10 ways to make your weekends feel more normal in quarantine
Or: How to distinguish between a Tuesday and Saturday
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At first, staying home all the time may have felt like an extra-long weekend, with the opportunity to catch up on those TV shows and movies you never got around to, do some reading, and give your house a good scrub down.
But even if you finish every episode of Gossip Girl or The Sopranos, complete the works of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky (or the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy), and clean out every crevice with a toothbrush, it’s hard not to yearn for things that made your past weekends more fun, such as going out to restaurants and bars, hitting the movies, or even—gasp—heading out of town for a vacation. But there are ways to make your weekends now feel more like actual weekends. Allow us to suggest:
1. Go backyard camping
Get your Wild on without having to hike hundreds of miles on the Pacific Crest Trail by turning your backyard into a just-rugged-enough campsite, with a tent and sleeping bags to keep you cozy. Some good options are the Camp Dome 4 tent from REI, which reviewers say is easy to set up and can fit up to four people, and the Siesta 30 sleeping bag, which has lightweight panels to keep you cozy on cool spring and summer nights. Add in a fire pit, like one from Endless Summer, to roast your s’mores in style.
If you’re not fully committed to the camping-at-home experience, you could instead install a hammock—we like the Vivere Double Hammock, which has hundreds of rave reviews for being as comfy as a bed and lives up to them—as another way to read, nap, or just relax outdoors.
- Get the Camp Dome 4 from REI for $149.19
- Get the Siesta 30 Sleeping Bag from REI for $63.69
- Get the Endless Summer Fire Pit from Home Depot $163.06
- Get the Vivere Double Hammock from Target for $119.97
2. Get going on the grill
Can’t get everyone in the house onboard with the whole camping thing, even in the backyard? Hold a cookout instead, which guarantees the one thing that unites indoors and outdoors enthusiasts: grilled meat (or veggie burgers). If you need a new grill, we love the Weber Spirit E-310, which can hold about 18 burgers at a time, provides even cooking with perfect sear marks, and looks sleek. For easy flipping and serving, consider upgrading your grill tools to OXO’s grilling tongs and spatula—both are big enough to flip and clamp onto grilling items, with comfortable rubberized handles that won't slip from your grasp.
No backyard? You can still grill. Consider an indoor grill like the Cuisinart Griddler Deluxe, which helps you serve up burgers, hot dogs, and more from a more compact device.
- Get the Weber Spirit II E-310 from Target for $479
- Get OXO Two Piece Grilling Set from Target for $19.99
- Get the Cuisinart Griddle Deluxe from Bed Bath & Beyond for $159.99
3. Hold a movie premiere party
Replicate the movie theater experience at home—hopefully without someone behind you kicking your seat. Many film distributors are offering home rentals of recently released movies, including Emma and The Invisible Man, which you can access via most streaming devices. Our favorite, the Roku Ultra,is easy to use, with voice search and dedicated shortcut buttons for high-traffic streaming platforms, like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.
Once you choose your movie—which could be a new release or a classic musical on Disney+—pick a showtime and dim the lights. For an accurate theater experience, you may allow one person in the room to check their phone during the movie’s most climactic moments, but let’s say that this is the ideal movie-watching experience. Instead, ask your viewing companions to silence their phones or, if you’re feeling ambitious, put them in another room for distraction-free viewing.
Of course, no movie-watching experience is complete without popcorn. You could do the bag stuff, or get a fresher-tasting bowl that you flavor yourself with the Cuisinart Microwaveable Popper, which makes popcorn in minutes by filling it with popcorn kernels and sticking it in the microwave.
- Get the Roku Ultra from Best Buy for $199.99
- Subscribe to Disney+ for $6.99 a month
- Get the Cuisinart Microwaveable Popper from Home Depot for $12.99
4. Do an at-home mani-pedi
You—yes, you—have the power to give yourself a mani-pedi treatment at home. Tidy up your hands and fingernails by clipping and buffing the nails, and exfoliating and moisturizing the hands.
Give your feet some TLC with a foot spa, like the Ivation Foot Spa Massager, which bathes, massages, and gives feet a nice pampering. Then, trim your toenails and use a scrub, loofah, or textured towel to slough off dead skin.
Polish isn’t required, but if you paint your nails, follow it with a clear topcoat to ensure the color stays put.
- Get the Ivation Multifunction Foot Spa from Overstock for $69.99
- Get the Exfoliating Hydro Towel from Target for $4.99
- Get Herbivore Coconut Rose Exfoliating Body Polish from Sephora for $36
- Get OPI Nail Treatment Top Coat from Target for $8.99
5. Rejuvenate your skin
Still feeling the spa vibes? Pamper your skin from head to toe.
To give yourself an at-home facial, start by steaming open pores with a warm, wet face cloth, or go fancy with a steamer appliance, like the Dr. Dennis Gross Pro Steamer. Follow that with a gentle cleanser like Cerave’s hydrating cleanser, a chemical exfoliating serum like The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid Solution, your favorite moisturizer, and and an eye mask to minimize puffiness.
Another way to indulge: A nice, long, soak in the tub. Make it feel special with Dr. Teal’s refreshing eucalyptus and mint-scented bubble bath, followed by a soothing body lotion, like Cerave.
