When the cold of winter really settles in, it can be difficult to find the energy to layer up and face the freezing temperatures or think of new activities to do in the community. For some, having new activities to look forward to keeps them going to get through the harsh winter months. For others, a familiar routine is best, but they may need something to fill the hours previously spent on warm-weather fun.
Whether you’re OK with braving the cold or prefer staying warm indoors, there are plenty of activities to try this winter. To help, we’ve put together some ideas to try at home or in the community.
Dance contest – With your favorite tunes and some prizes, you have the makings of a dance contest. Everyone can try out their best moves. And whether they’re the funniest, the fastest, or the most creative, there’s a category for everyone. If anyone in the group uses a wheelchair, try a chair-dance contest. Prizes can be homemade goodies, party hats, medals, or ribbons.
Sensory game – Being stuck inside is the perfect time to learn a new game. “What’s in the bag?” is a game that can be played by everyone. All you need are some small household objects and a bag! Pick familiar items and a few surprises. Place one item in the bag and give everyone a try at identifying it. For universal design, make sure everyone has the names of the items in their communication system before you start – icons on their device, PECS, signs, or even matching objects to pick from. Make it a cooperative game for the whole group – celebrate once all the items have been identified.
Masquerade ball – Masks aren’t just for COVID or Halloween. Why not put that mask-wearing skill to a new use by having a masquerade ball. Pull out your formal clothes or your craziest costume and make a mask to go with it. Invite friends and play a guessing game of who (or what) is it as you move around the room. Set up a themed photo corner or wall with additional items and invite folks to pose for pictures in their costumes to post on Yammer!
Closet bucket brigade – Got a closet, cabinet, or drawer that’s become a cluttered mess? Get everyone involved with a “bucket brigade” of sorting. Hand off the items one by one, and talk about which category they go in and place it in that designated bucket. When everything is out and sorted, hand the items back by category and put them in the right place. High fives all around for a clean, uncluttered space!
Bird feeding/watching – Ever wonder what the birds eat in the winter? If you’ve got a window that overlooks some trees or shrubs, you should be able to attract the local birds. Get a multi-feeder stand (like this one) and a few different types of seeds. Put different types out at different times of day to see which birds show up for what. Note sightings in a journal or take photos of the birds. Share your findings with others doing the same.
Wildlife Daily – If you love animals, check out these wildlife livestreams that are set up all over the world. Pick a time to check every day to see what’s happening. Everyone can get involved by making some predictions about what they think you’ll see. Don’t forget to include icons, PECS, signs, or objects to help everyone communicate their predictions. Check to see if you were right!
Art Project Makeover – Are you looking at a blank wall crying out for some art? That is an opportunity for a group art project. Get one large canvas, some glue, and a variety of art supplies. Each person can work in the way that suits them best – painting, collaging, drawing, paper folding, etc. Pick a theme or a set of colors to help inspire the artists. When all the pieces are ready, arrange and glue them to the canvas. Hang, admire, photograph, and share!
Outdoor and in the Community
Star gazing – The short days make it easy to get a look at the stars even if you’re not a night owl. There are many free or low cost star gazing apps to get you started. The solstice has passed but there are still many interesting celestial events to look forward to in 2023.
Snow shoeing – Snowshoeing is accessible to people who can walk, and it’s an invigorating way to enjoy a fresh snowfall and get some exercise. You can rent snowshoes at many outdoor gear stores. Check out resources online to learn how to enjoy this winter sport.
Bake for the neighbors – Trying out new cookie and cake recipes is a pleasure that can result in more goodies than you want. If you have neighbors who are elderly or are home with young children, they might appreciate a cheerful knock on the door and some freshly baked treats. Sharing with the neighbors can help make new connections that build a network of friends and supporters.
Talent Show – Everyone is talented at something! Give folks a chance to showcase what they do best. This can be a live event at a local venue. Many communities have free meeting rooms for town residents. Or organize a virtual event to bring together people across communities, especially on a bad weather day. Instead of prizes, you can practice complimenting the performer and sharing what you like about what they did, or even just tapping the clap emoji.
Progressive Lunch/Dinner – Dinner parties and luncheons can be tons of fun, but they can be a lot of work for the host. Share the responsibility by organizing a traveling or progressive party–where you eat appetizers in one location, the main course in another, and dessert in a third. Each host is responsible for preparing just one course, and the group moves from place to place to eat and enjoy a new space.