As we settle into winter, with fewer hours of daylight available, we’ve put together our list of positive and practical activities to enjoy at home over the coming months.
We know that winter can be a time in which older people feel more isolated – lockdown or not – so be sure to look out for your elderly relatives.
We’re keen to make the list current and useful for as many people as possible, so please get involved and share your successes – and even some failures – during this winter. Maybe even send us photos of baking triumphs, artistic interpretations, even an empty laundry basket (!) and we’ll add them to our picture gallery below.
Creative activities for winter
You may not think you’ve got the creative gene. For some of us, lack of time can be an obstacle to getting creative. With more time available this winter because of lockdown, now’s the chance to let the creative juices flow……
Below are some of our favourite creative activities to keep you amused over the Witner period.
1. Get crafty for Christmas
Find an online wreath-making kit in preparation for Xmas. You can find different wreath-making courses to sign up for here on Eventbrite.
2. Cook something new
Dig out an old recipe book, or watch a cooking show and choose a meal that you’ve never made before. The more unusual the meal, the better!
Knitting is relaxing, mindful and (once you’ve mastered knit one, pearl one etc.) very satisfying. If you start now then you could knit someone a lovely gift (holey scarf?) for Christmas.
4. Letter writing
Who doesn’t love to receive an actual letter in the post? Brush up your caligraphy skills or just dust down the bic biro and write a letter.
5. Recreate film and TV moments
6. Get arty
There are all sorts of ways to get arty – some of which you may not have tried before. Paint by numbers, needlepoint, and felting are all options. Age UK have a useful list of online art classes for the elderly.
7. 'Three old ladies stuck in the lavatory....
Poetry has been very soothing for so many this year to read, listen to and even write: If you’re struggling to get started then try something short and structured, like a Haiku or Limerick.
8. Create a life story
Record a memory a day and create a life story for you or a family member. This will be great to look back on a few years down the line.
9. Paint with watercolours
Watercolours are one of the best ways to paint for beginners. Buy a watercolour set online and make a masterpiece.
There are still plenty of ways to keep sociable, even when we cannot see one another as often. Using the power of the internet, you can stay in touch with your family and friends from the comfort of your sofa.
Below you can find suggestions of social activities for older adults to take up this winter.
10. Join a book club
11. Go to the movies
Watch your favourite movies from childhood. Get children, grandchildren or other younger relatives to watch along with you. You can all click Play at the same time while chatting and laughing over Zoom, Skype or Whatsapp. If you want inspiration, browse our top Film Recommendations.
12. Swap a dish
Cook double and give some to your neighbour – they can return the favour another day. Remember to follow the latest Coronavirus regulations when passing the dish over the garden gate.
13. Coffee club
Have a weekly coffee morning video call with your friends. This can be even more fun if you bake the day before, and you can have a little treat with your coffee – and share the recipe.
14. Find out what's happening locally
Research what’s happening in your local community online to support people this winter. There are likely to be people offering help and support near you, even if it’s something small like sharing baked goods.
Join our weekly Age Space bake-off on Facebook and share your pictures/recipes with us. Iris, the office assistant, will be judging by look alone (but no tasting) and the best entries will be featured on the site!
You and some friends could also dedicate an evening to showcasing your baking to one another over video calls.
16. Get board
Order a new board game to play with with family, or have a go at playing online. Take a look at our list of the Best Entertainment Apps for Older People, which includes online Bridge, Uno, and Words with Friends.
17. Make a playlist
With some friends, or relatives, make a playlist of songs that take you back to a certain time in life. What were your favourite tunes from the 70s, or what was the soundtrack to a holiday you loved? This can be made easily using apps such as Spotify.
Practical activities for winter
Is there something you’ve been putting off doing for weeks? Months? Years? Maybe today is the day to get it done. Or simply start to make plans for Christmas.
Here are some practical things that you could use the time in winter to get done.
