Getting out and having fun with the family during the winter can be an important factor in beating the winter blues. While there are many things that you can do, sometimes just coming up with the idea and overcoming the inertia of staying inside can be all it takes. Here are 15 dirt cheap ideas to help you beat the winter blahs!
Embrace the Weather: Do you remember when you were a kid and all you could think of was building a snowman, making snow angels or pelting the neighbor kids with snowballs? Your family wants to get out into the white fluffy stuff just as much as you did as a kid. Make a day of it and embrace the snow, drag out the sled if you have one, or use the garbage can lid. It worked for us as kids and it will work again for yours. Don't forget to have the hot chocolate ready when you come inside. Marshmallows are required!
Winter Wildlife Hike: There are a bunch of animals that winter over... See if you can find them. Look for tracks, find the birds that don't migrate further south, and see if you can spot a deer in the forest. Take a walk and see if you can count how many different animals you can find together.
Board Games: Remember all of those board games in the basement closet? Dig one out, sit down at the kitchen table and play one. A long day together in the winter also gives enough time to get out that 1000 piece puzzle, or have a marathon card game of rummy, go fish, crazy eights or war.
Holiday Craft Project: With as many holidays in the winter as there are, each one deserves its own set of decorations. Break out the craft paper, scissors and glue. Why not make paper snowflakes so you can enjoy the snow whether you have the real, snow outside or not?
Family Video Game Day: Video games don't have to be a lonely experience for just one person. Set up a tournament bracket and see who comes out on top. Don't necessarily play the same video game the kids are all playing, but take them on head-to-head in some of the classic video games online. Pong, PacMan, Zork and many others can be found online for free. The key is to find a game you can play together.
Museums and Tours: Many local museums have free or low admission prices. Take the afternoon to discover the local art museum, or historical society. Every community has something to offer, but it might take some research to find out what is nearby. It will be worth the trip, even if the teenagers roll their eyes at you. Get the kids to take YOU somewhere that their school has gone on a recent field trip.
Start a Family Hobby: Learn how to make candles or soaps. Start a coin or stamp collection. The key to a hobby like these with your family is to do these things together. Learn how to do it together. It doesn't matter if you know how when you start, the exploration of the process with your family will make it a worthwhile effort.
Paint your snow-covered yard: Do you have a little Picasso in the house? Get them outside and create a giant masterpiece by painting your snow covered yard! Get several spray bottles, fill them with water and add a few drops of food coloring in each one. Their new spray paint will be the envy of the neighborhood, as long as it stays in your own yard!
Campfire: Just because it isn't warm outside doesn't mean that you can have a back yard campfire. If there is lots of snow on the ground, place your campfire on top of a flat board. Make sure you have enough marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers ready. S'mores aren't just for July!
Volunteer: Have your family pick a charity or organization to help out. Volunteer your time for a weekend day in a soup kitchen. Pay a visit to the elderly at a nursing home or assisted living center. Volunteer to help at a blood drive. There are lots of different ways your family can donate its time and talents to help out with the community.
Winter Digital Photo Scavenger Hunt: Make a list of 20 things that are around the house and in the neighborhood. Send the kids out with their digital cameras and cell phone cameras to collect, these 20 items. The less specific the item on the list, the more creative the kids will be. Start off with something big, something dirty, something blue. You get the idea. After the time limit, everyone comes back to show the pictures of what they've found.
Bake Cookies: You can't go wrong baking cookies. If you're not that handy in the kitchen or don't have lots of time, a tube of sugar cookie dough from the grocery freezer works just as well. Cut, bake, decorate and eat. As long as you do it together, it's a great family activity.
Have an Indoor Campout: Is it just too cold to go outside? Turn the dining room chairs into tents with a couple of blankets. Break out the sleeping bags and set up camp! Turn out the lights and use flashlights instead. A flashlight inside of some colored paper makes a great pretend campfire. Turn off the television and make ghost stories instead. Sit around your campfire and sing traditional campfire songs!
Research Your Family Tree: You heritage is an important part of who you are and who your family is. Go online and find genealogy forms. Pay a visit to older relatives and ask for their help in filling out the forms with what they remember. Get relatives to tell the stories of their youth and document them. Put it all into a family scrapbook that will help document the untold stories of your family.
Cook a Meal Together: There is nothing like cooking a meal together to eat as a family. It doesn't have to be complicated. On a cold winter day, one favorite is grilled cheese and hot tomato soup. Help the younger children to learn how to be helpful in the kitchen by providing them with age-appropriate helping tasks. Older children can even help at the stove with proper supervision. This kind of family activity provides good family interaction and teaches life-long skills.
What are your favorite ways to Beat the Winter Blues?
Guest Post by: Nick Giacobe
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