Cocoa, cookie exchanges, and sleigh rides—print our free winter bucket list and stay busy all season long.

By Emily VanSchmus
December 23, 2019
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There’s nothing more magical than drinking a warm mug of hot cocoa, watching fresh snow fall, and listening to cheery Christmas music. But winter isn’t just about the holidays—and it’s often the days and weeks after Christmas that we feel the most stir-crazy. If you’re feeling the winter slump while snow or sleet covers the neighborhood, gather a few friends or family members and choose one (or several!) things from our curated bucket list to keep you busy.  Whether you decide to build a puzzle by the crackling fire, volunteer at your local food kitchen, or make a truly epic gingerbread house display, this editor-approved list is sure to keep your household entertained until spring. We've even got ideas for ways to do good after the hectic holiday season. Download our free printable winter bingo card and hang it up so you can check things off as you go.

FREE Winter Bingo Card
Blaine Moats

1. Decorate Cookies

Baking cookies is one of our favorite winter activities because using the oven keeps the whole kitchen toasty warm—and we get to eat cookies! We have more than 35 insanely good Christmas cookie recipes to try this year, and our Santa sugar cookie tutorial will help you make the most adorable ‘ho ho ho’ cookies. 

2. Build a Snowman 

Do you want to build a snowman? No, we’re not talking about watching Frozen 2—next time your neighborhood gets a heavy dusting of snow, head outside and build your very own Frosty. If you don’t get snow this year, make an adorable snowman wreath for your front door instead. 

Buy It: Build a Snowman Kit - Hearth & Hand, $19.99, Target

3. Volunteer at a Food Kitchen 

Donating your time is one of the easiest (and most rewarding) ways to give back, especially around the holidays. Contact your local food pantry to find out how you can help. It’s not all about serving meals—they also need people to come between meal times to help organize and prepare the upcoming meals. Also, keep in mind that food banks often get an influx of donations around the holidays, but donations taper off after the first of the year. Consider contacting them in late January or early February to find out what they’re starting to run out of, then drop off supplies to help them stock up. 

Jacob Fox

4. Make a Gingerbread House 

We love a classic gingerbread house, but there are so many fun new cookie house kits on the market this year. Get creative and make a colorful confetti house or try making an entire woodland scene

5. Do a Puzzle

We’re always looking for indoor activities that don’t involve screen time—especially when it’s too cold to go out. Puzzles are one of our editors’ favorite hobbies, and we love that it can be a solo project or a group effort. If you need a new challenge this winter, check out the list of our favorite puzzles

Buy It: MasterPieces National Parks of America 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle, $9.99, Walmart

6. Host a Family Game Night

For a memorable winter evening, everyone will enjoy, host a family game night! Make party mix, cookies, and finger foods, and set out your favorite games. If your group is made up of mostly adults, check out our favorite board games for adults

7. Make Snow Angels 

There’s nothing more magical than playing in fresh snow, and this classic winter activity always reminds us of childhood. You’re never too old to make a snow angel! 

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8. Watch Holiday Movies 

We love a good movie night cuddled up under the blankets. Make your way through our list of classic Christmas movies to watch with your mom, or cue up the holiday section on Disney+ and start streaming family-friendly films like Home Alone.

Buy It: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, $6, Walmart

9. Sip Hot Chocolate

Making homemade hot chocolate is a must-do in the winter, and this year we’re mixing up delicious flavors. Make a batch of peppermint hot chocolate for your holiday party, or spend the next snow day cuddled under a blanket with a steaming mug of cinnamon hot cocoa

10. Do a Random Act of Kindness

The months leading up to the holidays can be stressful for everyone, so we like to squeeze in a few extra acts of kindness this time of year. It doesn’t have to be anything big: Pay for a stranger’s holiday drink at Starbucks or surprise a coworker with a Grinch frappuccino from the secret menu. If you’re expecting a lot of Amazon deliveries before Christmas, you could even put out a sweet surprise for your delivery drivers!

11. Go Ice Skating 

When the temperatures dip below freezing, it’s easy to find yourself spending all your time indoors. If you’re feeling a bit stir-crazy this season, grab a group of friends or family and hit the ice skating rink. It’s a great way to get a bit of outdoor exercise in the winter!

