Brisk winter days and cold nights can leave you stuck inside wondering what to do during your free-time. Winter entertainment tends to be more limited than summer months provide because inexpensive activities like parks and outdoor concerts are off the table. Along with a smaller selection, activities also tend to be more expensive. Here are a few creative ways to reduce the cabin fever while engaging in fun and interesting pursuits that will not only save you money but provide quality time with your loved ones.
At Home, Indoor Fun
Tap into your inner chef. Making trail mix, cookies, or other treats will teach children valuable skills and are fun for everyone. All ages can help with the cooking, by assigning tasks based on skill level. Children can learn to follow a recipe, get creative with their own creations, and savor the finished product. You can make trail mix starting with a base of Chex cereal or popcorn and then add their favorite ingredients. It is a healthy snack which includes your choice of nuts, pretzels, dried fruits, raisins, or M&Ms. Finish the mix off with some seasoning such as sea salt, cinnamon, or cayenne pepper for a spicy treat.
Night (or day) at the movies. Visits to the theater is a popular winter entertainment choice. Save money by creating a movie night in your living room. After cooking their favorite treats, children can settle down in sleeping bags on the floor to view their favorite movie or television series. If you want to create a movie screen effect, use your computer and a projector to amplify the feature on a blank wall. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services have a wide selection of movies or choose a newer flick from a local Redbox.
Game Night is another way to customize an evening of fun with the family. You can create games on your own or choose your favorite board game for an evening of laughter. Playing games develops important life skills and gives you bonding time over their favorite snacks and hot cocoa. Choose from strategy games like chess, monopoly, or battleship, or more entertaining selections like charades. Many of today’s gaming systems include interactive sports like bowling and tennis the whole family can enjoy.
Start a bonfire. Use an outdoor fire pit to create a warm blaze on a cold night. Add hot cocoa, marshmallow roasting, and music or storytelling for an evening everyone will remember.
Away from Home, Indoor Entertainment
eFree Museum Days are offered year around to residents. Take advantage of indoor activities and free days out during the cold winter months. Many museums offer one day per week or month where residents can visit the museum at no charge. For example, anyone with a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch debit or credit card can receive one free admission the first weekend of each month at participating museums throughout the country. View the museum’s website for other dates offering free admission.
Frequent the library. Today’s libraries have a lot more than books. You can check out movies, games, and books. Enjoy an afternoon reading magazines and newspapers from around the country. Participate in activities, crafts, and story time. Many l ibraries also provide teen rooms, computers with interactive educational games for children, and events, most free of charge.
Movie Matinees are inexpensive entertainment for families. Movies in the early afternoon cost around half the price of an evening show, although some matinee pricing ends as early as 3 pm. During school holidays, some theaters add $1 movies and play old favorites targeted to young children.
Visit a Bowling Alley. Bowling is a sport enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. Look for winter specials that offer two games plus shoe rental, and you may find an evening of fun for around $10 per person. Even without a discount, you can typically enjoy a few hours of bowling for about the cost of a movie plus shoe rental. Most facilities have bumper guards to help young bowlers and score tracking, so you don’t have to keep up with the score. Many places have added additional entertainment like video games, pools tables, and other activities geared towards teenagers and families.
Play in the snow. Falling snow is a gift from mother nature you may not appreciate as you dig your car out or shovel the driveway. Yet, snowball fights, building a snowman, and sledding are a source of free entertainment children crave. At the first sign of snow, they can make snow angels, build a snowman family, and if there is enough design snow forts or igloos. Sledding requires some equipment, but you can always use trash can lids or cardboard boxes if you don’t have enough snow to warrant buying a sled. If you don’t have an incline in your neighborhood, local parks may provide a safe place to sled on snowy winter days.
eIce Skate indoors or out. Indoor ice skating rinks are widely available and don’t require cold weather to enjoy. However, during winter months, outdoor rinks pop up across the country giving you a chance to practice your skating in the crisp evening air.
Discounted outdoor sports. Winter sports abound in the northern half of the country and include sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and camping. The trouble is that many of these activities are expensive ventures. The first way to reduce costs is to own equipment for sports you regularly participate. It can reduce the per trip cost up to half. Season passes to your favorite resort is another way to make an expensive sport more affordable if you use it regularly. Lastly, look for local discounts. Most resorts rely on tourists visiting during the weekend and charge a premium on those days. Lower the cost by going during the week, in the evenings or later in the season.
eAffordable family fun during the cold winter months does not need to relegate you to a boring winter. Make the best of this time to create family memories and take advantage of all nature has to offer. Snuggle up by a warm fire, or grab your gear to enjoy a winter filled with fun yet affordable undertakings.