21 Ways To Stay Busy This Winter

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When we were children, getting cooped up during the winter usually meant hours of playtime. These days, it’s all about thinking of adult winter activities to help pass the time. Of course, I'm sure we all have a list of boring errands that we need to do. But who says we can't have some downtime? We totally deserve to get in on the fun.

Despite all of the responsibilities that comes with adulting, “playtime” is so much more exciting. There are significantly less rules than when we were children. Want to browse DIY books until midnight? You can. Feeling like eating a snack for a meal? Go for it. You can make anything happen.

Personally, I love the downtime that comes with hiding out during the winter months. It’s the best time to just take it slow, organize my life, and practice some of my favorite hobbies. Plus, there’s nothing quite like curling up with a new book and a cup of hot tea. Part of me wishes I could do this all year round.

With the right mindset and inspiration, you can make winter hibernation awesome. Here are 21 ideas to get you started!

1. Try A New Hot Drink Recipe

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During the winter months, you can't go wrong with a simple cup of coffee or tea. Why not switch things up and make a new hot drink recipe? It's a great way to experiment with ingredient combinations you have yet to try.

For example, this lavender earl grey tea latte by Sift & Simmer sounds ah-mazing.

Personally, I love making spiced hot apple cider with orange slices and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Simply combine all the ingredients in a pot and simmer over medium heat for five minutes. Done and done.

2. Plan A Road Trip


It might be too cold to trek outside, but that doesn't mean warmer days are on the horizon. Get yourself pumped for spring and summer by planning your next mini getaway, even if it's just an hour or two away.

Don't limit your research to restaurants and shops, though. When planning your trip, look for museums, art galleries, and other scenic locations that are iconic to the area.

Here's a tip: Visit the city or town's official website. Often, towns will have a calendar of local events and happenings. Poke around on social media, too. Between Facebook events and Instagram tags, you'll be able to get an idea of what's going on in the area.

3. Start A Vacation Fund

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Want to plan a real getaway? Now is an excellent time to start. First, decide how much you'll need (or want) to spend on your vacation. Be realistic and specific. Once you've determined an exact dollar amount, you can calculate how much you'll need to save each week or month to reach that goal.

By knowing a specific dollar amount, you'll have a clear-cut number to guide your saving endeavors.

Next, consider setting up a secondary checking account to save up for your dream vacation. You can also kick it old school and collect spare change in a jar. Every little bit counts.

4. Plan A Brunch


How often do you get to wake up late and eat brunch with friends? This winter, plan a brunch or two with your best pals. It can even double as a play date if you and your friends have kids.

Make it fun by taking on new breakfast recipes that you haven't tried yet. To get everyone involved, set up a cereal or breakfast taco bar. You can also incorporate activities like crafts or

5. Spike Hot Chocolate

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Drinking hot chocolate is a must during the winter months. But since you're a real-life adult, you can even spike it with your favorite alcohol.

One idea is to combine red wine and hot chocolate. (Yes, it's a thing!) To make it, simply simmer one cup of milk over medium heat. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of chocolate chunks and stir until melted. Mix in 1/2 to 3/4 cup of red wine, and you've got yourself red wine hot chocolate.

The fun doesn't stop there, though. We have an entire list of alcohol options to spike hot chocolate with. The hardest part will be choosing which one to make next.

6. Spike Coffee


If you're craving more oomph in your winter beverage, spike your coffee. It's a wonderful way to kick off your day when you're craving that something extra.

Delicious ideas include Kahlúa, Bailey's Irish Cream, peppermint schnapps, and hazelnut liqueur.

By the way, if you plan to host a winter brunch, spiked coffee and hot chocolate would be a hit. Just saying.

7. Redecorate Your Space

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The start of the new year is an excellent time to give your space a fresh makeover. Besides, things can get a little boring when you're staring at the same decor for too long. Even just moving things around and hanging up new artwork can do wonders.

If you're on a budget, don't pressure yourself to drop tons of cash. The thrift store is an amazing place to find inexpensive decorations.

For some beautiful inspiration, check out these home decor books.

8. Clean Out Your Wardrobe

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A little early spring cleaning never hurt anyone. Besides, when you’re stuck inside during the cold winter months, you might as well get productive. Take the time to go through your wardrobe and get rid of anything that no longer “sparks joy.” We gotta make Marie Kondo proud, you guys.

It’s the perfect chance to plan a capsule wardrobe, too. The process will take time and practice, but it can do wonders for simplifying your life. By paring down your closet to the absolute basics, you can be sure that you’ll get the most out of each piece.

9. Dye Your Clothes

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While you're at it, pick a few clothes that could use some revitalizing. You'd be amazed at what you can transform with a little fabric dye. This technique is ideal for saving stained or discolored clothing. For example, a white shirt stained with red wine can be saved with a packet of burgundy or black fabric dye.