19. Spring clean - ahead of time
If you didn’t make it to the kitchen cupboards or under the stairs in lockdown#1 – there’s still time… and maybe try Kon Mori Style. Remember what Marie Kondo wants you to ask yourself: “does it spark joy?” If not, maybe it’s time to say goodbye
Hear us out on this one… Get to the bottom of the ironing pile. You’ll feel great afterwards – we promise!
21. Learn a language
22. Garden (indoors)
Though it’s not the best weather for gardens right now, you can start your own garden in the kitchen. Buy some pot plants, or use cuttings, to get your terrarium up and running.
23. Do admin
24. Tech up
If you haven’t already, get the whole family on Zoom or Whatsapp. This could prove very handy for doing some of our social winter activities
Using online Will-writing services, you can write a basic Will in as little as 15 minutes. Find out more from our list of the 10 Best Online-Will Writing Services.
Healthy activities for winter
Just a small amount of exercise a few days a week can make a world of difference!
There are plenty of fun ways to keep healthy this winter.
Walk somewhere you’ve never been before. You don’t have to walk far – just take a few roads near you that you don’t normally go down. If you’re feeling bolder, choose a walk from the Slow Map of Britain.
27. Take your vitamins
Vitamins are essential for keeping well. Vitamin D is a particularly important supplement to support your immunity at this time. Find out more about what to be taking and why from our guide to Vitamins and Supplements.
28. Get fit
Download a mindfulness app, and spend time being mindful. These apps can be very helpful for looking after your mental health, and checking in with yourself, as explained more in this interesting blog read.
30. Improve your posture
31. Eat more eggs
Keep your body subtle and moving with some simple stretches.
Relaxing activities for winter
Sometimes we just want something gentle and relaxing to do. We definitely shouldn’t feel as though we are supposed to achieve something every single day – especially in these strange times.
Below you will find a list of relaxing winter activities for older adults that you may be interested in. Almost all of them are best accomplished while wrapped up in a blanket and enjoying a hot chocolate…
33. Watch an online talk on Mirthy
Expand your mind and download or pick up a classic book you’ve been meaning to read for years. If you’re looking for something new to read this winter, check out our Top Books of 2021.
35. Watch a play
There are plenty of pre-recorded plays available to watch online. You can also find out about upcoming National Theatre live online performances from the National Theatre website.
36. Explore your roots
Find out about your Ancestry. Create a family tree and share a stories of your relatives, or use websites such as Ancestry.co.uk to find out even more.
37. Listen to a podcast
Dip a toe into the wonderful world of podcasts. There are podcasts about everything, from politics to sport, music to science. Take a look at our Top Podcast Recommendations if you are looking for somewhere to start.
Pop some Magnesium salts into your bath to relax your muscles and improve your sleep.
39. Get musical
Listen to one new band or song a day. Ask for recommendations from your friends and family. You might also want to check out this new Dementia radio station.
40. Plan your dream holiday
Use the internet to start planning a dream holiday. Look through Airbnb for your dream accommodation, find the perfect beach, and search for the best restaurants.
Dream up the holiday you would go on if you had an unlimited budget.
41. Do a puzzle
A puzzle is a great way to unwind and keep your brain active. There are an astonishing number of different designs, and you can even choose your own photo for a puzzle from Photobox.com
42. 'Go' on holiday
OK, this one is cheating a bit… but go on a virtual holiday. Lie in, create your own breakfast buffet, pamper, read, make a cocktail and get out your old holiday snaps.
43. Check out Web of the Week
Every Sunday, Web of the Week put together 10 of the best things to see on the internet that week. Age Space has even been featured on it!
44. Spend time in the garden
If you have a garden, then make the most of it. A bit of fresh air can be incredibly relaxing. If you don’t have a garden then pop down to your local park.
Thoughtful activities for winter
Have a think about things that you can do to help brighten up somebody else’s winter. A bit of altruism can go a long way and there are lots of small and simple things you can do to make a difference. Below are some thoughtful activities for winter.
