26 Things To Do Over Winter Break That Don’t Involve The Mall

During the holidays, most people spend their free time shopping in the mall, online, or in their favorite boutiques.  Maybe you’re wondering what are some fun things to do in your free time this holiday season?

I was at Starbucks with my friends the other day, all sipping on our snickerdoodle hot chocolates while people watching, thinking about how we were going to spend our time during the holidays.

We just stared at one another blankly.

None of us could think of anything. We realized that when we were little, our parents were so great at planning our free time. Now that we’re adults who work all the time, it’s hard to be imaginative and creative when it comes to making plans and doing fun activities.

A light bulb went off. At work the next day, I mentioned our dilemma and my boss thought it would be a great opportunity to inspire our readers.

With your limited free time in mind, we curated this list of 26 activities to do during while you have free time this holiday season:

1. Take a Light Tour

In most towns and cities, holiday light tours are available - drive or walk around town and check out Christmas lights. This is a great opportunity to take a leisurely walk or get some much-needed exercise.

If you’re looking for a free option, there’s always that “Candy Cane Lane” where people go all out with decorating their houses and front yards for people to view. 

2. Ice Skating or Roller-Skating

This is a fun winter holiday activity to do with your friends or your kids. There are benefits to this, too! It’s great physical activity, not something most people do often and can be a fun thing to dress up for.

TWS TIP: Make it a theme night and get the crew to dress up. Think - Michael Jackson Thriller, disco fever night, ugly sweater party or even a silly hat theme. Getting everybody pumped makes for a great family friendly activity or date idea.

3. Volunteering

Using your time and energy on somebody's needs is the true essence of the holiday season. Our world would be a much better place if more people got involved in their community and donated their time to people and/or animals in need.

Some examples of ways you can volunteer: visit a pet rescue, serve at a soup kitchen, help out at a homeless shelter, be a friend to the elderly in long-term care facilities.

4. Holiday Movie Binge

Put on your favorite holiday movies or just binge watch your favorite movies in general. During most of the year with little time off, we don’t have an extra 4-5 hours.

The holidays give us the chance to just VEG OUT and enjoy a good binge session. NEWS FLASH, it’s okay to relax!

5. Get Your Crew Together For A Round of Team Sports

Team sports are the definition of fun, free activities. Competition is healthy, not just for your body but for relationship building.

If it’s just you and another person, play tennis, racquetball, frisbee, or basketball.  

6. Host a Cozy Drink Buffet

Invite your favorite people over for a delicious night of toasty beverages. You can serve coffee, hot cocoa, hot cider, or alcoholic beverages.

The possibilities are infinite. It’s a great way to repurpose your holiday decorations before you stow them away for a year.

7. Skiing/Beach/Sledding

If it’s cold enough to snow where you live, sledding is great fun for all ages and one of the best free outdoor activities you can partake in. Maybe you like to ski or you’re looking to learn how to ski or snowboard. Day passes to mountains are always available.

If you live in warmer climates like us here in Florida, head to the beach. How many people can say they go to the beach during the winter time?

8. Bring Out Your Inner Chef

Try out something new to cook or bake. Take that free time and fill your belly with delicious food made just by you. Pinterest is the perfect place to find new dishes to create.

Since we’ve already eaten every single cookie flavor on the planet, picking a healthy option wouldn’t be a bad choice.

9. Reach Out To An Old Friend

Have an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while? As adults, life can get pretty hectic between work, relationships, etc. Next thing you know, two years have gone by and you realize you haven’t seen or heard from your friend in a long time.

The holidays are the perfect time to reach out and reconnect. The holidays can be lonely for some - be a ray of sunshine in their day! 

10. Learn Something Crafty Or Useful On YouTube

Get your holiday craft on and make your own ornaments, knit a scarf or a blanket, or paint something. On YouTube, the options are endless when it comes to improving or embracing a new skill. Our team has used YouTube as a tool to learn how to take higher quality, creative pictures with a smartphone.

If you have more practical needs in your life, YouTube is a great source for learning how to manage your finances, plan your vacation budget, or organize an event. Lots of pros use YouTube as a platform to share their knowledge - take advantage!

11. Walking Tour of Your Town

Search on Google for things to see in your town, like hidden secrets or historical sites for inspiration! Maybe you will discover some new spots you’ve never seen before or meet new people. 

Take some photography skills you learned on YouTube and snap some artistic pictures while on your tour. (Ps. These make a great gift for the future).

12. Fitness Challenge

Yes, you can sit on your couch all the time while online shopping, but why not do some squats between every “buy it now” press of a button? Fitness challenges are free, you don’t need a gym membership. What a great, free indoor activity, right?

Pinterest and Instagram have a bunch of workout challenge worksheets that you can utilize. They are normally designed for beginners and allow you to slowly progress.

Stay healthy - shed that weight you gained during Thanksgiving.

13. Paint Your Own Pottery

This makes for a perfect keepsake or even a present! Giving a handmade gift is always better received than something store-bought. Most items that are available to paint are usable - another bonus as it doesn’t have to collect dust. Someone could use that mug, bowl, or jewelry tray you made.

