Hanging in and hanging out: How to enjoy a weird winter

How’s your second wave going? Over here, well… we’re hanging in there! 

It’s harder to manage going on COVID lockdown a second time, because we’re all kinda tired about the restrictions we’ve dealt with for several months. Also, because winter is coming, the days are shorter and the weather’s colder, which makes it harder to hang out with friends and family in a socially distant outdoor kind of way. 

But! Just because the situation isn’t great doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to enjoy ourselves! We’ve compiled a little list of the close-to-home outdoor hangout ideas we’ve tried and heard about, in the hopes of giving you some inspiration for the coming season.

1. Go for a walk. The best way to stay warm outdoors is to keep moving, so plan to meet up with a friend for a two-metre-apart walk. Whether it’s around the block, through a wooded area or all over town, you can enjoy a little social time while getting some fresh air and exercise. Bring the dog! If you haven’t adopted a pandemic puppy yet, now might be the perfect time. If having a dog isn’t your jam, you can always borrow someone else’s—puppers looove getting extra walkies. Failing that, bring the cat! Bring the turtle! … well, no, maybe leave the turtle at home, the poor little guy has no fur. Anyway, you get the idea. Four-legged friends or no, walking is where it’s at. 

And if you’re feeling more adventurous, maybe you’d like to try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. With a little research, you can find routes for these hobbies even in urban centres. You might even want to become a winter cyclist! In 2020, tons of people have taken up biking for the first time. With the right tires, you can keep your bicycling habit up all through the cold months. Zip up one of our winter coats to keep you toasty as you stroll or roll.

2. Play in the snow. Okay, so here in Toronto there’s no real snow yet, but we know that in some places you’ve already got a nice thick blanket on the ground! We promise we’ll try to catch up. Anyway, for you snow-covered folks, this winter is a great time to revisit the snowman-making and snowball fights you enjoyed as kids. These pastimes aren’t just for the little ones anymore! And they’re also really easy to do while staying distant, whether you have backyard space or you head out to a local park. Plus, movement will help you stay warm. Have we mentioned you should wear one of our winter coats while you’re out there? 

3. Have a porch/walkway/backyard hangout. Yes, you can still have a little stationary outdoor time with loved ones outside your bubble if you take appropriate precautions. (This assumes, of course, that your local health department allows it.) Dress warmly: wear one of our awesome winter coats, some cozy boots, a hat, a scarf, and mittens or gloves. Have some fleece blankets on hand, and maybe a microwaveable hot pack or two. Provide warming snacks—spicy baked goods, like ginger cookies or apple-cinnamon muffins, are a great pick. Serve some tea or hot cocoa (we won’t tell if you put a little shot of bourbon in there). If you want to be super careful, you can ask your guests to bring their own refreshments. The point, after all, is to enjoy each other’s company. 

Remember, since you’ll be mostly sitting still, the cold can set in quicker than if you were moving around. So while it might be tempting to enjoy a long hangout, consider enjoying shorter ones and maybe planning them more often instead. Or invest in a patio heater, if you have a place to hook it up and it’s safe to do so. Failing that, pay attention to how your fingers and toes are feeling—watch for signs of frostbite.

And if you’ve got a little extra backyard space?...

4. Set up an outdoor movie theatre! Darker evenings mean you can show your fave flicks for a couple of friends without needing to wait til it’s too late at night and the sound will bother the neighbours. Just remember, the colder the weather, the shorter the movie—as the temperature drops, you might want to stick with one episode at a time of the latest Netflix series. 

There are lots of great ways to set up your outdoor movie space, but your setup doesn’t have to be fancy. A decent projector and a sheet hung on the fence can be just fine. For that matter, depending how your outdoor space is configured, you might be able to simply roll your TV out for an hour! The idea is to enjoy quality time, not a cinema-quality movie experience.

No matter how you choose to enjoy your outdoor winter social time, we hope you stay safe and warm. Hang in there, friends. With a little creativity and a little goodwill, we’ll get through this together!

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