For many of us, money’s never tighter than around the winter season. Holiday shopping, Thanksgiving groceries, and trips to visit friends and family members can drain your checking account faster than you think.
But in between big holiday celebrations, you still need things to do in your free time, especially if you have kids out of school looking for entertainment. Let’s break down some cheap or free – but always fun! – things to do in winter that won’t break the bank.
Ice skating is a classic cheap winter activity; dust off those skates and give it a go! Take a look at Google Maps and see if your town has a local ice-skating rink. Most ice rinks open around October and stay open until February or March. There’s no better time to enjoy ice skating than in the brisk winter air, preferably with a cup of hot chocolate keeping your hands warm as you do figure eights.
Even if you’ve never skated before, give this fun winter activity a try; you might find the outdoor exercise to be the perfect remedy after a long week at work.
Snowball fights don’t just have to be for kids! In fact, they’re a fun cold-weather activity for the whole family. As soon as the first big snow hits, head outdoors and start flinging snowballs with abandon. Snowball fights are fun, furious, and, most importantly, a totally free winter activity! Just be careful not to hit the neighbors (unless they want to join in).
If you’re not feeling particularly feisty, focus on building a snowman instead. Remember to tell all the fighting warriors around you that your snowman is off-limits so they don’t accidentally bombard your snowy creation.
Zoos and aquariums are affordable outings, and they’re an ideal thing to do for the whole family. Plus, many of them are indoors, offering a reprieve from the cold weather outside.
Check the website for your local zoo or aquarium to see if they have discounted tickets for families, students, or kids of all ages. These public attractions are perfect ways to break up the pattern of yet another weekend at home while you watch the snow fall outside.
The winter months also bring fun opportunities for scavenger hunts. A great thing to do around the holiday season, you can usually find scavenger hunts put together by local schools, scavenger hunt communities, and even bars (to inspire people to try their beverages between clues).
A good scavenger hunt will get you out and about, even though it’s cold outside, helping you stretch your legs and meet new people. Who knows? A scavenger hunt might even show you a part of your city you’ve never seen before. You can keep new spots in mind to visit again when the weather turns warmer.
Winter cold doesn’t have to be depressing. It can also be the perfect opportunity to light a fire, roast marshmallows, and cuddle under blankets outdoors as you spend time with your favorite folks. Bonfire nights are a perfect winter activity and excellent opportunities to swap stories, reconnect with family you haven’t seen all year and eat so many s’mores that you stuff yourself full (just don’t spoil your dinner!).
For a bigger winter celebration, invite tons of guests and tell them to bring ingredients for hot dogs, s’mores, hot chocolate, mulled wine, or hot apple cider. A wintertime backyard barbecue could be much more fun than you initially think, and it won’t cost much at all.
Odds are, a few of your neighbors have gotten well into the holiday spirit and decorated their homes with dazzling arrays of twinkling lights. If you’re lucky, you might have one or more local neighborhoods where everyone participates in this holiday tradition.
If you’re looking for something free to do this winter, hop in the car and take a scenic drive through these neighborhoods to marvel at the lengths people go to decorate their homes. If you’re in the mood, you might join in on the festivities and decorate your own home with holiday lights, snowmen, and giant front yard candy canes. You could also fill your windows with inexpensive decorations like beautiful paper snowflakes.
There are plenty of cheap things to do without leaving the comfort of your home this winter as you conserve money throughout the season. Purchase some baking supplies, then have fun making gingerbread men, gingerbread art, , and anything else gingerbread-themed you can think of.
With the right setup and enough space in your kitchen, you’ll pass a weekend day baking your troubles away without even noticing it. Gingerbread crafts are exceptionally fun things to do with your kids or grandkids when it’s cold outside. Plus, you get to eat your art after it’s finished!
As the days get shorter, you have much more time to enjoy your favorite holiday movies. Get everyone together in the living room, turn up the TV, and make some popcorn. Winter movie marathons are perfect ways to pass the long nights and keep everyone together as you wait out the latest storm.
Have a fireplace? Light it at the beginning of a favorite flick and let the flames crackle pleasantly while you feast your eyes on modern movie spectacles.
Do you know what’s perfect for getting the cold out of your bones and forcing your muscles to relax at the end of a long day or after a perilous drive home on icy roads? A stay-at-home spa.
If you need something relaxing to do this winter, grab some cheap bubble bath, a cucumber, and your favorite wine, then draw yourself a hot bath while lighting some candles. Put some cucumber slices on your eyes, lean back, and just breathe. In no time at all, the steamy, warm air of your bathroom will make you forget that it’s winter outside in the first place. This fun thing to do in winter is perfect for folks who can’t wait for the return of summer or anyone who keeps looking at the calendar in February, wondering where all the holiday joy went.
In the end, winter can be a fun season, even if you don’t throw a lot of cash around. Keep these fun winter activities in mind the next time a cold weekend rolls around, and you’re looking for a new, fun, or cheap winter activity but don’t want to spend money on an expensive outing.
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