10 Fun Indoor Things To Do When You’re On a Budget

Here are some ideas of fun, inexpensive indoor things you can do even in the cold, winter months.

This post has Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase through links, you may help me get a little commission. There may also be one other shameless plug in this post as well as a freebie game sheet to download. These are all fun things which I honestly recommend.

  1. Have a board game night.

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Board game nights can be loads of fun, and they provide inexpensive entertainment. You can supply all the games yourself or have friends bring their own games. If you do the second, you’ll soon find you have a lot of varied choices.

One of my favorite board games is Cranium. It has a little mix of everything: knowledge/trivia questions, word-related challenges such as spelling backwards, a little bit of Charades, Name That Tune, Pictionary and Sculptionary. You can see the slogan on the box reads, “Everyone shines,” because there is a challenge to suit everyone in this game.

Amazon Prime members can get the game for $14.99. Check out the image link below.

What I have noticed with this game is that, if you don’t happen to like all of the categories like I do, certain players will have a strong preference for one or two of them. Some introverts may feel uncomfortable with humming or acting. This is a team effort game, and it works best when you arrange the teams so that they’re made up of people with differing talents and personalities.

I’ve also recently been introduced to the card game Blink, a fast-moving game that has elements similar to Uno and Dutch Blitz. I reviewed it here. Check out the image link below. It’s $7.73 for Amazon Prime members.

2. Have a movie night at home.


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You can pop popcorn or serve classic movie snacks like Goobers and Raisinets. You’ll still save money over movie theater snacks. You can even get creative to make your snacks fit the movie theme. Watching Jaws? How about some gummy sharks? Watching a mystery? How about some “red herrings,” aka Swedish Fish?

You can theme your snacks around an ethnic cuisine style that fits the setting or culture in the movie. (If you don’t cook or don’t feel like cooking, you can find a lot of frozen appetizers in the grocery store.) Try samosas with Slumdog Millionaire, spanakopita (little spinach pies) with My Big Fat Greek Wedding or antipasto with The Godfather.

Sometimes, with any group of people, it’s hard to find a movie that everyone will like. Here’s a suggestion. Charade stars two of my favorite Old Hollywood actors, Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, and features adventure, romance, comedy and a really perplexing mystery. I thought, for the longest time, it was a Hitchcock movie. It’s not, but it’s in Hitchcock’s style. The DVD is $9.96 with Amazon Prime and is also available for streaming with Amazon Prime Video.

3. Have a mystery party night.


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You may think that hosting a mystery party is an ambitious undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It is up to you and your group of friends how elaborate you want to be with costumes and props. You can have minimal or even no costumes at all and still have fun sleuthing and puzzling. You can download my humorous “Chocolate Bomb Cake” Mystery Party Game Kit for $10 here. It has been friend-tested and approved.

My test group of friends used little to no special costumes and still had fun. Most clue items are included in the kit. Others are objects you can find around the house or a firecracker prop you can put together using a toilet paper tube. (Craft instructions are included.)

4. Meet up at the local coffee shop.


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Great coffee and conversation might be fun enough by itself, but some independent coffee shops are supporters of the arts and host a variety of interesting activities. Independent coffee shops in my area are a meeting space for book clubs and host local author events. They also display paintings or photos from local artists and host free concerts from bands and musicians in the area. If you attend some of these things, you will have fun and also be a supporter of the arts yourself. They may even host Open Mic nights which you can enjoy as a spectator, or, if bold enough, share your own talents.

5. Check out events at public libraries in your area.


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Many public libraries have similar offerings to those mentioned above. You might expect a library to have literary activities like book clubs and author events, but many offer a variety of activities which are not directly literary. They may have movie showings for adults and kids, concerts of all sorts, art exhibits and many other artsy, cultural and educational activities, all free to the public. In the past, I have enjoyed a classical piano concert, informal opera performances, a classic rock concert, a Shakespeare play and even an educational presentation from a woman who impersonated Eleanor Roosevelt. While not all of these choices might appeal to you or your particular group of friends, you never know what you might find. Check out the schedule for library activities in the newspaper or on library websites.

6. Go on a historical house tour.


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Old houses have wonderful architecture and often have interesting stories behind them. Friends and I have enjoyed historical home tours in our own county in northern New Jersey or at New Jersey shore towns like Ocean Grove and Cape May. Homes like this might not be accessible at any given time you may be looking for something to do, but keep your eyes peeled at your local events calendar. They may have free open houses from time to time as well as special events that might include musicians, historical reenactments or other creative possibilities.

