Gloomy weather can ruin even the cheeriest moods. Ward off boredom (for both you and your kids) with this list of family activities and relaxing ideas.
Have an Indoor Treasure Hunt
Children in the house? Keep their day lively with a treasure hunt. Make one set of clues for every player (try rhyming the clues for fun), each clue leading to the next one and, finally, to the treasure. Seal them in envelopes marked with a clue number (i.e., 2/7, or “two of seven”); this will help the treasure hunters keep track. Whoever solves the clues first and finds the treasure—a small toy, an IOU for a movie, maybe a cache of coins (regular or chocolate)—is the winner. Or have your kids play as a team to solve the clues—and uncover the treasure—together.
Make Your Own Bubble Bath
Slip into a soothing bath laced with your own moisturizing soap blend. In a clean container, mix together ½ cup mild liquid hand or body soap, 1 tablespoon sugar or honey, and 1 egg white. Pour the entire mixture under the running water as you draw your bath. Honey is a natural humectant, which will attract and retain moisture in your skin. The egg white helps create stronger, longer-lasting bubbles, for a nice, fluffy bath. For extra-dry skin, consider adding a tablespoon of light oil, such as almond or light sesame. (Another surprising bath booster? Vinegar.)
Create a Family Recipe Book
What You Need
- Unlined journal
- recipe cards (the more sauce-splattered, the better)
- wine or Champagne labels
- photos from family meals
- photo corners
- shimmery alphabet stickers (available at crafts stores)
What to Do
- Color-copy all recipe cards, photos, and labels if you want to preserve the originals or make more than one gift book.
- Compile the memorabilia by time period, holiday, or any other theme that inspires you.
- Affix the items horizontally in the journal. Use photo corners for pictures and recipe cards and adhesive for labels and clippings.
- Stick a title on the front of the journal with alphabet stickers (using a ruler helps), and finish off with a ribbon.
Camp in the Great Indoors
Who says tents have to stay outside? If you have a pop-up or small dome tent, it’s easy to set up camp for your kids indoors. If not, you can create tents by draping sheets over the couch. Make them comfy with airbeds, pillows, and sleeping bags, then follow through with an indoor picnic to be eaten “under canvas.”
Invent a (No-Batteries) Game
Anne Libera, artistic associate at the Second City Training Center, recommends the following play-anywhere, no-props-needed activities.
One-word story: Starting with “Once upon a time,” go around the room and have each person add a single word to the story. Tip: Decide on a genre in advance―fairy tale, ghost story, etc.―and go from there.
Improvised poetry: One person says a line of poetry, and the next must say a line that rhymes with it, and so on. Let kids say the first line; it’s up to you to find the rhyme.
Yes, and…monster! Invent an imaginary monster, with each person adding a new characteristic to the first person’s monster description. Every new idea has to start with an enthusiastic, “Yes, and…” and build on what has already been described.
Deep-Condition Your Hair
You’ve been wanting to give your hair a deep treatment but just haven’t been able to get to the drugstore or salon. Walk over to the fridge to find your solution: mayonnaise. Starting at the scalp, coat strands with ½ cup mayo. Leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. (For more at-home how-tos, see DIY Beauty Treatments and Fashion Fixes.)
Bake Up Some Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nothing cures rainy day blues like a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. Dunk them in milk or eat ’em (practically) right out of the oven—a surefire way to happily weather the storm. Now, if you and your family fancy other varieties, that’s no problem: We have 19 additional classic cookie recipes to choose from.
Organize Your Own Film Festival
Queue up some classics, old (Singin’ in the Rain) and new (Toy Story 3), let the kids add a few favorites—even mix in last week’sAmerican Idol on DVR for variety—and have a marathon screening. Keep a cozy throw on hand to snuggle under, a big bowl of popcorn to dip into, and settle in to enjoy the show(s).
Hold a Mini-Marshmallow Popping Contest
What You Need
- utility knife
- rubber bands
- tape (transparent, duct, masking, or colored)
- gift wrap or decorative paper
- kraft paper
- balloon, uninflated (1 per popper)
- paper cup, bottom cut off (1 per popper)
- mini marshmallows
What to Do
- Knot the end of the balloon, then snip off ½ inch from the top.
- Stretch the balloon over the cutoff end of the cup so that the knot is in the center. (You’ll need to hold the balloon in place when you “pop,” or secure it with a rubber band for little hands.)
- Place a mini marshmallow into the cup so it fits snugly in the knotted center of the balloon. While aiming the cup away from you (and others), pull the knot back, release, and send the marshmallow soaring. See who can pop marshmallows the farthest or get the most into a bowl that’s a few feet away.
Host a Tea Party
Dress up in fancy duds, set the table with the good china, and put on your most formal manners (remember, extend your pinkie and sip politely). On the menu: tea (for you), juice or cocoa (for your children), and easy egg or chicken salad tea sandwiches in fun shapes, courtesy of cookie cutters. Let your kids decide the guest list—and which of their favorite dolls or furry friends are on it.
Pamper Yourself With a Skin-Softening Salve
Do a little spa therapy with a homemade scrub (this one comes courtesy of New York City makeup artist Gucci Westman): Grind about two cups of oatmeal, a natural skin soother; add a few handfuls each of coffee grinds and brown sugar. Then stir in three or four spoonfuls of skin-nourishing honey, ginger, and noni extract (find it at health-food stores). Before storing the batch in the refrigerator, Westman scoops out enough for a week into a jar, which she keeps in her shower, using it daily. “It smells lovely, and it’s gentle,” she says. “When my skin feels really dry, I add olive oil, too.”