Sometimes a family binge-watching day can be a wonderful break if you’ve been really busy and just need to unwind. Also, a chilly, rainy day can beg for a movie night with the family. There are lots of reasons you might decide to just lay down on the couch for a few hours with no intention of getting up!
If you find yourself about to jump headfirst into a breakfast-to-bedtime Harry Potter movie marathon or an all-day Marvel binge, but you’d also like to exercise your fingers or your mind a bit more, then check out our list of games to play while watching TV.
Crafts are also great because they keep your hands busy, and many crafts don’t need too much of your attention to turn out really great. We’ll suggest a few later on along with some stretches you can do to get a break while watching TV.
Best fun games and activities while you watch TV
First, how much attention do you need to devote to your movies or TV shows?
Some games are better than others when you haven’t seen the movies or TV shows you’re about to binge-watch. However, if you’re familiar with the story already and you’re just looking to dive into a cozy movie world that you know well, you can devote a bit of concentration to some games at the same time.
Some TV shows are great because they don’t require a lot of attention or investment to watch. Shows like The Office or Parks and Recreation are so beloved in part because they’re easy to watch. You don’t need to get super invested or prepare for many twists and turns. You can just have a great time!
These are great shows to add a little distraction to your enjoyment. But, don’t just reach for social media. Enjoying a game instead of doomscrolling endlessly will be a lot more fun for you. And, if your goal is to de-stress, try some games instead.
Play mobile games and apps while watching TV
If you need to grab the phone, there are tons of games on the app store that don’t require a lot of commitment or investment to enjoy.
The best phone games to play along with a favorite TV show are slow-paced games that don’t demand a lot of your attention. A multi-player game wouldn’t be good because you might take breaks from game play and lose, but something single-player without a lot of action would be perfect throughout a TV binge.
Check out a few of these, and let us know your favorite in the comments!
My Oasis Season 2
My Oasis Season 2 is the perfect game if you like a relaxing, slow-paced gaming experience. You build and upgrade an island starting with the basics, but after a little attention, your island will be home to all kinds of plants and animals.
A favorite of ours, Triple Town is a puzzle game where you advance by matching three items in a row, which combine to make a larger thing. Three bushes make a tree, three trees make a house, and so on. To get unlimited turns, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version, but it’s only a few dollars and very well worth it.
Best computer games to enjoy while watching TV
If you have a gaming computer or even a decent laptop, you can have a lot of fun playing computer games along with your favorite TV show too.
The best computer games will require only half of your attention span but still be engaging. Avoid any kind of multi-player game that would require you to react quickly, and focus on having a relaxing, fun time! Games with repetitive actions are great for dividing attention.
Minecraft is an awesome computer game to enjoy with a great movie or show. It’s a skill-based adventure game with lots of repetitive actions, a robust yet relaxed multi-player function, and it’s easy enough to avoid enemies that you won’t need too much attention to continue building and exploring for hours and hours.
RuneScape is another great choice for a computer game to play while you watch TV or movies. It’s been around forever, and there’s a good reason for it. It’s a browser-based, fantasy adventure game with a sense of humor where players go on quests that range from totally easy to incredibly challenging.
Stardew Valley is an excellent pick for a computer game to play while watching TV. It’s also out for the Nintendo Switch, so if you have one, you can pick it up there, too. It’s a single-player farming sim game with simple yet addicting gameplay. Go into multi-player mode if you’re binging with friends.
Board games to play while watching a movie or show
Phone and computer games are great, but let’s say you’re watching TV with friends or family. Or maybe you don’t want to go from looking at a big screen to a small one, and you’d like a game that takes place on your coffee table.
Let’s start with puzzles here. Puzzles are classically entertaining. You can start and stop when you want. And there’s a difficulty level for everyone.
Puzzles are a perfect activity to do if you’re watching a movie, especially over a long binge. Large puzzles can take hours to complete, and your mind will appreciate the challenge while you watch your show. Plus, you can do a puzzle solo or in a group.
Also, if you choose a favorite puzzle that you’ve done before, and you’re watching a favorite movie, you’re almost doing two things on autopilot, leaving even more space for chit-chat.
