Snow Day Your Way

Snow days aren’t just for kids. There are tons of ways to embrace the chills and thrills with your best friends or special someone. Get started with the ideas below, and have an arctic blast.

Let nostalgia take over. Remember snow angels, sledding, and massive snowball fights? Snow never held you back as a kid, so don’t let it now: Bundle up and get out there! Even a walk in the park can turn a humdrum day into a magical adventure. The whole white world is waiting.

Dress for comfort. There’s no not-loving the outdoor experience when you’re dressed for comfort. Launder your snow jacket, pants, and thermals using a liquid fabric softener in a sunny-fresh scent that will get you charged up for fun. (It'll help tame pesky static, too.)

Cue the romance factor. There’s no better excuse to get close to someone than walking in the snow or ice-skating on a pond. Pack a thermos so you can extend the moment by sipping a warm drink afterward.

Host a ‘brrr’ party. Invite a group of up-for-anything friends over and cue up a bunch of zany team competitions, like building the biggest or most creative snowman. Or have a massive snowball fight. When everyone’s toes have gone numb, head inside for a hot dinner of homemade chili or a hearty soup.

Reflect on the fun. After the activities are over, cuddle up. Tip: Toss your favorite blanket in the dryer for a few minutes with a scented dryer sheet. You’ll enjoy great smelling warmth as you snuggle up with fresh memories of good snowy times. 

Hibernation Nation!

Ah, winter. The frigid temps, the icy roads, the post-holiday malaise—all fantastic reasons to stay home. But if you fear the cabin fever that comes with too many days spent indoors, these ideas will keep you busy all season long (or at least through the next snowstorm).

Binge watch a TV series. Between white-knuckle thrillers, charming period dramas and coming-of-age comedies, the small screen is really good right now. Take advantage—and turn it into a social affair—by inviting your neighbors over for a TV marathon. Provide blankets and comfort food (caramel corn drizzled with dark chocolate, anyone?).

Serve breakfast for dinner. Prepare everyone’s favorite a.m. meal, but have them do their part too: Each family member must come to the table dressed in their wackiest sleepwear. (Extra bacon for the zaniest PJs!)

Get your craft on. Pull out the glitter glue and construction paper and let your kids create. Make a snowman out of an old cereal box, or help your kids learn about reading temperatures and then make a thermometer out of Popsicle sticks, toothpicks, and glue.

Tackle a project you’ve been putting off. Hey, you’ve got all afternoon! Why not start that jigsaw puzzle that’s been sitting in the box for months (and months!), or pick up your knitting needles and begin that hat you’ve been meaning to make? Or simply grab a blanket and a hot mug of something, and curl up with the book you’ve been trying to read for months.

Bring Comfort & Joy Into Winter Weather

Who says winter has to be the season of discontent? Prevent your mood and energy level from heading south during the cold, damp days of winter by creating an indoor oasis that will infuse your life with a welcome dose of fun or serenity. Here are five ways to do that.

Make a scrapbook. Spend some time sorting through photos, and let family members create their own pages of favorite memories from each season last year. It’ll be a pleasant walk down memory lane while you’re putting the book together—and when you look at it again in the future.

Build a living room fort. Let your kids use supersoft sheets and blankets to construct a fort. Start by creating a palette of cushions and pillows on the floor for comfort (don’t forget blankets for warmth). Make a tent out of sheets and blankets, using the couch or chairs for support. Then, grab some flashlights, picture books, and cups of cocoa (with marshmallows, of course) and head under cover. Give the blankets and sheets a soft, soothing boost with a liquid fabric softener in a soothing scent.

Create a meaningful still life. For a quick dose of happiness, gather some of your favorite things—photographs, fresh flowers, small pieces of pottery or sculpture, even your children’s artwork—and arrange them in a tableau that reminds you of the small pleasures in your life. Make sure it’s in a place you walk by or gaze at frequently (on your desk or nightstand, for example), for maximum impact.