Courtesy of Amazon

12. Listen to Christmas Music

We’ll admit it: We started listening to Christmas music way before Thanksgiving this year, and we don’t plan to stop any time soon. Play one of this year’s new Christmas albums (we've been loving Idina Menzel's album, $11.88, Amazon), or stream the classics on Amazon Music

13. Shovel a Neighbor’s Driveway

Shoveling snow likely isn’t anyone’s favorite thing to do, which makes it a sweet surprise to walk out of your house and see that a neighbor has done it for you. If you have neighbors who don’t get around as well, make an extra effort to keep their driveway and sidewalks clear of snow and ice this winter. 

Thitikorn Kinsorn, EyeEm/Getty Images

14. Make a Donation

Donating to charity is something we try to do at every holiday season, but the process of deciding where to give (and how much) can be overwhelming. To help you navigate the situation, we chatted with experts about the best ways to give back this season. The best part is, you don’t have to have extra cash to be able to give back to your community. Donate your time by volunteering at a local food bank, library, or firehouse. 

15. Take a Sleigh Ride 

Take your holiday celebrations up a notch by booking a sleigh ride. It’s not just a big city novelty or something you only see in movies—many towns and cities across the country offer horse-drawn sleigh rides throughout the holiday season. Book a romantic ride at night, or take the kids on an afternoon tour around town. 

16. Host a Cookie Exchange

After all your winter baking you’ll need someone to help eat the cookies! Host a cookie exchange party and have everyone make their favorite cookie or holiday bar recipe. Each party guest will leave with one or two of every kind of cookie—a win for everyone!

17. Host an Ugly Sweater Party

Don’t stress about throwing a fancy holiday party this year—host an ugly sweater party instead! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite ugly sweaters to help you get in the holiday spirit, and we’ve got festive recipes that are perfect for the occasion. Serve an ugly sweater pizza or make a fruity dessert decorated like a holiday sweater.

Universal/Getty Images

18. Watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’

While ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ is technically a Christmas movie, we love to watch it all winter! Freeform will air the movie on Christmas Eve, but you can also pick up your own copy of the movie for a few dollars and binge-watch Max and Cindy Lou Who all winter long. 

Buy It: ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ DVD, $7.93, Walmart

19. Have a Snowball Fight

There’s only one thing to do after a particularly heavy snowfall—have a snowball fight! Grab your gang, dress in your warmest clothes, and establish the rules. When everyone is tired out, head inside for some hot apple cider.

Jason Donnelly

20. Adopt a Family 

If you have the financial means to buy extra gifts this year, adopting a child or family from an angel tree is one of our favorite ways to give back. Get the whole family involved in picking out the perfect gifts. Local churches, businesses, and schools often have information about how to sign up—and they’ll sometimes be able to give you a specific wishlist as well. If you’re not able to purchase the extra gifts, you can volunteer to help with the gift drive or wrap the donated items.

21. Go Sledding

Sledding is a fun, affordable activity the whole family can enjoy. Grab an inexpensive sled (or two!) and find a snowy hill in your area. Be sure to bundle up before you head out into the cold!

Buy It: Flexible Flyer Sled, $5.99, Target

22. Relax by the Fireplace 

If you’re lucky enough to have an indoor fireplace, take advantage of it by planning a relaxing evening at home. Read a book, drink hot chocolate, or catch up on your favorite shows while the flames crackle away. If you don’t have a fireplace (and if you don’t live in a super cold climate), you might still have time to build your own DIY fire pit outside!

23. Look at Christmas Lights

Once you’ve hung your own Christmas lights, take a drive around the block to admire your neighbor’s lights and debate which is better: White lights or multicolor lights? If you live near enough to one of these locations, you could also check out one of the gorgeous light displays at public botanical gardens around the country. 

24. Make Paper Snowflakes 

Paper snowflakes are one of the easiest (and least messy!) winter crafts to make indoors. Grab a few pieces of plain white paper, fold them over a few times, and cut! If you’re feeling extra festive, hang them from the ceiling with fishing line to create an indoor winter wonderland.

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