10 Must-Do Activities for Your Winter Bucket List

More parenting resources

Short days, long nights and a serious lack of Vitamin D can make winter the dreariest of seasons for many of us. And if you’re a parent or a nanny, you’ve probably noticed that kiddos seem to catch cabin fever immediately following the December holidays. Never fear: We’ve put together a list of 10 activities that will help you and your kids celebrate the season. The next time you hear, “I’m bored,” we recommend trying some of these:

  1. Splash at an indoor waterpark. So what if the weather outside is frightful? Take a break from chilly temps and head to the nearest indoor waterpark where you and the kids can revel in a little bit of summer fun. No waterpark in your area? Check local gyms and rec centers with indoor pools for family swim times. (Just make sure the pool is heated.)
  2. Seek out the perfect hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is one of those seasonal treats that kids and adults can’t get enough of in the winter months. While you probably don’t want to encourage too many sugar rushes, set a goal to check out a different restaurant, coffee shop or dessert café once a week to taste test their recipe. By the time spring rolls around, your kids will be the experts on the best hot cocoa in town.
  3. Spend a day volunteering. Even if you have young children, there are plenty of ways to volunteer, and winter is the perfect time to give back to your community. Check with local non-profits, schools and nursing homes for existing service opportunities. Not sure where to start? Choose an easy project you and the kids can do at home, like making cards and putting together care packages for U.S. servicemen and women.
  4. Read a chapter book or start a series. Use the coziest of seasons to encourage your child’s love of reading. For younger children who are just beginning to learn to read, choose a longer book you can read sections of together each night, like the Magic Treehouse Series, which has short chapters and pictures. For older children who are reading on their own, select a book from a popular series you will both enjoy, like Harry Potter, then discuss the chapters—your own little winter book club.
  5. Sort and donate gently used toys. Do the winter months give you the urge to purge? Get your kids involved in the project by asking them to go through old toys. Gently used toys can be donated to charities—Goodwill is a great place to start, but also check with local early childhood programs that may appreciate the opportunity to restock their toy bins.
  6. Have a PJ day. While we don’t recommend spending the entire winter season in your pajamas (though that can be tempting), pick a special day when the whole family can lounge around in their PJs. Choose a few movies, make some popcorn and other treats and cuddle on the couch with the kids.
  7. Host a cookie swap. Winter has a way of bringing out the baker in all of us. Embrace it. Baking is a great activity for kids of all ages. Little ones can help measure and mix; older kids can take the lead on following a recipe (under the supervision of a parent or sitter, of course). Then share the goodies. Invite friends or neighbors over to swap cookies and other baked goods.
  8. Paint the snow. Need a change from your typical snow play? Break out a few spray bottles, fill them with water plus a few drops of food coloring and head back outside. Let your kids get creative with this easy “painting” project that won’t make a mess in the house.
  9. Plan an outdoor winter adventure. Stave off cabin fever with a dose of the great outdoors (just make sure kids are properly bundled up and the wind chill doesn’t dip below 10 degrees). Take the opportunity to get active and try something new—rent snow shoes or fat bikes (yes, fat biking is a thing) and head to a local forest preserve or bike trail, find an ice rink that teaches the Canadian sport of curling, or stick to a classic like skiing, tubing, snowboarding or ice skating.
  10. Create a holiday card collage. Wondering what to do with the dozens of holiday cards your family received in December? Instead of tossing them in the trash or shoving them into a draw, break out the scissors, a piece of poster board and glue and have your kids make a collage featuring your family and friends. It’s a fun way to repurpose cards and honor the people in your life.