There’s no wrong way to paint - you can be creative in any way you want.

This is a great activity to do with your friends or kids. If you’re on family vacation out of town, check Google to find a paint your own pottery spot in the area.

14. Get Certified In a First Aid Class

The skills you learn in a first aid class can help you or someone else in so many situations-- In a park, in a workplace, in an airport while traveling. This is more important than you think.

How many people do you know that are certified in first aid? Probably not many!

You never know when you’re going to need this skill, plus you’re learning something useful. You can call your local police or a fire department for information on how to get certified.

15. Babysit

Your friends with kids have surely been overwhelmed by how much there is to do during this holiday season. Since we're on the topic of free time, why not make a little bit of extra cash while giving the parents you know a break?

A lot of the activities we’ve mentioned already are great things to do with kids if you’re looking for inspiration. 

16. Explore International Cuisine

Just because you can’t go on vacation during your time off doesn’t mean you can’t give your belly that exciting experience of eating in Morocco or Ethiopia. If you haven’t followed up on your new year’s resolution, this is the perfect opportunity to try something new.

Yelp or Google are both tools to search for these hidden gems.

17. Mini Road Trip

Grab your kids, or your friends and hit the road! Much cheaper than a vacation that involves booking flights, a day trip in your region provides some great opportunities to have fun. 

Road trips give us the opportunity to slow down and observe what's around us.

A road trip is not just about the destination, but the journey as well. Use your newly perfect photography skills and take some snapshots of interesting finds along the way. Use the roadside settings as backdrops for family photos, profile pictures, or funny videos.

The object is to take your time, don’t rush it! Get the who carload involved - on the way there, get each person in the car pick an activity to do when you reach your destination.

18. Declutter

Make room for all the gifts you received. Donate all the things you don’t want to a charity. Minimizing your “stuff” isn’t always easy, but the end result is well worth it.

Our technique is simple:

- Create three piles: sell, donate, & keep

- Work your way from room to room

- Be strong, it’s okay to let things go

19. Bowling or Retro Arcade

Too cold to be outside? Go bowling or go to an arcade. In some areas, there are retro arcades that are full of timeless, restored arcade games. Who doesn’t love 80’s videos games and pinball?

Though bowling may not be for everyone in the group, the good news is that most bowling alleys have arcade games, pool tables, and televisions to watch sports.

20. Escape Room

If you've never heard of this, an escape room is a recreational activity that requires a group. The facilitator locks your group in a room and gives you one hour to figure out clues to escape the room before time runs out.

Put your brain to the test and find out who you can count on in a stressful moment. ;)

Escape rooms are a fun activity to do with a bunch of friends or on a double date.

21. Make Food For a Neighbor In Need

Though holidays are happy times, there are people who struggle financially and emotionally. Maybe you have a neighbor in need that can’t afford to go out and buy presents, make a big meal, are special needs, or are elderly. In the spirit of giving, bring over a dish that would brighten their mood.

Share that food that you just learned how to cook from Pinterest and include the recipe!

We all know how good it feels when someone does something nice for us, especially when it’s someone unexpected.

22. Take A Hike

Bundle up and go for a leisurely hike in the most scenic area you can find. Not only is it great exercise, but you get to be in nature and explore new surroundings.

Being outdoors is a very fulfilling way to spend free time because of how many senses it appeals to. Nothing smells as good as the woods, looks as beautiful as a frozen lake, or feels as satisfying as stepping on fresh snow.

Those new photography skills you learned on YouTube can be put to the test on this adventure!

23. Check Out A Museum

Museums are not always paintings and photographs and unexplainable sculptures. There are activity museums, kids museums, and museums at colleges that are just a different experience altogether.

It’s also a great way to support your community and immerse yourself in culture, art, and new concepts. Let's stimulate those brain cells, why not?!

24. Grab Tickets To a Comedy Show or Play

Comedy shows, musicals, and plays are great places to go with family, friends or kids. In the cold months, they also make great indoor winter activities. Many towns have local comedy theaters to check out up-and-coming comedians.

This could be the beginning of something new for you—a new past time or maybe even a new hobby that you would like to explore.

Everybody needs a good laugh, especially with how stressful our lives are.

25. Give Yourself Me Time

Is your 50 hour work week preventing you from doing that one thing that makes you happy? Winter break is the perfect time to devote your energy to taking care of yourself.

All this vacation time is making you smile more so let’s take that smile to the next level. The best way to do it is by using our White In Minutes Home Teeth Whitening Kit.

Why not make it into a self-care session? You can search Pinterest for DIY face mask recipes, pull all your moisturizers out and work on your skincare routine, watch all those movies we mentioned, read a book.

This time is your time so use it as you please.


The winter holidays don’t have to be just all about shopping, that’s dull and boring. There are countless ways to express creativity, share kindness, be active, and learn new things.

Make a point to get out and do some fun holiday activities with your friends and family. The holidays, after all, are all about being with people you love and care about.

Comment below on what fun things you’re going to do during the winter holidays without making a trip to the mall.

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