Just because winter is famous for its expensive indoor and outdoor activities, that doesn’t mean you can’t thoroughly enjoy the season on a budget.
Here are five outdoor activities that are more affordable than renting a ski chalet, and five indoor activities much cheaper than going to a spa. No offense to ski chalets or spas, either, but sometimes you just need to get through winter without spending that much money!
Fun and Affordable Outdoor Winter Activities
Getting out there on a rink for the first time in a year is fun whether your skating skills are more Bambi-on-ice or more should-have-played-in-the-NHL. If you’re an infrequent skater and you don’t have your own pair, there are usually a lot of places that will rent you skates for the afternoon, which is way cheaper than springing for your own pair.
To make a day of it - or at least an afternoon - pack a few small snacks and a Thermos of hot cider or hot chocolate to take along with you. It’ll warm you right up, and keep you going as you skate laps with your friends.
Building Snow Forts and Snowmen
When there’s an epic snowfall and you have an afternoon free, there’s nothing better than indulging your inner child and building a snow fort or a snowman in your front yard - or the nearest park.
Do it up right by making sure you’ve got all your snow gear ready, because no one likes having cold, soaking wet gloves on while you’re out frolicking in the snow. If you’re going with the snowman route, you should also bring all of his accessories along - you know, a carrot nose, an old scarf, that kind of thing.
And if you’re building a fort? Well, don’t get too sure of your architectural skills and try to put a roof on it. More likely than not, it’ll cave in and cover you with snow - unless you actually are an architect, in which case, have at it.
Speeding down a hill as fast as you can on a slippery sled has all the thrill of skiing without the steep price tag of a lift pass, or quite as high a chance of getting injured.
Gather up some friends, toss on your snow pants, and head out to the nearest snow-covered hill to have an exhilarating afternoon of snowy fun. If none of you have a toboggan with you, pick up some cheap plastic ones at your nearest Walmart or home store, and trust me - the return on your $10 investment will be more than worth it!
A Snowball Fight
If your friends are too competitive to be content just playing in the snow, why not make it a competitive activity? Think paintball, but instead of all the gear you’d need, you rely on snow as your weapon of choice.
Gather up two teams, and set some ground rules - are you out as soon as you get hit with a snowball? Is it like a capture-the-flag kind of event? Once you’re all clear on the aim of the game, let the snowballs fly!
Taking a Winter Walk
For the more peaceful members of your squad, if you bundle up properly, a walk in the winter wonderland outside could be a great way to get out of your home. Wooded trails are a great option in the winter, as long as you’re prepared with proper footwear, because there’s nothing prettier than a snowy forest.
If the snow is really too deep, or you want to venture off-trail (you adventurer, you!) then check to see if your local outdoor store rents snowshoes. They’ll be invaluable at getting you off the beaten path without being up to your knees in snow!
Fun and Affordable Indoor Winter Activities
Hosting a Hot Chocolate Party
We’re all familiar with basic hot chocolate. But if you’ve never tested the boundaries of what hot chocolate can be, you need to host a hot chocolate party for your friends or roommates, stat.
Have everyone bring a variation on their favorite hot chocolate, while you supply the basics, like milk and whipped cream. You’ll get to try a whole variety of warm, sugary goodness, from white hot chocolate, to peppermint hot chocolate, to hot chocolate that’s basically half mini-marshmallows. It’s the perfect day in on a snowy afternoon - yes, even the ensuing sugar coma.
Nothing’s cooler than someone asking you where you got your awesome scarf, and being able to reply that actually, you made it. But to get to that point, first you need to… well, make it.
There are tons of free tutorials on how to tackle knitting projects as a complete beginner online. Since scarves are both relatively straightforward, and dead useful in the middle of winter, pick a snowy afternoon to cozy up with some Youtube tutorials and a ball of yarn.
Oh, and don’t forget the knitting needles!
Going to the Library
The library might sound like the place you go to study, but your local library is a pretty perfect place to spend a winter afternoon. Not only do they have books on cooking up a batch of heart-warming soup, they also usually have the latest issues of all of your favorite magazines. You know, the ones you promised yourself you’d stop buying all the time to save money.
Settle in for a few happy hours of browsing, reading and exploring in your local library. If there are books you want to dive deeper into, take them home with you - they are free, after all.
Cooking a New Recipe
Cooking in the winter isn’t just a fun activity. It’s also a great reason to stand beside a warm stove, which can sometimes be the only way to feel warm in an apartment where you don’t necessarily control the heat!
Find a new recipe you’ve been interested in trying, but haven’t had the time to execute. Give yourself a few hours to really make a meal of it, and not only will you have a warm kitchen and a hot meal, you’ll also probably end up with leftovers that will make your next few days a lot easier - and yummier.
Tackling an Art Project
Finally, if you’re trapped inside this winter, use it as time to explore your more creative side by taking on an art project. This can be anything from busting out paints and canvases, to exploring the more artistic filters on your iPhone camera, to creating a Youtube video.
It’ll help you pass the time, and help you hone some of your more right-brain skills at the same time!