With the right clothing and a shift in perspective, you might just have your best winter yet!
The pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, as Covid-19 cases are rising again, and many are bracing themselves for a long, lonely winter with limited opportunities for social interaction. We know that risk of infection is lower outdoors, however, so the key to success this winter might just be finding ways to socialize outside.
Luckily there are experienced guides to follow in the adventure of outdoor socializing all winter long. In Scandinavia, one of the coldest parts of the inhabited world, getting outside even on the coldest of days is a lasting cultural norm and treasured tradition. This winter, people in other parts of the world can look to Scandinavia for inspiration.
If this will be the first winter that you spend time with friends outside, even on very chilly days, you might not know how to plan and prepare for it. Here’s a guide to what you’ll need to get started. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran of outdoor winter activities, some of these ideas might be new to you, and will take your enjoyment of winter to the next level!
How to dress outdoors
First, embrace this principle: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. That idea is so foundational to Scandinavian culture that it’s the title of a book: There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge). (The book is an enjoyable and informative read, by the way, and well worth your time!)
Your first step is making sure you’re dressed correctly for the weather. This visual guide is a helpful reference, and you may want to print it:
As this chart shows, wearing plenty of layers makes all the difference on cold days. You can read more about this “layer method” of dressing for the cold, and plan to use the following items:
- A base layer of thermal long underwear, ideally made of merino wool
- Insulating middle layers made of wool, fleece, and other warm materials
- An outer layer that is windproof and preferably waterproof, such as a parka or down jacket
- Hats, gloves, scarves, and balaclavas for the face and neck (one benefit of face masks is added warmth!)
- A few good pairs of wool socks
- Thick-soled, warm, waterproof boots
What you’ll need for backyard gatherings
Now that everyone is dressed for the weather, where should you meet? One fun option to make the most of winter is to join in outdoor winter sports such as ice skating, skiing, and sledding.
If you’ve got little kids or older folks with you, however, or want to sit and have a conversation with your friends, plan on a backyard gathering. Make it BYO hot cocoa, add some of these features to your yard, and you’re ready to host a socially distanced gathering!
- A fire pit to gather around for warmth
- Cozy outdoor blankets
- Camp chairs or other easy outdoor options to seat guests
- String lights to set the mood
If that’s not quite enough to achieve the cozy Scandinavian vibe you’re going for, try one of these extras to take things up a notch!
- A patio heater
- An ice fishing tent
- Rechargeable hand warmers
- Faux fur cushions
The right clothes and a well-prepped space make all the difference in your comfort, but perhaps the biggest shift is in attitude. If you make up your mind to find ways to enjoy outdoor socializing this winter, it just might be your best winter yet.
Winter can be especially hard on the elderly and homebound. While the pandemic makes everything more complicated, here are some ideas of how to care for the elderly this winter.