Winter is coming! The winter months mean colder weather and darker days but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. In fact, there are so many fun and cozy activities to enjoy during winter that should help brighten up darker days. Whether you’re living in a colder climate or are still enjoying warmer weather, I’m sharing more than 30 winter activities you can do solo or with your friends and family that won’t break the bank.
Here are some ideas for free and low-cost winter activities to try this winter season.
But first – get a free holiday budget planner/ spending tracker here!
1. Go ice-skating
Find a local indoor or outdoor ice rink, rent some skates, and have some fun!
2. Make hot chocolate from scratch
Hot chocolate is easy to make with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and fridge. Pick a recipe and be prepared to never buy hot chocolate mix again.
3. Host a movie marathon
When is there a better time to have a movie marathon than when it’s cold and dark outside? Pick a theme, genre, or trilogy, make some popcorn and invite some friends over for the occasion.
4. Host a board game potluck
Tell your friends and family to each bring their favorite board game. See what everyone brings and try out some fun new games!
Whether you’re getting a pre-made kit from the grocery store or going all out and making homemade cookies, this is a fun and creative activity for all ages.
6. Go to a winter market
Window shop to make this activity even more low-cost.
7. Attend a polar bear plunge
Check out your city or town’s local events and see if they’re hosting a New Year’s day polar bear plunge aka running into icy waters to start off the new year.
8. Go for a snowy walk
If you live somewhere that it snows during this time of year, take advantage and bundle up, bring a thermos and go for a snow-filled walk.
9. Try new crockpot recipes
This is the best time of year for soups and stews made in your crockpot. Plus, who doesn’t love coming home to dinner already made and ready for them? Check out my recipes for my favorite soups here and here.
Also check out: How to Save Money on Holiday Dinners
10. Go sledding
Revisiting the activities you loved as a kid is always a good idea to get a healthy dose of nostalgia and fun.
11. Check out your neighborhoods Christmas light displays
Either walk or drive around your neighborhood to see how everyone is decorating their homes this year. There is bound to be a house that takes it to the extreme!
12. Learn to bake bread
You’ll need some kind of bread to go with all the soups and stews you plan on making, so instead of buying a loaf, bake your own!
12. Grab a winter-themed book at the library
If your library is anything like mine, then I’m sure you’ll find themed sections like staff picks and seasonal reads. Take advantage of this awesome freebie and grab some books to read fireside.
13. Take a cheesy holiday photo with friends or family
Remember those cheesy holiday photos on Christmas cards that were the norm in the 80s and 90s? DYI your own photoshoot and have some fun with friends and family.
Learn how I take my family’s holiday photos for free, by myself!
14. Host an ugly Christmas sweater party
Make your own or hit up the thrift store to find ugly festive sweaters, then have a party to see whose has the best (or rather worst) sweater.
15. Make a batch of mulled wine or apple cider
Mulled wine is such a yummy and warming drink this time of year, it consists of red wine, citrus and warm spices like cinnamon and cloves.
16. Try a workout class at your local rec center
Rec centres a great places to try out new workout classes at a fraction of the cost and a good way to stay active during the colder months.
17. Knit yourself a hat or scarf
Start a hobby that keeps you warm!
18. Collect canned goods for your local food drive
The winter months can be an incredibly hard time for some people, especially this year with recent inflation and rising costs. Give back to your community and why not donate some blankets while you’re at it.
19. DIY gifts for friends and family
Instead of a regular gift exchange, make it so everyone has to DIY their gifts this year.
20. Write your goals for the new year
Start the new year off with clear goals and a fresh budget! Try my networth tracker and budget spreadsheet here.
21. Go snowshoeing
Rent some snowshoes or skies for cross-country skiing and follow a trail. You’ll feel like you’ve gone to Whoville!
22. Visit free local museums
See whether your local museums have free or by-donation nights and spend some time learning something new.
23. Make a homemade wreath or decorations
Pinecones make great table decorations. Get creative and see what you find on your next walk outside that you could make into a holiday decoration.
24. Attend a trivia night at a local brewery or pub
Are you a know-it-all about a certain subject? Look at the events pages of your local breweries or pubs to see if you can show off your knowledge!
25. Calculate your net worth
Checking in to see your financial progress can be an amazing motivator to keep you on track toward your financial goals.
26. Have a spa night
Give yourself a manicure or pedicure and use a face mask. Light some candles and put on your favorite podcast or playlist to really get into a relaxing mood.
27. Attend a matinee at the movie theatre
See if your local theatre is offering matinee showings of new or old movies at a major discount.
28. Visit a Christmas tree farm
If you’re already planning on getting a real tree to decorate for Christmas, visit a Christmas tree farm and see what other fun activities are being offered at the farm!
29. Make holiday treat tins
Bake up a storm and give your loved ones your baked goods in festive tins.
Check out this ancient BG video where show you how to make my favorite, frugal holiday treat – Christmas crack!
30. Go through your winter wardrobe
Go through your winter clothes and declutter whatever doesn’t fit or has seen better days.
31. Make and send holiday cards
Bring back the tradition of sending holiday cards by sending the people in your life some DIY festive cards in the mail.
32. Play in the snow
A list of winter activities wouldn’t be complete without mentioning having a snowball fight, making snow angels or building a snowman. (and if you’re in Texas or another southern state like me, perhaps enjoy sitting in a hammock or taking a walk when it’s not 1000 degrees. -BG)
This winter take advantage of all the cozy activities you can do both, in and outdoors. Try new hobbies, cook new recipes and have fun with your loved ones. Most of all, stay warm!
Need gift guides that won’t break the bank?
The ultimate frugal gift guide (gifts people will love!)
Give these Budget Girl posts a read:
How to prepare for the holidays amidst rising costs & inflation
8 things to know before starting your personal finance journey
The power of having a little “mad money!”
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How to set spending limits for the holidays