Stuck at home on an unexpected day off from work or school? Netflix binges are definitely a strong contender for snow days, but there are plenty of other ways to pass the time that are productive, creative, and fun for people of all ages. Avoid cabin fever and expensive activities by doing fun things that are cheap or free and go beyond plopping down in front of the TV for hours.
Related: 10 Habits of Families With Healthy Kids
PLAY A GAME
Card games and board games are the original ways to pass the time with a few friends or family members, and they can stretch on for hours. Make a tournament out of shorter games or pick epic games like Monopoly. A few rounds of solitaire keep the brain active during downtime alone at home.
Let the creative juices flow by breaking out some paper and paint or colored pencils. Even markers or highlighters would do in a pinch. Start by drawing anything you see around you, or create something abstract. Drawing and painting are meditative and help soothe and calm any underlying stress. They're also just good old-fashioned fun.
Nothing says snow day like something warm from the oven. Cookies and cakes are special treats that supply plenty of energy for playing outside. Savory options like a casserole or lasagna are also warming and comforting on chilly days.
BUILD SOMETHING OUT OF SNOW
Building snowmen and snow forts is great exercise, totally free, and so much fun. Especially during heavy snowfalls, the possibilities are endless, from tunnels to igloos to making snow angels.
ROAST MARSHMALLOWS ON A FIRE
Warming up by the fireside can only be made better by including marshmallows for roasting. Kick it up a notch with graham crackers and chocolate to make s'mores, or keep it simple with plain toasted marshmallows.
WRITE A LETTER
With plenty of time to reflect, it's the ideal time to sit and pen a letter to an old friend, a pen pal, or maybe a grandparent or other relative. A letter is a rare token of friendship these days, since most people use only e-mail and text, making it an extra-special gesture.
GO SLEDDING OR WALK IN THE SNOW
Enjoying the snow while it is fresh can be an exhilarating pleasure. Whether you choose to take a leisurely walk in the snow or ride swiftly down a hillside, the beauty of the crisp, white snow is not to be missed.
MAKE SNOW ICE CREAM
A literal snow cone should be made from the cleanest snow possible. Load it up and pack it down into a mug or other cup, and top with maple syrup, honey, or agave for a sweet treat that is unique and delicious.
TAKE A HOT BATH
Soaking in the tub, or even just soaking your feet while you watch the snow fall, is a luxurious way to relax on a free day. Take it one step further and pamper yourself with a home spa day, and tend to the wellness practices that never seem to fit into your regular schedule.
MAKE A CHARITY PILE
With plenty of time on your hands, you can go through closets, cabinets, and drawers to pick out a few things to part with. See how many bags or boxes you can fill up and donate to a local charity shop.
While it's not the most glamorous activity, shoveling snow can be a good source of extra cash, or just an act of goodwill for those who want to help out their neighbors. It's also a good idea to tackle the walk before the next morning to ease travel once the snow day is over.
MAKE A PLAYLIST
Take some time to craft a playlist to suit your current mood, or make a few of them for different moods. If you're spending the day with others, take turns choosing songs and come away with a fun reminder of the snow day you all shared.
MAKE PLAY DOUGH
This family activity has so many benefits. Making play dough inspires creativity, and the result is an all-natural product that is safe for children, even those who tend to put everything in their mouths. A basic recipe uses just four household staple ingredients.
Strips of paper and a batter of flour and water are all you need to create endless crafts. This list of papier-mâché ideas can keep you busy for hours and also result in something useful.
MAKE A BIRD FEEDER
Turning garbage into something useful is so satisfying, and this project has the added benefit of bringing beautiful birds to your yard. A basic tutorial uses a milk carton and a few other household items. To add flair, paint the milk carton or cover it in contact paper.
ORGANIZE YOUR HOME
A leisurely snow day at home is an opportunity to tackle that closet or garage that you've been neglecting. Taking time to properly organize and tidy areas of your home will have lasting positive effects.
MAKE YOUR OWN HOT COCOA MIX
PLAN AND COOK A MEAL
Whether you are an accomplished home chef or someone who rarely picks up a pan, an entire day is enough time to consider the available ingredients and plan and execute a meal. It's kind of like playing your own version of "Chopped" with what you have on hand in the house.
A snow day can be a welcome excuse to sit down and finally tackle that scrapbooking project you've been meaning to do. If you're in the initial planning stages, go through some photos and boxes of mementos and plan out the pages for the next day off.
PLAN AN ADVENTURE
Maybe you want to plan a vacation, or just a date or an afternoon with the family. Use this downtime to research options that fit your schedule and budget.