Let’s face it – winter can get boring fast. By the end of February, cabin fever is a likely scenario, especially if you have young kids. But winter is also a great time to engage in family activities that will bring your family together without costing you a fortune. Here are a few ideas to get you started, with the goal is to avoid hitting the mall!
1. Bake together. Cookies, cupcakes, even elaborate frosted cakes – I have found over the years that kids are not a hindrance in the kitchen. On the contrary, as long as you are willing to let go of perfectionism, they can be a lot of help, and needless to say, they love to bake, at least as much as they love eating the results.
2. Cook together. Just the same as baking, but even more fun, because when cooking you can be a lot more flexible when changing up the ingredients and just using what you happen to have in the kitchen. (Stay tuned for a fabulous frugal winter recipe in a blog post coming soon)!
3. Declutter and reorganize. I hate clutter and love order. What better time than a long, boring weekend afternoon to reorganize the house and make those three big piles of stuff – one for keeping, one for donating, and one for throwing out?
4. Go to the library. I don’t know if our grandchildren will still read books. I’m guessing that printed books, just like print news papers, are on their way out – which is not a bad thing, as it just means the world is changing and advancing. For now though, we can still enjoy going to the local library, going to the kids’ section and browsing through books. If your library offers Story Time, take advantage of that. It’s a wonderful way to pass an afternoon.
5. Picnic indoors. Indoor picnics are weirdly exciting. Basically you do exactly what you would do for a picnic outdoors, but you then have it in the living room. Kids LOVE it.
6. Rent a movie. I love taking my kids to the movies, but it can get expensive, especially when we add popcorn and a drink. Of course, the tickets themselves are not exactly cheap for a family of four. When we don’t feel like going to the movies, we declare a movie night at home, rent a movie, pop some popcorn and settle down to watch together.
7. Write letters to the grandparents. Real, old-fashioned letters. They are fun to write, fun to mail, and fun to receive!
8. Play in the snow or splash in puddles, then head back inside for hot cocoa. It’s a classic winter sensory pleasure – get cold and wet, then head back inside to get warm and dry.
9. Curl together in front of the fireplace and read. When your kids watch you reading and enjoying it, they are more likely to read too. No fireplace? No problem. A warm blanket and a plush carpet or sofa are prefect too.
10. Jump rope. Not all winter activities need to be sedentary. Jumping rope is a fabulous exercise and is so much fun.
11. Snow painting. Fill a few quirt bottles with water, each with a different food coloring, then head outside. Use your imagination to create fabulous snow art.
12. Build an indoor fort. Use chairs, empty boxes and blankets and just have fun with it. This activity is great for preschool-age kids.
13. Tell a story together. Each family member continues where the previous had left off. This can get seriously funny!
14. Make real, thick, creamy hot chocolate. Simmer 1-cup whole milk and 1/4 cup sugar together until just boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in 5oz semisweet chocolate, chopped, until melted.
15. Bake bread. Real yeast bread that you need to knead and punch down and let rise a few times is perfect for winter. The process is time-consuming, but lots of fun. Enjoying a slice of still warm, lightly buttered, crusty homemade bread is so, so good.
16. Visit an indoor pool. Our local YMCA offers a very affordable membership for the entire family.
17. Go ice-skating. While not exactly cheap, at about $10 per person for skating and skate rental at our local ice skating rink, this is still cheaper – and more active! – than going to a movie, since you won’t be tempted to buy junk to eat.
18. Look at photo albums and share memories. We rarely look at our family photo albums during the summer – we’re too busy doing stuff – but winter is a great time for looking back, reflecting and sharing memories.
19. Stand next to a big window and paint a still-life winter picture. Great for younger kids, especially if you can give them an easel.
20. Declare a “Make your own Pizza Night.” Use prepared pizza dough, or make it yourself. Set up a “topping buffet” on the kitchen table with sauces, cheeses and veggies, and allow each member of the family to make their own pizza.
What are your favorite winter activities?