Ah, holiday break. These precious few weeks can be a time to relax and unwind, to check things off your end-of-the-year to-do list, and to create some memories with your friends and family. The winter weather means you’re probably staying cozied up at home, and that time between Christmas and the new year is perfect for some at-home indoor activities. If you’re stumped on what to do, or if you’re looking for new ideas to keep yourself and your loved ones feeling festive and entertained, read on for dozens of at-home holiday break ideas.
1. Write and send handwritten cards.
If there is ever a time where snail mail is appreciated, it’s now, during the holiday season. Gather up your loved ones’ addresses, stock up on stamps, and wish those closest to you a Happy New Year. Simple stationery is perfect, and your loved ones will feel thought of and loved.
2. Make a playlist and share it with your friends.
Playlists are deeply personal, and putting all your favorites in one place is a great way to spread some good vibes without spending any money.
3. Shop online for the perfect gift — for yourself!
You deserve it! Maybe there was something on your list that you didn’t receive this year, or you told yourself your reward for getting through the busy, high-stress season was to treat yourself. Maybe you even have gift cards just waiting to be used!
4. FaceTime with someone you’ve been missing.
Between the travel, the celebrations, and the last-minute shopping, lots of stuff falls through the cracks during the holidays, including making time to catch up with your friends. Set aside some time for a quality online hang and you’ll be reminded that end-of-the-year catch-ups are simply the best.
5. Give yourself a manicure.
I always feel better when I’ve taken some time to baby my hands and doing a mani at home makes for a perfect self-care moment. This time of year screams glittery nails to me, so if you’re feeling festive, go for it. The more glitter, the better!
6. Have an at-home spa day.
Let’s be real, December can be stressful. Take a day to draw a luxurious bath, put on a face mask, and don your fuzziest slippers. Our bodies work so hard for us, and a little R&R will feel so great!
If you ask me, nothing feels more indulgent than an afternoon nap, especially when your weekday afternoons are usually busy. My personal preference is cozying up with a blanket on the couch and falling asleep to a movie I’ve seen a thousand times. I already know how it ends anyway!
9. Make a vision board for the new year.
Take time to reflect on the year you’ve had, and decide what goals you’d like to set, or what new habits you’d like to bring into the new year. You can grab a bunch of magazines and cut and pin inspiring images onto a bulletin board, or you can go the digital route and make a Pinterest board. Bonus points for taking a screenshot of your board and making it your phone wallpaper!
If you hosted loved ones this holiday season, you may have already done this, but even if you haven’t — now would be a great time to go through your things and clear some clutter. Especially if you recently brought home gifts, clearing away some things that are no longer needed may ease some anxiety your clutter may be causing you. It will also feel good having a fresh slate heading into 2022.
I admit, I’m not a huge reader, but there’s something about having a wide-open space in my schedule that makes me want to cozy up with a good book. If you’re the kind of person who needs ample time in order to read, now might be a great time to head to the library, or pick up a book that’s been sitting on your shelf for months.
12. Cook a favorite winter dish.
For me, it’s white bean chicken chili, hands down.
This is one of my mom’s favorite winter-weather activities! Dedicate a coffee table or folding table, turn on a playlist, and zone out of everything but hunting for and connecting pieces.
Another thing I like to do when my schedule happens to be wide open is go through my closet. Donate the clothes you no longer wear or put them on Poshmark for some extra spending money.
You know that show that everyone was talking about that you never actually sat down to watch but really wanted to? Pour yourself a glass of wine or a mug of hot cocoa and watch it now.
16. Rearrange your furniture.
Switching things up can breathe new life into your space, without costing a penny.
Taking time to write out your thoughts is a great way to get them out of your head. Simply find a blank piece of paper and write, or if you prefer to write with a prompt, you can find plenty of prompts at the Isolation Journals, a creativity platform born out of the pandemic. You can also sign up for their mailing list and receive a free prompt every Sunday.
19. Learn a new language.
The language learning app Duolingo is free and it has 37 languages for English speakers to choose from, including Klingon.
20. Reconnect with a hobby.
Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve gotten to sit down and do your favorite thing. Or maybe you’ve been meaning to look into a new hobby. Now’s a great time to pick it back up. or try something new.
21. Find a cause that means something to you.
Then see if you can donate your time by volunteering. Or set up a monthly donation.
22. Get some favorites from your phone’s photo roll framed.
Lots of places like CVS and Walgreens have same-day photo printing. And if you already have framed photos around your home, perhaps there are frames that may need a refresh with a new picture.
23. Organize your pantry.
Pantries always seem to accumulate clutter, so take an afternoon to go through everything, organize what you have, donate what you won’t use, and toss what’s expired.
