We’ve all been there: You’re at a holiday dinner or event with family members whose opinions about front page news, feminism, or your personal life are too much to deal with at the moment. So you open your phone and just start scrolling and scrolling until there’s nothing new left to save you from this agony. Now every fiber of your being, including your thumb, is unoccupied and you have no idea what to do with yourself or how to escape your situation.
Well, for those precise moments, here are 5 apps to keep you occupied.
1. Crossword Puzzle Redstone
Crossword puzzles are a great way to keep yourself occupied, especially if you feel like your brain is about to collapse in on itself from neglect. Crossword Puzzle Redstone is totally free and allows you to choose different categories and levels of difficulty. Many major news publications, like the New York Times, The New Yorker and The Atlantic, also have crosswords available online or in app form, though it may require a subscription.
2. Wedding LookBook by The Knot
If your Instagram feed runs out but you still want to mindlessly scroll and look at pretty things, this is your app.
It’s free, the only hurdle is that you have to create an account including your wedding date (Donald Glover and I will be tying the knot in June 2023). If you have a friend who’s far away but equally bored, they can also download the app and open your favorite picks for dresses, rings and veils.
3. Unblock Me
This game has been around for as long as I’ve had an iPhone and is one of my go-to downloads when I’m bored out of my mind. It’s a spatial puzzle, and the object is to move blocks around a board so that the red block can get from one end to the other. It’s very simple but surprisingly addictive. Plus, if you have nosy family members peeking at your screen, it’s literally just a bunch of wooden blocks. Nothing to read into or question there.
4. Logic Grid Puzzles
Can you tell I’m a puzzle nerd yet? I love Logic Grid Puzzles by Ross McNamara. You get a few pieces of information from which to figure out an entire set of information.
For example, a pizza delivery person is very forgetful and has to figure out who ordered what toppings on what size pizza with only a few links. This app has a bunch of free puzzles, a really clean look and never has any pop-up ads. Plus, if you’re thinking of taking the LSAT, GRE, or another standardized test in the future, logic questions in this same vein are fairly common.
5. Desert Golf
The friend who recommended this game to me called it, “the most absurdly addictive mindless game,” and she was right. All it is is shooting a ball at different angles to try to get it past an obstacle and into a hole. You can make infinite attempts at one hole and there are no real pauses or interruptions built into the game, so you can just keep golfing from appetizers to dessert.
Though there isn’t an app to make time go faster, these are the next best thing next time you’re stuck in a boring or difficult situation with no way out. Happy Holidays!