75 cutoff.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:28 AM on January 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Based on real life experience as a hobby omnivore and doing something new every month or so. // Get the Wine Folly book to learn about wine, then buy / taste some wine. It's particularly good for pointing you to the affordable stuff that tastes like the stuff you like IMO. // Buy a bunch of beads and make a pretty necklace or earrings. There are great tutorials on YouTube. I really enjoyed shopping on Fire Mountain Gems (pretty sparklies!). // Crocheting a doily actually does not take a lot of time or money (see YouTube tutorial)! // Get a cute little charcuterie board, a bunch of fancy cheese, charcuterie, toss in some grapes, almonds and honey and cute knives and enjoy. // Buy a standard "Rider Waite" deck and one that really speaks to you and learn how to read tarot cards (website prev recommended by metafilter). This has been surprisingly fun and has added a lot more "spice" into my life as a way of introducing new ideas... like why is my advice for the day "Temperance"? // Find a local chocolate maker and get a fancy box of chocolates -- eat one truffle once a day as prescribed. // Get a basic ukelele and make some music. // Find a course on discount!!! on Udemy. I was skeptical, but a lot of these courses are SUPER snackable, activity-based and really gives me a jolt of completion once I'm done with a lesson. I am slowly working my way through 100 Days of Code for Python, and I was super skeptical b/c like why pandemic hobby, why you be productive, but it has been really fun. // Look for a new job in a new place to live. Warning, this can take up a LOT of your time.
posted by ellerhodes at 6:31 AM on January 13, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Miracle fruit tablets affect your taste buds so that you can't taste sour flavors. Foods that aren't sweet (lemons) will taste extremely sweet. Foods that are sweet, such as other citrus fruits, will taste like candy. You can experiment with lots of different foods. Some foods will taste better, and some will taste worse.

This is the sort of thing that is fun with friends, so if you have someone else willing to try it, you could set it up as a Zoom session.
posted by FencingGal at 6:32 AM on January 13, 2022 [17 favorites]

Best answer: I purchased a software-defined radio (SDR) gadget for my computer about a year ago, and it's provided a great hobby while I'm mostly homebound. For about $40 (search for "RTL-SDR Blog V3"), you can get a little USB gizmo and some antennas, and with some free software, you can listen to government weather broadcasts, ham radio, pager signals, fire and police dispatch, air traffic conversations, and all sorts of mysterious and sometimes musical signals. You can check and decode image transmissions from the ISS! I find it somewhat magical that there is so much information streaming past us at any time, and you can just poke and around and explore with a very small investment. You aren't transmitting, just listening, so no need for an amateur radio license.

Low-end SDR is cheap and modular, so once you have a sense of what you want to improve, you can get inexpensive add-ons like amplifiers, filters to block out noisy FM radio, and devices that make it easier to tune into specific frequencies. There are also lots of cheap+creative interventions, like experimenting with antenna placement, arranging your environment so you get less interference from other electrical devices, etc. If you cut about 10-20' of common electrical or speaker wire and clip or tie it to the little telescopic antenna that comes with the kits, you can also start to pick up lower-frequency transmissions like CB radio.
posted by Transmissions From Vrillon at 6:38 AM on January 13, 2022 [10 favorites]

Best answer: individual tickets for the sundance film festival ONLINE go on sale today for $20 each. lots of great films that won't come out for awhile otherwise, and you can participate in the Q&As and maybe get access to the VR stuff? very fun.

coursehorse has loads of online learning options that are live & interactive
posted by wowenthusiast at 6:40 AM on January 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Do you like soup? I like soup!
You could join r/soup on reddit and make a new soup each week.

You could also make a new dessert recipe each week. I just make browned-butter rice krispie treats and benne wafer (a tiny toasted sesame seed cookie) and I recommend them both! Maybe a special pan or ingredient, etc can be your splurge?

It's doesn't cost necessarily but you could choose an actor or director, etc and follow his/her career by watching their films chronologically.

I love learning about history and play audiobooks and lectures on my alexa while I'm cleaning/cooking, etc.
But you could also tie this into film watching (if you enjoy films like me). You could listen to books by or about Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin (his autobiography!), Barry Sonnenfeld, David O Selznick (Memo), Elia Kazan and watch their films. [You could do the same with a musician listening to their albums along with a book. Hammer of the Gods (Led Zep), So much things to Say (bob Marley), etc.]

You could choose one Shakespeare play, and seek out every movie version and watch those.

Do you have ANY outdoor space? Even a little balcony? I love feeding the birds and watching them. Buy a birding book and keep track of who visits.

