This year our winter vacations have turned into long staycations. As much of a blessing spending time with the family is, constantly generating novel activities to keep everyone entertained can be stressful. That’s why we’ve compiled this long list of affordable, fun and a little out of the box outdoor and indoor family activities.
Create and play in the snow
If there’s fresh snow outside, your kids will probably want to play in it. Here are some unique snow activities to pair with snowmen, snow angels and tobogganing.
Swedish Snowball Lanterns: These are perfect if your family can’t resist making snowballs out of the crisp batch of packing snow on your front lawn. Kids can pack and save up as many snowballs as they can resist throwing and then stack them into a hollow pyramid. Parents can light and place a tealight inside the mini snowball fort to create a beautiful luminary the whole family can enjoy.
Snow Volcano Experiment: What could be more fun than an outdoor science experiment that includes playing in snow? There’s no need for a paper mache volcano when you can mould snow around a plastic bottle or tube and fill it with colourful kid-friendly exploding ingredients.
Make faux snow: No snow? No problem! Your kids can experience the sensory joys of playing with snow indoors without wearing mittens or getting cold hands. All you need is hair conditioner, baking soda, and some small toys like trucks, animals or shovels to enhance the fun.
Eat the snow
If you can get your hands on pristine snow, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your kids to help make some delicious frosty treats.
Maple Taffy: Every Canadian family needs to try this tasty traditional homemade candy! You only need one ingredient: pure maple syrup. After heating, pour your syrup over snow and wrap the still warm taffy pieces on the end of popsicle sticks. Voilà!
Vanilla snow ice cream: Mix up a bowl of fresh snow with sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. This easy, decadent dessert will impress your whole family.
Fruity snow cones: How does clementine, blood orange and mixed berry snow sound? Give your family a serving of fruit with these natural fruit syrup snow cones from Fresh Flavorful.
If you don’t have access to clean snow or feel nervous about eating flakes straight from your yard, you can always make these recipes with shaved ice made with a blender, food processor or shaved ice machine. Either way, there’s something super Canadian about eating cold treats on a winter day!
Make art with ice
You don’t need to be a sculptor with a chisel or chainsaw to turn ice into art. During this time of year, the entire outdoors is a giant freezer ready for winter-only craft projects.
Winter ice jewels: Another colourful craft to go with snow volcanoes and snow painting: ice jewels made from balloons filled with coloured water are perfect for sparking young imaginations during outdoor play. Try hiding snow jewels around your backyard for an exciting scavenger hunt. Bowling with your colourful creations on a snowy lane is another family-friendly winter sport you can add to skiing and snow tubing.
Frozen suncatchers: Whether you want to design your suncatchers with natural embellishments that your family finds on a winter hike or rainbow suncatchers with fruit, flora and food colouring, these are an easy way to make the outdoors more beautiful and inviting.
Ice cube painting: Painting with ice is an excellent activity for any season, but if you don’t get much use out of your icecube trays in the winter, why not whip up a palette of ice paints for the kids and place them outside to set? You can experiment with different ice paint recipes that involve mixing food colouring or acrylic paints with water.
Bring your favourite outdoor activities indoors
If you and the little ones are missing summer activities and don’t want to brave the cold, try bringing your favourite outdoor pastimes inside instead. The whole family can enjoy a day filled with goodies and experiences they thought they wouldn’t have again until July. It’s like Christmas in July, but reversed!
Go camping in the living room: Renting a yurt can be expensive, so why not bring winter camping right to your family room? Enjoy smores and hotdogs next to the fireplace (or fireplace channel) and retire to a homemade fort. If you have the space, you can teach the kids how to set up your regular camping tent inside.
Have an indoor picnic: Spice up lunch or dinner by having a picnic-style family meal. Spread a picnic blanket or spill-proof table cloth on the floor of your kitchen or dining room, and enjoy all of your favourite finger foods packed in on-the-go lunch containers. Try adding some of these 17 recipes for a kid-friendly picnic from Today’s Parent.
Have a pretend beach day: The beach is calling, but a polar bear dip isn’t a cozy way to spend the day when you want to be warm. You can lounge on beach towels and folding chairs for a beach-themed movie day. Whip up some summer mocktails and bake sandcastle cupcakes together. You’re littlest ones will enjoy beach-themed bath time or playing in a kiddie pool filled with DIY sand.
Creatively capture your memories this winter
No matter what fun activities you decide to enjoy with your family this winter, don’t forget to take some time to capture those precious memories. Creatively preserving happy times can be another fun family adventure.
Start a scrapbook: Whether it lives on a webpage, is fashioned out of scrap art supplies or with a store-bought scrapbook kit, collect photos and other family mementos to display and treasure for years to come.
Make a short film: Short on scrapbooking supplies but still want to make something meaningful and sharable? Edit the family footage on your phone together into a movie that’s as short, long, heartwarming or hilarious as you desire.
Build a time capsule: Put that scrapbook or other sentimental items into a container your kids help decorate, then find a place to stash it and decide when you want to rediscover your treasures. If it’s a wintertime capsule that you want to open when spring arrives, try burying it in a snowbank in your backyard or a large flowerpot you’re planning to use for spring and summer gardening.
Whether you try some of the ideas here or make up an entirely new winter craft, sport or imaginary game, we hope you have everything you need to stay safe, warm, and thoroughly amused with your loved ones until spring arrives. Until then, we can all start planning for our favourite warm-weather activities!