5 Tips to Create Socially Distanced Winter Fun with Friends

Head outside, socialize, and embrace the cold!

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Come December 21, winter is officially here, blanketing northern countries in a chill. Many people may prefer to stay warm indoors, yet if you want to see friends and be social, it is preferable to head outside. Don’t let the cold force you inside; embracing winter outdoors with friends can be exhilarating, fun, and healthy.

In these times of the coronavirus pandemic, medical experts are saying that it is preferable to head outside if you want to be with friends. Colin Furness, an infection disease epidemiologist, told Global News that transmission-wise, being indoors in the winter may present higher risks. So, protect your health and head outside.

The healthy alternative may be socializing in the great outdoors, however, there is actually an art to meeting winter close up. Here are five tips to help you stay warm, have fun, and enjoy encountering winter!

Have a positive mindset

When learning how to embrace winter, it is best to turn to the experts, the Norwegians, who even have a word for celebrating the cold. “Friluftsliv” means open-air living. In Norway, people are committed to living in the fresh open air of winter, be it camping, dining, or hiking, according to National Geographic. And they will be out there during sun, hail, rain, and snow.

The fact that Nordic countries enjoy the outdoors so much year-round could be the reason they earn a high ranking in the World Happiness Report. In fact, a 2019 study published in Nature claims that spending two hours a week in nature boosts one’s mood.

So call your friends and arrange some fun friluftsliv. This could be a picnic in the park, a bonfire dinner, a patio party, or good old-fashioned sledding, snow shoeing, or skating. Be sure to check your municipality’s pandemic guidelines as some places may prohibit food and drink at outdoor gatherings.

Remember to stay committed. Consider your winter outing in nature as an adventure and an opportunity to try something new, then celebrate!

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Dress for the occasion

Spending time outside in cold temperatures requires the right clothing and equipment. Wilderness experts told Bloomberg that you will need layered clothes that fit loosely.

The first layer should be thermal underwear, followed by an insulated fleecy, woolen or cotton layer. You then need a nylon shell that can block wind, snow, and rain. Use two layers on your feet starting with a thin liner plus thick, woolen socks. A pair of gloves topped by a pair of mittens is also recommended. Also make sure your head is covered and you have a scarf.

Once you are bundled up and have a hot drink and comfort food, you will be able to be outside for many hours. 

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Create a cozy ambiance

Now that you are outfitted, it is time to set up a warm, welcoming ambiance for your gathering.  If you are meeting friends in your garden, consider getting a patio heater or mushroom heat lamp. Another nice addition is an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit.

There are also portable propane burning fire pits that are safe to use during campfire bans. Bring out your fleece blankets and make sure your guests have a cushion to sit on, or ask them to bring their own sleeping bag to cuddle up in.

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Bring along comfort food

The highlight of an outdoor picnic is hot, nourishing food and steaming drinks. If you are picnicking around a bonfire in a park or nature reserve, you will need to think about keeping your food warm.

Picnic Lifestyle suggests buying an insulated food delivery bag or using your regular hamper. If you use a hamper, simply wrap food in foil and place heat packs both above and below the dishes. If you have cooked a stew in a slow cooker, you can place the entire hot pot right inside!

Winter is a time to eat hot soups and casseroles. To keep warm and energized in the winter, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains are recommended by nutritionist Heather Nicholds. You will also need a thermos of your favorite hot drink. Adding a slice of fresh ginger or a sprinkling of cinnamon to your tea will keep you toasty.

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Be mindful

Now that you are dressed for warmth and have lots of comfort food, it is time to meet winter and connect with your friends. Staying warm is about both the external and the internal. So instead of dreading the cold, be mindful of it, as suggested by Bloomberg. Be aware of the sensations you feel. If you feel cold, acknowledge it, but do not dwell on it.

Of course, it is easier to be warmer when you are actively walking, skiing, or skating. When you are sitting around, chances are you will be near a heater or a crackling fire and will have warm food and friends close by. This experience may even awaken your winter warrior, invigorating you to go outside more often and enjoy winter friluftsliv!

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