Work can be extremely rewarding. It can also be incredibly challenging—especially when you’re juggling multiple projects, managing people, hopping in and out of meetings, emailing colleagues, and trying to stay on top of a miles-long to-do list. Feeling exhausted just reading that? Same.
That’s why before embarking on a big new project (or when things get too hectic and your work-life balance seems thrown out the window), it’s important to take a beat to reset your mind. Just like walking, exercising, and getting fresh air in general, studies have shown that engaging in tiny projects and creative exercises on a regular basis can help you not only become a better decision maker but also foster more original ideas in the long term.
To get you started, we rounded up some of our favorite projects to prime your brain for the next big thing, teach you a new skill, and possibly even tap into a new passion. Check them out below.
Modern calligraphy and lettering
You know those lovely place cards and chalkboard menus with swirling letters and cute doodles? You can learn how to do those with this beginner handbook that teaches you modern typography and various brush strokes. There’s ample space in this workbook to practice, but you’ll probably find yourself connecting letters and drawing flourishes in the margins once you’ve completed the exercises. Pro tip: Invest in a few great pens to get the hang of different line styles and alphabets—we’re fond of Microns for their jet-black ink and super-tiny tips, plus this dual-sided option that lets you experiment with brush strokes.
A Glamour-editor favorite woman-owned brand, Super Smalls sells the cutest DIY jewelry kit that new moms and little ones—but really, adults who love a Y2K moment—will have the best time playing around with. The beads and charms are more unique than you’ll find at your local craft store; plus, the portable box includes colorful cords you can use to create matching chokers or friendship bracelets. (Oh, and if not for yourself, this kit makes for a great Mother’s Day gift.)
Googly eyes, squishy snouts, rounded little noggins? All of this can be yours with this adorable animal felting kit that teaches you how to create these precious little figures by way of an instruction manual (or video). It’s a great weekend activity you can enjoy on your own or share with friends or family. Included in the set are four different types of felting needles, wool yarn, key chain attachments, phone lanyards, a felting pad, an awl, jump ring openers, and screw eyes.
If you want to take up crocheting but are too intimidated to make your own clothing, why not give one of these adorable stuffed animals a go? The Woobles says on its website that “over 250,000 people have learned how to crochet with its beginner kits,” which include step-by-step videos and already-started yarn so you don’t have to fuss with the initial stitch. What’s more, the tutorials address both left- and right-handed knitters. Rawr.
For a foolproof intro to candlemaking, check out this simple kit from Black-owned brand Reisfields. It includes natural soy wax, a reusable glass jar, dried flowers, and energy stones for infusing your candle with good vibes. The cute label on the vessel allows you to easily turn it into a gift if you want to.
Candlemaking with dried flowers
You could start your candlemaking journey with a regular scented one, but why stop there? This beginner-friendly kit shows you how to decorate yours with dried flowers, making for an impressive DIY gift or home decor addition. “My boyfriend and I had a ton of fun making and decorating these candles together,” wrote one reviewer. “Very affordable and a great way to get crafty and make people homemade gifts.” In this set you’ll find four metal tins, two pounds of soy wax, a melting pot, plus every other essential needed to complete your work—glue stickers, finger protectors, a thermometer, kraft cards, string, and wood wick holders, to name a few.
Pottery and painting
Two hefty bags of air-dry clay, eight acrylic paints, two paint brushes, and a finishing gloss are some of the items included in this beginner pottery kit, which will have you pinching, shaping, and sculpting for hours on end. The clay is supposed to dry (crack-free!) in 48 hours, so you can get to painting the next day without needing to fire anything up in a kiln. Consider it a great distraction after a draining work week.
We Are Knitters has all your knitting needs in one place. Not only is the brand a great for resource knitting projects of all levels (sweaters! baskets! heart-shaped pillows!), but it also covers a variety of mediums—macramé, crochet, latch hook, petit point—if you want to diversify your skills. You can buy standalone yarns if you already have a working pattern and supplies; if you don’t, that’s fine too, since each kit includes hooks, wool, instructions, and completion time. Start off with this beginner snood project (how pretty is the “yarnicorn” wool?), then try your hand at a cardigan or vest.
Candle and ceramic making
When you love candles but also ceramics and don’t want to play favorites, check out this pottery kit that’s the best of both worlds. It comes with two types of candles—a tea-light and pillar candle—plus sustainably sourced air-dry clay, handmade sculpting tools, and natural paints that will let you shape and decorate your candle holders. A small vial of matches completes the package.
Personalizing your home decor
Prepare to be obsessed with this custom doormat. Choose your tile color, base, and size, then start thinking about what you want to say and where you’re going to place it. A lot of people seem to leave theirs outside, but the durable yet soft silicone means you can put it in a kitchen or in a mud room too. (Check out the brand’s Instagram for design inspiration.) And don’t worry about getting this thing dirty—the tiles are vacuum- and dishwasher-safe.
Design enthusiasts familiar with those Flower Market prints that were all over Instagram a few years ago will appreciate this punch-needle project that riffs off the punchy graphic design. The embroidery here only looks incredibly advanced; this Etsy creator actually describes the kit as “an easy hand-stitch project you can complete in one weekend,” making it a great introductory pick for anyone keen on picking up this skill. Choose from a plastic or wooden punch needle, plus four different floral patterns.
Feeling nostalgic for your childhood Lego sets? The brand’s art projects are a great way to indulge in the pastime of your youth without feeling stuck in a time machine. Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Hokusai’s The Great Wave will appeal to you if you like 3D creations, but we’re most into this Pop-art-inspired floral design, which has 2,870 (!) pieces and can be completed in three ways.
You may have abandoned tie-dyeing along with the rest of your pandemic hobbies (whatever happened to your sourdough starter?), but it’s still a great warm-weather activity to immerse yourself in. This top-rated kit uses water-based, nontoxic dyes that reviewers say are also kid-friendly, and come in galaxy or pastel hues if the rainbow shades are too bright for you. The dyes come in spray form and are ready to use, so you don’t need to mix them with salt or water—just spray your T-shirt and set it with heat.