24. Organize an at-home happy hour.
Put out some snacks, decide what your house white and red will be, and have a signature drink available. I have been loving Haus’ Pomegranate Rosemary with champagne, and adding a sprig of rosemary on top makes it feel even more fancy and festive.
25. Host a karaoke night.
Simply search YouTube for “karaoke” and thank me later.
Or if your housemates aren’t into it, find some friends, pick a book and set a date for an in-home book club meeting, or do it virtually on Zoom.
27. Set up a snack station for mail carriers and delivery workers.
Postal workers and delivery folks have been working overtime this holiday season delivering gifts, and having a table full of snacks is just a small token of appreciation we can share, as a way of saying thank you. Set your table up with granola bars, fruit, popcorn, jerky, candy, and small bottles of water, and be sure to include a note to let your delivery workers know how much you appreciate them.
28. Become a mixologist of delicious winter drinks.
The possibilities are endless here since the winter drink canon is wide. From coffee drinks like peppermint mochas or cocktails like mulled wine or boozy hot chocolate, decide what drink you’d like, get all the things you need, and enjoy!
There are lots of ways to set this up, but as long as you have someone willing to be the host, you can play on teams or individually. Pick a specific topic like sports or entertainment, or do a mix of general knowledge. You can find a set of questions here.
30. Have an eggnog tasting.
You could also do this with hot chocolate or holiday coffee creamers. Just get a bunch of different brands of the same treat, or different flavors from one brand, and taste test them all to find out which one is the best. Make a whole thing of it by handing out cards for people to rank each one and write down tasting notes. Once everyone has tasted everything, compare likes and dislikes.
31. Bake and decorate cookies.
I started baking when I was about 10, and I’ve always loved it. I have fond memories of baking with my mom, and depending on how old your kids are, baking can be an activity you do together, or you can teach them how to do it on their own. And if your kiddos aren’t interested in the baking, there’s always decorating with icing and sprinkles!
32. Make homemade play dough.
The kids can make the dough themselves and play with it afterward, so you have two activities in one! Pull out your cookie cutters and rolling pins and spend the afternoon making sculptures and shapes. A full salt dough recipe can be found here and the good news is that you probably already have all the ingredients.
33. Make a pinecone bird feeder.
Half the fun is making the bird feeder, and the other half is watching the birds enjoy it! Spread newspaper across a table for easy clean-up, grab some pine cones from a park or the yard, and spread peanut butter on them with a plastic knife. Place the pinecone in a bag with birdseed and shake it up, then tie it with a ribbon and hang it on a tree.
Take the kids for a winter walk and fill a bag with the things that tell them it’s wintertime, like pinecones, sticks, leaves, or weeds. Come back inside and have them arrange their findings into a picture that feels like winter. Carefully glue the items to a piece of paper and then they can paint or draw to add to their scene. When spring comes, you can do this activity again and compare!
35. Donate gently used toys.
Kids can get into the decluttering game with you, and especially if they have new toys from the holidays, this might be a good time to go through what they have and donate some old toys. It’s a great opportunity to model generosity and compassion.
36. Make paper snowflakes.
Display them in your windows, or hang them from the ceiling. It’s a fun activity and results in decor that can last all winter. Win-win!
It’s never too early to impart your expert wisdom on the roasting time for absolutely perfectly melty marshmallows. If you don’t have a fireplace or firepit, you can also safely do this on your range.
A great family activity that everyone can participate in, and doesn’t involve any screens.
This is a great way to upcycle some empty jars. Carefully hot-glue small ornaments or toys to the underside bottom of a jar lid, and then kids can pour water into the jar. Add glitter, and seal the lid shut by hot-gluing some ribbon around the edges.
40. Have a living room sleepover.
There’s something so fun about being a kid and not sleeping in your bed. Even more fun? Camping out in the living room. Pull out your sleeping bags, get into pajamas, and put on a favorite movie. You can also make a special snack you don’t normally have to make it even more memorable.
If you live in a place where it snows, first of all, consider me a little jealous, and second of all, go out and enjoy it! If snowmen aren’t your thing, try snow angels, build an igloo, or have a snowball fight.
42. Make stovetop potpourri.
Slice some oranges and put them in a pot of water and add cranberries, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg. Set the stove to low and let the aroma fill your home. You can also do this with a crockpot, just set it on low. Add water as needed to keep it going.
The perfect indoor activity for when the cabin fever hits!
44. Organize a candy cane treasure hunt.
Boxes of candy canes are probably on sale around now so, hide them around your home, write up some clues or a treasure map, and set the kids out on the hunt.