The weather outside is frightful -- so what? Home can be delightful.
Treat yourself to a Nougat Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream and play games. Whether you win or lose, at least you'll be warm.
Snow turns any backyard into a playground: here's how to make the most of yours.
Did you get 1 to 3 inches?
Build ice castles: All it takes to build a great ivory tower is foresight and H2O. The night before, fill metal cans or ice cream containers with snow to form the base of the structure. The next day, turn them upside down on a tray; they should slide loose. (Don’t dip them in warm water, as that can crack the shape.) Stack them outside, using snow as mortar and squirts of water from a spray bottle to smooth over scraggly spots.
Tip: Use a turkey baster to remove excess water around the base of the sculpture if it gets melty.
Did you get 4 to 11 inches?
Go sledding: Four inches is a good minimum for a primo sledding experience. But rocks are a concern at this depth. For this reason, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that kids younger than 12 wear fitted helmets. Also, avoid the old-school trick of greasing up your ride with vegetable oil.
Tip: Mow your grass as low as you can in advance of a storm. With less shaggy green to slow you down, you’ll glide faster on the snowy surface. That’s why the hills on manicured golf courses are prime sledding real estate.
Start a tug-of-war: Pick two spots on flat, snowy ground about 10 feet apart and mark each one. Split into two teams, with one referee. He or she should take the middle of a 20-foot-long, heavy-duty rope, with the teams taking hold on either side. Once the ref says the word, both teams try to pull the other past the marker on their side. The slippery ground is a twist on the old camp game -- not to mention that it gives a cushier landing when you fall.
Tip: Use gloves with good grips. Large gardening ones (layered over lightweight mittens) work great.
Did you get more than 12 inches?
Go snowshoeing: It’s the most fun in packed snow that’s at least a foot deep, using larger shoes with a lot of “flotation” (room to glide on top without your ankles sinking). You may want to step in a “V,” with your toes turned out.
Tip: It’s a great workout -- you can burn up to 330 calories in a half hour -- but that means it requires stamina. Trade off who’s leader of the pack to give ’shoers in the front a rest; it’s easier to move through broken-in footsteps.
Have a snowball fight: Fluffy powder is your enemy. You want the wet, gloppy snow found near warm spots like car hoods and houses, because it sticks better. Take a few scoops in your hand and apply pressure. Rotate your hands until the surface is smooth, then leave it for a minute on a cold surface, letting the outer layer refreeze.
Tip: Dig down for patches that have been prepacked by the snow that fell on top of it.
Build a snowman: Gather snow in buckets and pack it down tight before dumping it on your chosen spot. Then you can carve out a rounded shape from the bottom up, using the pointed edge of a shovel.
Tip: Make your creations stand out with themed decorations such as Candyland (red licorice rope for a mouth, candy necklaces and Ring Pops for accessories). Or dress yours up like a favorite celebrity and lay down a “red carpet” scarf.