5 Creative Things to do in Front of the TV


For many readers, even if you don’t watch TV yourself, there’s a TV in your house that’s being watched.

And maybe it can feel weird or hard or anti-social to sequester yourself away from everyone else to do your 20 Minute Technique. So you don’t.

Especially if you were at work all day and the evening is the only time you see everyone–and they’re watching TV.

And honestly, TV can be an easy respite at the end of a long, hard day. And jeepers, you could use a laugh or two.

So don’t get me wrong, I’m not against TV. I’m just against too much TV.

And because it’s so easy, watching too much TV can be a habit that’s hard to break. I know it is for me sometimes.

Therefore, I thought it might be useful to talk about ways to be creative in front of the TV rather than just talk about how it would be better not to watch it.

Because the point is to be creating more–however we can get that to work.

Below are 5 creative activities that don’t take up space, aren’t that messy, and can be done while watching TV or hanging out with loved ones who do.

**I’d also like you to consider trying one of these suggestions for your TV watching time even if you normally define yourself as a particular “something else” artistically–a painter or felter or a mosaic-maker–or anything else that might require lots of room or water or mess and therefore doesn’t work so well on couches or in nice looking living rooms.

Like the stock market, it’s good to be a little diversified–it might fuel your “primary” creative endeavors in surprising ways.

5 Creative Things to Do in Front of the TV

  1. Bead. Beading is small and portable and you can do it anywhere. It’s also a little contagious so the people around you might start to join in, and then you’re connecting with the people you love on a whole new level. In addition, the options are endless and skill level doesn’t matter–you can enjoy yourself right away with beading.
    Read my 5 Great Reasons to Start Beading Today if you’re not convinced yet. I’ve also got lots of great info on where to buy tools and findings along with practical bead buying tips so you get the most bang for your buck.
  2. Needle Arts. This could be knitting or embroidery or hand sewing. If you’re thinking as you read this, “I’m not patient enough for that.” you might be surprised. It can be incredibly soothing–you just need to figure out which one suits you best. (It’s also helpful to not expect to be an expert in 5-10 minutes. Good things come to those who enjoy the process, or something like that.)
    | has fabulous videos for beginner knitters.
  3. Blind drawing. If you’d like to work on your drawing skills, this is a great activity for the 20 Minute Technique and for hanging out in front of the TV. All you need is a sketch pad, a pencil and something in front of you to stare at.
    Set the timer and, without looking at your drawing, draw what you see in front of you as if your pencil is touching it–feeling all the planes and surfaces. Try not to pick your pencil up or look down at what you’re doing.If you finish quickly, just start over or turn your attention to something else in the room and draw that.
    Don’t try to make your drawing “good” by “fixing” it–this is a observational exercise and a chance to improve your line quality by getting your judging brain out of the way.
    (You’ll also find that listening to your show is mostly enough. The commercials will annoy you more though, so be ready to hit the mute button.))
  4. Card Making. Everyone loves getting a card and a handmade one is a wonderful surprise. The small format makes it doable on the couch with a tray or sitting in front of the coffee table (I always end up on the floor). You can do the rubber stamp thing or use it as a way to scrapbook and preserve memories. If you need a few ideas to get jump-started, pick up a Take Ten magazine which is dedicated to making cards.
  5. Polymer Clay. Small and portable, soft polymer clays are easy for beginners and it’s soothing to work the clay in your hands. You can make beads, cover pens, or construct small boxes and frames. There are so many books out there on how to get started, find something that excites you.
    It’s another category like beading that provides satisfaction at every skill level–so can start enjoying yourself right away.

What have I left out? Do you have any suggestions for creating in front of the TV? Do you create in front of the TV? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear.

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  1. Carol J. says:

    Such wonderful, and simple, ideas. Sometimes these things swim around in our heads and we think they aren’t good enough, so I’m reallyreally glad you put them “out here” for us! Thank you again. :)

  2. Sherry says:

    Hi Sarah,
    What great ideas. With no TV reception, I forget that I could pop in a movie and craft too. I used to do that when I made baskets. I can see myself making cards to Mama Mia!

