Are you feeling cooped up this winter? Like you just need something to occupy your time while you (probably impatiently) wait for spring? This is your list of cheap and free things to do in the winter!
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Of course there’s plenty of free and cheap winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating or ice fishing. But those might cost money or you might just freeze!
Whether it’s focusing on yourself, or organizing your life, or participating in winter activities with the kids, I hope you find things on this list that will help you survive until spring.
Free things to do in the winter
Let’s start this list off with hobbies and interests. Sometimes we all need a little push to bring us back to ourselves. Here’s yours 😘
1. Try a new recipe
If you’ve been dying to perfect your grandma’s homemade bread, have always wanted to make dishes with fancy cheese, or want to experiment with a vegetarian diet, why wait? You’re not getting any younger, but you can definitely get braver!
Trying new a recipe expands your taste palate and can boost your confidence in the kitchen. Just go for it!
2. Create a vision board
One of my favorite winter activities! Vision boards are fun projects that help you to envision the future for yourself. There’s a bunch of research that suggests that creating and using a vision board helps you achieve goals faster. Here’s an explanation by Jack Canfield, success coach.
So think of your biggest goals for the year…or in life! Then grab some magazines (or print photos from online resources) that align with your goals and get crafty!
Consider goals in these categories to include on your vision board:
- Self development
3. Plan a vacation (a favorite on this list of free winter activities)
This is one of my favorite winter activities! Start dreaming of your next vacation and make a plan to make it happen. Don’t know where to start? Create a travel bucket list and choose a location.
Get your family involved, pick out dates to check out flights (if needed) and accommodations to get an estimate of the cost. Then figure out if and when it’s possible.
You don’t have to spend the money right now, you just need to make a plan for your next vacation.
Then when the time is right, get the time off work and dive into the details! Trip planning can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, so you could really be planning for weeks – until the weather turns and it’s springtime!
Related read: How to Save Money for Travel – Your Vacation Savings Plan
Pick your favorite charity – or charities – and ask how you can help. This is something you can do solo, with a partner or your family and friends!
Can you volunteer to walk dogs at the local animal shelter? Or stock shelves at your local food pantry? What about volunteering at your church or youth shelter? Could you host a supply drive for an organization in need?
There’s never a shortage of people that need help, and volunteering at a non-profit could make your heart happy, too. It’s one of the top free things to do in winter, and one I’d highly recommend!
5. Go back in time
Grab your old photo albums or box of old photos and remember the good times! Invite your aunt, cousins or best friend from high school over to reminisce. Grab some tea or hot cocoa and make an afternoon of it!
6. Reconnect with an old friend
Maybe so much time has passed that reaching out to your old friend would feel a little…awkward. Although maybe that few seconds of awkwardness will be worth reconnecting and will be old news by the end of the conversation!
Meet with them in person or virtually to reconnect!
So whether you reach out on Facebook or Instagram, by text or call, I bet 10 years from now you’ll be glad you did.
7. Deep clean your home
Okay so there are probably some free winter activities that you don’t love. But you probably will love the feeling when it’s done!
I mean, think about your baseboards, tops of fan blades, or (dare I say it), under your refrigerator. I know it’s not necessarily time for spring cleaning just yet, but you could absolutely get a head start on it!
This is one of the best free things to do in winter that you’ll thank yourself for later!
8. Finish your DIY project (one of the best cheap winter activities)
How many of these projects do you have? Whether you’ve always wanted to repaint your bathroom, refinish that end table or hang up those family photos, this is the perfect time to work on it!
If you’ve already started a project and just never quite got around to finishing it, what a great time to do it! Make a plan to get it done this winter.
Now, whatever items you were stumbling on or caused your delay, it’s time to make a decision! Need to find that perfect mirror before deciding on the wall color? Or pick out those throw pillows that go with your new decor?
It’s time to get 👏 it 👏 done 👏
Pro tip: to make this a free winter activity, repurpose old items or check out your local Facebook free group to find what you need.
You’ll have a new appreciation for your home, and you can check the DIY project off your to-do list!
Winter activities for kids
All parents know this: having kids can be pretty pricey, especially when they’re bored. But these cheap and free winter activities for kids will hopefully put a fresh perspective on the ordinary.
9. Game night
If you’ve got a shelf or cabinet full of games that are just sitting there, collecting dust, it’s time to get them back out!
Whether it’s a game you haven’t played for years, or the one your kids got for the holidays but haven’t touched, games are fun, free winter activities that are loved by all.
Blokus, Clue and Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza are family faves!
Create a tournament with a prize for the winner of the night – like no chores for a week! Make some popcorn and make a night of it.
And check out these fun date ideas for a free, cheap or affordable evening!
10. Do a puzzle (a classic and perfect free things to do in winter for all ages)
Grab a puzzle that’s been done 100 times, or a new one from your game cabinet and spread it out on the table. Make it a friendly competition by setting a timer and see who can get the most pieces together before time runs out.
To increase the challenge for adults, keep one hand behind your back or one eye closed!
11. Go to the library
There’s endless entertainment at the library! From thousands of books to movies and games you can rent, your kids will likely find something they’ll love!
And best of all…it’s typically all free!
Most local libraries have events, which are free to the public, too. Check out your local library’s event calendar posted on their website to see what’s happening in your area.
12. Enjoy the outdoors
This one can technically be done with or without kids! It’s great exercise when children have been cooped up all winter, and can provide hours of free entertainment…if you can stand being cold!
Of course, making snow angels and building a snowman are more popular free winter activities, too!
Organize your home
It’s time….and you know it. 😉 Whether you just got a crazy amount of holiday gifts or you’ve been meaning to do it for awhile, you might as well take advantage of the dreary weather and light social calendar to organize your home.
Here are some ideas to get you started…
13. Declutter your home (a must-do on this list of free things to do in winter)
This may not be the most exciting on the list of winter activities, but you’ll feel so good when it’s done. Go through your home, room by room (or space by space) and evaluate each item.
Have you used the item in the last 6 months? Does the item make you happy? If the answer is no to either of those things, time to get rid of it!
I personally like the approach Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist takes to getting rid of things that you don’t need. You may have also heard of the popular KonMari method as well. Here’s 101 things that can be reduced in your home to get you started.
You’ll be able to enjoy your home better when you can enjoy the space you live in by decluttering your home.
14. Organize your digital life
Have you heard the saying that there’s 2 types of people: the kind where their inbox is completely empty at the end of each day, and the one whose inbox has 3 or 4 digit notifications of unread messages?
If you’re the second personality, this organizing tool is for you.
This project is time-consuming but you’ll be glad you simplified things. Start on your email inbox and work your way up to old files and duplicate photos. While you don’t want to get rid of special photographs and memories, there’s got to be something you can get rid of!
15. Pantry or cabinet clean-out
Most of us have food in our homes that’s just sitting there and can be put to good use. Discover all the food in your house and then make a plan to eat it!
Have a leftover ingredient you bought for a recipe and didn’t use the leftovers? What about canned or packaged goods with expiration dates that are coming up or have already passed?
Even your spice cabinet could probably use a good cleaning. Get rid of anything that’s stale or expired.
Next clean the shelves and figure out what you have for food. Plan meals for the next week (or 2, or 3) based on the food you already own. So you’re saving money by not wasting food and also by cooking at home. Oh, and occupying some of your time as you wait for spring. Win-win-win!
16. Host a freezer meal prep party
Get a group of your closest friends together and invite them all over to meal prep in bulk.
You’ll have to spend money on the ingredients, but should walk away with several meals that you can keep in your freezer and pull out for quick dinners. And, it’s money you would have spent on groceries anyway, but this is way more fun. 😉
Here’s how it works: ask each person to come up with ideas for 2-3 meals that can be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled. You’ll all get together in one house to prepare everything. Then you’ll divvy up the food so each person will take several meals home with them.
Remember each person will need to bring their containers too! It’s helpful to use glass ones that can be transferred from the freezer to the fridge then to the oven (or dumped in a crockpot).
It’s something that is very easy to put off. But if you’re finances aren’t where you want them to be, there is no better time than now!
Whether you need to tone up your budgeting skills or you want to save more money for travel, this is one of the best, free things to do in winter!
17. Learn all you can about money
Podcasts, YouTube videos, money blogs and books are phenomenal ways to increase your money skills.
Here are some money topics to get you started:
- Budgeting 101: How to Make a Budget in 3 Simple Steps
- How to Save $1000 in 30 Days or Less
- 7 Money Habits to Make (or Break)
- 55 Ways to Save Money
One of the best money books I’ve read is You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. It literally changed the course of my financial future, and I recommend it to anyone challenged with money mindset.
18. Make a plan to pay off your debt
If you’re struggling with debt of any kind, it’s time to get rid of it! Whether it’s debt from credit cards, car loans, a loan from your parents, or whatever, this is your time to take control of your money.
First I’d recommend reading the resources above. Next, you’ll need to figure out what you earn and what you spend. Then create a budget and pay anything extra towards debt.
19. Set new savings goals (another favorite on this list of free things to do in winter)
If you ever want to go on vacation, buy new furniture or do a home remodeling project without feeling like you’ll be paying off you debt forever, it’s time to start a savings plan. First, you should establish an emergency fund so you have a buffer in case of emergencies.
Next you can start saving for the other things you want to buy with your money – like vacation! This is perhaps one of the most important winter activities!
So set a big – yet attainable – money goal.
Go through your finances and figure out a number that makes you a little uncomfortable, but with effort it can be done. Next break up that big goal into monthly, weekly or even daily savings goals to chunk it down. Keep track and celebrate your wins along the way. You got this!
Simplify Budgeting with the 50-30-20 Rule (and Spreadsheet)
6 Steps to Build an Emergency Fund
20. Make some money by selling your stuff
You know all those things you decluttered from your closet, kitchen or garage? Well make some money on them!
Try Facebook Marketplace or local Facebook groups. Online consignment places like ThredUp, Swap.com and Ebay can be great ways to sell your stuff, too.
Pro tip: set a minimum price point that will be worth your time. Make sure you consider the time you will spend listing the item, following up with buyers, shipping the item or meeting in person. Is your minimum $5, $10 or even $20?
Remember nobody wants your partial set of kitchen glasses or an old pair of sandals with a torn strap. Those items should be donated (if it makes sense) or recycled (even textiles!).
Also make sure the item is as valuable as you price it. Doing research in advance by checking out similar items and prices will help your item sell faster.
Just be smart and safe when selling things to someone in your own town. Find a meeting place (preferably not your home!) and at a time when it’s light outside. Go for a public place with lots of traffic. Some cities even have designated transaction locations.
21. Start a business
If you’ve had an idea in the back of your head for awhile and have never acted on it, what are you waiting for? Seriously, life is too short to not take a chance on yourself!
Whether it’s a coaching business or selling physical product, it’s time to make a plan to make it happen!
By the way, you can pretty much sell anything on an Etsy shop these days. From cute infant headbands, custom-printed signs, coffee cup sweaters to hand-made jewelry. If you’ve got a creative side, you can turn it into a business on Etsy.
22. Begin a chore chart for your kids
If your kids don’t already do household chores for money, winter time is a great time to start! Kids enjoy spending their own money, so why not have them help out around the house for commission?
Our family doesn’t call it allowance because they have to work for it, and their chores for commission are on top of regular, easier chores they already do.
To get started, create a list of extra things that can be done around the house, based on your children’s skill level. Then determine a fair value for completing those tasks. Next, it’s as easy as keeping track on a piece of paper who is doing what extra chore and when.
Set a day of the week to pay your kids (consistency is key to keeping kids excited about it) and watch them have fun with it! You can divide the household chores easier when there’s more people contributing, and paying them for their work helps them to learn the basics of money.
Were you waiting for it?! Here are a few free self care ideas to help get you through winter. Focusing your time and energy on everything above is exhausting. It’s time for you! 😘
23. Learn a new skill
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, make your own earrings or become an expert in social media advertising. Whatever the thing is that’s been on the back of your mind or in your heart, there’s not a better time than now.
There are a bazillion YouTube videos and blogs out there that can teach you what you need to know – and most of them are free!
Search on Pinterest to find inspiration and how-to tutorials and just jump in!
24. Get back to your hobby (another must-do on this list of free winter activities)
Do you remember how much fun you had years ago when you would spend hours getting creative (and really good) at painting, cooking, taking photos – whatever? How about bringing it back into your life?
Just because you’re older now, and probably more busy, doesn’t mean that your passions are no longer relevant.
So grab that notepad and start drawing again…or baking…or running. Your cup will be filled with time spent on your passions.
25. Meditate or do yoga
This is one of the most important free winter activities I can think of! It might be easier to find the time to take care of yourself when there’s not weekend barbecues, family reunions or pool parties to attend, like in the summer time.
So focus on yourself and on intentional relaxation. Meditation and yoga can be great ways to get back to yourself, and they can be free winter activities. Download free apps or watch free YouTube videos to guide you through a meditation or yoga sequence.
Free things to do in the winter
Well, spring is on the way, even if it doesn’t feel like it! From fun, free winter activities to organization and self care, there’s so much to do that doesn’t break the bank.
Let’s recap that list again, in a much more succinct fashion…
Free and cheap winter activities
- Try a new recipe
- Create a vision board
- Plan a vacation
- Go back in time
- Reconnect with an old friend
- Deep clean your home
- Finish your DIY project
- Game night
- Do a puzzle
- Go to the library
- Enjoy the outdoors
- Declutter your home
- Organize your digital life
- Pantry or cabinet clean-out
- Host a freezer meal prep party
- Learn all you can about money
- Make a plan to pay off your debt
- Set new savings goals
- Make some money by selling your stuff
- Start a business
- Begin a chore chart for your kids
- Learn a new skill
- Get back to your hobby
- Meditate or do yoga
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Monday 16th of January 2023
Hi Nikki, Thanks for the great ideas, my wife and I will definitely put some of them to good use. I just hit full retirement age this month and applied for social security. I'll continue to work some this year but slow the pace and hours! I've been self-employed most of my life and an extremely busy guy since relocating to a new State about 6 years ago. For me, it's easy to lose focus and become lazy without structure, a to-do list, and goals. Some of this is a list we can use year-round to help us stay focused on the next chapters of our golden years.
Sunday 22nd of January 2023
Yessss Mick! I truly hope you enjoy these golden years! Hopefully you can slow down a bit and find time to do the things you love - in addition to keeping yourself busy with activities worthy of your time. :) Thanks for visiting the blog!
Friday 20th of December 2019
These are great ideas! Thanks for sharing. I'm a huge fan of Dave Ramsey and I love you your suggestions. I also, need to tackle my digital files (ugh!).
Friday 20th of December 2019
Thanks Connie! Hope you get some downtime to tackle them this winter!
Wednesday 23rd of January 2019
These are solid winter tips. I seriously need to organize my digital life.
Wednesday 23rd of January 2019
Thanks Dani, glad you found them helpful. I'm in the same boat - organizing your digital files and email seems so daunting. Good luck with it!
Wednesday 23rd of January 2019
Those are great ideas! Simple and right in plain sight. I know for myself, I am working on a few different recipes to keep myself occupied.
Wednesday 23rd of January 2019
Thanks Rebecca! New recipes are a perfect (and delicious) way to pass the time until spring! Love it! :)