Ugh. "Fall back" is right. It’s dark before I leave the office and getting darker every day. The increasingly frigid weather means my days of biking to work are numbered. Everyone has a limit, and my hard limit is 35 degrees, no snow or ice. But pretty soon, slushy 20-degree days will be the norm.
I will admit that despite living in the Northeast (and the great City of New York), I am a “3-Season Man." Spring, Summer, Fall. No need for Winter, thank you very little. Winter depresses me. It’s dark and cold. No one is playing outside, and that is my whole thing. And instead of joining us for dinner or a walk in the park or a soccer game, my friends hibernate, crawling onto their couches for marathon binge-watching sessions. That kind of withdrawal isn’t good for anyone.
So, what am I to do?
I’m not moving anywhere tropical. I can’t go on vacation for three months, and I’m not — nor will I ever be — a snowbird.
But I’m an optimist, so I’m not giving up hope. To fight against the urge of idling and isolation, here are 4 playful activities I do during the winter to help me have fun with the people I care about, who can brighten up my days until those flowers bloom and those birds chirp again:
1. Watching college hoops.
Many of you know that March Madness is my favorite time of the year (end of winter and best sporting event ever!) so I don’t take the beginning of college hoops season lightly. That’s why on Tuesday, I hosted a party with 10 of my closest friends, with two TVs going: one showed back-to-back college basketball games on ESPN, and the other showed us the midterm election returns.
But I try to do more than just stay in. I also buy 2–4 tickets for local pre-season basketball tournaments and go see some of the local teams like Columbia, St. Johns, and Seton Hall. By buying these tickets in advance, I’m guaranteed to break out of my cocoon every few weeks to see friends, family, and a sport I love.
2. Getting in the holiday spirit.
Living in New York City really helps bring out the holiday spirit. The tree in Rockefeller Center. The windows at Macy’s, Saks, and the many department stores radiating with bright lights and shiny tinsel. The holiday “villages” at places like Bryant Park (ice rink included). It’s pretty magical. My family and friends plan outings to enjoy December and really drive that holiday spirit.
But no matter where you live, grab your mittens and take a simple walk around the block to check out the lights and decorations in your community. Or if the weather is too brrrrrrrr to brrrrrring yourself to go outside, invite friends over for hot cocoa and board games while holiday movies play on your TV.
Speaking of the holiday spirit…
3. Attending holiday parties and charity galas.
Who doesn’t like to dress up a bit and go to a nice party? This from the guy who wears a t-shirt and shorts to work most days. But occasionally, it’s nice to get dappered up for a night out. And lucky for all of us, loads of people and organizations plan holiday parties around this time of year. So, why not bring yourparty to their party?
In my house, we plan our lives around the few annual holiday parties our friends host. They are part of our family holiday traditions. We also love to select a charity gala or two to support organizations we are part of and charities we feel passionate about. Being a part of these community events is a great way to give something AND get something meaningful in return.
4. Saving yourself from your worst habits.
I know myself well enough to recognize that once winter sets in, I often lack the motivation to make fun things happen. That’s why, in the fall, I try to set myself up for success by planning winter activities in advance.
So, I try to plan regular gatherings with a small, intimate group of friends. Personally, I love to cook, so I find it really gratifying to invite friends and family to my home so I can host dinner parties. That also inspires me to keep it fresh and interesting with my cooking, which is a pretty nice added bonus.
But these can’t be the only ways to stave off the winter blues. So I’m asking for your help. What else do you do to make sure to keep fun in your winter? Comment below to join the conversation!