50+ Fun Winter Family Activities That Are Better Than Extra Screen Time

DEC 13, 2023

50+ Fun Winter Family Activities That Are Better Than Extra Screen Time

The first day of Winter might not officially come until late December but most of us are already feeling it by now. As temperatures drop and kids spend less time outside, days end earlier and the allure of the screen can be even greater. 

Connection and time with the family are important priorities throughout the entire year so you might need some ideas to keep your kids engaged in healthy ways throughout the holidays (and beyond). Here are a handful to keep your kids engaged in healthy ways throughout the holidays, courtesy of Gabb:

Bring the Flavor

  1. Make your own hot chocolate bomb
  2. Bake gingerbread people (or decorate store-bought ones!)
  3. Have an afternoon tea party: serve up some juice or hot chocolate with mini sandwiches and your fanciest British accents
  4. Build an ice palace out of sugar cubes
  5. Make snow ice cream
  6. Make marshmallow snowmen. Stack ‘em 3-high using toothpicks to secure, then add shoestring licorice scarfs, chocolate chip buttons, and pretzel stick arms. Add it to the top of a steaming mug of hot cocoa for extra excitement
  7. Have a homemade pizza party
  8. Throw a pizza party with Grinch kabob appetizers while watching the Christmas classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  9. Hold a no-holds-barred hot chocolate competition: Starbucks isn’t the only one who can add a twist to a classic cup of hot cocoa
  10. Make some white trash to snack on for a family movie night. There’s no reason you couldn’t make white trash (a.k.a. white chocolate trail mix) year-round but you can’t deny it just looks like a winter treat
illustration of festive kids in the snow

Get Movin’

  1. Make frozen ice globes and decorate the yard
  2. Take a snowy hike (or go snowshoeing if you have them)
  3. Go sledding (or ice blocking if you live somewhere with no snow)
  4. Start a backyard snowball fight (or make snowballs out of paper)
  5. Turn extra boxes into spaceships
  6. Play floor is lava or, if there’s enough snow outside, create a snow maze on an untouched patch of snow
  7. Have a match of “keepy uppy” (a.k.a. don’t let a balloon touch the ground)
  8. Throw a dance party with a playlist of your favorite holiday hits
  9. Give back by volunteering in the community or shoveling someone’s driveway
  10. Family push-up contest

Spark Imagination

  1. Build a fort and cozy up inside with books
  2. Make a puppet theater with a box or to hang in a doorway
  3. Go indoor camping. Tent, sleeping bags, s’mores, the whole shebang. But inside where it’s warm and there are no bears or wolves or mosquitos.
  4. Put on your own family Olympic Games with wax paper ice skating
  5. Make a town out of boxes
  6. Create an ice rink for toys
  7. Make an igloo out of marshmallows
  8. Be a rockstar with a DIY guitar
  9. Create your own children’s book. If storytelling isn’t your strength just use this time-tested formula: a character wants something, goes on a quest to get it, faces obstacles, overcomes them, and learns something along the way
  10. Do a family story night. Invite every member of the family to think of a favorite memory to share over dinner.

Unlock Creativity

  1. Build your own snow globe
  2. Create origami of your kids’ favorite animals
  3. Make a bath bomb and take a warm bath with it
  4. Make your own potato stamps
  5. Design tissue paper suncatchers
  6. Paint snow
  7. Create shaving cream rain clouds
  8. Make salt painted snowflakes
  9. Design DIY Holiday ornaments
  10. Write and decorate a letter to a loved one

Give Back

  1. Make family gratitude jars for each family member
  2. Bake cookies and deliver them to a friend
  3. Donate unwanted clothes and toys
  4. Deliver hot chocolate to someone working outside
  5. Make a “take one” box with drinks and snacks for busy delivery drivers 
  6. Deliver a treat to the police or fire station
  7. Call a friend just because
  8. Deliver unused toys to families in need or 
  9. Sing carols at a hospital or retirement home
  10. Volunteer at a soup kitchen

