Beat Winter Boredom: Add These 20 Fun Things to Your Holiday Season Bucket List

Brighten up those winter blues.

By Isabelle Eyman
things to do during winter

When it comes to the changing of the seasons, it’s all about the anticipation. I’m just as likely to say that summer is the best time of year in April as I am to name fall my favorite season in August. There’s really nothing better than the build-up. Just hearing the phrase “winter is on its way” makes me long for cozy nights by the fire in furry slippers, sipping on a cup of hot cocoa. I know you’re feeling it too. Of course, the holidays require an entirely separate set of tasks to prepare. But between all the decking of the halls and trimming of the trees, we can still dedicate time to checking a few things off our winter bucket list. So, to celebrate the cozy season, I’ve compiled a list of things to do during winter from sunup to the (very early) sundown.

In our mile-a-minute, largely digital world, I’m all about seeking and carving out moments of intention. I’ve always believed that presence is one of the best gifts we can give—not only to others but to ourselves as well.

Having a winter bucket list handy is key when I’m tempted to spend a precious hour scrolling through my phone or bingeing my latest Netflix fave. I’ve loved the recent social media trend sharing illustrated lists of monthly and seasonal to-do’s. With the pressure to always be “doing,” it’s refreshing to know that there’s a collective rebellion to relax, play, and have a little fun. Because I feel it too: It’s tempting to write out the tasks that have to get done. However, isn’t it about a million times more inspiring to focus instead on all that we want to do? Because while it can seem indulgent to fill our winter days with tasks that feel optional, carving out time for our passions is what makes each moment memorable.

While winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21st, there’s no reason you can’t get started on all the many meaningful activities you have planned this season. So if you’re looking for a little inspiration, look no further. I’m sharing my winter bucket list below. If you have a few must-do’s of your own, keep the inspiration coming and let me know what you’re up to in the comments!

feature image by Kristen Kilpatrick

Curl Up With Your Favorite Book or Magazine

There is nothing, I repeat nothing better than spending a winter weekend bundled under blankets and cozying up to your latest read. Make the moment more indulgent by brewing yourself a cup of tea and keeping your (elevated) stretchy pants on all day. Get ready for a literary escape.

Make a Winter Playlist (or Listen to a Favorite)

While I’m always quick to say that words of affirmation are my love language, playlist-making is a close second. Filling your Spotify queue with songs that set a vibe is a cozy and creative activity anyone can easily get lost in for hours. Want to skip ahead and listen to mixes that have already been curated? Check out our go-to holiday playlist for all the songs your season needs.

Find Your Favorite Seasonal Candle

I’ve been known to burn through candles on a weekly basis. There’s something about a soft and subtle scent that brings a little beauty and brightness to any room. Plus, the impact is nothing short of stunning. We’re all about filling our homes with candles that use only clean, all-natural ingredients. If that’s true for you too, consult our list of the best non-toxic candles here.

Learn to Knit

I’m always thankful that I was taught to knit at a young age. There’s nothing I love more than busying myself with days upon days of perfecting my purl stitch. Not only is it an ideal wintertime activity, but lucky recipients will be grateful to be gifted one of your homemade creations. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend a simple scarf for your first project (try this pattern on for size). There’s also no shortage of how-to videos on YouTube for any and every knitting question you might have. Another easy point of entry? Purchase one of the many knitting kits on the market for everything you need to begin.

Take the Time to Reflect on Your Intentions

It’s never too early to be thinking about all you want to bring into your life in the new year. While there’s been a collective shift away from restrictive resolutions, getting clear on our intentions is a great way to maintain focus. Take the time to journal or vision board about what feels true for you at present. Do you want to take your career in a different direction? Looking to invite more friends and loved ones into your life? Have a creative passion you want to pursue further? Getting quiet and clear on all that you want for yourself is the first step in making your dreams happen.

Spend a Weekend Away

There’s nothing like a change of scenery to inspire a new perspective. It can look like going to the woods to unplug and recharge, booking a weekend getaway just for you, or taking a staycation in your town. Whatever you need to disconnect and look inward, give yourself exactly that.

Sort Through Your Clothes

Dedicating a Saturday or Sunday to organizing your closet will always mean a weekend well spent. Clearing out space for the clothes you actually wear is a simple way to save yourself from energy-draining decision fatigue. The Marie Kondo craze may have died down, but you can still practice the art of identifying what sparks joy. For me, that means saying goodbye to all the jeans I haven’t worn in two years (seriously), and letting all my sweaters, dresses, and skirts take center stage. 

Every good clean-out begins with a little reflection. Get realistic about the clothes that help you feel your best. Keep those and donate the rest.

Write a Letter

It’s time to bring the art of letter writing back into style. You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy a little self-expression by putting pen to paper. Simply pick a recipient and get started. Dedicating a couple of pages to sharing what’s new and on your mind is a meaningful way to catch up and connect. You can even purchase a stationary set to inspire you to start.

