Let it snow! Woken up to a magical winter landscape outside? Wrap up and head outdoors to play with my snow craft ideas for big and little kids alike, then warm up with hearty stews and warm winter recipes and remedies.
Make large, tennis-ball sized snowballs and place in a circle around a tealight on a saucer. Build up the walls around the candle – make sure you stack the snowballs inwards slightly so that you get a natural roof. These snowy lanterns emit a warm glow when they are finished, and the candles are so well protected from the wind that they usually last all day.
If you blow bubbles at cold enough temperatures they freeze and then shatter. It’s as beautiful as blowing fragile glass bubbles, except that it’s perfectly safe, so children can do it too. This article explains more and includes videos showing you how it’s done.
You can use tennis racquets or even shoeboxes to spread your weight and walk on snow – just strap on with ribbons or string and go off exploring.
You can also make natural snow shoes using small tree branches and thick cord or string. This Youtube video is actually on how to do it in emergencies, but it demonstrates the idea well.
Birds really struggle to get enough to eat in the winter, so a lovely idea is to make a corner of your garden a haven for them. Thread cranberries and popcorn onto string to make garlands to hang in the trees, use an empty orange skin as a little basket for seeds, and push nuts into an old apple to hang up from a branch. This video tutorial of mine from many moons ago will show you how to make one.
A brilliant craft idea for an afternoon when the weather is horrible outside is to make mittens from a much-loved jumper that has gone bobbly or has started to unravel. Washing it at a high temperature will felt the wool, making it thicker and harder. Then you simply cut two mitten shapes from the sides of the jumper, stitch round the shapes and turn inside out. You can sew buttons or even pockets onto the mittens afterwards. This guide shows you how, step by step.
My grandmother used to make this in Canada when she was very little. She lived in a tiny cabin with her lumberjack father and housewife (cabinwife?) mother, and when fresh snow had fallen and settled they would wrap up very warmly and rush outside to collect a bowlful of it. All you do is drizzle good quality maple syrup onto the snow and eat with a spoon.
Take in a thermos flask to warm cold hands and hearts. I made this one Christmas by mixing apple cider with rum and honey, adding cloves and nutmeg and serving with cinnamon sticks.
Fancy something stronger to warm the cockles? A toddy is traditionally whisky and honey but my version is a potent mix of cognac, rum, honey and lemon juice. It’ll put hairs on your chest, as my mother would say.
Or alternatively, another winter warmer that goes perfectly with sour dough bread from the oven – sticky miner’s stew, made with root vegetables, stewing beef and orange zest. Find the recipe here.