The long cold dark of winter can feel suffocating to many. We get tired early due to the lack of daylight, and the frigid air makes us want to cuddle up at home with warm toasty blankets.
We don’t have to spend the winter hibernating, though. There are plenty of things to do in the winter, both at home and outside, that can keep you engaged with your loved ones all season long.
Here are 12 cheap winter activities you can enjoy with your partner, family, or friends. These low-cost activities give you plenty of ways to enjoy a winter wonderland without breaking the bank.
12 Low Cost Winter Activities for Couples
Winter fun doesn’t have to be expensive. The first seven activities on the list require a few supplies or tickets to an activity, but the final five are mostly free!
Here are 7 fun winter activities that won’t cost you a ton of money.
Scrapbooking gives you and your partner a way to bond while remembering all the joyful times you’ve had together. It’s the perfect stay home activity for a cold winter night.
To start a scrapbook, you need a few supplies. Head to Michaels or your favorite craft store to grab a photo album, scrapbooking paper, glue sticks, fun colored pens, decorative stickers, and anything else you want to create the perfect scrapbook.
Next, head to Walgreens or CVS to get your favorite cell phone photos developed. Choose a wide variety of pictures from different adventures you’ve had so you have plenty of content for your book.
Finally, if you haven’t started saving ticket stubs, scraps, and ephemera yet, now’s the time! Those small mementos make perfect additions to your scrapbook.
Though the initial supplies are expensive, once you have everything, maintaining your scrapbook is a fantastic low-cost activity to help you stay warm on those frigid winter nights.
Make a Gingerbread House
Stay home and goof around in the kitchen together while building a ridiculous gingerbread house. Let your creativity guide you as you decorate the house in frosting and gumdrops.
Most stores carry standard gingerbread house decorating kits around the holidays. Some even have fun-themed gingerbread houses, like Mario castle kits. However, if you want to see all the different themes available, you should check out Amazon. They carry nearly every themed house you can imagine, and as a bonus, you don’t have to brave the cold.
Have a Paint Night
Whether an aspiring artist or not, painting is a fantastic winter activity allowing you to stay inside while exploring your creative side.
As a bonus, painting is relatively inexpensive if you’re just trying it out for fun. All you need is a canvas, a few brushes, and a few colors. You can get that all at Michaels for less than 30 bucks.
I recommend getting Basics acrylics – they are easy to use, easy to clean up, and non-toxic. They are also a decent enough brand that you don’t need to put a thousand layers or wait hours for one layer to dry. That means one night should be enough to get a great masterpiece going!
When you have a paint night together as a couple, you can either work on the same canvas together or do your own paintings. You can use drawings or sketches to paint a real thing or just throw some paint on the canvas and see what happens.
There are so many options that will suit everyone’s level of creativity. It’s a fun activity you can do together that won’t cost much money. And the paints should last you for quite a few paint nights, making the night’s cost even lower.
Some people will say that you can ice skate for free at local lakes and ponds, but the danger of falling through the ice can’t be overstated. Instead, pay the money and go to a skating rink. As a bonus, the skating rink offers skate rentals, so you don’t have to buy your own. Unless you skate numerous times per year, you will pay less over time by paying for the rink.
Ice skating is a fantastic way to get some outdoor exercise during the winter. Skate in circles for a few hours then head inside to warm up with toasty hot cocoa!
Go to a Museum
One of the best low cost winter activities is visiting a museum. Although some museums in the big cities are expensive, most smaller museums are reasonably priced.
Many smaller cities also have random specialty museums. Explore glass museums, train museums, local history museums, and even potato museums, depending on where you live.
These smaller museums are usually a lot cheaper, and some even offer free admission on certain days. Check your local papers for museum ideas near you.
Decorating the house for the holiday doesn’t have to be stressful. Mix some egg nog, pull the holiday cheer out of the attic, and spend some quality time together, getting in the spirit of Christmas.
Make a game out of it by seeing who can make the most festive room, or help each hand the lights in the perfect pattern. Enjoy each other’s company while enjoying the holidays.
Every Christmas, performing arts centers showcase the iconic Christmas ballet The Nutcracker. Grab tickets and take your partner to see the festive show.
Visiting the theater is a fantastic winter activity, even if The Nutcracker or ballet isn’t your ideal date. See a musical or a live play instead. It’s a wonderful alternative to the movies and supports the arts in your local community. As a bonus, it’s an indoor activity, so you don’t have to brave the winter cold.
