I once bought a cross stitch kit that included silk threads in 27 different shades of beige. No, really.

In the end my desire to create a scene of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet on a bridge wasn’t as great as my inability to distinguish between tan, sand, fawn and all the rest, so I dumped the kit on a friend (she gave up on it too) – but hey, not all attempts at starting a new hobby go so badly.

Plus it’s a good thing to try new activities in our free time. Studies have shown that having interests (even beige ones) helps to make us happier. They are also a way to make new friends and escape from the pressures of school, homework and exams for a bit. What’s not to like about that?

So in the spirit of January, here are eight new extra-curricular activities to try in 2017, based on things you already love. Oh, and none of them require you to leave the sofa. Much.

If you already love colouring books…

Dot-to-dot is the new kid on the mindfulness block! But just as the recent trend for colouring is nothing like what you did when you were four, the new dot-to-dot books are hardcore, with literally hundreds of tiny points to join together. This requires some serious concentration but also distracts from stress and anxiety. You can draw (ok, dot) everything from famous people’s heads to adorable puppies – check out Thomas Pavitte’s books for the coolest selection.

As well as putting pen to paper, folding it is suddenly big news too. The ancient Japanese art of origami is so hot right now, and if you’re looking for a challenge as well as bedroom decs that don’t cost a million pounds on Etsy, this could be for you. Creating animals and birds from paper requires a lot of patience, even if you have a kit explaining what to do, but the results are seriously delightful. For inspiration (and to give your folding fingers a rest), read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

origami

Another hobby with Insta-appeal is calligraphy. The art of beautiful lettering is centuries old, but that doesn’t stop YouTube and Pinterest being great places to learn the basics – with some practice you’ll be able to use calligraphy to create beautiful art based on your favourite poems and quotes. Get started now and you could have Christmas 2017 sorted by summer. How smug?

If you already love binge watching…

One of my goals for the year is to become a minor expert in EastEnders. What? I figured it would be fun to develop my obsession with the soap into an actual hobby, so I’ve started connecting with other fans through Twitter and reading books about the show’s history. If you also love geeking out over new subjects, you could try taking your TV fandom to the next level. Join forums, learn about how it’s made, write fan fiction about your favourite characters. Clear a shelf for some hand-painted Game of Thrones figurines. However you want to let your geek flag fly.

Or, switch media – instead of binge watching, try binge reading. If there’s an author you really like, work your way through all of their back catalogue. Not sure where to begin? There are loads of recommendations out there: check out the Zoella Book Club or Goodreads. Don’t forget this is a cheap hobby! Your school or local library will house enough books for even the most dedicated binge reader, so get a sturdy bag and let your inner Belle run wild.

belle

If you already love crafts…

Whether you’re used to using pins and needles or scissors and glue, if you like crafting then how about turning your hand to upcycling? Nothing to do with bikes or hills, promise. Upcycling is kind of like recycling, only the goal is to make the new item as good or if not even better than it was before. It’s an awesome way to personalise your clothes or your space, and fill grey Sunday afternoons in a way that won’t induce a parental nag-fest. Unless you get paint on the carpet.

Check out charity shops for small chests of drawers or an old mirror to paint. Rummage in your wardrobe for items that you’ve grown out of. Search for inspiration online (Pinterest is great for this, obviously). Mega upcycler Lili from Chicago told me that she is proud of herself for being able to reuse items – like the purses she’s recently made out of old shirts. She says, “It’s really nice to know that you are able to make something beautiful out of something that you don’t use anymore. You can easily make something really cool.”

It was you, it was always you… (find the DIY on ohhappyday.com 🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮

A photo posted by Oh Happy Day (@ohhappyday) on

If you already enjoy blogging…

There are so many hobbies to have a bash at if you like writing. Try going small scale and keep a one sentence diary – not as easy as it sounds. These can go on for YEARS, so you’re able to look back at memories that you might otherwise forget about (although in the case of your year seven crushes that might not be a good thing).

