7 Engaging Activities Your Family Can Do Together On a Chilly Winter Day

On January 2, Coconut Creek Parks and Recreation hosted the third annual Coconut Creek Fishing Derby. The derby took place in the Sabal Pines Park in Coconut Creek, FL. Organizers chose the park for its expansive lake or canal view, allowing participants to easily follow social distancing guidelines from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Broward County.

The event takes place over three hours and challenges families to catch and release the most fish throughout the duration of the competition. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel describes the derby as a “great family event” and one that can take place safely within COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Unfortunately, not all families have the luxury of taking part in fishing competitions in the middle of winter. In many parts of the U.S., cold — even freezing — temperatures confine families mostly to their homes or to brief outings while heavily bundled up from head-to-toe in warm winter gear.

Luckily, it is more than possible to enjoy a family-friendly, winter day activity while staying warm. Draw your inspiration from the ideas below.

Get Crafty

Crafting is not only the perfect winter day activity, but it also helps children hone important developmental skills. According to Scholastic, crafts teach very young children fine motor skills, how to count, and how to recognize different shapes and colors. Crafting helps elementary school children improve their reading skills and critical thinking skills. For preteens and teenagers, arts and crafts reduce stress, boost creativity, and build self-esteem.

For family-friendly crafting ideas, consider:

  • Making jewelry. Crafting jewelry can be tailored to all genders and any age group. If making jewelry does not initially appeal to young boys, mix it up. Make woven jewelry from rough fibers. Use animal hide, chains, chords, washers, and more to create gender-neutral jewelry.

    For very young children, stick to yarn, pipe cleaners, feathers, and large-hole baubles and beads. By contrast, teenagers can craft significantly more intricate jewelry. They can use small gems, tiny beads, charms, and jewelry parts. For teens who truly embrace the hobby, they may even be able to sell jewelry and their wares online. Running a small, family business on websites like Etsy can help teens learn further responsibility.

  • Do-It-Yourself flower pots. Create colorful, do-it-yourself flower pots with your spouse and children, using just terra cotta clay pots, paintbrushes, and acrylic paints. Optionally, you can use paint pens and stencils for more precise details.

    Once again, tailor the activity to your comfort level and to your children’s ages. If you are crafting with very young children, choose just one or two colors to paint your flower pots. Paint the flower pots a solid color or practice painting the top one color and the bottom a different color. Of course, older children can be given much more freedom. Buy multiple paint colors, and encourage them to explore. Whether that means painting stripes, geometric shapes, dots, or pictures onto their flower pots, encourage them to express themselves and be creative.

    Once your flower pots are complete, team up with kids to order flowers online and then plant them.

  • Colorful, one-of-a-kind bookmarks. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) bookmarks are a great winter day activity. Create beautiful and unique watercolor bookmarks using watercolor paper, watercolor paints, paintbrushes, a hole punch, and string. Another option is to cut shapes out of brightly colored felt or foam sheets and glue them onto paperclips.
  • Make homemade slime. Kids love slime. Plan a winter day activity that kids will truly look forward to — and request to do over and over again. Craft fluffy, textured slime by combining glue, shaving cream, baking soda, and saline solution. For a full list of ingredients and instructions, visit a reliable craft website. The slime will stay pliable for one to two days, and parents and children can reactivate dried out slime by holding it under warm water.

Plan a Family Spa Day

Sometimes, what you need most is to relax. That is where a family spa day comes in. Don’t overthink this one. It is not recreating a true-to-life spa experience, like one that may include qualified medical professionals, Botox, and a face lift procedure. Rather, it is picking and choosing spa day activities that you can easily adapt into a family activity and enjoy at home. Here is what that might look like:

  • Create the scene. What would a spa day be without the proper attire and setting? Start by changing into fluffy white robes. Find some slippers to put on before pedicures. Keep it light-hearted and fun. If your children only have oversized, bunny-shaped slippers, so be it. They’ll serve the same purpose, and they might even make your child laugh!

    Set out snacks and refreshments. Make it feel special. Arrange fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, finger sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly will work just fine), and cookies on a tiered tea tray. Pour ice-cold water and/or strawberry lemonade into an ornate glass or plastic bottles and complete the look with colorful, striped paper straws.

  • Start with the basics, like manicures and pedicures. A spa day can absolutely be a fun, family-friend winter day activity, especially if you stick to the basics. Do your own manicure (and one for your little kids) by applying cuticle oil, trimming nails, painting nails, and making them look especially fancy with small embellishments, like nail art gems or stickers. Follow the same steps for a pedicure, but soak feet in warm water with bath salts or in ice water with ice cubes. Massage your feet and your child’s or children’s with hypoallergic lotion for the full effect.

    Male partners and boys can take part, too! If they are adamantly against painting their nails, simply trim nails and apply cuticle oil, and have them soak and exfoliate their feet — something everyone can enjoy.