What Can I Do in the Winter with No Money?
Sometimes cheap winter activities aren’t cheap enough. We need some free winter!
You can do these things even if you have no money or are going for a no-spend month. Here are the top five ideas for free winter fun, assuming you have some of the supplies.
When I was a kid, my absolute favorite winter activity was sledding. There was a park near our house with a giant hill that all the neighborhood kids flocked to with the first snow. We’d spend hours sledding down the hill and hauling our sleds back up it. You had to be careful not to get hit by other sledders on the trek up!
Sledding isn’t just for kids, though. Grab your partner and your sled and head to the nearest hill once the snow starts falling! Embrace your inner child and enjoy the exhilaration of racing down the hill.
A movie marathon makes a fantastic free winter activity. Pop some popcorn and snuggle up with your sweetie and your favorite streaming service for a relaxing night at home.
The best choices are the terrible B movies and hokey Halloween movies, which you can find pretty much anywhere. It’s a great bonding experience to sit together and make fun of the terrible acting and storylines of straight-to-cable movies. Mystery Science Theater, anyone?
However, if you’re feeling sentimental or trying to get into the Christmas spirit, opt for a classic Christmas movie marathon. These films will get you excited about the holidays but aren’t the afterward when the long drudgery of winter sets in.
If you don’t have cable or a streaming service, you can also generally rent DVDs from your local library, or check out the selection at the nearest Redbox.
Although the cold wet of snow can make hiking miserable, the majestic winter views make up for it. Winter scenery is completely different than summer and fall when the leaves are lush or changing colors.
Hauntingly beautiful bare branches stir feelings of wonder and despair and showcase the vast landscape. Snow-covered forests transform the empty wood into a stunning winter wonderland. Go early in the morning to see the frozen dew hanging from the trees, giving the entire forest a magical shimmer.
If you embrace the cold and embark upon a winter hike, wear a warm jacket and waterproof hiking boots. You also need to bring plenty of water – it may not feel like it, but hiking in the cold is just as dehydrating as a summer hike.
A game night is a fantastic stay-at-home activity keeping you active and engaged. Video games are fantastic choices. You can play a single-player game, switching off and giving each other a break, or play a couch co-op, working through the quest together. You can even opt for a fighting game, competing to see who takes home the crown.
Game night isn’t limited to video games. Instead, opt for a board game, or card game, or work on a puzzle together.
Playing games together is a great way to engage with each other and bond. It’s much better than just staring blankly at the TV screen all night, though everyone needs time to veg out once in a while.
Browse a Christmas Market
One of the best things about winter is the festive holiday season. A great way to get into the Christmas spirit for free is to browse a traditional Christmas market. Though more popular in Germany, these markets are making their way to the US and popping up in small towns throughout the country.
Christmas markets are cute little pop-ups where people sell crafts, decorations, and gifts. They are usually filled with festive Christmas lights and décor. It’s fun to just walk around, see what people are crafting, and get a good feel for the season.
A bonus of Christmas markets is the smell! Enjoy the hints of cinnamon, roasted chestnut, and mulled wine wafting through the air as you browse the wares. If you have a little money to spend, indulge in one of the tasty treats for a delicious burst of Christmas flavor.
Most Christmas markets pop in vacant lots or squares, so it’s free to get in and walk around, taking in the sights and sounds of the holiday.
Where Should I go on a Date in the Winter?
Many of the winter activities on this list assume that you are close enough for a cozy night in, but what if you are looking for cheap first date ideas for the winter?
Strolling a Christmas Market is the perfect first date opportunity. Roam the market while holding hands, drinking hot cocoa, and taking in the sights and sounds of the season. Can you think of a more romantic setting for a first date?
Ice skating is another great winter activity for a first date. It’s fairly inexpensive, and you get to have fun interacting with each other and keeping each other from falling. It’s a great excuse to get close!
The last idea on this list that would make a great first or second date activity is going to a museum. You can learn some things while getting to know each other.
Enjoy the Season
Wintertime offers ample opportunity to brave the elements or stay indoors. Enjoy it while you can!
Have a blast this winter, whether you want to play in the snow or cuddle up on a cozy couch. Your ideal winter awaits.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.