You could buy a bread maker. I bought mine at the beginning of the pandemic and still using it.
posted by beccaj at 6:58 AM on January 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Pour-over coffee
High tea, with a teapot and cups and saucers and little finger sammiches
Attend a virtual conference or live stream
In addition to your bath bomb, get you a bath caddy so you can read and listen to music.
Attend a virtual meditation or seminar.
I put this Lego bonsai tree together.
Are there any classes you'd be interested in? It's out of your budget but I took a class and it was awesome.
Adult coloring books, colored pencils, or take up sketching
posted by pazazygeek at 7:29 AM on January 13, 2022

Best answer:

A lockpick set like this one is a ton of fun! The above is easy to click once and buy, but I found the same pieces on their site, but only one cutaway lock, but with the repinning kit, and it was like $50 instead. I've been having fun! (but it is hard!)
posted by bbqturtle at 8:12 AM on January 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: In the UK, various restaurants responded to the initial lockdown by bringing out recipe kits: pay £20 or so and get a delivery of the ingredients and instructions for two Pizza Pilgrims pizzas, or two bowls of Shoryu ramen, or two Dishoom bacon naans, etc. Many of them are still doing it. I assume this is not the only country where that has happened, and if any of your favourite restaurants happen to have taken that approach, do it. Even if you're on your own and therefore have to make and eat the same delicious something two days running; even if you could also just get delivery from the same restaurant. Fresh from the oven is so much better.

Fancy advent calendars were a bit of a godsend for me in both 2020 and 2021. When everything was grey and bleak and sad and samey, getting to discover and eat a mystery artisan chocolate or piece of gourmet liquorice every day was a tiny and welcome joy. Hooray, a *nice* surprise! I was genuinely taken aback by how much it cheered me up. We are now of course outside the advent calendar season, but as ellerhodes suggests, you could recreate it for yourself for a month with a large box of assorted chocolates (for maximum surprise value, don't read the menu, just pick one chocolate each day and look at its description alone). This works even if you choose the contents yourself: how long are you really going to remember a list of thirty chocolates?

For $69.95 you can buy yourself hours of fun / exasperation / chasing tiny marbles with a Turing Tumble. I have one. I have not completed all the challenges yet. I definitely consider it value for money.

Did you ever play cat's cradle as a kid? Upgrade your skills and learn a whole bunch of other string figures from around the world! (Other string figures books exist; those were just the first two that came up with actual prices attached when I searched.)

Or you could get a yo-yo and learn some new tricks.

Or a kendama! Again, books are available.

Maybe you'd like to try balloon modelling?

When did you last do a jigsaw puzzle? Or learn a new variant of solitaire?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:23 AM on January 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Paint by Sticker book - I have a few of these now because I find them so satisfying.

Small felting kit - Mostly got this because I did not understand how felting worked. It works by stabbing with large needles! A nice small project.

Miniature dollhouse room kit - There is a bunch of these online, I got one with a little fairy house. It does take significantly more then a few hours though and requires a good pair of scissors and a glue gun.

Other things I’ve done is attended so many zoom talks by authors I like, which has been great! Also the local nature society moved their lectures online, I’ve added myself to their email lists and attended anything vaguely interesting.

I’ve gone for maximum comfy when reading. I have heated footpad, a nice selection of tea, and a big squishy stuffed koala to recline on.

And if you enjoy cooking I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of picking cookbooks at random out of the library and trying new recipes. My library also has brain puzzle boxes with stuff like Rubik’s cubes and tangram puzzles, I think I checked every one they offered out in 2020.
posted by lepus at 8:32 AM on January 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Knitting machine, a virtual sip & paint class, making cheese (can DIY with getting all the ingredients or can buy a kit), brewing beer, fermenting kombucha, jigsaw puzzles, 3D jigsaw puzzles, a fun lego kit, a foraging class (outdoors with masks?), a mushroom growing kit.
posted by at 8:35 AM on January 13, 2022

Best answer: Spend an hour creating a hexaflexagon. You only require stiff paper, scissors, a marker and some paste. Doing something interesting and novel with your hands can brighten any day.
posted by SPrintF at 9:57 AM on January 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Get a bidet add-on for your toilet, preferably one with adjustable temperature (and, if possible, a dryer function). I was surprised by how much getting one improved my bathroom (and overall) experience.
posted by Lexica at 12:22 PM on January 13, 2022

Best answer: The largest, softest, fluffiest bath towel that makes sense for you. It feels really good to dry off with a really nice towel.
posted by mmascolino at 1:05 PM on January 13, 2022

Best answer: An online cooking class through Sur La Table?

Watercolor class

You may enjoy some of the virtual field trips from Creative Mornings. They vary from week to week and they're free. It's everything from creative writing, movement, self-massage, games, sound baths, etc

Punch needle kit

Round weaving loom
posted by biscuits at 5:10 PM on January 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think you can still get a Google cardboard; virtual reality seems like it could be fun!
posted by Threeve at 9:35 PM on January 13, 2022

Best answer: Because of a comment from here on Metafilter a while ago, I picked up a butterfly knife and have been finding it very fun to learn tricks with it. It's a very different hobby than the kind of thing I'm usually drawn to and I love it!
posted by DSime at 3:47 PM on January 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

The apps for Google Cardboard are basically all gone. It's a damn shame, too. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 2:47 PM on January 20, 2022


(Just be sure to buy a pump: you'll burst your eardrums trying to inflate the long balloons by mouth.)
posted by wenestvedt at 2:48 PM on January 20, 2022

Raspberry Pi kit if you like to tinker
posted by roaring beast at 11:40 AM on January 26, 2022

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