When temperatures turn frigid, who doesn’t want to curl up with a Netflix queue long enough to last all winter? But after a while — or, like, a few hours — holing up indoors can leave anyone with a bad case of cabin fever. Soon enough, even screen time starts to be boring, if not nauseating. (SOS!)
What now? We’ve come up with a list of 11 winter hobbies that will make the time indoors tolerable, even enjoyable. Yep, we said it — enjoyable. The best part? These are all evergreen hobbies, so if you can’t get enough of them this winter, you can keep them up all year.
If you can’t stand the cold, get in the kitchen
Or something like that. Cooking is one of the most productive hobbies you can take on during the winter because, hey, you’ve got to eat. Winter’s the perfect time to go through the recipes you’ve saved on Pinterest or the cookbook that’s been sitting on the shelf. You can even enroll in an online cooking class, such as Gordon Ramsay’s Masterclass or America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School.
Just homebrew it
With the right ingredients and equipment, you can brew everything from beer to cider to mead (aka honey wine) at home. The American Homebrewers Association has some great tutorials and recipes on its website.
Try your hand at needlework
Yes, knitting, crochet, embroidery, cross stitch, and needlepoint sound like a grandmother’s top five favorite pastimes, but needlework can be cool (really!). Check out these modern embroidery patterns, enviable needlepoint coasters, and Wool and the Gang, a sustainable brand selling kits that let you knit or crochet clothing yourself. Sure, you’re going to have to learn the basics before you take on one of these projects, but think of them as something to work toward.
Get your game on
Still associate board games with, say, Candyland? Excuse the bad pun, but you’re in for a treat. Games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Azul, Orbis, Gizmos, and Notre Dame are less about picking the right card, more about strategic thinking. Same goes with chess and card games like poker, gin rummy, and euchre. Just add friends.
Think outside the box (or journal?) with creative writing
You don’t have to be a writer for this one. Even those of us who journal on the reg will find that creative writing’s a different beast. But that’s the fun of it. Your writing can be as wacky, witty, or refined as you’d like. You can wax poetic about something you’ve seen, but you can also pen stories about a place you’ve never been to or from another persona. Tons of prompts are online. These are a great start.
Learn the art of calligraphy
If creative writing has you thinking more about how you’re forming letters than what you’re writing about, calligraphy could be your thing. Grab some supplies, a good how-to guide, or a kit that includes both, like the Modern Calligraphy Starter Kit from Be a Heart.
Pick up another language
Sure, you took two semesters of French for class credit, but hear us out. Learning another language when you don’t have to makes a world of difference. Apps like Duolingo and Babbel make picking up a new language totally doable.
Work on your fitness
Staying inside doesn’t have to mean staying on the couch. With all of the health benefits (and mental health benefits) that come with exercise, a consistent workout plan can keep you feeling well all winter. Whether pilates or HIIT cardio is your style, you can find tons of workouts through online platforms like Fitness Blender, Booya, Pilatesology, or Daily Burn.
Do all the DIY things
This one takes a cue from modern homesteading as well as the zero-waste movement (a global movement that focuses on using less and reusing that which we have more of). Making household products isn’t just practical — it’s sustainable. Thanks to the internet, you can learn how to make natural toothpaste, all-purpose cleaner, deodorant, soap, candles, and more.
Read up on altered books (and make some)
Altered books are basically books that have been transformed through media like ink pens, colored pencil, magazine cutouts, or yarn. You can take a lot of different approaches, from making a collage to cutting or folding the pages to create a three-dimensional work of art. You can also create poems or sentences from the text, circling certain words or scratching words out. Or combine these approaches. No rules here.
Read other books, too
Even serial readers tend to stick to certain genres. We know what we like to read, and that’s that. But here’s a challenge: Take some time this winter to read books that aren’t in your go-to genres. For example, swap psychological thrillers for sci-fi or historical fiction for biographies. Reach for a self-help manual or a good spiritual book if that’s not the kind of thing you keep on your nightstand. We can learn a lot about the world (and ourselves) when we step outside our usual habits — including what we read.