The first time we took our son to Florida during the winter, he laid down in the grass and asked us, “Why don’t we live somewhere where it’s always summer?” This time of year, I always ask myself the same thing.
I always wished I had those snowbird retired parents who bought a beach house and flew south where we could escape to every winter. Instead, my parents are snowbirds in their own right – the birds that got turned around and somehow arrived where it’s even more winter, in northern Wisconsin. Their secret for loving winter? A passion for cold-weather activities and the rituals that only winter brings: cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, crackling wood fires, homemade stews, fresh baked bread, and steaming mugs of tea. While most dread a single digit forecast, they look forward to the icy frost that announces the arrival of their favorite pastimes.
Because I’m not moving and winter isn’t either, I’m determined to find ways to make it a season I look forward to. Here is a list of ways to hate winter less, inspired by my winter-loving parents.
FIND WAYS TO CONNECT
Winter can be isolating and lonely. Without natural run-ins at the playground or walking around your neighborhood, seeing friends needs to be more intentional. Find ways to connect in creative ways you might not in the warmer months.
- Start or join a book club. My husband and I host the “I Read A Book Club” where people come and share any book they have read instead of all reading the same one.
- Do a soup swap with a friend. My friend and I meet every Sunday to exchange a different soup for lunches that week.
- Try a coffee shop crawl with your girlfriends or make it a winter goal to find your favorite latte in town.
- Invite friends for easy gatherings – nacho night, takeout appetizers, or a big pot of spaghetti. We recently had friends over and fried up random chicken nuggets and bagel bites from our freezer.
- Find someone passionate about their winter hobby and ask to join/learn. Some ideas: skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, ice fishing, ice skating, sledding, fat biking, broomball, curling, or start training for a marathon. Soko Outfitters and Indian Creek Nature Center often lead guided hikes or yoga classes.
As I write this in my black leggings and white sweater, I could easily camouflage into my backyard of bare trees and a dusting of snow on the ground. Winter can be so dreary and ugly. Find ways to bring color into your home and life.
- Buy a new plant at a greenhouse or plan for your summer garden. If houseplants intimidate you, start with a hanging Pothos or Snake Plant. Head to your library and check out books on gardening, landscaping, or houseplants. Wild Interiors and A Year in Flowers are two of my favorite coffee table books for their beautiful photos.
- Create a fairy garden or terrarium with your kids.
- Pass by the tenth pair of black leggings you’re tempted to buy and grab something vibrant and fun instead.
- Buy flowers from your local flower shop (I love Kismet Coffee + Bloom) or go to Trader Joe’s and buy bunches of greens and blooms to try your own hand at flower arranging.
- Take care of your dry winter skin with a mani/pedi. Grab a friend and commit to some neon colors with lots of sparkles.
Embrace the Scandinavian concept of hygge, which refers to a sense of coziness and contentment.
- Buy new loungewear, slippers, or furry blankets.
- Create a winter drink tray with tea, hot cocoa, coffee, and special winter mugs.
- Light candles and switch your light bulbs to warmer temperatures. If you have little kids, I love flickering battery-operated candles.
- Start a gratitude practice and make sure to spend time with friends who also embrace winter. Head to Scribe Stationer for all your pen/journal needs.
- Make a cup of tea and go through your phone’s camera roll. Pick photos to print and reflect on the past year and all that you’ve come through.
SPEND TIME CREATING
In a season that feels stagnant and desolate, breathe life into new traditions and creations.
- Start new family traditions exclusive to the winter months: put together a puzzle every week, have a movie night with homemade pizza, stay at a hotel with an indoor swimming pool, set up obstacle courses and barriers for nerf gun battles, host an at-home spa day, or have a board game marathon.
- Create an art cart and place it by the dining room table or kitchen island, wherever your kids gather. Along with markers, crayons, colored pencils, and papers, I stock ours with washi tape, beads for bracelets, and recycled materials. For older kids, try skinny markers and coloring books from their favorite singer/tv show or an intricate paint by number.
- Create a new look in your home. Simply rearranging furniture, moving decorations from one room to another, or decluttering can provide a big impact and fresh feel. Or perhaps use winter to tackle a fun project, like painting the inside of your closet or putting wallpaper on an accent wall. Get your kids involved by helping redecorate their rooms too.
- Create a new routine. If you’re not a new year’s goal-setting gal, consider creating just one new routine during the winter months. It might be a morning/evening routine, skin care routine, bedtime routine for your kids, workout routine, or date night routine.
- Cook through family recipes, master a signature cocktail, or try a culinary class. Find a friend whose cooking/baking you admire and ask for a tutorial. Enjoy new foods, include your kids in making their favorite meals, and create fun memories too.
And like all the hearty Scandinavians would tell you, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” While I would adamantly disagree during every polar vortex when my boogers freeze around my nose piercing, there is something to be said about dressing appropriately.
Throughout the years, I have purchased winter coats that keep getting longer and longer. My husband bought me a vest for Christmas that turns me into the Michelin Man’s doppelganger. Take the J. Crew Chateau Parka out of your shopping cart. Find the longest, warmest, puffiest coat possible that will cover you head to toe.
Happy wintering, my fellow Iowans! And if you do have those true snowbird parents who don’t head north, please invite me to their beach house.
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