30 DIY or Low-Cost Hobbies You Can Start at Home Today

Try a few of these affordable DIY's and hobbies to stay connected and productive!
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Since the onset of the pandemic, many of us have had more free time and a growing need to focus on self-care than we've ever experienced in our lifetime. With all the free-time, loss, and isolation that's come with the pandemic, it's become increasingly clear that we should all spend time doing the things that bring us joy, the things we love.

Personally, in an attempt to make the most out of isolation, I've taken this time as an opportunity to hone in on my hobbies and develop new ones. I've created this list of my top 30 DIY or low-cost hobbies that you can do from home to share some of those hobbies with you today.

All of these hobbies are either free, low-cost, or can be done with items you already own or buy.

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Knitting Yarn

Knitting is number one on this list because it's one of my favorite hobbies, it can be done at a very low cost, and it's a fun and effective way to keep your hands busy or multitask while doing something else. I often knit while watching a movie, binge-watching TV, or chatting on the phone. Knitting is a great creative outlet that leaves me with a sense of productivity each time I complete a project.

All you need to get started knitting are:

  • Some knitting needles or a set of knitting needles
  • Scissors
  • Yarn- The size really depends on what project you decide to work on first, but pick something simple like a dishcloth or scarf.

While there are many books and knitting supplies, such as stitch markers and row counters, a beginner only needs the basics to get started. There are so many free youtube videos, online tutorials, and knitting communities online that books are more a luxury than a need.

iPhone Photography

Did you know there are several movies shot on iPhones? Emmanuel Lubezki, the cinematographer known for movies like The Revenant (one of my favorite movies), recently shot a short film with the launch of Apple's iPhone 12 Pro to show exactly what the camera was capable of.

Watch the video:

Many iPhone users, like myself, bought their iPhone for the camera, and as iPhones, and other smartphones, advance, what we can do with them is expanding. Photography has always been considered a fairly expensive hobby. Depending on what camera you purchase, what tools you use to develop photos, and what props you need, the end result is usually thousands of dollars. The camera alone can cost that much.

On your iPhone, you can take and edit photos for the grand total of zero dollars. Of course, that is considering you already have an iPhone or other smartphone. If you want to get more technical with editing your photos in programs like Photoshop, or other Creative Cloud tools, you could spend as little as 31.00$ a month.

Embroidery

A hobby I recently started this week, embroidery is a lot like knitting in the sense that you can use it as a creative outlet, and multitask while watching TV or hanging with loved ones. Projects can be given as gifts and hung up as decor. creatively, the sky is the limit. Anything you can see, you can embroider.

To get started you could get an embroidery kit, or pick up the necessary tools at your local craft store.

Beginner's embroidery tools:

  • Embroidery hoop(s)
  • Thread—otherwise known as embroidery "floss"
  • Needles
  • Scissors
  • Fabric—There are different fabrics that can be used such as linen and cotton.
Postcard

With isolation, I found DIY postcards have been a unique way to stay connected with friends. While mine are usually done in watercolors on watercolor postcard paper, there are also plain blank postcards that can be used with markers and other mediums.

Whichever medium you decide you prefer, DIY postcards are an extremely affordable way to let your loved ones know you are thinking about them!

What you need to get started:

  • Blank Postcards—if you don't prefer watercolor paper or plain, blank cards like the ones above, do a bit of research. I have found them in practically every color and variation you can imagine.
  • Mediums—Use whatever you have at home be it crayons, markers, watercolor paint, etc.
Raspberry pi

Raspberry pi is basically a small computer that was originally developed as an affordable way to teach computer science in schools in the UK. Today, Raspberry pi is used for everything from streaming to retro gaming emulation to building complex applications with OpenCV.

This Raspberry Pi 4 kit is an extremely low-cost option for exploring coding, gaming, and creating projects. Learn more about what you can do with a Raspberry Pi.

Pressed Flowers

I have been pressing flowers and other foliage since I was thirteen and got my first bouquet from my dad. Not only does flower pressing result in a piece of beautiful decor that you can frame or scrapbook, but it's also a timeless way to hold onto memories or mark the importance of an occasion.

While it takes some time for the flower or leaf to press, I usually press a flower for around 14 days, the result can last several years. Most recently, I pressed a wildflower and framed it for my living room.

