The cold weather has moved in. The snow is falling (for some of us, at least). Schedules quickly fill up with holiday preparation and planning and winter playdates. With the changing seasons also comes the need for new types of fun to be scheduled—for children and parents alike.
Coming up with great activities that’ll give everyone a much-needed break during the winter months isn’t always easy. It may seem like you have many more options for the rest of the year, but we promise that doesn’t have to be the case. Read on to see which of our favorite winter playdate ideas you can jump on board with.
Outdoor Playdates Made for the Elements
1. Go Sledding, Cross Country Skiing, or Tubing
An hour or two full of snowy adventure is guaranteed to result in happy, tired out (AKA bedtime ready!) kiddos with memories to last for years. Babies or toddlers? Bundle up, swap the strollers for sit-in sleds, and get your steps in while walking with your best mom friends! Break out the sunscreen alongside the snow pants because UV rays don’t disappear when the days get shorter.
2. Take a Trip to the Ice Rink
Another great seasonal option for burning serious energy while having serious fun, ice skating is an ideal activity for older children. Moms and dads can sit back and visit (or relax) while supervising from a distance. Don’t forget to double up on the wool socks.
3. Host a Backyard Snowman-Building Contest
Or an igloo-building challenge. Whatever your youngsters prefer, this one is free, convenient, and will provide endless entertainment. The winner can choose which movie to warm up and wind down with afterward!
4. Set Up an Afternoon of Snow Angel-Making
Another low-prep, free activity right out of the comfort of your own home, making snow angels is a childhood must. For added fun, provide your little ones with “snow paint” (made simply of water and food coloring) and watch them get creative, perfecting their masterpieces.
Indoor Playdates That Give All the Warm Fuzzy Vibes
5. Throw a Bake-a-Thon
Sugar cookies, fudgy brownies, you name it. Who can resist fresh-from-the-oven goodness when the weather outside is frightful? Kiddos get to practice independence in the kitchen (to an extent; moms and dads stand by!) while reaping the delicious rewards of their effort. Before calling it a day, provide each child with a to-go box (or baggie) for a cookie exchange.
6. Invite Friends Over for a Hot Chocolate Party
Like a tea party but winterized. Give each child a paper cup to decorate with crayons, markers, and stickers before pouring, add some fun mix-ins (think: mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, whip cream) and finger foods, and voila—instant celebration. Incorporate their imaginations by inviting stuffed animals and encouraging children to raid the dress-up closet beforehand.
7. Make a Day Out of Gingerbread Housebuilding
Gingerbread people, houses, a whole village. Let their imaginations soar with this crowd-pleaser. With a handful of simple items like graham crackers, mini marshmallows, and chocolate candies, kiddos can work together to create the ultimate gingerbread community. Or they can let their competitive sides run wild as they face off for titles like “most likely to be eaten before going on display” or “most festive.” You could even challenge your young artists to create scenes from their favorite books or movies.
8. Host an At-Home Talent Show
An excellent option for maximizing entertainment for the kids while minimizing parental preparation, hosting a living room talent show is sure to be a hit. You can knock things off your to-do list around the house while your little performers prepare and practice. Then everyone can gather for a show unlike any other. Win-win!
9. Get Crafty With a Dining Room Table DIY Session
Whether your children are interested in painting, beading, creating critters out of popsicle sticks, googly eyes and feathers, or other arts and crafts, the winter playdate ideas are endless. Set up ready-to-craft stations or let their creativity run free. Either way, nobody goes home empty-handed.
10. Treat Your Littles to a Pizza and Pajamas Party
Order out, pop a frozen pie in the oven, or let everyone create their pizzas—the choice is yours, and they’re all good ones. With additions like cozy pajamas, a movie marathon, and board games, this playdate can be custom-planned to score rave reviews from everyone.
Out and About Playdates to Beat the Winter Blues
11. Check Out a Holiday Market or Winter Carnival
Look at your local community events calendar to find out what’s happening near you for winter playdate ideas. Wintertime is a perfect time to take advantage of unique, outside-of-the-box seasonal events (which often involve free or cost-friendly children’s activities). No planning is involved apart from the carpooling.
12. Head to a Local Museum
For an educational spin on socialization, gather the youngsters and head to your local science museum, art museum, or play museum. This playdate provides ample opportunity for discovery, hands-on learning, and a kid-approved good time. Make a true date of it and pack lunch or extra cash for onsite vendors (be sure to call ahead to find out your museum’s policies).
13. Visit an Aquarium
Suitable for infants, toddlers, and older children, the aquarium offers a sensory experience unlike any other. Plus, what better way to escape the wintry forecast than by surrounding yourself with beautiful sea life? You might even be able to catch a sea lion show or demonstration.
14. Wander Through a Botanical Garden
Another winter playdate outing combining sensory exploration with learning and fun, botanical gardens offer guests an awe-inspiring change of scenery—even in the gloomiest of months. Remember to bring your camera!
15. Get Your Jump on at an Indoor Trampoline Park
Perfect for lively little thrill seekers, indoor trampoline parks often offer structured jump times based on age, which includes toddler time! Moms and dads can join in the fun—and clock a full-on workout for the day—or, at the very least, rest assured in knowing young jumpers are safe from any big kids.
16. Sign Up for a Mommy-and-Me Class
Essentially big, structured winter playdates in and of themselves, mommy-and-me gymnastics, music, and dance classes are just a few examples of what’s out there for mamas and minis. Go with a friend or plan to make one (or many) there. You won’t regret it.
Playdates That Give Back
17. Plan a Holiday Card-Making Party
Encourage little ones to get in the season’s spirit by selecting an organization or group of people to make Christmas cards (or “just because” cards) for. Perhaps they’ll choose the local children’s hospital, a senior living facility, or a homeless shelter. Or they might opt to surprise family and friends. A stack of construction paper and a box of crayons are all your tots need (but stickers and glitter glue are always welcome!).
18. Organize a Morning of Caroling at a Nursing Home
A feel-good experience for both kids and adults, caroling at a nursing home is sure to yield smiles all around. Afterward, head to your favorite cafe to catch up with your friends over coffee while the kiddos enjoy a snack together.
Wintertime is synonymous with cold, dreary days that drag on just a tad too long for many of us. It doesn’t have to be a season to dread, though. Don’t sleep on scheduling these winter playdate ideas for the months ahead. We promise you’ll be glad you did!