Bananagrams is an awesome game at almost any time because it’ll get your mind working, but it’s not too difficult. It’s basically a freeform Scrabble, and you don’t need to wait for anyone’s turn. The rules are totally simple, so there’s no boring, fifteen minute introduction where the person who brought the game tries to explain it to everyone, either.
The one thing to consider with Bananagrams is that everyone works at their own pace. This means that if you take breaks while others work away, you may end up with LOTS more tiles than everyone else.
We love Lost Cities during a TV binge because it’s a multi-player board game that’s already broken up into nice chunks of play, called “expeditions”, so there are natural breaks in the gameplay. Plus, you don’t have to pay too much attention when it’s not your turn. It’s fun, and it’s clever – a nice departure from the tired board games you overplayed as a kid.
Wildlife Safari is a great game to play with friends watching TV or a movie marathon. It’s a relatively simple card game, and it goes by quickly. It won’t take long to grasp the rules, but you’ll have a ton of fun.
Activities to do while watching TV
Sometimes, a game can be a little too much to concentrate on. If you do need to pay attention to the storyline, but you’d also like to have a small distraction on the side, you might try a couple of the following ideas.
The best activities require low levels of concentration and are also easy to pause and resume whenever you want. You can’t always do that with a game, and you certainly can’t while playing with friends or other players online. Solo games, puzzles, and especially crafts are great activities.
Solitaire, Sudoku, and Crosswords
Solitaire, Sudoku, and crosswords can be a great way to get your mind engaged on something fresh through a movie or TV binge session. They’ll keep your mind active, but you can do them at your own pace, meaning you can choose how engaged to be in your show at any point.
For solitaire, all you need is a simple deck of cards. You can find sudoku and crosswords in many newspapers, or you can find a book of blank ones at any bookstore. The New York Times even puts out editions of their famous crosswords for purchase.
Knitting, Crochet, or Macrame
We love an activity for a TV binge that uses the hands but keeps the mind free to focus on the screen. If you want to do something productive that doesn’t take much concentration at all, you should try knitting, crochet, or macrame while you watch TV.
Macrame is the easiest of the three. You can learn how to get started with macrame very simply. All you need to do is learn a few knots, and you can use your coffee table to anchor your project.
Knitting and crochet both use needles and loops to create anything from potholders to elaborate sweaters. Check out this guide on knitting versus crochet to learn about all the great projects you can make over your next TV binge.
Stretches to do while watching TV
Taking a break from a TV binge is pretty much essential for your health, so every now and then, you’ll need to get up and move around.
Stretching is a great way to increase your relaxation for those times when you don’t want to move for hours. A little stretching can go a long way towards helping you sit still, lounge longer, and prevent cramping. Pay attention to good posture, and do some stretches to stay loose.
Here are some great, gentle stretches you can do while watching TV to keep your body feeling good – so you can keep the binge going!
Head and neck stretches
- Roll your head forward, touching your chin to your chest.
- Gently tilt your head to the right, stretching your ear to your shoulder.
- Tip your head back, looking up to the ceiling.
- Tilt your head left, stretching your ear to your shoulder.
- Return your head to your chest.
Shoulder and arm stretches
- Roll your shoulders forward and back, making a small circle.
- Reverse the circle, rolling your shoulders back then forward.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you and cross your right hand over your left.
- Bend your left elbow and bring your right arm straight across your chest.
- Return to center. Change the cross of your hands, bringing left over right.
- Bend your right elbow, bringing your left arm straight across your chest.
- Roll your shoulders again.
- Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent and your feet together.
- Reach for your feet, folding forward at your hips.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds, then release.
- Flutter your knees up and down.
- Repeat the fold motion.
Games to play while watching TV – final thoughts
We’re all due for a good binge session every now and then. Playing games while watching TV is an awesome way to incorporate some variety into things and get your brain working while you relax.
We’ve offered some of our favorite suggestions for games, activities, and stretches to enjoy for a long TV-watching session. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Is there anything we missed? What do you like to do when enjoying a movie marathon?