It’s been pretty darn cold for at least the last week, but winter didn’t officially kick-off until December 21. Now that the season is in full swing, here are 13 ways to celebrate it, one for each week.
Look at the Christmas Lights
Every year, my husband and I drive around the neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. I love both the major displays with animated characters and thousands of lights, as well as the simpler strings of pretty colors. If it’s not too cold, you could also walk, but we have a lot to ground to cover, so we drive.
Drink Hot Chocolate or Spiced Cider
What better way to welcome winter than by sipping a warm drink by the fire? Hot chocolate is a traditional choice, but I prefer spiced cider. All you need is a bottle of apple cider, cinnamon sticks, and rum (optional). You can also get fancy by adding orange juice, cloves, or nutmeg. A quick Google search will reveal a treasure trove of spiced cider recipes.
Build a Fire and Read
When the weather is stormy, I love to start a fire and curl up with a good book. It’s so peaceful and quiet – something we often don’t have time for in our busy lives. This winter, take an hour for yourself.
If you live anywhere near snow, sledding is a must. Stop by a sporting goods store for a flippy flyer, then drive to the nearest sledding hill. Even I can go sledding and I live in Los Angeles. If you live in Florida or South Texas, you might have to take a pass, but everyone else should make the effort. It’s worth it.
Go Ice Skating
This one’s doable no matter where you live – nearly every city has an indoor ice skating rink, and many cities set up outdoor rinks in the winter. Check your local community calendar or website for hours and locations. You don’t need to own skates – they’ll rent them to you at the rink.
Drive through the Mountains
If you live near the mountains, take this opportunity to drive through them. There may be snow scattered on the peaks in places where the snow doesn’t make it to the lower elevations. It will also give you a better appreciation for the year-round beauty of nature.
Wait several weeks after the holidays, then make a fresh batch of rich, gooey fudge. It’s a sinful treat in the midst of a dark and gloomy season. You may already have a traditional recipe, or I recommended several in a previous holiday cookies post.
If you haven’t baked bread before, you must try it. The smell of fresh bread baking in the oven is heavenly, as is ripping apart a still-warm loaf and slathering it in butter. No matter how fancy a loaf you buy at the store, it will never taste as good as one you’ve baked fresh in your own oven. Here’s a basic bread recipe from Alton Brown.
Make a Pork Pie
I recommended it for the fall, and now I’m recommending it again. It was a hit at a recent party I attended. Remember, it serves about 12 people, so plan for a large party that night. Invite everyone in to play games, eat pork pie with a nice salad, and enjoy a roaring fire.
Host Open that Bottle Night
The wine critics invented an occasion they call “Open that Bottle Night.” Invite to bring a bottle of wine they’ve been saving but never found the right time to use it. Some of the wines will have gone bad, but some will be delightful. The company and stories are sure to be wonderful. This year the official date is February 28, so it’s also a great way to help winter wind to a close.
Grow a Hyacinth Bulb Indoors
The hyacinth is the first flower of spring, but it’s also the last flower of winter. The traditional growing time is early March. Buy a hyacinth bulb and grow it in a small vase inside your home to help spring hurry along.
Have a Soup or Casserole Party
Ask every couple (or pair of friends if you’re inviting single friends) to bring a pot of soup or a casserole. Ask them also to bring recipe cards to share with everyone else. If you don’t have enough dishes, either ask them to bring those or hit the dollar store to stock up. When it’s cold and stormy outside, there’s nothing like hot soup or a hearty casserole to warm your insides up. Turning it into a party makes it even better.
Try Other Traditional Dishes
You may have grown up with traditional dishes from your culture, but how many dishes from other cultures have you tried? Try as many as you can. Some hearty winter ideas: tamales, empanadas, Yorkshire pudding, perogies, latkes, and borscht.
Once you get through this last, spring will already be upon us. Do you have additional ideas for celebrating winter? Tell me in the comments.