Our Favorite Winter Activities!
In the early months of the year, we hover between the bustle of the holiday season and the excitement of spring and the warmer weather to come. The weather here in Massachusetts is at best unpredictable, and often wet, cold, or otherwise yucky. We’re here to recommend some indoor and outdoor activities we love to help you through the darker, colder time of year.
Play in the Snow
For winter activities, we have to start with playing in the snow! It's a special thing to frolic in a fresh snowfall. Snowball and snow brick makers are tools to help you shape the snow into a one-use toy. You can make forts, snowpersons, and whatever other structures you come up with. You'll probably want to grab a sled if you have access to a good slope or hill.
Of course, you don’t need any tools or toys to play in the snow. Snow angels, playful snowball fights, pretend play with Yetis or arctic animal characters, and catching flakes on your tongue or mittens are easy and fun ways to celebrate the beauty of the fluffy white stuff.
This form of play, we know, is completely dependent on Mother Nature. Some winters give us lots of opportunities for fun in the snow, but other times there’s not enough accumulation of snowfall, or other conditions like bitter wind or ice that make playing outside dangerous. If the weather doesn’t allow for playing in the snow — or you just can’t or don’t want to deal with the cold — there are so many great things you can do indoors. Whether you're shopping for yourself, kids, a group of friends, or your whole family, we’re going to give you a few ideas to help you find an activity that fits your needs.
Do a Puzzle
One of our favorite cold-weather indoor activities is a good jigsaw puzzle. There are so many different styles that anyone can find an option that will interest them. There are beautiful artistic renderings, silly fun pictures, collage-style images, and even puzzles that feature famous works of art. You can do them in smaller spurts or longer sessions, depending on your particular available time, attention span, or other distractions around you. Need to get up and make dinner? That’s fine, the puzzle will be here later!
Puzzling can be a solo or group activity, and all you need is a relatively large, flat surface. Larger piece counts will keep you occupied for more cold days. At Boing!, we usually carry a few puzzles up to 2,000-3,000 pieces, with 1,000 being the sweet spot. There are bigger puzzles out there, so if you really want to seek out a puzzle that’s over 3,000 pieces, you'll be sure to find one!
If you’re concerned about the puzzle taking over your dining room or coffee table, all you really need is a large, flat base you can move around when needed. A puzzle board is an option, but even a piece of cardboard can work — just make sure it’s big enough so you won’t be stuck when you get to the edge. Puzzle mats are the most versatile option, as they’re flexible enough that you can fold or roll them while keeping your progress (mostly) intact, or keep them flat if you prefer. Leaving the puzzle where it is until done is also an option, if you have enough table space.
Tabletop board games, card games, party games, and active games (among other types) are all great choices for bad weather. They’re perfect for family time, a night with friends, or even as a solo activity. With so many options for game style, number of players, and theme, you’re bound to find a game to enjoy!
Single-player games are useful for those who don’t have anyone to play with, or like to pass time by themselves. A lot of logic and problem-solving games are designed to be played alone, or to have a single-player mode. We tend to like ThinkFun games like Gravity Maze, Laser Maze, and Roller Coaster Challenge, which have numerous challenges at different difficulty levels. Choose Your Own Adventure and Escape games can be played solo, although they may be easier if played with others. And if you have a deck of cards, you can have a session of good old-fashioned solitaire.
Speaking of a deck of cards, it’s a very handy thing to have around, as there’s a whole bunch of games you can play with nothing but a standard poker deck. Besides poker (obviously), some of the popular options are Hearts, Kings in the Corner, Rummy, and Go Fish.
Moving beyond a basic playing card deck, there are many card-based games that are fun for a wide range of ages, making them perfect for families and groups. There are some widely known best-sellers like Uno, classic games like Dutch Blitz and Mille Bornes, and new exciting options like Exploding Kittens and Sleeping Queens. There are too many to name here, but you can find something from the many card games out there that fits your game style.
Card games are easy to set up and clean up. More often than not they have a shorter play time, around 15-30 minutes per game, so you can fit in a game between other tasks or play several rounds. Works great for those times when you want a quick rematch!
If you are looking for a longer game session, strategy and RPG games might be the ones for you. These games are usually immersive, often have a fun story attached, and will take longer than many other games. Usually, an hour is the minimum time you’ll need to play these games, but some can go for several hours, giving you a nice long game time to occupy a cold winter night. Some of the ones we really enjoy are Photosynthesis, 7 Wonders, Catan, and Ticket to Ride.
Active/movement games are excellent for high-energy people when they’re stuck inside. Some of these games need a little more space than others, but plenty can be played inside! Games like Ribbon Ninja and Head Catcher can get some of that excess energy out without a need for lots of space, and there are some movement-based games for little kids — we love Monkey Around and Heads Talk, Tails Walk — that will be super fun to play together! For larger groups, Charades is a go-to classic that people of most ages can play. The level of movement will vary, of course, but that’s totally up to you.
Engage in Active Play Indoors
Some people just need to move, no matter the season or weather. Too much pent-up energy can result in bad moods, outbursts, or accidental broken items — and no one wants that! So, go for active play that is safe to use inside. Usually, toys in this category require a little bit of room to move, but not so much that you can’t use them in a small space.
Some toys we recommend are soft and lightweight balls, like ones that are made of foam or ping-pong balls, which are unlikely to break things around you. Yo-yos, kendama, and other handheld skill items are good for physical activity and focus.
You can also opt for indoor versions of sports you enjoy, like an over-the-door basketball hoop or a tabletop hockey set. One of our best-selling items, Door Pong, is an excellent game based on Ping-Pong that involves very minimal setup and can be played with a partner or by yourself.
While you might not get quite as active as you would outdoors, indoor active play can help you get through some of those days when staying inside is the better option.
Create with Arts & Crafts
This one needs no explanation. Art and expression in all their forms are a great activity and outlet any time, and particularly when you’re stuck inside. Choose a medium you love, whether it’s drawing, sculpting, knitting, making jewelry, or one of many other options, and start creating! Pick up a craft kit for ideas and direction, or art supplies for self-directed artistic endeavors. There’s no wrong way to do art, and it can have a positive impact on mood, self-esteem, and more.
Like puzzles, this activity can include whatever number of people you want, and has a wide variety of different options to choose from. If you’re not into drawing or painting, maybe you’ll like playing with clay or making something with thread or yarn. Maybe you just like stickers. Whatever the preference, there’s a medium of artistic expression that you can enjoy.
We are fans of books in all seasons, but winter gives an opportunity to cozy up under a blanket and really fall into reading. Longer books, chapter books, full series, and story anthologies are all ready to keep you company through a weekend, a week, a month. For the younger kids, a small stack of early readers or picture books can keep the fun and imagination going for the day.
Books have many benefits. They can help us develop language skills, give us insight into the world we live in, and promote creativity and imagination. Reading can even cultivate a love of writing, which is another way to pass a cold, wet, crappy-weather day in an enjoyable way! Grab a fun pen and start scribbling, who knows where you’ll go…
While this really just scratches the surface of all the ways you can pass those colder, darker winter days, it should give you a few ideas, and hopefully make the season a little more fun!