Winter in the Midwest isn’t fun. Having grown up and lived in Wisconsin my entire life, I get that winter really, really suck. Sure, some days it’s actually nice to play outside in the brisk air and snow. I can admit that. And there is something to be said for making snowmen or sledding. But then there are those other days where it’s just TOO cold, TOO snowy….or you just don’t feel like dealing with the hassle of bundling everyone up in preparation to go outside.
Aside from all of the cold and snow it comes with all sorts of other lovely things that can make it a terrible, anxiety producing season that makes you want to hole up at home. The air is dry. Everyone is sick. Cars slide all over the road. And the temperature and precipitation can be so unpredictable you sometimes need multiple outfits in a single day!
And these days, it isn’t just us in the Midwest that suffer. This weekend, approximately 75% of the U.S. is expecting a snowstorm that’s dropping temperatures to the single digits and leaving a trail of snow up to several feet deep in some places. Then next week we’re looking at -23 degrees. NOT including windchill.
Who the heck wants to go outside in that?! Not me. So not me. It’s exactly days like these when it’s nice to have a backup list of indoor family activities for winter that I can pull out so we don’t all go stir crazy and can still enjoy time together!
15 Indoor Family Activities for Winter
Below are 15 indoor family activities for winter time when you just want to stay inside. I’ve separated them into the categories of creative, active or semi-active, and warm and snuggly activities for convenience.
Try a few or try them all. Maybe, you’ll find your next favorite family activity!
Creative Indoor Family Activities
- Make bird feeders to hang outside. If you have pine cones, they work great. Otherwise, a toilet paper or paper towel tube, stale bagel, or the end piece of a loaf of bread make great bases for winter bird feeders. Spread with peanut butter and roll in bird seed. Hang by string or by threading the paper rolls directly onto a small branch.
- Make a winter themed arts and crafts project. Do a quick online search for “winter art and craft projects for kids” and you’ll have more than you’ll know what to do with. Paper plate snowmen, paper snowflake cutting, snow painting with cotton swabs are just a few.
- Learn something new together. How often do you say, “I’d really like to learn ___ but we’re just so busy.” ‘Cause I say it all the time. Take this time to start learning a few chords on the guitar or how to play a few simple songs on a keyboard. Try learning how to draw something with a YouTube video. Even better, have each person in the family that wants to, teach everyone else something. Even little kids can teach a song from school or their own made up silly dance!
- Build a Lego village. Put down the plans for all of those ridiculously elaborate Lego sets and build from scratch. Decide as you go what your Lego village needs. A pet shop? A zoo? An airplane hanger? Can you build a beach? Build the largest city you can, using as many Lego pieces as possible – including all of those really tiny ones that no one ever knows what to do with.
- Build a city out of playing cards. If you have playing cards lying around, show your kids how to build a card house (because most kids these days don’t know how to do that stuff). Then, keep building on it to create bridges, tunnels, towers and whatever else you can. On one cold day as a kid, my cousin and I filled our grandparent’s entire living room with our card city. If only I could find that one physical photo that exists of it! (If you don’t have playing cards, and you aren’t prone to anxiety over chaotic messes, take all of the cards out of the different board games at your house and build with those!)
- Use window markers to draw on the windows. We have a huge front window that faces the street and we’ve drawn all kinds of scenes on it. If you don’t have window markers, you may be able to use dry erase. This doesn’t always work on every type of glass though, so I would caution to either test a tiny spot first in an inconspicuous corner, or play it safe and get special window markers.
- Write a story as a family. Grab some paper and a pen and designate one person to be the “author.” Then, have each person say one line and go around the group until everyone has added on to the story. Keep going until you reach a conclusion. Or, if you have younger kids, try having the adults do most of the story constructing, but give the kids options like, “Should we have the Dragon enter the cave or dive into the river?” Sort of like a “Choose your own Adventure” book that you’re making up as you go.
Active/Semi-active Indoor Family Activities
- Set up an Indoor Obstacle Course. This can be done in so many ways. Use physical objects like chairs, cushions, blankets, beds, laundry baskets -whatever you have- and make an obstacle course. Or, use painters tape on the floor to create lines and shapes. Then, designate each shape or line to mean a different activity such as hop to all squares, crawl on dotted lines, jump into circles…
- Have a dance party. So simple and no planning or items required. Just turn on the music and go crazy! Everyone take turns picking songs.
- Build a fort. Gather pillows and blankets and organize chairs and the edges of other furniture to create an elaborate, multi-room fort. Extra points if you can make it cool enough to travel from room to room of your REAL house.
- Do some baking. What better way to warm up and stimulate the senses than to bake delicious treats?
- Have a board game day. Play one board game after another until everyone is exhausted. Take turns to ensure everyone gets their favorites played! If you have little ones and older kids, let the little ones play in teams with the adults. They can do the easier parts like rolling dice or moving pieces to designated places.
Warm & Snuggly Indoor Family Activities
- Read. Either read individually or pick a chapter book everyone would enjoy and read aloud to the family.
- Make hot chocolate and watch a movie. Nothing better than snuggling up together with a nice, cozy blanket, a fun movie and a warm cup of hot chocolate.
- Order pizza and watch a movie. Same as above, but instead of just randomly during the day, order in pizza for dinner and relax.
- Watch old home movies and make popcorn. It can be so much fun to pull out old home movies, especially if your kids are a little older. You could even pull out movies of you when you were a kid. Imagine the conversations over why you had a phone hanging on the wall and what it was like to have to literally roll down a car window.
- Have a winter themed family breakfast. Make different sized pancakes and stack them like snowmen. Then, use fruit and other foods to add his accents. Another option is to make snowmen out of stacked hard boiled eggs, fruits and veggies. Or, try spreading cream cheese or peanut butter on bagels, then accent with fruit to make hibernating bear faces ! Or just make big fluffy waffles with whatever toppings they want. Delicious, warm and filling.
- Have an indoor picnic. For lunch, pack a picnic and spread out a blanket on the living room floor. Then, open the curtains so you can see the snow falling or snowy trees and enjoy your picnic lunch in warmth and comfort.
No more boring winter days stuck inside
Even when the weather is freezing cold or the snow is up to your waist, it doesn’t have to ruin the day. Family fun can still continue with the activities above. My family has spent lots of days enjoying each others company while playing games, watching movies, and doing arts and crafts. But, I know how easy it is to get stuck in a rut of doing the same things over and over.
I hope the lists above give you some new ideas to try to make your best family day ever. If you try them, please do let me know how it goes!