Before buying dye, double check the material of your clothing. Most fabric dyes can be used for natural fabrics like cotton or linen. But if you’d like to dye synthetic material like acrylic or polyester, you’ll have to get fabric dye specifically designed for such fabrics.

10. Update Your Jackets


Whether you’re looking to get creative or spruce up your wardrobe, nothing beats a simple DIY project. One idea is to transform your black leather jacket with studs, pins, or patches. By the time spring rolls around, it's like you'll have an entirely new jacket.

Don’t forget about your denim jackets too. Embroidery is an awesome option, especially if you’ve been wanting to learn how to stitch fabric.

11. Try A New Beauty Routine


Thanks to YouTube and Pinterest, makeup and hair tutorials are just a click away. Winter provides the perfect chance to spend time indoors and experiment to your heart's content. Who knows, maybe you'll find a new look that you actually love.

If you’re craving a creative project, you can also treat yourself to a home spa treatment. It’s inexpensive, easy and fun!

12. Give Yourself A Manicure


Learning how to give yourself an at-home manicure is one of the best ways to save some cash. Plus, it can come in handy when it's too cold to trek to the salon. Nothing like DIY beauty at its finest.

This can be part of your at-home spa treatment or a “just because” treat for yourself. Top it off with a soothing hand soak and you’re all set.

13. Clear Your Browser's Bookmarks


Admittedly, this probably sounds like a tedious administrative task. But we're all guilty of storing too many links on our browser. It can get pretty overwhelming, especially when you need to find that one link.

This winter, tidy up your digital life by deleting links that you no longer need. Use Pinterest to your advantage and save important pages onto boards for safekeeping. Organize your links into different folders, too. See you never, digital clutter!

14. Make A Scrapbook

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Take last year's memories off your phone and onto paper by creating a homemade scrapbook. Printing services like Social Print Studio and Shutterfly are perfect for the job. This way, you won't have to depend on social media to remember the good times.

Scrapbooking will also flex your creative muscles while keeping you occupied for hours. You can even turn into a family activity by getting your kids or partner involved.

15. Volunteer From Home

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Thanks to technology, you can lend a hand without ever leaving your home. Many organizations need volunteers to run social media accounts, do administrative work, or send e-mails. Others collect homemade gifts such as toys or greeting cards.

These items, which can be made at home and mailed to the organization, are then distributed to hospital patients or homeless families.

Not sure where to start? Check out VolunteerMatch, Indeed, and your town's local listings.

16. Learn How To Crochet

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Crocheting is awesome for two reasons. First, your brain will get a stellar workout. Second, you'll be able to make a scarf to protect your neck from the cold. It's a win-win.

There are hundreds of beginner crochet tutorial videos on YouTube. Once you master a few basic stitches, you can also refer to crochet blogs or videos to make a specific project.

17. Discover New Hiking Spots

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Are you longing for warmer weather and longer days? I'm right there with you. Try prepping yourself for the spring and summer by researching new hiking trails to explore. Once the warm weather hits, you'll be more than ready to go on a new adventure.

The Outbound Collective is an awesome source for hikers. You can search through trails and paths by location, difficulty, and features like "family friendly" or "easy parking." The website also has sections for tours and lodging.

18. Make A Winter Salad


From the rich flavors to the filling toppings, there's something so cozy about winter salads. This winter, consider trying out a few new recipes. You never know what your taste buds will fall in love with.

Winter veggies like Brussels sprouts, chard, and carrots are fair game. Ingredients like dried cranberries and pomegranate seeds can also add that seasonal touch. For a dish that’s delicious and filling, make a warm salad with protein-packed lentils or quinoa. Yum.

19. Make A Candy Cane Treat


Now that the holidays have passed, you might have a ton of leftover candy canes laying around. Why not put them to good use by whipping up a delicious candy cane dessert?

Crushed candy canes can be added to brownies, cookie dough, or ice cream. Another option is to make Rice Krispie treats and mix in pieces of candy canes. Some people even crush the candy canes into a fine powder and make candy cane sugar scrubs.

20. Call A Friend

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It's not uncommon to lose touch with friends over time. This is especially true when people start taking on new jobs, relationships, and families. Top it off with a winter slump and things can get pretty bland. Instead of succumbing to all of this, call an old friend. The simple act of catching up can seriously uplift your mood.

In fact, according to the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, social interactions like conversations are crucial for mental health.

21. Meditate


Instead of staring at Instagram all day, take some time to meditate by doing yoga or simple breathing exercises. Meditation can boost your brain health, de-stress, and take a break from adult life.

You don't even need a lot of time. According to Mayo Clinic, just a few minutes of meditation could help promote calmness and reduce negative feelings.

This article was originally published on January 17, 2016 and was updated on June 28, 2019.

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