7. Go to a school play or concert.


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So, going to a school play isn’t quite the same as seeing a play on Broadway or at a professional arts center near you. Still, high school and college students have talents to exhibit, and you don’t have to be a student or a parent of a student to enjoy these kinds of events. Show your support for budding artists and have fun while saving up for more big-time tickets.

8. Go antiquing, thrift shopping, flea marketing or just plain window shopping.


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Antiquing might seem to be an expensive hobby, but, what I’ve found, is that many antique shops sell vintage collectibles that are less than one hundred years old and are somewhat affordable. It really depends on the particular shop however.

I love visiting antique shops but have yet to buy an antique. I tend to treat the experience like visiting a museum where I’m just enjoying seeing interesting items on display. If you can enjoy “just looking,” this is certainly an inexpensive entertainment. It also might be possible to find an interesting item that won’t break the bank.

10. Have a digital scavenger hunt at the mall.


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You might know what a scavenger hunt is. You look to find a particular list of items and collect them. A digital scavenger hunt involves taking digital photos of the items instead of collecting them. Below is a free download for a list of scavenger hunt items which you can find in the mall to photograph.

Print a copy of the list for all participants. Break up into teams and race to the finish. You might even creatively present and compare the photos later.

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10 Animals and What They Say in 8 Languages

Explorations

When I was a college junior, I spent a summer with fellow English majors teaching English in Debrecen, Hungary. We had mostly beginning English students that summer. We had a translator, not for English classes, which were held completely in English, but for some other occasions, and that translator became a good friend of ours. Often though, we did not have the help of either translator or our more advanced students on social occasions where some translation would be helpful. Knowing only very minimal Hungarian ourselves, trying to communicate with our beginner students on social occasions led to a lot of humorous situations.

Some of these funny situations involved our translator’s wife who knew almost no English. If her husband was not nearby, it was challenging to talk to her. On one occasion, at a picnic, I picked up some of her baby’s animal toys and gave her a mini English lesson on animal names. One of our advanced students was sitting nearby and had the nerve to correct me. “It is not a camel,” he announced in a posh British accent. (The summer teachers and I were all American.) “It is a dromedary,” he said.

On another occasion, at a zoo, our translator’s wife pointed to some ducks and, without using a word of English, somehow made me understand that Hungarian ducks say, “Háp-háp” and not “Quack quack.” So, it seems international animals, just like people, do not all speak the same language. So, if you would like to know how to communicate to foreign animals, here is a guide — 10 animal names and their onomatopoeia sounds in 8 different languages.

Keep in mind that the Russian, Japanese and Chinese have been transliterated into Roman alphabet.

  1. English — The duck, “Quack, quack”

Duck
Photo by Ravi Singh on Unsplash

French — Le canard, “Coin-coin”

German — Die Ente, “Quak”

Spanish — El pato, “Cuac cuac.”

Italian — L’anatra, “Quack quack”

Russian — Utka, “Krya-krya”

Japanese — Ahiru, “Ga-ga”

Chinese — Yazi, “Gua-gua”

Note: Lady Gaga’s name must sound really strange to Japanese people.

2. English — The frog, “Ribbit, ribbit”

froginwaterlily
Photo by David Code on Unsplash

French — Le grenouille, “Croac, croac”

German — der Frosch, “Quak”

Spanish — La rana, “Cruá, Cruá”

Italian — La rana, “Cra cra”

Russian — Lyagushka, “Kva-kva”

Japanese — Kaeru, “Kero, kero”

Chinese — Qīngwā, “Guō guō”

It’s interesting that German ducks and German frogs say exactly the same thing. I wonder if they have little conversations at the pond. Also, “Ribbit” has absolutely nothing in common with these other sounds.

3. English — The rooster, “Cock-a-doodle-doo”

rooster
Photo by Faiz Ahmed Jeems on Unsplash

French — Le coq, “Cocorico”

German — der Hahn, “Kikeriki”

Spanish — El gallo, “Kikeriki”

Italian — Il gallo, “Chicchirichí”

Russian — Petukh, “Kookahreekoo”

Japanese — Niwatori, “Kokekoko”

Chinese — Gōngjī, “Wō wō wō”

It’s interesting how similar most of these are. “Cocorico” and its variations sounds more like a rooster sound to me than “… doodle doo.” I’ve never heard a rooster “doodle doo,” have you?

