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11 Family Winter Staycation Ideas (All the Fun, None of the Travel)

Ditch traveling this winter and instead use these family winter staycation ideas – your family will ask for more winter staycations for years to come!

  • Bonding over new experiences. Check!
  • Upping the quality of your family’s time together. Check!
  • Feeling refreshed afterward. Check!
  • Spending gobs of money and waiting in airport lines. Heck, no!
family wrapped in plaid blankets on porch of wooden cottage, text overlay "fun family winter staycation ideas"

Want to get those benefits of traveling as a family…without having to spend loads of money and energy traveling somewhere (or worse – getting stranded due to bad weather and overbooked flights)?

Use these family winter staycation ideas.

Dying to read those ideas? Hold your horses for one sec – let’s quickly go over something really important, first.

How Do You Make a Staycation Special?

Before you pick from the ideas below for what to do on your family winter staycation, I want to make sure you understand something:

It’s not necessarily about WHAT you choose to do, just that you choose experiences that will make it FEEL like a vacation.

In order to make your winter staycation feel like a vacation (despite not leaving your home area), you need to pick experiences that:

  • Take you out of your daily routine.
  • Give your family new bonding points not found in your regular schedule.
  • You’ve never done it before. OR
  • You’ve done it before, but briefly, and you’d like to dive into it deeper.
  • Help you experience your familiar surroundings in new ways (so that you feel like you’re exploring).

Family Winter Staycation Ideas

I’ve done my best to include activities you’d likely do if you were going on a full-blown winter vacation, so that you can get as close to those good-travel-vibes as you can get (without all the stress of travelling).

Pick and choose from below, then plug your options into your staycation itinerary (no staycation itinerary yet? Check out this article I wrote on how to plan your staycation.).

1. Create a Family Winter Staycation Bingo Card

To encourage your whole family to participate, and to keep things a bit exciting, create your own family staycation bingo card of activities that you plan on doing + a few other activities the kids can do on their own to win.

You can do this in a way where everyone wins at the same time, OR, create each card a bit differently, and people can win as they call out “Bingo” throughout the week.

Prizes/surprises could be:

  • Individual Ideas: Coupon to pick the next board game everyone plays, coupon good for staying up 20 minutes past their bedtime, coupon good for picking a dessert the next time someone goes grocery shopping, etc.
  • Family-wide win ideas: Unlock 30 minutes of family playtime on a gaming console, unlock tickets to a local attraction, unlock winter movie night + hot cocoas, etc.

Here’s a free blank template for bingo cards so that you can fill in your own spaces.

2. Host a Goofy Dinner

One way to change things up and show the kids that you’re really on a staycation and not just adding an activity or two to your regular time? Is to change up dinner time.

This also answers the question of what to do on a staycation night.

First of all, you could do what we do to make a special dinner: whip out the please-write-on-table tools. Such as our chalkboard place mats, or wrapping the table in brown craft paper and including color markers next to everyone’s plate.

Other ideas:

Hint: here are 12 fun Saturday night family dinner ideas.

3. Make an Ice or Snow Castle in the Backyard

I say either Ice OR Snow castles here, because let’s face it – it rarely snows precisely when we want it to! But you can always create ice if you need to.

You can use your beach sand castle molds to create a giant snow castle as a family, or let each person create their own.

And if there’s no snow? Then go ahead and take your sand castle containers and any other containers you can find, fill them water, and leave them outside overnight (assuming it’s cold enough where you are for them to freeze).

The next day, try to create an ice castle or palace from them.

4. Make a Family Winter Staycation Souvenir

One thing that makes vacations special for some (and especially for kids)? Is getting a souvenir as a keepsake to look at afterwards.

Well, you can build this into your family winter staycation, too.

Maybe it’s walking into a shop in town where you never usually go, and letting your kids each pick out a “souvenir” that they’ll always remember this time together by.

Maybe it’s making something together as a family that you prominently display somewhere in the house, like a silly family staycation quote board, or a blown-up picture framed and hung in your living room.

Maybe it’s taking a family photo of something you did together during it, then printing it out and putting it in a frame for each child to keep in their rooms.

5. Set-Up a Hot Chocolate Taste Testing

Do you know how many different hot chocolate flavors and combinations are out there? Oooohhhh, only a gazillion*.

Mix things up this family winter staycation by letting the kids (and yourselves) overload on hot chocolate.

Each night of your staycation, let the kids try something different. OR, create several different hot chocolate varieties and set up a tasting station.

table with blue tablecloth, filled with hot chocolates, toppers, treats, electric water kettle, mugs, etc.

Such as:

*slight exaggeration

6. Host a Family Cookie-Palooza in Your Kitchen

girl and mother gathered round lots of cookie trays, decorating them

Let each member of your family choose a cookie they want to try and make. Make a big ingredient list, and purchase everything that’s needed.

Then, schedule one day of your winter staycation to bake each of the cookies as a family. Set up a station for each person, or do them all together (depending on the age of your kids and your supplies).

7. Host a Week-Long Game Tournament

Our family used to do this when we went to OCMD (Ocean City Maryland) for a week each summer. The game? Scrabble. We would play it all week long. And at no other time of the year.

It made things super special.

Create this own tradition during your family staycation at home by choosing one board game that you can play at least 3 times over your staycation, and keeping score from each round.

Be sure to print out this free score sheet to post in a family-centric location (it can really keep everyone excited).

8. Take a Class Online as a Family

There are a bazillion classes online now, and wouldn’t it be an adventure to take one together as a family?

Pick from below (or get inspired and choose your own), then prep everything you’ll need for everyone to participate ahead of time.

A few that caught my eye:

Hint: you and your spouse could also take a class together this week after the kiddos go to sleep – like one of these free online marriage courses.

9. Do a Family Stand-Up Comedy Night

Take a free, online stand-up comedy class, and then host a family Stand Up comedy night.

You can round things out by watching real stand-up comedy on TV afterward (a few family-friendly options).

Psst: you’ll also want to check out these 100 family fun night ideas at home.

10. Find a Local Sauna or Hot Water Facility

Do you have a wooden sauna you can go to (within an hour or so from home), or even access to a hot tub?

I just love soaking in natural hot springs and hot water any time of the year, and it’s especially relaxing and soothing during the winter months.

It could be worth it to buy a week-long pass to a gym with a good sauna, a facility with hot springs, or anything else hot water you can find reasonably close to your house.

11. Locate a Restaurant with an Outdoor Winter Area

restaurant with outdoor patio, wooden chairs, and fire pit

Some restaurants are really good about making accommodations for the winter so that families can actually eat outside in the cold.

You’ll want to look for restaurants with patios that are heated with heating lamps or fires, or ones with a greenhouse-like room that’s heated, or even one of those new types of outdoor heating where you all eat in a see-through, outdoor bubble! 

This can help both with getting outside more during the winter AND giving Mom and Dad a night off from cooking during their staycation.

I hope I've shown you some awesome possibilities with these family winter staycation ideas. Even more than that, I hope I've shown you that you don't need to create elaborate, expensive plans to make your winter staycation one for the scrapbooks.

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.