The Best Ideas for Winter Fun At Home When You Can’t Travel

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If you’re lamenting the fact that you can’t travel this winter, you are not alone. It’s painful to be stuck at home for months on end if you are a traveller at heart—especially if you dream of a warm winter vacation.

Chin up!

There are still some great ways to have fun at home and make the most of your time.

Of course, there are the usual winter sports: sledding, building snowmen, ice skating–B-r-r-r! Or, read on to hear other ideas for winter fun at home when you can’t travel.

That way, you’ll be sure to enjoy your time at home this winter, snow or otherwise.

winter sled in snow | Enjoy Travel Life

CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn about the best ideas for winter fun at home when you can’t travel, including:

Write a Memoir, Book, or Poetry Collection

writing time with coffee | Enjoy Travel Life

Writing any kind of book is one of the most ambitious projects you can take, yet one of the most rewarding. If you are spending a decent amount of time at home, you may use the time to start to plan your own memoir, book, or collection of poetry. 

You might:

  • Pen a memoir of your travels around the world or to a certain destination
  • Capture your biography or family history for future generations
  • Write and illustrate that children’s book you’ve dreamed of
  • Share your expertise in a helpful “How To” book
  • Try your hand at a short book of poetry

This is an opportunity to let those creative juices flow and immerse yourself in this writing project. You’ll be surprised how many random ideas you’ll come up with and how much fun you’ll have brainstorming and getting your thoughts on paper.

Pour yourself a hot cocoa (or latte) and start writing. The 12 weeks of winter offers the perfect timeline to plan, outline, and draft your writing project.

Be sure to give yourself a goal and commit to a routine; you’ll be done in no time!

Decorate All Day Long

Trimming the tree and hanging lights is a holiday tradition for many families, but it can be hard to know where to start.

One way to get everyone in the spirit is to have a decorating party.

Gather everyone together and spend the day putting up lights, stringing garlands, and stuffing the stockings.

It’s a great way to make memories and get into the holiday spirit.

For indoor decorations, think about DIY options. You can make custom ornaments with the kids or bake gingerbread houses from scratch.

There are also plenty of ready-made options at your local craft store.

Whatever you choose, make sure it reflects your family’s style and personality.

Outdoor decorations are a great way to show your holiday cheer to the neighborhood.

Lights are always popular, but you can also go big with inflatables. Blow up a custom inflatable snowman or Santa Claus and put him in your front yard.

You can even get inflatables that light up at night. Whatever you choose, make sure your outdoor decorations are safe and secure.

With a little planning and creativity, you can turn to decorate into a fun-filled family activity. So get started early and enjoy the holiday season.

Make the House Cozy 

cozy bedroom in winter | Enjoy Travel Life

If you are going to be spending more time having a staycation this winter, it is important to make your home as cozy and comfy as you possibly can. 

This includes adding beautiful soft furnishings to the house, such as luxurious blankets and cushions, as well as new fleecy bedding. In fact, if you’ve never had flannel bed sheets, now is the time to indulge yourself!

Think about investing in a weekly delivery of fragrant fresh flowers. Spoil yourself a little while supporting a local florist.

You might even consider installing a gas fireplace in the living room for extra ambiance, and making your home more accessible to aging family members with threshold ramps.

Finally, make each room more inviting with some well-placed candles and soft lighting.

The bottom line is, the more homey your house is, the better you will feel while you’re there. Especially when it’s snowing.

Get Gardening 

amaryllis indoor bloom | Enjoy Travel Life

If you are stuck at home and looking for a project to sink your teeth into, gardening can be a brilliant idea. It’s also a good excuse to be out in the sun and get some exercise.

This is one of those cases where it does a body good just to be connected to Mother Nature.

Plus, with your garden, you’ll be able to get creative and have fun coming up with outdoor and cut-flower displays for you and your family to enjoy while you’re home.

But, depending on where you live, you might not be able to garden outside year round. 

That’s okay.

Beacause a gardener’s work is never done, even when it’s cold outside.

If your climate is cold, winter is a perfect time to do some planning. It’s arguably the most creative time of the year. For instance:

  • Draw design inspiration from your travels, as well as world botanical gardens like Monet’s Garden, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, or the Palace of Versaille.
  • Visit virtual garden tours for fresh and unusual plant varieties, combinations, or garden features.
  • Have some fun scouring gardening catalogs to select and order your seeds and maybe even a few new perennials. 
  • Peruse home & garden design magazines for inspiration.
  • Stock up on new garden tools or garden equipment you might need. 

In fact, there’s no better time to plan your spring garden than the winter. While you’re at it, you might also think about planting a live Christmas tree this year as a beautiful, lasting addition to your home landscape.

As winter progresses, you will want to start planning the vegetable garden and start seeds indoors to get a head start on the new season.

Take Up Indoor Gardening

Another great winter gardening activity is caring for indoor houseplants.

They add life, filter air, and bring fresh oxygen into your living environment. Not to mention, they round out a room’s decor. 

You might want to include easy-care houseplants, like these, to spruce things up a bit and occupy your time.

10 Easy-to-Grow, Low Light Houseplants

Most of these houseplants require low-light and are hard to kill, if you’re worried.

  • Chamaedorea
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Dragon Tree
  • Heart-Leaf Philodendron
  • Japanese Sago Palm
  • Spider Plant
  • Snake Plant
  • Weeping Fig Tree

Easy Indoor Flowering Plants

You might even like to try some flowering plants indoors for a color pop. Consider:

  • African Violets
  • Amaryllis
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Paperhites
  • Orchids

Trust me, it’s hard not to be cheery around these flowering beauties!    