4. English — The dog, “Woof woof,” “Bow wow,” “Ruff ruff”

chocolatelabpuppy
Photo by Jaira Alzate on Unsplash

French — Le chien, “Ouaf ouaf,” “Wouf Wouf”

German — der Hund, “Wuf Wuf,” “Wau Wau”

Spanish — El perro, “Guau guau”

Italian — Il cane, “Bau bau”

Russian — Sobaka, “Gahf, gahf”

Japanese — Inu, “Wan wan”

Chinese — Gǒu, “Wāng wāng”

I’m thinking that a German shepherd and a French poodle could have a conversation, and an Akita and a Pekingese could have a conversation, but a German shepherd and a Pekingese might have trouble understanding one another.

4. English — The cat, “Meow”

cat
Photo by Krystian Tambur on Unsplash

French — Le chat, “Miaou”

German — die Katze, “Miau”

Spanish — El gato, “Miau”

Italian — Il gatto, “Miau”

Russian — Kot, “Myaoo”

Japanese — Neko, “Nyaa nyaa”

Chinese — Nà zhǐ māo, “Miāo”

It seems that most of these nationalities are in agreement that cats “meow,” but Japanese cats “nyaa.”

6. English — The horse, “Neigh”

horse
Photo by Violeta Pancheva on Unsplash

French — Le cheval, “Hiiii”

German — das Pferd, “Iaahh”

Spanish — El caballo, “Jiiiii”, “IIIIou”

Italian — Il cavallo, “Hiiiii”

Russian — Loshad’, “Igogo”

Japanese — Uma, “Hihiin”

Chinese — Nà pǐ mǎ, “Sī”

Out of these, I find the Russian “Igogo” the most interesting. It sounds like something the rider should say to the horse.

7. English — The cow, “Moo”

cow
Photo by Amanda Kerr on Unsplash

French — La vache, “Meuh”

German — die Kuh, “Muh”

Spanish — La vaca, “Mu,” “Muuuu”

Italian — La mucca, “Muuuuu”

Russian — Korova, “Mooo”

Japanese — Ushi, “Moo moo”

Chinese — Niú, “Mōu”

With a little imagination, the Italian “La mucca” (la Mooca) sounds like “moo cow” to an English speaker.

8. English — The pig, “Oink, oink”

Piglet
Photo by Christopher Carson on Unsplash

French — Le Cochon, “Groin, groin”

German — das Schwein, “Grunz, grunz”

Spanish — El cerdo, “Oink, oink,” “Oinc, oinc”

Italian — Il maiale, “Oink, Oink”

Russian — Svin’ya, “Khryoo, khryoo”

Japanese — Buta, “Buu buu”

Chinese — Zhū, “Hēng hēng”

Appearance-wise, the French word for pig noises looks like a much more embarrassing English term, but the sound is very different. The “Oink” sound for Spanish and Italian seems to be influenced from English. “Grunz, grunz” seems more like an authentic pig sound than “Oink, oink.” “Das Schwein” sounds kind of harsh and insulting, but ‘il maiale” is rather pretty.

9. English — The sheep, “Baa baa”

sheep
Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

 French — L’agne, “Bêê”

German — das Schaf, “Mäh or bäh”

Spanish — La oveja, “Bee, Mee”

Italian — La pecora, “Beee”

Russian — Ovtsa, “Behh”

Japanese — Hitsuji, “Mee mee”

Chinese — Yáng, “Miē”

For some reason, the “Bee” sound for Spanish or Italian speaking sheep strikes me funny, and yet it isn’t very different from “Baa.” Maybe, it’s because “bee” is also the name of a honey-making insect in English.

10. English — The bird, “Tweet tweet,” “Cheep cheep”

bird
Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

French — L’oiseau, “Cui cui”

German — der Vogel, “Piep piep”

Spanish — El pájaro, “Pio pio”

Italian — L’uccello, “Cip cip”

Russian — Ptitsa, “Chikchirik”

Japanese — Tori, “Pipii”

Chinese — Nà zhǐ niǎo, “Jī jī”

The German “Piep piep” is very similar to the English, and although the Japanese bird sound is not very different from this, it does allow for some potty humor for native English speakers.