At the other end of the scale, experiment with making a fanzine. This is basically a small magazine that reflects your loves and passions. It could be about music, films, fashion, poetry, cheese toasties… anything. Join forces with friends to make it a sociable thing: work on one together, or all make your own and trade them. There’s a whole ‘zine scene out there of people swapping homemade mags, and you never know where it might lead. Sharmadean Reid started out with a fanzine that eventually led to her creating WAH Nails.

stranger-things-fanzine

@mermaidblobs

See, told you hobbies were cool.

@rae_ritchie_

School holidays are great. You don’t have to set alarms. You can wear anything you like. You can eat lunch whenever your hunger strikes you. But sometimes, every so often, they can get, um, a bit… er, dull.

I know! I know, it’s not what you’re meant to say. You’re meant to be grateful and thankful and brimming with holiday induced joy. But, well, sometimes you can end up sitting on the floor of your bedroom, completely out of episodes of Stranger Things to re-watch and with no idea what to do next.

Well, fear not! We have come up with some ideas for how to keep the boredom at bay.

1. Make face masks

Mrs Doubtfire

I’m not entirely sure what it is that I find so soothing about face masks, but pretty much as soon as I apply that first slather, I feel myself relax. You can do it on your own, pop some cucumber on your eyes and listen to soothing music or you can get together with a bunch of friends and experiment with different types. I particularly love this banana face mask. Plus, if any of it ends up in your mouth, it’s totally delicious.

2. Got some leftover bananas?

If you have any bananas left over after making your face mask, it’s NBD because you can make banana popsicles!

3. Learn the Parent Trap Handshake 

One rainy afternoon, my best friend Georgia and I decided we would learn the handshake from Parent Trap. Because I have very little coordination, it took a ridiculous amount of time, but it was totally worth it when we showed our routine off to all our friends at school the next week.

parent-trap

4. Or if you’re more musically inclined…

You could learn “Cups” from Pitch Perfect, which will have the same effect. (Amy can do it and I am immensely jealous).

5. Did someone say ‘sale’?

The high street is on its mid-season sale, so there are bargains to be had. One of our favourites is this dungaree dress from River Island that’s almost 50% off! [Insert Dad joke about that being because its missing 50% of the fabric here]

dungaree-dress

Black dungaree dress, River Island, was £38 now £20

6. Learn to face paint

Look, I’m not entirely sure when this life skill will come in useful but I promise you that if you learn how to paint your face so you look like Scar from the Lion King, a situation will arise. Halloween? Why not. A circus themed party? Sure. Next mufti day? I’m game if you are.

7. Get your pom-pom on

Pom-poms are great because they are so versatile. They look good in pretty much every scenario: on a headband, as bunting, as a key ring, in a nice bowl like apples… Plus, they’re super soothing to make – watch our handy video tutorial, have a Netflix marathon and pom the day away.

8. Marie Kondo your room

I wish I knew the words to describe the look I got in the betty offices when I said I didn’t know who Marie Kondo was. According to her Wikipedia, she’s a Japanese organising consultant and author. Lauren tells me that after she read Marie’s first book, ‘The Life-Changing Art of Tidying,’ she actually re-organised her wardrobe and it did, in fact, change her life. As someone who spends about five minutes every morning trying to locate the top I have in mind, I have to admit, I’m tempted.

9. Head to your local library

Holidays are always a great time to get on top of your reading list. If you’re feeling a little uninspired, why not check out Zoella’s new book club reads or some of our betty book reviews?

10. Or… get crafty with books

If you’re not that into reading or have got a lot of old books lying about, you could try some of these DIY projects that re-purpose old books into beautiful new accessories.

diy-inspiration-smashbook

11. Stage a tribute to Bey

What better way is there to spend your hols than learning all the words to Bey’s, ‘Hold Up’? Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, why not try and get the whole Lemonade album down? Put on your yellow-est dress and get crackin’

Boredom, BE GONE. Bey-dom awaits!