Plan A Movie Night

movie night at home | Enjoy Travel Life

Movie night is a fun escape from the present reality. Just because you aren’t able to go to the cinema right now doesn’t mean you can’t have a great night “out” at home. 

To create the perfect environment for movie night, you’ll want to:

  • Black out all of the windows in your living room
  • Gather up some extra pillows and blankets for the couch
  • Make some popcorn
  • Stir up (or shake!) some cocktails or pour a craft beer
  • Bake up some cheesy nachos for intermission 

Then, you can settle down for a fun night. You might even want to make movie night a regular weekly event so you have something to look forward to. 

And, if you want to go the extra mile, put a Phillips hue light strip on top of the television. It will track the colors of the screen for a more entertaining effect. 

Movie buffs, take note. You might find this movie setup is a good test-run if you’re thinking of a home theater basement remodel.

As a travel-lover, you might choose movies set in destinations you enjoy or want to visit, or go for foreign films and subtitles.

And don’t forget to incorporate a little time-traveling with some movies from a different era.

Casablanca, anyone?

Have Fun on Game Night 

colorful board game | Enjoy Travel Life

You can bring the entire household together by organizing a game night, so break out the board games as well as the drinks.

Add to the casual vibe with a simple buffet dinner with sandwiches, nachos, mini pizzas, and more.

You might up the game stakes by creating a leaderboard or whiteboard highlighting who’s in the lead. If there are enough of you at home, break into teams or go it alone and see who is the winner at the end of the night. 

As far as what to play, you can opt for the old standbys of Monopoly, Scrabble, The Game of Life, or Trivial Pursuit for some nostalgia.

Or, try some newer fun games: Off Topic, Hero Mentality, or Trekking The World: A Globetrotting Family Board Game. 

You could even try playing some authentic international games to connect with your genealogy or from different countries to satisfy your wanderlust.

Here is a list of board games from around the world you may have never heard of but are popular in other parts of the world.

20 Traditional Board Games of the World (By Country)

  1. Africa: Mancala
  2. Argentina: Estanciero
  3. Britain: Cribbage
  4. Canada: Crokinhole
  5. Cambodia: Makruk
  6. China: Mahjong
  7. East Africa: Bao la Kiswahili
  8. Egypt: Senet
  9. France: Risk
  10. Germany: Settlers of Catan
  11. India: Pachisi
  12. Italy: Scopa
  13. Japan: Shogi
  14. Mesopotamia: Backgammon
  15. Madagascar: Fanorona
  16. Mexico: Loteria
  17. Mongolia: Shatar
  18. Nepal: Bagh Chal
  19. Scandanavia: Nhefatafl
  20. Spain: Baraja

Plan A Themed Weekend “Away” 

italian food cannoli | Enjoy Travel Life

So, just because you can’t actually go away doesn’t mean you can’t immerse yourself in a certain culture for the weekend. It’s actually really fun!

Use those great travel planning skills you have to research the food, music, culture, and traditions of a particular place and convert your home into your own Disneyland-esque experience. 

For instance, if you’d like to be vacationing in Italy (who wouldn’t?), then let’s celebrate Italy at home with an Italian-themed weekend. 

Here’s what that might look like:

  • Plan Italian meals, appetizers, snacks, and desserts on the menu
  • Pour Italian drinks, like Cappuccino, Bellinis, and Aperol Spritzes
  • Play Italian music throughout the house
  • Watch movies with Italian subtitles
  • Interject Italian language and passionate expression into your conversations. It’s not as hard as you might think: Ciao! Bravo! Bellissimo! Scusi! Grazi!
  • Check-out books about Italy from the library so you can “tour” Italian art museums, fashion, and historic places.
  • Dress more fashionable, wrapping yourself in beautiful scarves and looking your best.
  • Immerse yourself in a virtual tour of Italy.
  • Go ahead and order that Gucci Bag you’ve been yearning for! 

If nothing else, you’ll certainly have a fun weekend steeped in Italy. 

Not into Italy? No problem! It could be any travel destination or theme, like the Caribbean, Paris, Mexico…You’re limited only by your imagination on this trip.

Go All In on the Holidays

decorating christmas tree | Enjoy Travel Life

While you may not be having the big holiday gathering you’ve enjoyed in prior years, that does not mean you have to be any less festive.

Make this the year you truly go all in on the holidays.

Deck the halls.

Trim the tree.

Play Christmas music.

Amp up the outdoor lighting.

Spike your eggnog.

Plan a feast.

You might spare no expense, looking to the Newport Mansions at Christmastime for ideas when it comes to lavish holiday decorations.

Or, you might chose instead to embrace the Charlie Brown Christmas spirit that focuses on good will and charitable giving.

Whichever way you ring in the season, be sure to give it your 100%. You will get as much pleasure out of it as you put effort into it.

Final Thoughts: Can’t Travel, What to Do in Winter Vacation at Home

To wrap up, the most important factor in having fun at home when you can’t travel is your mindset. 

Yes, we’d all rather be traveling to distant lands, and yes, many are perhaps suffering from a low-level, travel-starved depression.

Know that you are not alone.

As winter approaches, the best thing we can do for our mental health is to be proactive and get busy planning some fun activities. 

And who knows? You might even find yourself having the best time of your life. 

Related Post: Home alone? Find out how to make the best of a solo staycation at home here.

Which of these ideas will you try at home when you can’t travel? Let us know in the comments below!

Jackie Gately at the beach

About Jackie Gately, editor-IN-CHIEF

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

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This article is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.

Photo credits: notebook and pen – Engin Akyurt (Pixabay), cozy home – Arek Socha, amaryllis flower – Annette Meyer, movie night – Jan Vašek, board game – Peggy Choucair, cannoli – solci_109, tree trimming – Jill Wellington; all courtesy of