  • Wrap up your day with simple facial masks. Just about all young children want to be just like mom. Let them — and enjoy a soothing facial mask while you are at it. Apply a facial mask to your own skin. Chances are, your child will want to try it out too. Carefully apply the same mask to your child’s skin. You can purchase all-natural or allergen-free masks at most stores, or make your own masks from all-natural ingredients at home.

A spa day is the perfect winter day activity. Relax, and make it fun. Don’t forget the small details, like a fluffy white robe, fancy refreshments, and flexible, foam toe separators for pedicures.

Update Your Basement

If your basement desperately needs a little TLC, tackle the project as a family. First, before calling in a flooring contractor and ripping up that old, musty-smelling rug, sit down together as a family and brainstorm how you would like to use the space. Do you need the space for a playroom? Would you spend more time together as a family if you converted the basement into a home theater? Would it be the perfect spot for a private and spacious teen bedroom?

Once you come to an agreement, you can start from there.

As with any other family-friendly, winter-day activity, adjust your plans accordingly. If you have small children, chances are you — as the parents — will tackle the big stuff. Let children paint large, open swaths of the walls (parts you can easily touch up and fix), or narrow your favorite color schemes down into a few top picks and ask your child to help you choose. If you are converting the space into a playroom, ask for your child’s input. You may be able to accommodate their wishes — within reason. For example, if your child requests a pirate-themed playroom with a pirate ship, that is something you can do. You can purchase actual play equipment that looks like a pirate ship or paint a large, pirate ship mural on the wall.

Of course, preteens and teenagers can take a much more active role. If you are converting the basement into a home theater, take them to the store with you to test out chairs and couches. Ask them if they have any ideas, and what would make your home theater seem more authentic to them.

Reorganize Your Kitchen

Sometimes, a winter day activity does not have to be strictly fun. You can also reserve this time to get stuff done around the house and make practical changes. For example, use a cold winter day to reorganize your kitchen.

For the best results:

  • Take care of the big stuff first. If you are still waiting on a brand new countertop installation or new cabinets, now is not the time to reorganize your kitchen. Take care of these large projects first. That way, you save yourself valuable time and energy. With any luck, you will only have to reorganize your kitchen once, not several times before and after you complete home improvement projects.
  • Open up your kitchen layout. One of the challenges of cooking and preparing meals with young children can be working in a cramped space. If at all possible, choose open kitchen layouts — and open layouts between the kitchen and dining room or kitchen and living room.
  • Involve the entire family. Once you have the foundation set, you can begin working on the smaller details. Like anything else, reorganizing the kitchen can be a family bonding activity. If you are constantly retrieving healthy snacks for your kiddos, reorganizing the kitchen can be an opportunity to teach them some autonomy and responsibility. For example, if you choose to reorganize the pantry with canisters and bins, consider arranging bins with family members’ names on the bottom shelves. Place healthy, parent-approved snacks inside. That way, your child can grab a snack from his or her bin, and you can be comfortable with the food choices they are making.

Let Your Kids Play Restaurant

Are you longing to dine at your favorite waterfront restaurant? Unfortunately, it may be some time yet — due to the global pandemic and the chilly winter months. You can, however, recreate the experience of dining at a fancy restaurant with your children. Ask them to play restaurant and make your food.

Have them set out nice plates, tea lights, and cloth napkins on the patio. Help them prepare dishes. Children can lay out rolls for baking, stir ingredients, or retrieve the items you need from the kitchen and pantry.

With some extra care, they may even be able to help you with the entire meal (or close to it). For example, make it a pizza night. Teach kids to roll out pre-made dough and spoon sauce on top. Leave out bowls with toppings on the kitchen table or counter, and allow kids to choose what toppings to put on their pizza.

Try Yoga

Are you getting countless Facebook ads for muscle ache remedies and physical therapy? Of course, any time you injure yourself, it is best to consult with your doctor. Follow his or her recommendations, whether that includes medication and/or physical therapy. If they clear it, there are many exercises that can help strengthen your muscles and improve your range of motion after an injury. One of the most effective forms of exercise for recovery is yoga. Plus, you can make it into a winter day activity, bring the children along, and bond together as a family, too.

Do your research. There are several Mommy and Me yoga classes available. For now, many of them are likely to be virtual. Other classes are designed specifically for children. Yet others still are created for the whole family, including moms, dads, and children of all ages.

Step Inside a Local Bookstore

Turn running errands into a fun, winter day activity by concluding your outing with a family trip to the bookstore. Allow kids to explore, and choose one book to bring home. Space out trips to the bookstore to make buying kids a book each time more practical, or invite kids to use their allowance to buy as many books and trinkets as they like.

A winter day activity can be simple, practical, and fun for the whole family! Bond with your children over an at-home spa day, trip to the bookstore, family exercise class, or arts and crafts.