Kids crave it, parents dread it, commuters fear it. It’s oh-so pretty when it’s falling down…as long as you can keep yourself from doing the same. (More on that later.)
After you’ve located winter boots, checked the water pipes, and dug out the shovel, it’s time to start thinking about fun things to do during and after a storm.
Here are a few suggestions to inspire you to get the most out of your home and neighborhood on a snow day…or (shudder!) five.
For the kids
1. Go out for a walk or light hike to avoid cabin fever and experience your neighborhood as a snow globe. Dress everyone in layers, so that as the activity level increases items can be peeled away and stowed. Bring along a daypack, unless your secret desire is to have a lost glove or mitten be made famous by Tom Hanks.
Flyhomes tip: Take “cozy” to the next level with disposable hand and toe warmers.
2. Making snow angels and building snow people are a given, but for even more-artistic fun – especially if the snow cover isn’t very deep – have kids try their hand at snow painting. Just fill squeeze bottles with food coloring-tinted water and let your budding Jackson Pollocks go nuts.
Flyhomes tip: Shop online or visit the nearest restaurant supply or warehouse club store to find bargain priced squeeze bottles, available in a range of sizes.
3. Bake cookies. We wouldn’t dream of telling you what kind you should make (**cough**CHOCOLATE CHIP**cough**!) , but there’s hardly a more homey, snowy-day-spent-inside, kid-friendly activity than baking cookies.
Flyhomes tip: While the oven heats up and between baking each sheet, set the bowl of dough outside to chill – way easier than trying to find room in the fridge. Why? Chilling makes the dough easier to scoop, controls spread during baking, concentrates flavor, enhances browning, and lends the perfect chewy-crisp texture to the finished product.
4. If you have a fireplace, pile pillows and blankets around the hearth and gather the troops. Pull out some board games or a deck of cards (Crazy Eights or Old Maid, anyone?), or have kids pick a beloved book to read together by the fire’s glow. If the fire is made from actual wood (not a Duraflame or Pres-To-Log), you can even roast wienies and make S’mores for a tasty snack.
Flyhomes tip: No fireplace? No worries. As long as the snowstorm isn’t paired with a power outage, turn on the TV and stream Netflix’s crackling-good “Fireplace For Your Home,” (Season 1, Episode 2 ), or the PBS Newshour “Fireplace / Yule Log,” free on YouTube.
5. Organize a mini film festival. Ask each kid to choose a movie (you’ve already seen “Frozen” ninety-eight times – what’s one more?), turn off the lights, and let the fun begin. To make it seem more like a real trip to the movie theater, hand out a few dollars to spend. Print and “sell” tickets and have them pay for their own snacks. (Encourage healthy habits by charging triple for popcorn and candy what you charge for, say, apple slices and carrot sticks, and let them keep whatever cash they have left.)
Flyhomes tip: Streaming services, including DisneyPlus, offer a vast array of choices, and even if you don’t subscribe to any, most offer a free week to sample their offerings, no strings attached.
6. Feed the birds. Frigid weather can be tough on feathered friends, so keep them fat and happy with homemade feeders, such as suet-based balls. (Also put out bowls of drinking water and replace if they freeze solid.) Check here for great, kid-friendly project ideas.
Flyhomes tip: Squirrels, active year-round, also like noshing on bird food. To deter them so the birds get to eat, construct or encase the feeder pole using PVC pipe, which is too slippery for squirrels to grip, or thread the post through a Slinky that doesn’t touch the ground.
Bonus winter weather tip: Do you have friends with kids who live nearby? Take turns entertaining the youngsters so each parent gets time off.
For the grownups
1. Walk to a restaurant for lunch or dinner. Snowy weather is a great excuse to bundle up and trek to a neighborhood dining destination or watering hole – you’ll work up an appetite on the outbound journey, and burn off a few calories on the way home. Public places are extra friendly during a storm, so expect to meet a few neighbors.
Flyhomes tip: Confirm the opening hours of your destination before you head off.
2. Find out if you can help elderly neighbors who need extra assistance. You can shovel a walkway, go grocery shopping or pick up prescriptions, wrap any exposed pipes, and make sure their heating is working properly. Assure them that you’ll check back regularly. Get their phone number, as well as contact information for a relative or friend. It will make everyone feel more secure to know you’re looking out for them, and it’ll feel good to lend a helping hand.
Flyhomes tip: Here’s a list of things to help with eldercare during inclement weather.
3. If the holidays have come and gone without your sending greeting cards to your nearest and dearest, or even if you did, settle into a comfy seat next to a window as the snow falls and write a few letters. Texting and instant messaging have made it easier than ever before to stay in touch, but nothing beats a hand-written note in a hand-addressed envelope.
Flyhomes tip: You cannot write to your mom or grandmother too often. Trust us on this one.
4. Make soup. There’s no better comfort food than a bowl of hearty soup, and the beauty is that if you start with quality basics (onions, garlic, celery carrots, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, spices, dried or canned beans, dried or fresh herbs), it’s hard to mess up – feel free to improvise with whatever you have on hand. If the result is too salty, add a diced potato. If the flavor needs brightening, squeeze in lemon juice before serving. If your chunky soup is overcooked, blend it in the pot using an immersion blender. Possibilities are endless and very forgiving.
Flyhomes tip: Keep soup-friendly flavors available with frozen herb cubes.
5. If the weather forces you to stay home, indulge in an at-home spa day. Light a few scented candles, put out plush towels and a cozy robe, pour yourself a glass of wine, add bubbles to your hot bath, and voila! you’ll feel like you’re at an exclusive resort. (Don’t forget to slather on moisturizer afterwards – cold weather is brutal on the skin.)
Flyhomes tip: Men deserve pampering, too. What happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom.
6. Hot cocktails taste even better when the mercury drops and snow piles up. To make grownups-only cocoa, add a splash of liqueur, such as Rumplemintz peppermint schnapps, Cointreau, Amaretto, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and others. You can’t go wrong with a classic coffee nudge or Irish Coffee. (And while fresh whipped cream is preferable, whipped cream from a can – or whipped coconut cream, for lactose-sensitive imbibers – works just fine.)
Flyhomes tip: Use ceramic mugs or cups made from tempered glass, and always preheat with boiling water for warm-to-the-last drop delectability.
Bonus tip: Winter fun can be ruined in an instant if you or a loved one takes a fall. Learn to walk defensively on icy surfaces – like a penguin.