To press flowers, all you need is:

  • A flower or leaf—It can be anything you find beautiful, one that was given as part of a bouquet, or even a flower you found on a walk that caught your eye.
  • A book—use any book you have at home, but I do prefer a heavier book
  • A sheet of wax paper

How to press a flower:

  • Open your book
  • Lay a sheet of wax paper to protect the pages
  • Trim your flower- avoid over trimming
  • Lay it flat on one side of the book
  • Wait about two weeks

You can then frame or scrapbook your flower.

Watercolor Paint

While I am not particularly good at watercolor painting, it's a soothing hobby and a creative release. I've never minded not being good at it. Watching the pigment and water mix together, melt into the paper, and seeing the colors and images spread and change as they dry is consuming.

To watercolor paint, you will need:

  • Watercolor paint—any kind you like is fine. I like to get a set of watercolor paint with a good variety of colors.
  • Paper—it's preferable to have watercolor paper that can handle the water and paint without puckering.
Origami

There are different theories about where origami originated, with no definitive answer on which theory is correct, but what we do know is humans have been folding paper to create art for centuries.

What I enjoy about origami is its simplicity. Origami gives me a moment to slow down and focus on something small, and still. It's an easy and affordable way to focus on breathing and creating, and anyone anywhere can do it. All you need is a piece of paper and a place to work.

If you're the kind of person that prefers to work off of a kit, then here's a great kit with lots of fun paper!

Open book

Reading can actually be expensive, especially if you're like me and have an addiction to collecting hardbacks. Did you know there are ways that you can be reading online for free?

Here are a few ways to read for free:

  • Open Library- Open Library has the goal to have every book ever published, but currently has an extensive collection and tons of the classics
  • Project Gutenburg- Project Gutenburg has over 60,000 books and even has comic books
  • Manybooks- Manybooks is known for having access to classic literature and self-published authors
Indoor Succulent

Recently, I've been working on my green thumb. I'm infamous for killing plants, and it's been something I have always wanted to improve. With more time at home, I purchased some succulents, a couple of pots, and crossed my fingers.

It's been gratifying to see them grow and thrive, and for two plants and pots, I only spent around 20.00$.

What you need to get started:

  • Plants—If you struggle to keep plants thriving as I do, consider succulents or air plants.
  • Pots
  • Soil—Research what soil blend is best for your plant before buying.
Gaming

Did you know you can play video games for free? Not only does Steam offer free games such as, Art of War: Red Tides, Path of Exile: Echoes of the Atlas, and Runescape, but there are many other ways to play games legally and for free.

How to play video games for free:

  • Epic Games—Epic games offers a free promotional game each week. This week you can play Galactic Civilizations III for free.
  • Microsoft Store—Microsoft, like Steam, always has an array of games to choose from in the Microsoft Store.
  • EA Games—EA Games also has an entire list of free-to-play games for console, PC, and mobile.
Bullet Journal

Ryder Carroll invented bullet journaling in the 90's as a simplified way to stay organized in college, but it has since then exploded in popularity. While Carroll's version of the bullet journal is minimalistic, many people who keep bullet journals have used them as a form of creative expression.

Watch the video:

While you can go big, buy all the markers, highlighters, and stamps you want, you only need a few basic supplies.

To get started you will need:

  • A dotted journal—Dotted journals are the best route for bullet journaling because they allow you to map out your layout without the limitations of lined pages.
  • Fine liners
  • Markers (optional)—Markers are great for colorful bullet journals
  • Highlighters (optional)—Mildliners are commonly used in bullet journals due to their transparency, and because they don't bleed through the pages.
  • Washi tape (optional)
Book and Computer

I currently tutor high school and college students in English and literature. It's been a rewarding way to stay connected, make extra cash, and do something I love. Due to many students working from home and parents being overloaded with both work and helping school their children, there is a demand for tutors in all subjects.

If you are skilled in any subject matter, consider putting it to use to help others while also making extra money. You can even do it online!

Here are a couple of online tutoring companies:

  • Brainfuse- Brainfuse is known for tutoring in higher education and most subjects, as well as many languages.
  • VIP Kid- VIP kid is primarily for teaching English to ESL students worldwide.
Learn a Language

Learning a new language can help you increase your skill set for potential jobs and communicate with people you might not be able to otherwise, but it's also fun and a great exercise for your brain.

I like to use apps like Duolingo to learn new languages because they have free versions of the app, or you can opt to pay for Duolingo Plus for only 6.99$ a month. You can of course splurge on a lifetime subscription to Rosetta Stone, if you're feeling really committed!

Virtual Tour

In the absence of concerts and shows, during the pandemic, there have been many virtual concerts. While concert tickets are usually extremely expensive, many virtual concerts are extremely low-cost and some are even free or by donation like the covid relief fund.