45. Become a Befriender
Become a befriender to somebody that is lonely or isolated. This can be done by email or over the phone, and you can make a new friend while supporting someone through this difficult period. You can sign up to be a Telephone Friendship Volunteer with Age UK.
46. Walk someone's dog using Borrow my Doggy
Take somebody else’s dog out for a walk to liven up your walks a bit. Borrow my Doggy is a website that can put you in contact with somebody who is offering for their dog to be walked.
47. Look after a friend's pet
Having a pet around can be a great form of company, and some of your friends may need their dog to be looked after while they do the shopping etc. Let your friends know that you’d be happy to look after them for a while.
48. Read with kids/grandkids
Reading online with kids, grandkids or any other young relatives is a great way of spending time with them, while also supporting their learning. Schools have been very disrupted this year, and I’m sure their parents will appreciate your support.
49. Be grateful
It’s a tough one but before you go to bed write down 3 things that you were grateful for today. Ask your relatives to do the same, and share what you all came up with.
50. Send flowers
Send flowers and brighten someone’s day. There are a range of companies that sell flowers that can be sent through people’s letterboxes, including Bloom & Wild. Also consider asking your local flowershop if they have a delivery service running.
51. Make your own Christmas cards
Make your own Christmas cards this year – and use your time to write some longer, more personal messages.
Your winter activity suggestions
You have been sending us in your suggestions of fun things to do this winter. Below we will list our favourite submissions – along with who submitted them!
52. Go on Safari
A virtual safari, that is! Explore the world with Google Earth, and find yourself somewhere that you’ve never been before. Submitted by Jane
53. Distil your own gin
Make your own gin using a botanicals kit. Maybe have a ‘happy hour’ with family over video call. Submitted by Andrew
54. Ask Alexa
If you own an Alexa, ask her what to do today and do it. Why take our advice when you can take hers? Submitted by John
55. Spread positivity
Start your own Facebook group and fill it with positivity – no gloom allowed! Submitted by Sandra
56. Make your own jewellery
57. Call old friends
Go through your address book and call some old friends. A great way of catching up on all the latest gossip, and checking in with some friends you haven’t spoken to for a while. Submitted by Carrie, whose Dad has been calling up to 5 friends a day!
58. Listen to Radio Lento
Radio Lento makes it possible to listen to the relaxing and tranquil sounds of the great outdoors from home! The Radio Lento podcast is full of immersive 3D soundscapes created by recording the authentic sounds of nature with highly sensitive microphones. Great for falling asleep to. Submitted by Mary.
We want to hear what you're doing this winter. Send your suggestions of winter activities for older adults to Jacob, our resident Curator of Positive Ideas, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dates to be looking forward to
There are a number of dates coming up to look forward to. Between now and February, there are plenty of opportunities for celebration.
Though we may not be able to celebrate all of these occasions as usual, it’s still important to let the holiday spirit wash over us.
Christmas - Dec 25th
“The most wonderful time of the year..” It may not be Christmas as we know it, but we can still all enjoy a tasty Christmas dinner, watch some great TV and chat to our loved ones.
New Year's Eve - Dec 31st
The turning of the New Year is a great time for reflection on the year gone. And the start of the New Year is a good time to take up a new hobby, or make a resolution.
Burn's Night - Jan 25th
This Scottish celebration commemorates the life and poetry of Robert Burns. You and your family can all right a poem to share with one another, but don’t feel obliged to have haggis for dinner…
Australia Day - Jan 26th
Australia Day is Australia’s official national day, marking the anniversary of the first arrival of British ships. It is common to have a BBQ down under, but this may be difficult in the UK in January!
Age Space winter gallery
This is the Age Space winter gallery, where we will be showcasing snaps of what our users have been getting up to. Show us what you’ve been doing this winter! Whether it’s a poem you’ve written, a cake you’ve baked, or a plant you’re growing – we’d love to see it.
This winter Antonia made these gorgeous earrings for a friend of her daughter-in-law.
Colin has taken up online painting lessons this winter. We love this dark and spooky scene.