If you’re feeling extra, try a butt mask. Really! We tried one of Bawdy’s sheet masks and loved that it helped provide soothing, cooling, truly luxurious in the way that only a mask treatment for one’s bum can.
- Get the Dr. Dennis Gross Pro Facial Steamer from Dermstore for $149
- Get Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser from Target for $15.99
- Get The Ordinary Lactic Acid Solution from Ulta for $6.80
- Get Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels from Ulta for $32
- Get Dr. Teal’s Eucalyptus Bath Foam from Target or $4.99
- Get Cerave Moisturizing Cream for Normal to Dry Skin from Target for $14.49
- Get the Bawdy Flaunt It mask from Sephora for $4
6. Replicate your favorite restaurant brunch
If the thought of a Sex and the City-style ladies brunch, complete with waffles, iced coffee, and hot gossip, has you near tears with desire, relax: You can bring most of the important elements of brunch in a cafe or restaurant to your own home.
Start with the coffee. You can make the Tiktok-famous frothy coffee with instant coffee, milk, sugar, and a whisk or hand blender, or regular iced coffee with your preferred coffee beans, a grinder, a pour-over coffee maker, and a paper filter. (If you prefer a hot brew, the pour-over device will do the trick for that, too.)
To make diner-worthy waffles, use our favorite budget-friendly waffle maker, the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker. It preheats and bakes waffles faster than any other waffle maker we tested, provides an even, crispy texture, and is small and slim for easy storage.
Finally, set up a Zoom call with your friends—or invite your family or roommates to the table—and you’ll have the ideal brunch setup.
- Get the Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper from Bed Bath & Beyond for $24.99
- Get the Krups Fast Touch Coffee Grinder from JC Penney for $22.99
- Get the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker from Williams Sonoma for $29.95
7. Tune in for a fitness class with an app or portal
The studio you go to for your Saturday morning spin, yoga, or pilates class may be closed, but there are a lot of ways to join a live fitness class at home. First, see if any local studios are holding Zoom classes—many are, and attending those classes is a good way to keep a local business (and your favorite instructors) afloat. If you have a ClassPass membership, you can use it to check out all the virtual classes in your area and use your credits to sign up for one.
Feel like at-home workouts are going to be part of your routine for a while, and the live class option is an important component for you? Consider trying Daily Burn, which live streams yoga, cardio, barre, and other classes at 9 a.m. every morning, though you can play the videos at any time of day—it’s currently free for the first 30 days. You may also prefer a yoga-specific app, like Find What Feels Good from Adriene Mishler, the yogi behind the mega-popular YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene. It gets you access to videos that aren't on YouTube and lets you download videos so you can practice when you aren't connected to the internet.
No matter what you choose to use, you'll need a good yoga mat—if you need a new one, we love the Lululemon Reversible Mat, which grips tight to the floor and provides a nice, cushiony surface to practice on.
- Sign up for ClassPass here
- Subscribe to Daily Burn for $19.99 a month after a 30-day free trial
- Sign up for the Find What Feels Good app for $9.99 a month after a 7-day free trial
- Get the Reversible 5mm Mat from Lululemon for $68
8. Have an international dinner party
“Around the world” progressive dinner parties are a tried-and-true Pinterest date night fave, not to mention the dramatic impetus for a great episode of Mad Men. Create your own (without the guests, for now) by cooking up your favorite international dishes for each course.
What you make is up to you. But you can use some of our favorite tools to make them, such as the Lodge cast iron pizza stone, the Zojirushi Fuzzy Logic rice cooker, and the Instant Pot Ultra (which can cook up almost anything).
You may also get international wines delivered to your door, either by calling a local store (they are essential businesses, after all, and many are delivering, even if they previously did not). Or consider Firstleaf, a wine subscription service that quizzes you on your tastes and ships you six bottles every month, as well as lets you shop a la carte for the perfect bottle or two.
- Get the Lodge Cast Iron Baking Dish from Cabela’s for $39.99
- Get the Zojirushi Fuzzy Logic Electric Rice Cooker from Target for $112.99
- Get the Instant Pot Ultra from Dillard’s for $129.95
- Get an introductory Firstleaf box for $39
9. Take an online museum tour
Many people like to think of their weekends as an opportunity to browse through museums and art galleries, but rarely get around to it, even if they live in a city full of them. Now it’s a lot easier to hit the museums without having to deal with crowds, getting there, or even changing out of your PJs, thanks to virtual tours.
Google Arts & Culture partnered with more than 2,500 museums to provide a glimpse into museums all over the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the British Museum, the Musée d'Orsay, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and about 2,495 others. Whether you choose the impressionists or the T-rex skeletons, it’s a nice way to provide a diversion for stir-crazy grown-ups and kids alike.
10. Get out of state with a virtual adventure
Visiting Hawaii’s volcanoes and the Great Wall of China in one day is an impossible feat—or, at least, it was. Bucket-list travel destinations such as the Great Wall, several National Parks, the Central Caribbean Reefs, and more offer in-depth tours online so you can get up close and personal with them from your computer. While it won’t be exactly the same as seeing the real thing, it’s a great way to get a taste for a faraway place you’ve thus far only read about or seen on Instagram.
Visit solo, with your partner or roommate, or have your kids tag along to make up for the field trip they’re missing.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.