Pandemic Pastimes

19 Aug 2020

Fresh ideas to keep the whole family busy as we push through the pandemic.

By Haley Rae Shoning

As we head into fall, which marks more than six months of adjusting to life in a pandemic, it’s unsurprising that many of us—especially our kids!—are starting to feel some adverse effects from staying at home. If you’re running out of ways to keep everyone in the house occupied, we’ve got you covered! Here are some ideas for creative backyard family parties, engaging podcasts and fascinating virtual reality tours to keep the whole family entertained.

Party Planning

We’ve all fallen into some serious pandemic ruts, trudging across the same rooms and eating the same foods over and over again. Kids are especially prone to boredom, so shake things up with an impromptu soiree to lift some spirits, even if family members are the only attendees. And don’t forget to plan something fun for yourself while you’re at it. Pick a theme and let the festivities begin!

Movie Madness

Movies are a great way to keep the kiddos occupied on a weekend night. While movie theaters are opening up, you might opt to stay home anyway. You can enjoy an even more exciting movie-watching experience from home! Set up a movie projector and screen in your backyard to stream your kids’ favorite flicks (or yours!). In a pinch, a white bed sheet tacked to the side of your garage or fence makes a great makeshift movie screen. In lieu of theater seats, get comfy on blankets, floor pillows, poufs or patio chairs. And of course, movie night isn’t complete without snacks!

To really bring the fun of the theater to your backyard, you can use a table and a few shelves to make your own at-home concession stand. Get the kids busy making a movie marquee sign out of poster board, then illuminate it with string lights. They can also make personalized movie tickets to redeem for their favorite treats, like red-and-white-striped tubs of buttery popcorn, bags of gummy bears or boxes of Junior Mints. This is sure to be a new favorite family tradition.

Halloween Haunting

There is no doubt that Halloween is one of the most anticipated nights of the year for kids—what could be more exciting than donning a fun costume and setting out with friends to collect a bucketful of sweet treats?

Although traditional trick-or-treating is likely on the outs this year, a backyard bash is an excellent way for your children to have a blast celebrating safely from home. Get the whole family involved in adorning the yard with spooky DIY decorations like bedsheet ghosts swaying eerily in the trees, foam board tombstones inscribed with whimsical puns and jack-o’-lanterns glowing in the dark.

Keep the kids entertained by setting up themed games for them to play in their costumes. Arrange a mummy head bowling alley with bales of hay and a black basketball wrapped in gauze. Fill punch bowls with peeled grapes and cold pasta and snap funny photos of your blindfolded babes sticking their hands in to feel the “eyeballs” and “brains.” End the evening with yummy Halloween treats like pigs-in-a-blanket mummies, doughnut and pretzel spiders, and of course, plenty of candy!

Adults Only

Between working remotely, homeschooling the kids and the many other adjustments brought on by Safer at Home, it can be difficult to prioritize quality time with your significant other. How about an elegant night in after you’ve put the kids to bed? Set your table—and the mood—with delicate table settings and sweet flowers. Twinkle lights, soft lanterns, candlelight and a soothing music playlist like Classical Garden on Spotify can provide a romantic ambiance.

Not feelin’ date night with the SO? How about girls’ night with the core group you’ve been “quarantining” with? Take a much-needed break from cooking and pick up a gourmet charcuterie board or tapas from your favorite local restaurant. Enjoy your pickings with a seasonal apéritif, such as a cinnamon sour (a fall-themed twist on a whiskey sour), an apple and gin cocktail, or a blood orange martini. Now all you need is the motivation to put on your bra.



Need to tune out some of the household chaos? Plug your ears with one of these local podcasts.

Art of Money

Bari Tessler is a self-described “financial therapist and mamapreneur” based out of Boulder who combines her spirituality and knowledge of personal finance to teach money healing in her podcast, “Art of Money.”

Radio Bookclub

Arsen Kashkashian, head buyer at Boulder Bookstore, and Maeve Conran of KGNU partner up on the “Radio Bookclub” podcast to discuss a new book each month with authors, Boulder Bookstore customers and KGNU listeners.

Colored Red

Laura Porritt’s podcast, “Colored Red,” dives into the long history of murder in Colorado and the many lesser-known true crime stories that have taken place in and around the Front Range.

Thought for Food 

Jackson Long, a vegan endurance athlete and CU Boulder alum, and Aaron Stuber, a vegan long-distance runner, health and nutrition coach, and cardiovascular nurse, discuss plant-based nutrition, sustainability and exercise.

The Nugget 

Steven Dimmitt consults with expert rock climbers, as well as business owners and creators, to discuss their routines and habits, in order to help himself and listeners become better climbers.


Virtual Travel

After months of being stuck at home, most of us are itching for a vacation. Although our passports are largely on hiatus for the time being, there are plenty of ways to get an adventure or culture fix from your couch.

Fly over the most beautiful parts of Colorado with drone footage by The World Travel Guy on YouTube.

Learn about the most exciting parts of Rocky Mountain National Park with the National Parks Service’s educational video tours.

Enjoy breathtaking narrated tours of our most astonishing national parks from Google Arts & Culture.

Stream live video footage of your kid’s favorite zoo animals by logging on to Denver Zoo’s virtual safari.

You can even use Google Street View to take a self-guided tour of national parks like these: Grand Canyon National Park Yosemite National Park Grand Teton National Park

The opportunities to explore are endless!

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