Personally, I've found virtual museum tours an inventive way to go to a museum I wouldn't normally be able to go to otherwise.

Here is a short list of some free tours and events:

  • Virtual Astronomy Days—From January 25th- January 31st, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is offering free virtual astronomy days. Each day, they focus on a different part of the museum.
  • Smithsonian—The National Museum of Natural history has free virtual tours you can access any day of the week!
  • The Louvre—You can take virtual tours of the Louvre regardless of what part of the world you're in!
Bucket List

If you love to cook, or eat, consider challenging yourself. Each year, I like to give myself at least one cooking goal. this year I decided to give myself several so that by the end of the year, I can say, "Yes, I make homemade (insert food here)."

During isolation, I realized there are so many foods I've never made because they are intimidating, or because I am the only person I know who enjoys eating them, but that puts me in a position where I am not eating many of the healthy, delicious foods I'd like to be eating unless I order them. So, I made myself a cooking bucket list, which included poached eggs.

Podcast on iPhone

This past summer, I really started to enjoy podcasts when doing my weekly grocery pickup. There is so much information out there, just at the tips of our fingers, and we can learn while doing other things like driving, cleaning, working, or cooking dinner, and the best part is they don't cost anything.

Here are a few ways you can listen to podcasts for free:

  • The Podcast app on an iOS product
  • Spotify
  • Google Podcasts
Writing

Write fan-fiction, screenplays, poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, or keep a journal. Whatever you do, write it down. Writing is a free, limitless way to be creative, express yourself, and connect with your inner self or others.

You don't have to write to publish or make it a career or even share it with anyone, but there is power in words and all the ways you can express them. Consider sitting down and putting pen to paper.

Here are a few prompts to get you started:

  • Write about a time you were lost for words.
  • Write about yourself from another person's point of view.
  • Write about a color without naming it.
  • Write about something you regret not doing, as if you did do it, and what was the outcome?

And who knows maybe you'll even write so much, you can publish a book on Amazon!

Regrow Lemongrass

Did you know you can regrow green onions with just water? You can also regrow celery and lemongrass the same way.

How to regrow green onion:

  • Keep the "roots" or bottom of the green onion, making sure to keep the bottom three inches or more.
  • Place them in a glass of shallow water. (I used a shot glass because it's small enough in diameter that the green onion stays upright.)
  • Watch them grow!

Lemongrass can be regrown the same way, except you will eventually plant them in soil to keep them thriving. Green onions do not need to be replanted.

Recipe cards

Versus using other people's recipes, I like to make my own. Even when I am making something for the first time, I look at a handful of recipes online, combine the best parts of those recipes, and then add my own spin on it as well. Because I don't follow a recipe exactly, I often end up wondering months later what I did the last time I made it.

So, this year, I grabbed some colorful index cards and a metal index cardholder, and I've been writing down all the recipes I've made recently and organizing them by food type. This way, the next time I'm craving the carbonara I had last month, I can recreate it. Howchoo even has some recipes to get you started!

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Many of our recipes address the things we make every day, like eggs, cookies, bread, and cakes. And, as always, the stories behind the recipes are optional.
Discord

Discord is a platform that can be used to create servers and send instant messages. Discord is most known for its use among gamers, but it has servers for writing, art, traveling, music, crafting, anime, and more.

For every hobby or interest, there's a Discord server bringing people together and creating a sense of community. I'm a part of many Discord servers, some for gaming, and the most recent a community of writers sharing ideas and seeking advice.

Discord servers are free to join, though if you want to have access to extra features in Discord, like more emojis and server boosts, you can subscribe to Discord Nitro for 9.99$ a month.

Investing

I was always very intimidated by investing money. I didn't understand how investing works or what it would mean for me if I did invest. Recently, a friend taught me the basics of investing and I ended up finding the process fun, interesting, and empowering.

Investing costs money, of course, but you don't need to invest big amounts of money to enjoy it, benefit from it financially, or learn from it. You can even get one free stock from Robinhood when you sign up for an account, and you don't have to worry about paying commission to Robinhood either. Or you can try your hand at cryptocurrencies by creating a BitCoin wallet for example.

Tie-dye

I've always loved to tie-dye. Growing up, anytime I stained a shirt, I tie-dyed it. I tie-dyed socks, shirts, underwear, headbands, and even sheets. You can tie-dye just about anything. There are so many color combinations, patterns, and designs that you can create. The options are so varied, and you never know completely what it's going to look like until you've finished.