Cozy Up With Homemade Hot Cocoa

Fuzzy socks, faux fur blankets, and a roaring fire. There are a million ways to warm up throughout the winter, but in my book, nothing beats a decadent cup of hot chocolate. You can mix up a single mug just for you or go all-out with a hot cocoa bar full of all the fixings. Head here for all the cocoa inspo you could ever want—or try this boozy option for an after-dinner treat.

Perfect Your Cookie Recipe 

A Christmas cookie in each hand is my idea of balance. Think things can’t get cozier once you have your greenery hanging and all the ornaments are put out? Think again. There’s little that’s warmer and inviting than the smell of cookies emerging from the oven. Pick your pleasure: Classic chocolate chip, Santa’s favorite slice-and-bakes, or any of the many mouth-watering options the internet can provide. Don’t forget to share the delicious results!

Bake a Loaf of Bread

Just because it’s no longer March 2020 doesn’t mean you have to give up your bread-baking habit. Intimidated by the thought of kneading and resting your dough? Try this simpler-than-simple focaccia recipe. Not afraid to experiment with yeast and get your hands dirty in the process? Pull out this recipe for crunchy, crispy, and perfectly chewy artisan bread.

Start a Scrapbook

Turn back time and have a little analog fun. Print out pictures, gather up mementos and curate a collection of meaningful objects that make you smile. Scrapbooking combines the best of Pinterest and Instagram all into one relaxing activity. Gather up your materials (a blank book, paper, scissors, and really anything your ready-to-craft heart desires) and dive in.

Try a Virtual Class

Indulge your inner lifelong learner. Online classes are a great, low-stakes way to pique your curiosity, expand your mind, and build new skills. Airbnb Experiences offers a range of courses in everything from Argentine empanadas to learning to meditate with a Japanese Buddhist monk. Want to get creative with a range of artistic and technology-based mediums? Skillshare has an online library with thousands of classes to choose from. School’s in session.

Practice Kindness 

When we’re caught up in our own problems, concerns, and stressors, it’s easy to write off outward acts of kindness as an afterthought. But is there really anything more gratifying than bringing a little good to the world? Rather than going for a one-off, grand gesture of kindness, try to focus on incorporating small, compassionate acts into your everyday life. This can look like covering coffee for the person behind you, texting a friend to let them know they’re on your mind, or simply smiling, being gracious, grateful, and present for the people you’re with. Looking for more ways to make someone’s day? Let our list full of ideas for random acts of kindness inspire you.

Pull Out the Puzzles

Craving some downtime but can’t imagine staring at another screen? Thank goodness for puzzles. With a resurgence of interest in activities that support our desire to disconnect, it’s no wonder the good old-fashioned puzzle is making a comeback. The hobby has been shown to improve overall brain health and is an easy way to slip into a state of flow. Take on the challenge of completing one on your own or get a group together for a few extra helping hands. Get our recs for puzzles to do with your little ones or try one of these for an option that’ll keep you occupied for hours.

Try a New Workout (or Fall for a New Physical Activity!)

With the temps dipping, it can be hard to find the motivation for exercise. Keep your body guessing by switching things up in your current workout. Add resistance with weights or a band or even challenge yourself to stay present throughout the hardest parts (instead of wishing it was over already). You can also embrace the season and brave the cold with a winter sport. Can’t get enough cardio? Try cross-country skiing (if the snow permits). Want to improve your coordination and balance? Lace-up your skates and get out on the ice.

Seek Out a French Vibe in Your City

If you’re craving the romance of Paris in the winter but can’t make the trip, you can always aim to bring the essence of France to you. For me, a Parisian vibe means quaint cafés, restaurants that do rustic elegance with ease and making trip after trip to all the museums. Map out and make a day of seeing and experiencing the spots that capture the best of Paris in your city—and if you’re in Austin, check out our guide to the best French-inspired restaurants, cafés, and more here.

Have an At-Home Spa Day

Because we all deserve some self-care. Take the time for some solo rest and relaxation or invite over your friends for the ultimate girls’ night in. Pull out the nail polish, brew a little tea or pour some wine, and do whatever it is you need to recharge. Stay in, bliss out.

Host a Game Night

I’d put game night at the top of my list of reasons to gather. Supply the snacks or make a low-key meal. Ask guests to bring over their favorite game and stock up on a few yourself. Just be prepared—with the right group-and-game combo, things might get heated.

Make Mulled Wine

Make a Mug of Hot Cider

While plenty of people will be warming up with a mug of mulled wine, I’m all about the cider. A little sweet, a little spicy, cider’s right up there on my list of go-to winter beverages. There’s something about that first hot heavenly sip that hits just right. Check out these 9 cider recipes that’ll warm you right up.