Wondering what to do with yourself during the snowiest stretch of the calendar? Fear not. If there’s one thing we humans excel at, it’s devising ways to kill time. Whether you’d like to explore the icy wilderness or stay indoors, there’s lots of fun to be had in the winter season. From snowshoeing to duct-tape art, these winter hobbies will make the frosty days fly by.
Because of Earth’s position inside the Milky Way, night skies in the Northern Hemisphere look clearer during the months of December, January and February. Use this opportunity to look out for the Pirate Moon Cluster. Or the Crab Nebula. Or one of our neighboring planets. The cosmic spectacles are legion this time of year.
2. Snowflake preservation
With ordinary microscope slides, you can keep snowflakes in your home long-term — like tiny, au naturel works of art. One popular technique calls for good, old-fashioned hairspray. Apply some of this stuff to a freezer-chilled glass slide. Then, bring the slide outside on a snowy day. After letting a flake or two stick to the hairspray, deposit the slide in an unheated area (like your garage). Eventually, the spray will dry and you’ll have a perfectly-preserved snowflake imprint. If hair products aren’t an option, a drop of superglue — carefully placed onto the flake in question — might do the trick.
Liven up your handwriting this winter. In the age-old art of calligraphy, concentration begets relaxation — and there’s nothing more relaxing than an afternoon spent with a dip pen and bottled ink when those icy winds come howling at your doorstep.
Skiing is great and snowboarding can be a blast. But for those who like to drink in wintry landscapes at a more leisurely pace, snowshoes are hard to top. Ski resorts and national parks will often let snowshoe enthusiasts hike their trails — and some places offer technique classes to boot. You’ll discover that snowshoeing is a good way to keep trim; one hour’s worth of trudging around in these things can potentially burn over 800 calories (depending on the terrain).
Master your basic folds and before long, you’ll be on your way to filling the house with paper cranes, parchment poochies, and faux flowers.
For pack rats and family historians, scrapbooking is a perfect fit. Arranging birthday cards, ticket stubs, and other mementos from all the fun times you’ve had with loved ones into an attractive little volume sure gets the creative juices flowing. It can also be a deeply nostalgic experience, every bit as comforting as a homemade blanket or crackling fireplace. Best of all, you don’t need to scrapbook alone. Call some old friends, break out the scissors, and let the good times begin.
7. Beer brewing
They say opposites attract, but sometimes, an ice-cold brew really hits the spot on a chilly day. Luckily, for novice and veteran home-brewers alike, there are loads of great recipe kits out there. Kettles, fermenters, and stir-spoons are all must-haves, regardless of your experience level.
8. Duct-tape art
Comedian Red Green called it “the handyman’s secret weapon.” Turns out duct-tape is also a darn good medium for craftspeople. On the wilds of the internet, you can find tutorials on how to make everything from belts to beach bags using this sticky stuff.
9. Winter camping
We get it: Sleeping outside in January isn’t a tantalizing prospect to some people. But pitching a tent in knee-deep snow is a wonderful way to enjoy the solitude of the outdoors at a time when campsites tend to be less crowded. Just be sure to pack waterproof gear — and whatever you do, never, ever let your socks get wet.
10. Winter birding
A lot of our favorite birds remain active in the colder months. For example, the famous northern cardinal never migrates, opting to stay put all year round — even when the snow gets thick and temperatures plummet.
With insular clothing and a decent pair of binoculars, you can seek our feathered friends on the tranquility of a winter’s day. And if citizen science is your game, consider participating in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count next winter. Launched in 1900, this is a yearly census wherein dedicated hobbyists keep a record of every bird they observe in the field from December 14 through January 5. Conservation efforts really benefit from their accumulated data.