Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor
If you live in a cold climate, there comes a time where you just have to embrace winter. While you will never be happy to spring out of bed on a dark, frozen winter morning, you can learn to love those cozy winter rituals. From Swiss fondue at a fireside dinner to creating a Scandinavian-style sauna at home, these eight ideas are sure to warm your body and spirit on even the coldest day.
6 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs
1. Light a fire. Have a fireplace or woodstove? Now is the time to use it. Knit socks to warm your toes and a mug of something hot to drink are must-haves. Freshly popped popcorn would be nice too.
2. Cuddle up in a cozy nest. Pull out every faux-fur blanket, sheepskin and other warm throw you've got and bring them all to the living room. If your furniture has been hanging out around the edges of the room, try scooting everything closer to the center for a more intimate arrangement. You can block drafty doors and windows with old-fashioned beanbag snakes, though even rolled-up blankets also will do the trick.
3. Give in to extra sleep. It's natural to want to rest more in the winter months. And even if you don't think you'll actually fall asleep, snuggling up under the covers with a hot-water bottle and a good read can be a delicious way to spend the afternoon. Lighting a bunch of candles will help your room feel warmer simply because it will look warmer -- white twinkle lights also work wonders.
4. Warm up Scandinavian-style. If you have a sauna (lucky duck!), I don't need to tell you a cold snap is the perfect time to make use of it. But even those of us not blessed with one of those staples of Nordic homes can create our own mock sauna experience. In cultures where saunas are popular, it is typical to alternate between warmth and cold -- it's thought to strengthen the immune system.
To try this at home sans sauna, draw a hot bath with a healthy dose of a bracing essential oil such as eucalyptus or spruce. Soak until you feel nice and warm, then jump into a cold shower as long as you can stand it; repeat this rotation several times.
5. Take refuge in your kitchen. If your home is drafty and hard to warm up, turn to your oven. Challenge yourself to try something new, like baking bread from scratch -- your kitchen will get nice and toasty, and your whole house will smell delicious.
6. Have a fireside dinner. No fireplace in the dining room? Why not move your dining table into the living room for the evening? Pretend you're in a Swiss chalet and cook up a pot of fondue to share while staring into the crackling flames. The Swiss tend to serve cheese fondue with a wide range of accompaniments (sausages, cooked potatoes, crusty bread, raw veggies, gherkins...) so it really is an all-in-one meal, and it's perfect for sharing with friends.
7. Play make-believe. If you have little ones at home, instead of feeling trapped indoors by cold weather, give in to it and join in on some imaginative play. Put on the fairy wings, break out the tea set and channel your inner kid.
8. Brave the outdoors. Making an outdoor zone appealing on a cold winter day is quite a feat, but it is possible -- and when done right, quite fun.
Building a great big fire is a must. Dress warmly and carry out plenty of thick blankets to drape over chairs and laps. It wouldn't hurt to supplement the fire with luminarias lining the path or a few chunky lanterns placed around the seating area.
The finishing touch: thermoses filled with something hot and delicious. And be sure to invite your friends -- the more the merrier ... and warmer.