Let's face it: The long winter months can be a drag, what with the dark, early evenings and the numbingly cold (or just blah) weather. So why not plan a few “anytime" events of your own to brighten up the dreary weeks until baseball and barbecues call us outside?
In case the winter blues are fogging your mind and you can't come up with any ideas, we've got you covered. Here are some ways to perk you and your family up this winter.
Throw a popcorn party.
Everyone loves movie night — but you can jazz up the same-old, same-old by making it an event. Pick a family-friendly DVD or Netflix movie (like the Oscar- nominated Zootopia) and set out a buffet-style snack feast with bowls of air-popped popcorn. Add a variety of shake-on flavorings such as white cheddar or ranch, or unexpected toppings like chocolate shavings, Old Bay seasoning or smoked paprika. Serve sparkling clementine or grapefruit sodas in an ice bucket, and you'll be the favorite theater on the block.
Skip the doughnuts and opt for a healthier Saturday morning tradition: making smoothies together, experimenting with recipes till you find one everyone likes. (You can't get easier or more family-friendly than this one: Blend 1 cup mixed frozen berries, 1 banana, ½ cup plain Greek yogurt and ¼ cup orange juice.) Throw on a little Jimmy Buffet or other tropical music to get everyone in the summertime mood. Be sure to stock up on fun accessories like tiny paper umbrellas to make your smoothies Instagram-worthy.
Plan a winter picnic.
Just because it's February doesn't mean you can't eat fried chicken on a blanket, so grab an order to go at your nearest Food Lion. Hit up the deli department for delicious potato salad, Cole slaw and baked beans — or make your own if you're feeling ambitious. Another option: go all French countryside with baguettes, cheese and cold chicken, washed down with kid-pleasing sparkling grape juice. No picnic is complete without dessert, so stock up on some ice cream for an indulgent treat.
Host a family book club.
Winter evenings are the best time to curl up with a favorite book, whether you have a crackling fireplace or just a couple candles to set the mood. Either way, carve out an hour where everyone grabs something to read — a paperback romance, best-selling thriller or that decorating magazine you never got around to perusing in December — with no texting or Snapchatting allowed. Make storytime even more irresistible for kids by whipping up some hot chocolate dotted with marshmallows.
An all-ages spa afternoon.
Break out the robes and the good washcloths, and move to the kitchen if the bathroom isn't big enough for several people. Opt for easy, soothing treatments like oatmeal masks. To do: blend plain, dry oatmeal with warm water and any number of other ingredients, including honey, yogurt or lemon; apply to face and let dry, then rinse off. While you're waiting, soak your tired feet and legs in Epsom salts scented with lavender. Or, try an easy coconut oil hair treatment—simply saturate your hair with coconut oil, cover with a shower cap and leave it on for half an hour or so. Then shampoo as you normally would.
Host a neighborhood brunch.
Brunch is the simplest meal to build a party around. (Hello — what could be easier than a big pan of scrambled eggs?) Ask friends and neighbors to contribute one item each — pastries, bacon, croissants, fresh fruit. Make simple mimosas for the grown-ups (one part champagne, one part orange juice, made fancy with a tiny orange slice if you like) and cranberry juice for the kiddos. Set out a few simple board games and you've got a lovely, mid-winter party. Bonus: It wraps up early enough for some “me time" in the late afternoon.