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Combat the winter doldrums

By on November 28, 2009

photo by synaptic happenings

The winter months can drag on. Holidays and utilities increase your expenses. Add that it’s cold and flu season, and it’s not uncommon to get the winter blahs. Before you go stircrazy for spring, prepare yourself with a few blah-busting tips.

What frugal activities do you do during winter months?

Here are a few suggestions.

FOOD FLAIR: Splurging a bit on food is a nice winter luxury. Plan a special meal once a week. It will give you something to look forward to. It’s the perfect time to expand your food repertoire, too. Try new nutritious recipes, and be sure to get plenty of rest to help you feel good. One reader, D. Duperault from Kansas, shares: “Food can be one of the cheapest luxuries out there. A great steak, a perfect baked potato and a luscious chocolate-cake dessert can be had at home for about $10 per person.”

CRAFT: Finish any unfinished craft projects or start a new one. Check thrift stores for cheap supplies. Another reader, Mary from Texas, shares: “I have a counted cross stitch that I am going to try to complete this winter. I also have a bunch of Christmas ornaments and wreath kits that I got a great deal on several years ago. I pull out the box about this time every year and make a few.” If you crochet, knit, quilt or sew, look for a charity to donate to, such as Project Linus ( or Newborns in Need (, or contact your local hospital to see how you can help. You can make blankets, hats, undershirts for babies in ICU or Isolette covers ( that can comfort children who are seriously ill or traumatized. Or make items such as catheter bag covers, wheelchair caddies or slippers for adults. Some free patterns can be found at

MOVIES: Rent TV series DVDs so you can enjoy a weekend marathon.

TAKE A CLASS: Interacting with other people will help combat the winter doldrums. Look for classes that interest you at your local craft store, gym, community center or community college. If you can’t find an affordable class, start a group yourself. You can create a book club or hobby group, and advertise it in your local newspaper, Craigslist or Meetup (

LIBRARY: Visit your local library at least once a week. You can borrow movies or audio books. Or why not borrow a few fitness DVDs (plenty of time to tone up by summer) and start a new workout plan? Libraries sponsor their own events, which might include activities such as special guests, concerts, story times, family-friendly movie nights, crafts, computer classes, literacy services, workshops for child-care providers and seminars, and many post community events in a central location.

ADD SOME COLOR: Be sure to let the sun shine in. Open up curtains and blinds. Add a colorful fruit bowl, scented candles or a decorative accent, such as placemats, to add enough color to cheer you. Bring a few green or blooming houseplants into your home. Get a jumpstart on gardening by watching gardening show and ordering seeds, and try winter sowing (

GET OUTSIDE: While you can’t stay out as long during colder months, a brisk walk will do you some good. Breathe in the air and absorb the sunlight. Set up a birdfeeder and birdwatch. Grab your camera and take some scenic pictures, too.

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