Winter is upon us and cold temperatures and unpredictable weather naturally lead to spending a lot more time indoors.
Fidgety families can take a break from the winter blues by busting free from their four walls with these 10 Winter Picnic Ideas that put a frosty seasonal spin on the popular family pastime.
Taking a meal to Grandma’s house is a great way to spend time together as a family. It’s also a nice way to say thanks for all the love and attention Grandma gives. It’s fun to take everything you need to make dessert and bake cookies, brownies or build ice cream sundaes together.
Bringing a cheerful winter bouquet or centerpiece for the table also makes a great gift. After eating, you can play cards or board games, or just spend some quality time talking and reminiscing.
Organizing a group playdate at a friend’s house is a fun way to break up the winter routine.
Pick a hosting house and invite friends and parents to spend an afternoon or evening sharing food and playing games or doing crafts. You can also choose a theme like pirates, Super Heroes, the jungle, or space travel and tailor food and activities accordingly. Having everyone bring a dish to pass, a game, or activity to take some of the pressure off the host.
Many communities have a hands-on children’s museum filled with all kinds of fun and educational activities for families to enjoy together. They usually feature interactive exhibits about science, nature, electronics, and creative arts like puppet theaters, dress up rooms and even a scaled down grocery store. A Google search for “children’s museums” should bring up museums or science centers within a feasible driving distance. Pack a cooler with lunch and share a fun-filled day.
Indoor Sports Dome
Kids love to go to the park to run, climb and play during the summer. During cold winter months, an indoor sports dome provides a great alternative. Many centers offer golf, soccer, basketball, and indoor rock climbing. Get energized by sharing lunch or dinner together. You can order food there or bring pizza or subs or your own favorite snacks to enjoy.
Roller or Ice Skating Rink
Going roller skating or ice skating at an indoor rink is a great way for families to burn off some pent up energy and feed their craving for outdoor activity. Although ice skating will still require bundling up, an indoor rink offers protection from the elements. Some rinks also have bounce houses, laser tag and other activities. Skating and bouncing is great exercise and will help you work up an appetite for a shared lunch or snack break.
The community section of your local newspaper or a look at your city or township online calendar is a great way to locate the date, time and location of a winter carnival or festival. Activities can include an ice sculpture contest or exhibit, skating, crafts, snow plow races, face painting, games and more. Carnivals can be indoors at a local school or community center or outdoors in a town square. Many vendors offer foods like hot dogs, roasted chestnuts, frosted cookies and hot cider.
It’s easy to long for a hot sunny day at the beach when the snow really starts to pile up outside. An indoor waterpark is a great getaway destination which gives the entire family an opportunity to put on bathing suits and share some fun swimming and splashing together.
There are usually plenty of poolside tables to enjoy a meal or snacks. Many water parks are part of a hotel. If the budget allows, consider staying for a night or two to turn the outing into a mid-winter vacation. If time or finances are limited, most parks offer half-day or one-day recreational passes.
The food court at the local mall is a great place for busy families to take a break from hectic schedules and share a meal together. Food is generally inexpensive and the restaurants offer a wide array of cuisine from Asian wraps, to tacos, pizza and salad to suit a variety of tastes.
Many malls feature a play area for younger kids with climbing structures or carousels. Spend time window shopping together or catch a movie if the mall has a movie theater connected.
Talk to your pastor or youth pastor and organize a fun indoor winter picnic for the congregation to enjoy in the church fellowship hall or family center. Make it a potluck and post a sign-up sheet for main dishes, sides and desserts outside the sanctuary following Sunday service a week or two in advance. You could also plan and incorporate skits, musical performances or a special sermon to turn the meal into an inspirational event.
One of the best ways to overcome winter boredom is to embrace the opportunity for outdoor fun that a big pile of snow presents. Sledding is a tried and true family activity that has transcended generations. If everyone is properly bundled with snow pants, winter coats, boots, hats and gloves a trip to the nearest sledding hill is a great way to create lasting childhood memories.
Safety is of utmost importance so be sure to outfit yourselves and your kids with the appropriate safety gear. Kidshealth.org offers some great sledding safety tips including avoiding icy hills and hills that aren’t too steep with a nice flat spot at the bottom for gliding. Wear a winter sports helmet, avoid scarves or clothing that can get caught in a sled and cause strangulation, have adults ride with younger kids and go down the hill one at a time, with one person on sled except for adults with younger children. Taking a break to enjoy sandwiches and a hot thermos of soup or cocoa in the car is a great way to warm up and get re-energized.