52 Safe Family Activities for This Winter


52 Safe Family Activities for This Winter

This winter season, like so much during the pandemic, will be different as COVID-19 rates increase and people do their part to stop the spread and stay healthy. The good news is that wintertime in New England offers many opportunities to have some family fun – even during the pandemic.

More good news? Masks to keep you safe from the virus keep your face warm in the winter too! Here is another piece of good news: the vaccine is on the horizon and the likelihood of a more normal winter next year is high.

To celebrate the start of this unique winter, we put together 52 ideas for things to do that are fun, creative, and will help keep you and your family safe:

  • Discover a new board game. Families can bond over the discovery and learning of board games. Newer-age games like The Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Carrcasonne offer fresh strategy. But classics like Monopoly and Candy Land are always winners.
  • Complete a puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles are a great family/team building exercise. Work as a team on one aspect of the puzzle, or assign a unique part of the puzzle to each family member.
  • Reenact a favorite movie. With a quick search online, you should be able to find the script to a family favorite movie or favorite scene. Cast family members into their favorite roles and watch the movie magic unfold in your living room. 
  • Bake a new recipe. Find a new holiday recipe and bake it together. It is a great way to teach new skills, reinforce math skills, and start a family tradition. Also, since baking has elements of chemistry, there is an added academic component that is the proverbial-and literal-icing on the cake. For inspiration, check out our Healthy Holiday Recipe Guide.
  • Feed the birds. While plants sit dormant in winter, birds are still active, providing a great opportunity to aid our feathered friends. Kids can have fun making a simple birdfeeder, or buy one that sticks right to your window for up-close viewing.
  • Put on a performance. Maybe you all learn the same dance, act out a short play, or have a family talent show. Distant relatives will be thrilled to tune in to a live steam and you will create a memory that will last a lifetime (especially if it is recorded!)
  • Solve a (fictional) murder. For families with older children, you can spice up the traditional family game night with a murder mystery game. Get into the spirit of the whodunit with costumes and accessories, character backstories, and food or decorations to match the storyline. A quick online search will provide ideas to get you started.
  • Plan your post-pandemic escape. With COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, it is not too optimistic to hope for a more normal summer 2021. With that in mind, you can start to plan now for future outings. Have the kids help research biking and hiking trails, campgrounds, beaches and lakes, museums, or any destination that will inspire you to venture out when it is safe and the weather warms up.
  • Bonfires/S’mores. Gather around the fire-pit and enjoy a cold evening around the fire. Add individual packets of s’mores kits with all the fixings (graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate, be creative!) and you can enjoy a fun evening under the stars.
  • Learn to Snowshoe. You can find locations to snowshoe from the Mass Audubon Society here.  
  • Make Caring Cards. Your family can create hand-made cards that you can mail or drop off to a local nursing home, senior center, hospital, police/fire station, schools, etc. People will appreciate the cards, especially during the pandemic. If you send the cards to schools, teachers will love the support, especially this year!
  • Take an educational hike. Not just a walk through the woods, some area hikes provide educational opportunities – for instance, the Trail Through Time in Acton and the Minute Man National Historic Park.
  • Build an ice rink in your backyard. This could be a fun family project. Do some online searching to find lots of plans, including how-to videos.
  • Campout in the living room. This winter everyone could use a change-of-scene. Why not turn your living room into a bedroom and have a family campout? Create tents with sheets draped over furniture. Make sure to bring some books and read under the tents with flashlights!
  • Make care packages. Drop them off on family members porches to surprise them and spread positivity. The packages could include gift cards to local stores and restaurants, notes with good cheer, winter fruits such as clementines, and even listings of favorite movies or books.
  • Make a list of new recipes to try. Designate one night of the week to test out each recipe. Each family could be in charge of one of the recipes.
  • Do a room makeover. Or even just rearrange the furniture, in the kid's rooms or playroom so they can have a change of scenery without leaving home
  • Host a neighborhood outdoor movie night. This can be done using a projector or other devices.
  • Research a new outdoor spot. Explore it and plan a day around it and enjoy the adventure!
  • Dance together. Dancing is a great way to burn energy and can be fun for the whole family.
  • Write letters. It is always fun getting something in the mail! You can send letters to friends, relatives, friends-of-friends – the world is the limit!
  • Go through clothes and toys and donate to those in need. It will feel good to clean out your closets and help others