Here are some of the tools you need to tie-dye:

  • Rubber bands
  • Dye
  • Fabric or Clothes
Epsom Salt

Whenever I need a lift in life, my go-to is self-care. I've always looked for affordable and natural ways to establish self-care. I enjoy the process of making different masks and concoctions at home and knowing each ingredient included. Here are some of my favorite self-care DIY's.

My top 3 self-care DIY's:

  • Lavender epsom salts: Add 10 drops of lavender oil and a tablespoon of baking soda to 2 cups of Epsom salts and add them to your bath to soothe tense or tired muscles.
  • Moisturizing lotion: Add 15 drops of jojoba and 15 drops of rosehip oil to your favorite body lotion to add an extra boost of hydration to your lotion, soothe dry skin, and reduce irritation.
  • Hair mask for dry or damaged hair: Combine 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of honey, 10 drops of argan oil, and 5 drops of jojoba oil and apply it to dry hair. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before rinsing.
Online Clubs

There are online book, cooking, and knitting clubs. There are online groups for different political movements, lifestyles, or interests. If you love yoga, Japanese food, fantasy baseball, cosplay, languages, or gardening, there are virtual groups collecting from all around with your same passions and interests.

There are even virtual support groups for those who haven't been able to attend their normal support groups due to the pandemic, or who find themselves needing support during a difficult time.

Workshop

I've seen hundreds of online writing, painting, photography, budgeting, and even business workshops since the onset of the pandemic. If you can think of it, there is probably someone giving a free, or by donation, workshop about it in an effort to stay connected and give others an opportunity or outlet.

Keep your eyes open for free workshops given by teachers and artists looking to spread their knowledge and join up!

Dream Sketch

I have always been a vivid dreamer. Over the years, I have kept dream journals to catalog those dreams. I recently began sketching fragments of my dream within my dream journal and found it a fun way to explore my subconscious and create yet another outlet for my creativity. So far, I have been surprised by the connection between my subconscious and conscious mind when I do this exercise.

Here's what I use for my dream journal:

  • A notebook—Any notebook will do. Pick whatever works for your purposes.
  • Pens—I don't use any color in my dream journal. I am strictly journaling and getting down the images from my dream before I've forgotten them.
DIY items

The more time you spend at home, the more time you have to overthink the drapes in your office or the big empty space on the living room wall. It's sparked many people's inner interior designer, but redecorating or redesigning can be expensive. That's why I love a good DIY, especially if that DIY reuses or repurposes something you already own or can purchase for cheap like this DIY mercury Glass.

What items do you have in your home that you can repurpose or new enhance with a little bit of paint or a fresh perspective?

Online Courses

Online learning has recently become the new normal for most students and teachers, and even before the pandemic, many students opted for online schooling to work or take care of their families while still getting an education; however, you don't necessarily need to be a student or pay money, to benefit from online courses and education.

There are many free online courses from extremely reputable colleges and programs.

Here are just some of the ways you can take free online courses:

  • Harvard- Yes! Harvard has free online courses on anything from Divination to Digital Humanities.
  • Standford- Stanford, another Ivy League school, offers free courses as well. They even have a course in Artificial Intelligence.
  • edX- edX is a global nonprofit with courses from over 160 universities including Berkely and MIT.
Shells Collection

Collections don't have to be expensive, they just need to have significance,

Every time I travel to a new place, I like to bring home some type of souvenir; not a coffee mug or a t-shirt, but something sentimental or beautiful like the wildflower I pressed from my last trip to Vermont, the smooth, white stones I got from The South Hamptons, or the shells I collected in The Exumas. The best part about this is, it costs me nothing.

This is the favorite of my collections because each item is somewhere in my home to remind me of a trip or memory I'm fond of. I also collect custom-bound books, but, of course, that is a much more expensive collection.

Even if you are just going for a walk on your favorite hiking path or along your favorite pond, consider collecting the little bits of magic you find along the way, or come up with your own collection.

Collections you can keep for almost nothing:

  • Rocks
  • Shells
  • Foliage or Flowers—You can then press them like I mentioned above.
  • Old coins
  • Cards
  • Pictures—Consider starting a scrapbook or photo album.
  • Keepsake box—I also have a keepsake box that I decorated. It has a mix of pictures, gifts, letters, and other small items I have collected.

Let us know what hobbies you've started, and share your own tips for any of the above DIY or hobbies below!

An overview of everything you need to think about when creating a home theater!
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The very first commercial movie theater was at the 1983 Chicago World's Fair in a special building designed specifically to showcase Eadweard Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope.