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The winter doldrums…it happens to all of us. It starts to feel like it’s been cold and snowy for months and months. You’re leaving your house less and less… only to get out for work and necessary grocery runs. The sun makes an appearance for a few minutes each day while you’re tucked away in your home or office. We start to reminisce about warm weather, easily forgetting how equally miserable the humidity can be in the middle of summer.

Admittedly, we haven’t experienced that yet this winter. But we will – I think. And one of the best ways to beat those winter blahs is to get out and actually enjoy the cold weather. So, in anticipation of the big chill that is surely coming, I’ve come up with some activities to help you fight the urge to hibernate.

Sled Riding

Such a simple thing – start at the top of the hill and get to the bottom, preferably at a terrifying speed. But oh how exhilarating. It doesn’t matter how you get there.

It can be an actual sled, complete with steel runners and steering bar. You can try a snow disc or saucer, so not only are you flying downhill at an uncontrolled speed, you’re also rotating round and round while doing so. Or use a snow tube… best way to get launched in the air after hitting a bump.

Don’t want to shell out any money for your sled riding experience? No worries. Put a piece of cardboard in a garbage bag and do some taping, or simply jump in the bag and go. You can also grab the lid to your trashcan for a makeshift sled.

Hot Chocolate and S’mores

Enjoy some chocolatey goodness – outdoors! Grab a mug of hot chocolate, overflowing with mini marshmallows of course, wrap yourself in your fuzziest blanket, and head outside. Porch sitting doesn’t have to be just for warm weather.

Neither do bonfires. If you’ve got the space to do it, build up a bonfire and tell your buddies to bring the ingredients for s’mores – a perfect way to stay cozy while still getting some outdoor time.

Play in the Snow

Haul out the hats and scarves and gloves, layer on the sweaters and fleece leggings, and just play. Engage the neighbors in an epic snowball fight. (After you’ve built your snow fort and stockpiled your snowballs, of course.) Build an entire family of snow people. Fling yourself down and create snow angels.

Paint the snow! Fill a spray bottle with water, add some food coloring, and create a masterpiece. Whether you are 5 years old or 50, there is little in life that brings just sheer joy like playing in the snow.

Feed the Birds

Ok, so this one isn’t really outside, but it’s a great DIY activity that can put a smile on your face when cabin fever starts to set in. Make your own bird feeders and hang outside where they can be seen from your windows.

Start with some large, open pinecones. Tie a string to the top of the pinecone, so you can hang from a tree branch later. If you don’t have trees nearby, you can use a plant hanger or hook. Cover the pinecones with peanut butter, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies. Then cover the cones in wild birdseed, and they’re ready to be hung. Voila!

If you don’t have access to pinecones, use stale bagels instead. Gaze out your window at all the little guests you’ve invited into your yard.

Take a Walk

I left the simplest activity for last, because it holds the most magic. Take a walk during the first heavy snowfall. There’s really nothing quite like it. Time slows down. Sounds are muted. Everything around you looks pristine and peaceful.

Walk around your neighborhood – don’t the homes look cozier now? It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. Once the snowplows get out, and people are getting back to their daily grind, it’s hard to recapture that beauty. It’s must-do once a winter.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of outdoor winter activities. Visit Raccoon Creek State Park or Brady’s Run for some ice fishing. Anyone have a pond? Once it freezes, and the ice gets deep enough, break out your old skates. Instead of driving around to look at the Christmas lights this year, park the car and take in the lights on foot.

Maybe this spring, when the first leaves sprout on the trees, we’ll be able to look back at the winter months with fondness rather than breathing a sigh of relief.