  3. pam utton says:

    I do paint in front of the TV sometimes but I’m so absorbed in my work, I rarely look up at the program. I prefer music. Then when my body gets stiff from painting – I can get up and dance a bit!

  4. Count me among those who do needlework while the family watches TV. I tend to work on patterns that are easy to follow so I can look up often. I have my ott-light set up next to my comfy chair so it’s actually a great way to multi-task.

  5. Mona A. says:

    I do a wide variety of crafts in front of the t.v. My living room has a good sized coffee table for crafting. I mainly bead and draw there… and mostly just listen to the television rather than watch it. I have a t.v. in my craft room as well, but use it mainly to tune out other events in the house, otherwise the various noises can really block the creative juices. And if I don’t have the t.v. on, I will have music or an audio book. My favorite things to do while the t.v. is on are gluing glass, cutting glass, beading, sewing by hand, cutting out paper, etc. I do not like to watch the t.v. or listen to anything while I am sewing on the sewing machine. I guess its because it takes too much concentration on my part – I have a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine LOL.


  6. I Zentangle in front of the tv. Check out their site

  7. peace and quiet~ well, ok, maybe some music now and then! :)

  8. Kay Wallace says:

    I am intrigued by “blind drawing,” and can’t wait to try it. Thanks for your helpful suggestions for good use of leisure time.

  9. Renee Troy says:

    I keep a stack of art magazines like Somerset Studios on the coffee table and while watching TV I browse thru them to jot down inspiring ideas.
    In a basket by my chair I keep my sketch pad and pencils to just drawn a face or house with trees and flowers. I will also bring in polymer clay to knead or create something with it.

    I cannot just sit and watch TV unless I’m very tired. Keeping busy helps me stay productive.

    Thanks for the great topic.

  10. Jodie says:

    I always have a favorite TV show going when I’m sculpting. I may not always be looking at the screen but I like to listen while I’m creating. I’ve even picked up ideas for my art through a picture or words while watching.

  11. Adine Rotman says:

    I love the suggestion about the blind drawing. Thanks for the great ideas.

  12. Corey-Jan says:

    I’m not much of a multi-tasker (although, I’m a pretty decent task-switcher). And I don’t like my creative work to feel mindless. So, the only task that gets done while watching TV is laundry folding. Fortunately, I don’t need to leave my creative work because something’s on TV. Love the DVR.

  13. Julie Petty says:

    Yes, I also do lots of things in front of the TV – spinning, crocheting, needle felting, embroidery. I can’t just sit in front of the TV, must have my hands busy!

  14. I also try to utilize my time in front of the TV. I exercise, do needlework, draw ideas for my comic strip, sketch lamp and shade ideas, make beaded fringe, read, work on my lap top and so on and so on. That is when my husband is flipping channels. When one of my favorite programs has a new episode or we are watching one of my favorite movies, the TV gets all of my attention.

  15. Andree says:

    I find if I have a huge editing job in my photography business, that it really helps to turn on the tv and make mini-goals. “I can edit for one half-hour program”

    Often, I can watch (or listen to) several programs in a row and get an entire job done in one sitting. :)

  16. I have found I can’t paint or draw in front of tv. But I can do any kind of hand sewing.
    I knit, make soft toys, drum beaters, and part of larger sewing jobs that need hand work, and also I usually create/ work on dreamlocks infront of tv (locked hair).
    The best tip though is to watch doco’s as these programes are often communicated through sound more then visuals. They usually have a narrator and the visuals are held for longer, so I can still take in the whole of the program and frequently look down out my work without missing anything vital to the plot. It’s (tv) a great tool to occupy your left brain so your more creative right brain and come out and take part in your project.

