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The 31 Best Playdate Ideas for When it’s Cold Outside
Baby, it’s cold outside. And as the icy temperatures set in, I’m already seeing the cabin fever lay out before us. I find myself flooded with flashbacks to my first winter as a mom when my newborn and I huddled under a blanket on our couch and watched Netflix all day, while snowflakes fell outside our windows. Yeah, that’s over.
This winter, my daughter and I will surely miss the leisurely strolls we took to the park all summer and fall. Playing outdoors with the neighborhood kids was a blast, but just because we’re cooped up inside doesn’t mean we can’t still have lots of fun. I’m looking forward to keeping my kid and her buddies entertained (and learning, too!) this winter with these playdate ideas — all perfect for chilly weather.
More Cold Weather Fun:
The 31 Best Playdate Ideas for When it's Cold Outside
Create funky objects for storage and play.
Break out the old magazines and kid-safe scissors and have the littles decorate plastic pitchers, shoeboxes, or mason jars with images and words that inspire them. Then, paint on a thin layer of regular or glitter Mod Podge to complete the look.
Photo: Jenny Studenroth
Organize a coat or clothing drive.
Text the parents ahead and ask them to bring any winter-weather hand-me-downs they have lying around the house. Get the kids involved with color- and size-coded organizing and have them decorate labels accordingly. As you do the work, talk about
charitable giving. Photo: Getty
Make hand print art.
There are so many possibilities, let them use their imaginations and get creative. For inspiration, start with this
cute tree project. Photo: Momtastic
Engage them in a game (or two) of DIY Bingo.
You can winterize
this one with plush snowmen and other wintry items. Or, keep it simple with a more traditional Bingo -- kids can practice letters and numbers by filling their boards as you call things out. Photo: Getty
Make holiday (or any theme) decorations.
Use empty gift boxes from the dollar store -- or better yet, free ones from a department store. Wrap them up like presents, or use this
brown-bag technique for something extra-special. The kids can bring theirs home at the end of the play date, and yours will make a lovely decorative object anywhere in the home. Photo: Momtastic
Put a special spin on coloring with chalkboard paper.
Roll it out on the kitchen floor for "sidewalk" play, or tape it up in the play area to let them create "wallpaper," as shown.
Have a dance party.
These are a favorite of mine and they're a perfect transition from one activity to the next. Once play dwindles in one area of the home, turn on some good tunes and have them make a dance of cleaning up after themselves. If they want to keep right on dancing after the job's done, even better!
Break out the Mancala board.
Both fun and educational, this
old school game helps them practice basic addition, subtraction, and color patterns. You can even make up your own different variations and rules. Note: This idea is definitely for kids who are past the put-everything-in-their-mouths stage. Photo: Getty
Have high tea.
Think cucumber sandwiches, hot cocoa or herbal tea, and warm crumpets with a little butter for a fun and tasty high tea. Let the kiddos help you set the table and teach them to bow or curtsy in greeting and lift their pinky fingers while sipping for added giggles.
Treat them to a day at the movies (at home).
It might seem like a cop-out, but this is a perfect opportunity for teaching the kiddos something and allowing for a bit of down time. Dim the lights, melt some butter over a big bowl of popcorn, and settle in for a documentary on space, history, or another cool topic that will keep them riveted.
Have an indoor camp-out.
Pitch a tent in your living room, or fashion one out of blankets and chairs. It's good old-fashioned fun with minimal cleanup. You can create a campfire of orange cellophane and tell stories while roasting marshmallows (cotton balls) over the faux flames (or, if the kids are older, make real
s'mores in the fireplace). Photo: Getty
Do some milk art.
DIY activity is fascinating for littles and can launch a discussion about science with bigger kids, too. Photo: Momtastic
Have a pizza party.
Roll out the crayons and markers to let them decorate paper
chef's hats while you set up healthy fixings like chopped mushrooms, olives, and turkey pepperoni in colorful bowls. Preheat while they sprinkle on the good stuff and get ready to enjoy the silence that'll come as they polish off their masterpieces. Photo: Momtastic
Get creative with edible finger paint.
activity requires minimal prep and can keep them entertained for a long time. Anything that makes them feel like they're being messy is a total win, after all. Photo: Momtastic
Crank up the heat a few degrees, break out the beach towels and sun hats, and set the scene. You can really get into it using a noisemaker for ocean waves and serving lunch out of a cooler with little umbrellas in their drinks.
Set up a fictional shop.
Arrange toys, faux food, and clothes to create a store. Help the kids draw signage and price tags out of construction paper. Depending on their ages, this one can provide a break for you -- or an opportunity to practice math skills with board game money as they "shop."
Make sock puppets.
Put all those orphaned socks in their sock drawers to good use. Pipe cleaners, felt, googly eyes, craft paint, and old, broken jewelry can all be a part of the fun. Ask them to put on a show for you afterward, and send the kids home with their own creations.
Have some fun on the farm.
For little kids, animal sounds, shapes, and textures are a blast. Corral your farm-focused books and toys (you might be surprised at how many you own -- I was!) and set them out in a heap on the floor. Guide the toddlers to group the animals by type, practicing their "moo's" and "oink's" as you go.
Craft candy-filled poppers or sparkly topiaries.
easy to do -- and no, it doesn't have to be nearing New Year's Eve for this activity to be a total blast. Photo: Getty
Play some straw games.
You don't have to go out and buy a box of straws -- you probably have extras lying around from a birthday party; for inspiration, try these
fun ideas. Photo: Getty
Decorate cards for U.S. troops stationed abroad.
Wrap nonperishable candy and other fun extras to ship with the kids' art. Check out
A Million Thanks to get started. Photo: Getty
Have a quiet reading hour.
For inspiration, scope some of our top
children's books by age and dust off (or invest in) your favorite titles. This downtime might be just what you -- and the kids -- need. Photo: Getty
Bake yummy alphabet cookies.
They're delish -- and the kiddos can practice spelling their names and other words. We love this easy
recipe. Photo: Getty
Make some salt dough ornaments.
Try out hearts, handprints, etching initials, and other personalized elements (they're not just for Christmas); here's
how to do it. Your kid's friend's parents will be so appreciative of this special playdate favor. Photo: Momtastic
Stage a full-on fashion show.
It's a new spin on dress-up. Dig out your old bridesmaid dresses and a bunch of accessories, create a makeshift runway lined with Christmas lights, and take pictures while the kiddos show off their creative ensembles.
Recreate the feeling of a park day with indoor hopscotch.
This ridiculously fun and
easy DIY lets them burn off the stir crazies and makes for some super-cute photo opps, too. Photo: Momtastic
Play the five senses game.
If you don't have balloons handy, you can use thin socks or cut off the feet of some old pairs of pantyhose; here's how to
pull it off. Photo: Momtastic
Have fun with robots.
printables are so fun. Low-key DIY projects that create fun toys for littles? Yes, please. Photo: Momtastic
Put on a play.
Pick a favorite movie and help them dress up in theme. Have them act it out for you (bonus points if you have the soundtrack to play in the background). This keeps them busy and active, while getting the creative juices flowing.
Build time capsules.
Encourage them to draw or paint a self-portrait and list a few facts about themselves today, to revisit later. You can also include cutouts from the week's newspaper. The more supplies you dump out on the kitchen counter, the more fun this activity becomes.
Let them entertain themselves.
After all these creative ideas, this one seems out of place. But sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids is give them a break from our relentless planning and assistance -- and let them make their own fun.
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