At-Home Adventures for When You're Broke

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We've just had 74 consecutive days of below-freezing weather. There have been 24 less-than-0ºF days so far this winter. Any funds left after the holidays have gone towards buying heat and gloves. I am broke and restless, but where there is popcorn, there is hope....

Here are three ideas for fun entertainments you can have in your own home... for the low low price of nothing at all.

Popcorn Party

  • I highly recommend investing in a generously sized back of popcorn kernels: it's dirt cheap, and you'll always have popcorn potential.
  • Take some of the popcorn you already (now) own, and the faintest, cheapest whisper of oil, put them in a pan, and get poppin'.
  • While you're waiting and shaking the pan, watch the videos for "Pop! Goes My Heart" from Music & Lyrics and "Lipgloss (It's Poppin')" by Lil Mama. If you don't have internet access or a device, sing any song you can think of with "pop" in the lyrics.
  • Once your popcorn is done, the battle begins. Divide the popcorn among however many bowls you own/people there are, and let everyone go to town adding flavorings. This is a great way to use up underappreciated spices and syrups that may be languishing in your cupboards. Za'atar or furikake, perhaps?
  • Declare a winner if you're the competitive type, make awards out of scraps if you're the crafty type, and make more popcorn if you're the hungry type (I'm all three).
  • Costs Incurred: Electricity/gas for stove, amortization on pans/bowls, internet/electricity for watching videos, pennies' worth of oil/popcorn/salt.

Living Room Campout

  • Gather your blankets, pillows, and, if you're really hardcore, sleeping bags in the living room and arrange your campsite.
  • Round up all of your lanterns, flashlights, head lamps, glow sticks, lava lamps, and strobe lights, and turn off your regular house lights. A disco ball can easily stand in for a starry sky.
  • Have each camper come prepared with a story to read and/or a story to tell.
  • Turn down the heat (though not so cold that the pipes/walls freeze — we have to keep ours set at least at 59ºF) and snuggle up.
  • If it's not deathly cold/dangerous where you live, go for a moonlit walk around the backyard/block.
  • If you have a fireplace, you're living the dream. Roast marshmallows and veggie dogs on it if you own them, and bake potatoes in the coals. If you don't have a fireplace, make s'mores and dogs on the stove. Or roast bell peppers and tortillas directly on the burner and make tacos. Eat beans straight from the can. If all else fails, scrounge around in your cabinets for smoked salt or liquid smoke and add to your regularly cooked dinner.
  • Costs Incurred: Battery life/electricity for various lights, firewood if you have to pay for it. Potential for saving money on heat and lighting.

Indoor Olympics

  • Have everyone in your household come up with a list of events, and loosely clarify the rules for each.
  • Most jump rope jumps! Lowest broomstick limbo! Fastest time running up the stairs! Getting the farthest around the living room without stepping in lava! Most somersaults! Balance on one foot, jump on one foot, hop on one foot throughout the entire house!
  • Again, if you all are crafty, make medals for the winners: gold, silver, bronze, brass, copper, aluminum foil, etc. Everyone gets a medal.
  • Make a makeshift podium out of stacked pillows.
  • The gold medal winner has to sing the national anthem — bonus points for getting through the entire thing!
  • Costs Incurred: Wear and tear on your furniture and flooring, random craft supplies used up to make medals.

So what are you waiting for? Time to get partying!

(Image credits: Leela Cyd)

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