  17. Concetta says:

    I’m always crocheting or knitting while watching TV or stuff from the DVR. Unless its Dancing with the Stars, it usually doesn’t take that much concentration to knit the stitches while listening to the show. And I retain more of it. I forget where, but there was a study that said if you knit or crochet during speakers or tv, you’ll remember more – and I’m living proof! :-)

  18. Cathy Mc says:

    Most of the examples given are things I only do in my studio….otherwise I would have to cart SOOOO many things out to the livingroom!!! However, I do all my needlefelting in the living room, which is where the TV is, as well as my huge totes of wool roving! Occasionally I will bring out my sketchbook, my art journal, and even some wire (for molding into shapes). And of course, I love to read all my art related magazines in the livingroom, especially when shows are on that I am not interested in!!!

  19. Beth in Asheville says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’m writing this on the couch while my husband watches his beloved reruns of Bones. The app store has more and more free or <$5 apps for drawing. David Hockney said he draws flowers on his iPad each morning and sends them to friends. (I know iPads are pricey, but I never had bought a laptop computer and this has improved my quality of life enough to be well worth it to me. I'm a retiree and life is too short not to make the most of each day…)

  20. Craftnique says:

    I am a multitasker. I cant just sit. I do have a craftroom and some of my projects need to be done in there but if a show is on TV that I want to “hear” I set up my TV trays and work on a project…paint,polymer clay, draw, whatever the mood strikes. Sometimes I bring out a box full of things and sort through it.

  21. Kerensamere says:

    I often do beading projects in front of the tv with my family. Since I work in stained glass I also foil and burnish pieces in front of the tv. I also pack a tackle box of glass and copper foil and a fid to do this in the car when my hubby is driving on long trips! And not to show off I also make what I call Dream Fairies, I cut their copper mesh wings, cut the wire for their arms and legs, bend the wire for their arms and legs, cut and prep the memory wire to hang them and put their charms in their hands while in front of the tv or at my kiddo’s swim practices. Yep, I’ve mastered squeaking in a little work in here and there and everywhere!

  22. Laura Wilson says:

    A small portable table from Wal-Mart and one of my 12 lb. Janome sewing machines is set up in our family den right by my recliner. It’s amazing the amount of quilt piecing I can accomplish in 10 minutes before heading out to work of the morning, or when I sometimes come home for lunch. And of the evening I can get alot done after dinner (if I choose to) while hubby watches ‘his’ programs and I listen and piece quilt blocks. What makes it nice is the machine is always there, and Lord knows, no fuss in setting up, and there’s plenty of quilt projects to pick and choose from for me to sew on while “watching” TV.

  23. Amandamac says:

    Great ideas to do in front of tv. But it is the getting started that is hard, isn’t it? Once you sit down, you relax and getting up is hard. So I have a box of crafts next to the couch, and then I can get started as most of the time you dont have to watch the tv, just listen to it can be enough. At this moment, I have a scrap rug/mat that I am working on. This hooks into a piece of hemmed hessian bag and it great for the laundry and using up scraps of fabric normally not big enough to be used for other things.

  24. jackie m says:

    i don’t watch much TV, but when i do sit with someone and its something i want to see, i like to knit b/c i dont have to see to do that. Otherwise I might, copper foil glass pieces for my jewelry or glance thru magazines.

    and i agree with someone above who said knitting improved their concentration…i tried for years to get up the nerve to knit during church…

  25. I always knit in front of the TV. Usually by that time of evening, my *art sense* has gone out the door! LOL!
    However, when I am strictly drawing ATCs, then I lug them up to work on.
    Everything else I do is entirely too messy and too many parts for evening work.
    (but I knit a LOT of socks this past winter!)


