Jon Snow from Games of Thrones doesn’t have to warn anyone about how winter is coming anymore. It’s here. Today is the first day of winter. The winter solstice officially begins at 5:23 p.m. Eastern Time. You’ve got much less daylight to burn than usual as it’s the shortest day of the year. That also makes it the longest night, but it’s thankfully not full of White Walkers. It’s probably just a little chilly. What are you going to do when the sun sets and you’re plunged into darkness? There are plenty of winter-specific options that’ll allow you and your family to celebrate the coldest season of the year without feeling totally stir-crazy. Christmas is right around the corner, so you could indulge in some holiday traditions or start your preparations. If you’d rather kick off your children’s winter breaks in a more relaxing way before holiday stress kicks in, there are ways to relax and celebrate the solstice without leaving your couch.
5. Go on a drive and admire holiday lights.
Bundle up in your winter coats, buckle up and hit the road for a tour of your town. The houses and local businesses are all decked out in their finest lights. See what kind of wild decorations are in your town. You might see some homages to famous Christmas movies or even elaborate displays timed to music. Do a quick Google search to see if there are any locally celebrated displays in your area that your family should check out. The best part is that you barely need to venture out in the cold for this activity.
4. Have a Christmas movie marathon.
Set the entire evening aside for a movie marathon. Bundle up under some warm blankets on the couch and select which you should watch all of your family’s favorite Christmas movies in. There might be some spirited debate as to whether Elf or Home Alone should be first, but it’ll be all in good fun. You can even snack on some holiday treats as you bond over Buddy’s antics.
3. Make hot chocolate from scratch.
Everyone knows that those powdery hot chocolate are good, but homemade hot chocolate is even better. It also allows you to make some treat with your kids. Sometimes you don’t have time to sit down and bake cookies or holiday treats with your kids, but hot chocolate is pretty easy. Just make sure you’re all stocked up on marshmallows and candy canes before you start. If you’re looking for hot chocolate recipes, Fatherly has you covered here.
2. Enjoy the cold weather.
If you want to do something a little bit more activity with your family, check out to see what’s going on in your local area. Maybe there’s a winter market that sells cute holiday crafts, hot chocolate or baked goods. You could peruse that with the entire family. If you want to get really into the first day of winter, you could go sledding (if there’s snow on the ground in your area) or go to an ice-skating rink and pretend you’re on your way to the next Winter Olympics.
1. Make a fire (or stream one).
There’s nothing better than sitting in front of a crackling fireplace in the winter. There’s some satisfaction in knowing how toasty and warm and relaxed you are when it’s winter. You can just sit back and maybe spend some time catching up with your kids and spouse. You could even play some holiday music in the background. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can always pretend by streaming some yule logs on your TV. They’re basically as good as the real thing and often feature Christmas music or celebrities.