By Melissa Stefanec
Staying connected during the winter is a challenge for many people, even under normal circumstances. This year will inevitably be even more isolating. With social distancing in place, this winter could be emotionally debilitating for many people.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Staying connected may look a little different than it has in years past, but there are ways we can connect even when we are physically separated. We just have to get a little creative in how we gather. If you want to stay connected and safe this winter, here are some unconventional ways to socialize.
Virtual book club
A book club is easy to conduct remotely. Find a group of friends who love reading. You can take turns picking titles. Then, set a start and end date for reading the book. Set video conferences to discuss the book. It doesn’t have to be high pressure. You can just plan to meet when everyone finishes and discuss the book then.
Much like campfires, who says grilling is just for the summer months? As long as you keep your grill covered and dry, there is no reason you can’t break it out in the snow. Just make sure to keep the grill outdoors for proper ventilation. Then, you and yours can enjoy time outside and delicious food.
A virtual brunch might be more fun than you think. You can still take turns hosting, and the host still gets to pick the menu. The host can send the menu out ahead of time, and people can make what they want from it. Then, meet at a set time and enjoy your creations together via an online meeting. You may not actually be able to toast mimosas, but you can enjoy each other’s company.
Virtual trivia games
Trivia games lend themselves very well to virtual events. If you are really motivated, find a group of friends and buy the same trivia game. Then, plan a virtual meet and enjoy the game together. There are also virtual trivia teams, and they often support good causes. Put some feelers out on social media and join a team.
Parks aren’t only for summer enjoyment. A lot of people visit parks during the colder months. This means many of the trails remain accessible, even if you’re just wearing a pair of winter boots. Many parks also rent snowshoes and cross-country skis. Some also hold winter festivals. There are plenty of ways to get fresh air and exercise at parks, and a mask is a great cold-weather accessory.
The more you think about it, the more it seems campfires were made for winter. They keep you warm. You can cook food on them. Keep your fire pit out this winter. Just find a dry place to store your wood and make winter fires a new and beloved tradition.
Who wants to spend the first nice days of spring doing yard work? Wouldn’t it be better to get it out of the way? You can form a yard-work club where you travel to a few people’s homes and help each other with yard clean up during the winter. You will get fresh air, exercise, company and help. Then, when spring rolls around, you don’t have to spend your days off working; you can enjoy the warm weather instead.
Find a pen pal
Sometimes, old-fashioned pastimes are the best. If you like writing, find yourself a pen pal. It could be someone you know very well or someone whom you would like to reconnect with. Then, sit down and write letters to each other. It will feel authentic and thoughtful. It’s also something you can do on your own time.
Spring cleaning is wasted on the spring. You can get ahead of your spring cleaning by doing it in the winter. Find a group of people who are willing to gather their items by a certain date. Then, you can virtually meet and have an online swap. You can even make a game out of it. Which of your castaways will be someone else’s treasure? Which will be fun to laugh at together? Which will end up in a donation bin?
Group DIY projects
You may not feel comfortable going to an indoor craft event, but there’s no reason you can’t host a virtual one. Find a few people who want to paint, sew, craft or knit together and set times to meet virtually. If you plan ahead, you can even work on the same projects.
As the winter sets in, all it takes is a little extra effort to stay connected. Your efforts won’t be wasted. Spending safe time with friends and family will help us stay well and happy.