  26. Julie says:

    Turned off the Dish Network years ago. Not that I didn’t love HGTV and having five different “discovery” channels… Seemed a waste of perfectly good hard earned $$$$! Always so busy, being creative! I have finished embroidery projects in front of the TV, have sewn in front of the TV. Perhaps the only useful TV/Art thing that comes to mind was when I used the “Universityhouse” channel to learn basic Tai Chi, and I now teach basic Tai Chi moves at the gym! For the most part, we just watch one or two Netflix here & there, but the whole daily watching TV thing exited my life years and years ago, and honestly I’m much much happier without the “idiotbox”. People ask have I seen this show or that one, and I’m almost overly proud that I have way more to do than to know what they’re talking about!!! Also, One more footnote- DOWN ON COMMERCIALISM, Commercials want to brainwash women into thinking they’re NOT GOOD enough the way they are!!! Ploys to get your money! Okay Rant is over! Have a blessed day!

  27. Laura Macy says:

    Yes, I ALWAYS create in front of the TV. I have a tablet of paper, pencil, and an eraser that stays on my coffee table in the living room. Any time I sit down to “watch” TV, I grab my paper and pencil. It’s where all of my rough drafts for paintings are done. In my studio, I have a little TV, VCR, and DVD player. I often pop in a movie to paint to…..movies I’ve seen over and over – I listen to the movie more than I actually watch it, though.

  28. Colleen Nunes says:

    I bind my quilts or hand applique when I’m watching TV with the fam!

  29. Peggy says:

    Back in my sewing days, unless I was doing hand-work or finishing touches, I preferred listening to radio or tapes — we didn’t have CDs in those days — ‘cuz when working with a sewing machine, it’s sometimes even hard to get the machine to do what you want it do, even with your undivided attention. BTW, when working late into the night, I knew it was time to go to bed, when I had to rip-out the same seam to do it over again 3 times. ;-D

    When I dabbled in silversmithing, I used to make my wax models while watching TV.

    Then, when I started working with beads in the early ’80s, which can often be tedious work, TV offered me the mental stimulation to work though the tedium. As a matter of fact, I made my first pair of earrings, while house-sitting for my honeymooning sister, watching Amy Irving in “The Far Pavillions.” No wonder people comment about how romantic my work is! ;-D

    As my wire-wrapping with beads, evolved into a business, I found myself listening to radio and tapes — and later CDs — during the day, ‘cuz I find TV-watching during the day to be decadent. Then, starting during Prime Time, I switch to TV. Of course, when there’s nothing good on TV, I switch back to radio or DVDs.

    When my business switched from wire-wrapping with beads to flame-working glass beads — once I achieved a certain level of proficiency with flame-working — I’ve continued my media habits while MAKING glass beads. This has it’s benefits. Since some of the work I do requires more attention than others, I can often watch the same program or film several times before I actually SEE the entire thing. ;-D

  30. Doreen G. says:

    I’m usually at my best creatively – whether scrapbooking, journaling, or writing – in the wee hours of the morning, so I like to have the TV on just for chatter. We’re not really a tv-watching family, so there’s no “down time” there. I actually listened to the “Twilight” movie seven times consecutively while creating a wedding scrapbook! ;)

  31. Doreen G. says:

    Another thought… I have found throughout the years, that my concentration is diminished when music with lyrics is playing in the background. I never play music “idly” in the background… I am always fully involved in the music – listening to the melody, memorizing the lyrics, etc. – or no music is playing. I can’t even listen to music while I drive, or I get lost. LOL I never have the radio playing while I’m crafting, either. And, definitely not when I’m studying or writing! I can’t concentrate, b/c my mind is almost blindly focused on trying to memorize the lyrics. Isn’t that odd? haha This always presents an issue when I’m attending a crop b/c we usually have music playing… thankfully, the chatter of the croppers usually drowns out the music for me! LOL

  32. ArtSnark says:

    I don’t watch much TV, but for some reason I get an urge to make ACEOs whenever Jane Austin or other Masterpiece Theater type stuff is on. It can be fun channeling the mood into a tiny piece

  33. Cathe Gottlieb says:

    Unless I am watching a movie, I am always doing something else. I keep a variety of hand sewing and needle art projects next to my recliner. Just watching tv is very boring to me most of the time but I don’t always want to be in my little work corner in another room while my husband is kicked back watching tv.

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