  • Host a virtual Bingo night via Zoom. Invite friends or family to join in. Offer prizes you can mail to the winners.
  • Build a snow fort or a snowperson. Weather allowing of course!
  • Have hot chocolate outside under the stars. Set out chairs at least six feet apart and invite the neighbors
  • Research places to volunteer. Helping others will help lift your spirits. Many non-profit organizations are open to having volunteers safely either remotely or in-person. Contact some of your favorite local organizations and ask them how your family can help.
  • Host a neighborhood food drive. Food pantries now need pantry donations as demand has increased significantly during the pandemic. Post flyers around the neighborhood or put them in mailboxes. Set a goal – maybe one can for each day of winter? Contact your local food pantry to find out if they have specific needs and when you can drop off the donations.
  • Art night! Choose one night (or day) each week to create something amazing together. It could be a large banner with an inspirational message, vision boards, placemats displaying the holiday cards you received this year, a magnificent centerpiece using items from nature – anything goes!
  • Discover your public library. The public library offers a wealth of interesting information that can delight and inspire people of all ages. Visit your library’s website or call the library to find out about special events, collections, and things that your family might enjoy. Did you know some libraries offer puzzles you can check out and bring home?
  • Learn a new sport together. This might be cross country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, speed walking, weight lifting, gymnastics, running, or anything that your family is interested in exploring. Staying active this winter will be important for your physical and mental health.
  • Plan a spring/summer garden. Winter is a great time to plan and dream about your garden. There is a lot of good information online or at your library.
  • Plan a book swap. Invite family or friends from around the country to have a book exchange where you mail books to each other that you have read. Hop on a call or Zoom and discuss them!
  • Movie night with popcorn. Always a family favorite but you can give it a twist with a theme movie night. Maybe it is comedy, or fantasy or documentary night! Make it a weekly event and each family can choose a theme.
  • For teens. Get ahead on homework and/or college applications. Contact recent high school graduates who attend colleges you might be interested in. They can give you the inside scoop on college life!
  • Start a new hobby. Think of something you have always wanted to learn. This is a great time to spend some time to learn it! Photography, calligraphy, cooking, baking, cake decorating…
  • Take a scenic drive. Pick a place in Massachusetts your family has never been. Stop for hot chocolate along the way. The Berkshires, Cape Cod and North Shore areas are beautiful in the winter
  • Holiday lights. Use white lights around your home or outside to add extra light throughout the winter
  • Shovel snow for a neighbor. You will get exercise and your neighbor will be delighted!
  • Check on friends, neighbors, loved ones. A simple call will go a long way in showing you care and bring good cheer to someone who may feel lonely.
  • Do a scavenger hunt. Around your house, outside, or around town. Prizes can include hot chocolate or a gift card to a local store.
  • Write your own story book. You can illustrate it too. It could reflect how your family spends time during the pandemic, and include your thoughts and feelings.
  • Cookiepalooza. It is time to break out your favorite cookie recipes and bake the day away! Plate some of them up and deliver them to your local first responders or your favorite neighbors.
  • Hot chocolate charcuterie boards. Yes, this is a thing and it can turn a routine day into a delightful one! Set a fire in the fireplace, get creative with yummy delights for the board (peppermints, marshmallows, chocolate chips…), and enjoy.
  • Recycle bowling. Find recyclable items around your home like paper towel tubes and milk cartons. Set them up like bowling pins in a clear area, roll a tennis ball and see how many you can knock down.
  • Learn a new language. There are many online apps and programs you can get through local libraries to learn a new language. Italian? French? Japanese? Mandarin? Pick any language and have fun learning it.
  • Offer to walk a neighbor’s dog. Do you not have a puppy of your own? No problem. Ask a friend or neighbor if you can borrow theirs for a little while!
  • Learn a new word each day and use the word at least ten times during the day. This is a great way to build vocabulary and make it memorable and fun too.
  • Visit a museum. Virtually. Many museums have terrific websites where you can explore virtual exhibits almost like you were actually there.
  • Learn about Digital Wellness. Practice some ways to improve your family’s digital health.
  • Decorate gingerbread houses. Either make your own or purchase an inexpensive one at your local grocery store.
  • Play With Alpacas. Yes, really! A farm in Harvard is home to this unique Alpaca experience and beautiful gift shop. Registration required in advance. 
 We hope this list is useful. What is your family doing this winter to stay safe and have fun? Send us a note at pr@emersonhosp.org or tag us on Facebook or Instagram @EmersonHospital and let us know.

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