Bonus: Extra Festive Activities 

  • Hold your own gingerbread house building contest.
  • Visit Santa Claus.
  • Thread popcorn to make a garland for your tree.
  • Hop aboard the Polar Express (a.k.a. your car) and drive around town listening to holiday music while looking at Christmas lights. If you’re feeling ambitious, hand out Polar Express train tickets to each child, and bring along some hot cocoa and cookies, just like in the book and movie. 
  • Make paper snowflakes (we suggest the traditional approach for the little ones, but 3D snowflakes for more advanced crafters).
  • Check out some library books on holidays you would like to learn more about, such as Kwanzaa or Hanukkah.
  • Weave a mkeka (a mkeka is a woven straw mat and is one of the seven symbols of Kwanzaa, signifying the importance of beginning all projects with a strong foundation).
  • Make a Kwanzaa necklace with dried pasta.
  • Build a spinning star mobile for Hanukkah.
  • Make your own DIY dreidel and play the game.
illustration of a Christmas elf

Additional Winter Fun: Ideas for Connecting with Your Kids

Here are a few bonus activities for good measure. Check out a few classics:

Snowmen Contest: 

Split into teams or have every man for himself. Enjoy an afternoon of friendly competition between the family—who can make the tallest, roundest, friendliest, and most creative snowman. 

Ski Day: 

Who doesn’t love a day on the slopes? Whether you’ve been skiing or snowboarding for years or fresh off the beginning training course, this is a great activity that encourages family bonding and support to try out that next-level run. 

Winter Festivals: 

Fancy some hot cocoa, lively music, and fabulous holiday lights? Many local winter festivals continue after Christmas up to the new year. So wrap up warm and take the family for a fun evening out. Check your city websites to find public holiday events and festivals for the whole family to enjoy.

Cozy Night In: 

Snow and outdoor fun is great. But after a long day, every family can benefit from a warm, relaxing activity at home. Cook up the family-favorite dinner and enjoy a lively night of board games around the table. Or put on those cozy pajamas, pop up some popcorn, and make it a family movie night. A warm night indoors can be just as fun as any other winter activity. 

Family Igloo: 

An activity that requires real teamwork, igloo-making is an excellent winter pastime for the entire family. Take time together afterward to enjoy your work by sharing a holiday treat or a warm drink inside the igloo. Then, so long as the weather holds up, your kids will have a fun hideout and place to play right in the backyard.

Ice Skating: 

If you happen to have an ice rink in your area, don’t hesitate to make this a part of your family’s winter experience. The winter season holds many traditions and staple pastimes—ice skating is definitely one of them. So put on those matching hats and scarves, lace up those skates nice and tight, and enjoy a lovely time out on the ice with the family.

Indoor Sports: 

Basketball, Racquetball, Pickleball, even Hockey. The list of indoor sports is almost endless. Spend the afternoon at a local gym playing recreationally with the family, or enjoy a night out at a major league or college game. Winter sports provide great opportunities for the family to spend quality time together.

ice skating

Stick to Your Screen Resolutions:

It can be surprisingly hard to maintain family connections during the holidays. Things get hectic so making time for quality family activities is often easier said than done. That means it can be easy to revert to screen time to keep your kids calm and entertained. But rather than falling into the trap and never-ending cycle of screen dependency, commit to your resolutions for less screen time and more family time. 

Use these ideas as tools and resources for engaging and connecting activities for the whole family—all of which require little to no screen time. Consider setting up a family tech plan. Challenge yourselves to keep your phones at home or in the car when you are out with the family. Be present without distractions, and encourage each family member to do the same. 

You will quickly notice a dramatic difference in the family dynamic when pockets and hands are void of tech and personal devices. 

We hope the very best for your families in the new year! May your newfound balance with technology fill your homes and time together with laughter, conversation, and quality connection. 


  • Alicia Ortego on Dec 27, 2023 07:14 AM

    Parenting just got a whole lot cooler with these tips on building emotional bonds! 🤟 Check out Alicia Ortego's article on family bonding activities for even more awesome ideas: https://aliciaortego.com/best-family-bonding-activities/ 🚀 Let the family adventures begin!

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