As COVID-19 cases climb and the U.S death toll hits over 300,000, restrictions are ramping up in numerous cities and states. As temperatures drop and parts of the nation brace for snow and other harsh weather events, a lot of the outdoor recreation we enjoyed in summer and fall become off-limits. Cabin fever, though not a medical diagnosis, is a real phenomenon. Being isolated in one space for a long time can trigger irritability, anxiety and depression, among other negative emotions. Coping with cabin fever entails basic mental health tenets like eating well, getting sufficient sleep, and connecting with friends, but it’s also important to tap into your creativity. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” as the old proverb goes; but, it’s also just extremely boring.
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Now in month nine of a full-blown pandemic, you might be wondering what else you and your family can possibly do to make quarantine less monotonous. Picnics are mostly off the table due to the cold, and even in relatively clement areas such as Los Angeles, parks and hiking trails are closed and all in-person dining at restaurants, even outdoors, is suspended. Weekend getaways are wonderful, but once you factor in costs of transportation, lodging and any additional services like pet-sitting, a relaxing escape can rack up quite a bill.
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However, there’s a lot you can do to create a winter wonderland of fun in your own home without spending much. In some cases, money isn’t required at all. The only things you really need are an open mind, a positive attitude and good Wi-Fi.
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Last updated: Dec. 15, 2020
1. DIY Spa Day
“With spas closing due to mandates this can be a fun and safe way to feel pampered,” said Elena Duque, an esthetician and lifestyle blogger. “For example, you can make a body/hand/foot scrub with equal parts [of] sugar and oil. You can make a face mask with yogurt and honey that will give your skin a glow. Just mix up a tablespoon of plain yogurt and a teaspoon of honey (add a squirt of lemon if you wish). Apply to your face and leave on for 10 minutes, it’s great for all skin types and it’s a natural skin brightener.”
Duque added that you can create a soothing, hydrating foot mask, too. Just slather your feet in coconut oil and seal them in Saran Wrap for about 15 to 20 minutes. Feel free to take it up a notch by throwing in a glass of champagne, some candles, and turning up some tranquil tunes. There’s no reason why you can’t make it a virtual spa day. Just have your best friends over via Zoom and you’re set.
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2. Build an Indoor Fort With (and for) the Kids
“With two kids, I have actually thought quite a bit about how we will get through this winter,” said Tim Koster, founder of CleverCreations, who has found that building an indoor fort never gets old. “It is a simple way of keeping your kids busy, while also encouraging creativity. The only things you need are cardboard boxes, tape and some blankets. Chances are that you have quite a few boxes lying around from Thanksgiving/Christmas gifts, so this is going to be a very cheap project. I find that my children do a lot of the work themselves, and when the forts are done, they spend a lot of time in them.”
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3. Virtual Cooking Parties
“An idea for getting through the winter that my family and I really enjoy is hosting virtual cooking classes,” said Carrie Smith Nicholson, a travel blogger and online business manager. “My husband is a chef so we plan our meal and then shop for new ingredients, depending on our budget that week. For other times we do a “pantry purge” and go shopping in our pantry for a meal idea. We meet on Zoom with our friends and families and all brainstorm ideas for different meals and how to use the ingredients we already have. Before COVID we would meet up for a potluck dinner and enjoy the meals we made together, but these days we just exchange recipes and talk about how the meals turned out.”
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4. An Indoor Picnic Followed By a ‘Movie Club’ Zoom Meeting
Another favorite activity Smith Nicholson has cooked up during quarantining is having a movie night while enjoying an indoor picnic. She recommends going for a charcuterie board to make it a festive family experience that doesn’t take much time to plan.
“Just pick your favorite cheese, dried fruit, or cured meat and nuts then enjoy! We set up our living room with cozy blankets,” Smith Nicholson said. “Sometimes we choose a movie with our friends and family like a book club but it’s a ‘movie club’ where we hop on Zoom and discuss the movie that week. It’s so fun!”
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5. A Zoom Musical
“My kids are very theatrical, [but] all of the theater activities at their schools were cancelled this year, so they don’t have that as a creative outlet,” said Lorie Anderson, founder of MomInformed. “Instead, they’ve been putting on plays for our family members via Zoom. They did ‘Frozen‘ in the living room one month, ‘Grease‘ in the garage the next month, and they’re currently working on ‘A Christmas Carol’. I’ve been collecting cardboard boxes and different materials for them to make sets, and they’ve been doing an amazing job. My parents and my husband’s parents love it, too. The kids send them an invite and I set them up on Zoom so they can watch the kids’ plays. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and it’s been keeping the kids busy.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 5 Cheap Ways To Make Winter at Home More Fun