There are few things more welcoming than a cozy night in during the holidays. But here’s a way to make it even more relaxing – spend the day leading up to it outdoors. Here are 7 ways to enjoy the fresh air together this holiday season, without having to travel very far from that cozy chair.
1. Campfires = Comfort and Joy
A good goal to set for your cold-weather backyard party is to give people as many reasons as possible to stay outside – and an outdoor heat source is a surefire way to make that happen. By having a campfire going, you provide the family with a central spot to warm up, recharge, and maybe even sing a carol or two.
Our bodies burn energy when it’s cold, so providing some piping hot eats will both restore that energy and warm the crew up. How to do that while keeping everyone outdoors? Make a hearty Crock Pot dish and have it plugged in on the porch. Fire up the grill for a winter BBQ. Fill some heavy-duty thermoses with hot chocolate, coffee or tea – they’ll stay hot for hours. Or if you’re feeling ambitious and want to involve the whole fam, check out these campfire cooking recipes and s’more-making tips that are easy for kids and grown-ups alike!
If there’s a few inches of snow in the yard, even better! Challenge the family to a snowman-making competition, unleashing their imaginations and competitive spirit at the same time. Give everyone a set timeframe (use your phone’s clock app to avoid any timing disputes) and have a blast watching your loved ones exercise their creative muscles. And to keep things warm and friendly, instead of declaring a “winner,” make sure everyone gets a superlative award – e.g. Most Festive Snowman, Funniest Snowman, Best Dressed Snowman.
That layer of snow adds a new realm of fun to some traditional lawn games as well. Play bean toss (aka cornhole) with snowballs instead of bean bags. Set up an archery target for a game of snowball darts. Play horseshoes the same way you would in the summertime. Or, if it isn’t too windy, you can have games of cribbage or Scrabble set up on the deck, within arm’s reach of all that tantalizing food.
A guaranteed way to stay warm out there is to work up a sweat. And all you need to do this, while simultaneously entertaining your kids, is a good pull sled or snow tube. Using a shovel, carve out a circular sled run in the yard. Then tell your kids to hop aboard the Thrill Ride Express as you pull them around the loop, a little faster each time. Their squeals of glee will be a better motivator than any trainer.
If there’s been a big snowfall in your neighborhood, strap the whole family in snowshoes and tell them you’re going on an expedition around the block. Together you’ll take on the howling winds and looming snowbanks in search of polar bears, or penguins, or that most-elusive Abominable Snowman. When you get back home, reward your brave adventurers with a celebratory mug of hot chocolate.
In between those physically demanding activities, give everyone a breather with some good old-fashioned holiday crafting – inspired, of course, by the outdoors. For example, ask everyone to find a pretty pinecone and bring it to a table set up with craft glue, glitter and ribbon. Just paint the pinecone with the glue, roll it in some glitter, stick the hanging ribbon on top, and voila – instant homemade ornaments!