Schedule a home-based matinee. Put on a classic movie and snuggle up with your kids on the couch for a private screening. Pop a large bag of plain, microwave popcorn, and then divide it into individual bowls. Let each snacker choose how to flavor their batch (think: cinnamon sugar, Parmesan cheese, cumin, or other spices). For added fun, let everyone do a taste test then vote on the best flavor.

Prepare your own stress SOS kit. Think about how you could treat your senses to some R&R when your stress-meter hits overload. Organize a basket of soothing items like scented candles, bath salts, and your favorite tea (try calming flavors such as green, chamomile, or vanilla), and keep a playlist of your favorite relaxing music on hand. Turn to these tools as needed and enjoy the comforts of home.

Embrace the Big Chill

The temps have dipped below freezing, and suddenly staying indoors seems way more inviting than going for a run or suiting up the family for a day of sledding. But don’t duck out on your plans just because the thermometer dropped. Follow these guidelines so you can brave the chill without turning into a Popsicle.

Layer up for outdoor exercise. Three layers on your upper body is the magic number. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, which draws sweat away from your skin and helps regulate your body temperature. (There are many synthetic fabrics that offer this, including some wool-containing sports fabrics—look for wicking claims on hangtags when you shop.) Add a warm mid-layer (wool or synthetic fleece) for insulation, and then, especially if it’s raining or snowing, a windproof top layer (a waterproof shell), which will keep you dry and allow excess heat to escape.

Don’t forget your head, hands, and feet. In cold temps, your blood flow is concentrated to your body’s core, leaving your hands and feet vulnerable to chills. Invest in gloves and socks made from a wicking fabric, which will keep hands and feet dry and hold in heat. Buy a pair of wind blocking mittens for especially frigid days, and top it all off with a hat that covers your ears.

Be sure snow gear is waterproof. This is especially true for kids, who’ll spend most of their day in direct contact with the cold, wet stuff. A fill like down will get soaked when wet and when that happens, you get cold. Helpful: Buy coats and snow pants with waterproof shells and do the same with gloves or mittens.

Launder appropriately. Winter weather gear—especially waterproof fabric—doesn’t need to be washed after every wear, unless it gets really dirty (or your little one didn’t make it to the potty in time). When you do launder them, use a specialized detergent that will remove dirt and sweat. Dry according to the fabric label.

Don’t forget year-round rules. You may not feel as thirsty during the winter months as you do in warmer temperatures, but whether you’re jogging 10 miles solo or taking the kids sledding, make sure to imbibe regularly to avoid dehydration. Stick to room temperature H2O and carry an insulated water bottle. And don’t pass up on sunscreen—snow reflects the sun’s rays, making you susceptible to burns even if you feel cold.

Share the Joy: Fun Family Photos

Another holiday season brings mailboxes full of cards, packed with updates and photos from family and friends. As you’re planning your year-end update, take a few pointers from our crazy family to yours.

Do your research. Before picture day, peruse photo-driven blogs or photography Websites. You’re likely to find a concept or post that you really like and can execute yourself. A little planning can go a long way.

Pick a prop. You don’t have to be at a party or in a photo booth to work this trend. Find something that screams fun—and captures your family—and incorporate it into the photo. Matching winter hats, wrapped boxes or strands of lights are a few good options.

Get moving. Try an action shot and play with poses and positioning. Shoot the family making snow angels, riding a sled, or doing a jingle bell jog in matching sweaters. 

Make a scene. Literally. You don’t have to live in a snowy climate to create a winter wonderland—think paper snowflakes, hats and gloves. And don’t forget the beloved tacky sweater.

Ham it up. Let individual personalities shine through in the photos. Don’t discard the outtakes—you might find they’re the most fun to share.

Create a collage. Getting the extended family together for a photo can be tough, but don’t despair. Rather than one shot, splice together pictures from the whole year to fashion a family tree. Others can catch up on what you’ve been up to for the past 12 months.