Despite the chaos on the roads, the long wait until you can get the grill out in the yard again and the boiler making decidedly unhappy grumbling noises, winter snow can bring a smile to pretty much everyone’s faces. It brings back memories of snowball fights, building snowmen, building igloos and that feeling when you come back to a warm house with a fire and hot food after a day out in the cold. It’s great for kids but it can be even better for grown-ups.

Unless you live in the flattest part of the country, there will be a hill somewhere around that you can get to. If this is the case, get down into your workshop immediately and start putting together a sled. You’ll just need timber, screws, a saw (have a look at these recommendations at Straight Kerfs) and a power drill. If you’re good with tools and want to come up with a fancy design, all the better as long as it can carry a couple of kids and a couple of adults down the snow. Good old winter fun without too much effort!

Two of people’s favorite activities when the white stuff has fallen are skiing and snowboarding. Towns like Ruidoso and Aspen get snowed under with tourists and prices skyrocket. Instead of heading for those famous resorts, why not head up to Minnesota and try out cross-country skiing? It’s a little bit trickier and it can be more hazardous, but it’s more satisfying than shooting down a hill and dragging yourself back up fifty times a day.

Perhaps counterintuitively for some, winter is a great time to have a bonfire outside. You can invite the neighbors over, keep warm (but keep the beers cold) and do some good old outdoor cooking on the fire. Throw in some fireworks (not into the fire) to make it more exciting for kids.

Another great idea for the daytime is to go ice skating. If you’ve known the area for a long time, you’ll know which lakes are safe to skate on. If not, go along to an organized event – it’s better for kids and there will probably be other youngsters there that they can play with while you hit the bar. Don’t go ice skating at night unless the area is very well-lit – it can be just too dangerous with kids to be out of the ice in the dark.

If you can, see if you can check out a dog-sled race. You’ll be surprised at how much fun they can be and taken aback at the scale of the event. Some of the races can go over a distance of a thousand miles – that’s the equivalent of racing from Wisconsin to Vermont. How fast could you do it in the snow?

If you’d like to test your speed in the snow, you could rent out a snowmobile or two for your family. You might just love it so much that you decide to sell up and move to somewhere in the Yukon where folks do their grocery shopping on snowmobiles. Now, wouldn’t that be awesome!

One fun activity which it’s probably better not to do with young kids is ice fishing. It’s totally different from regular fishing and takes a while to get the hang of. But the experience of sitting out, wrapped up in the cold, waiting to get a bite is unique. And if you’re lucky enough to take something home the first time, it’s going to taste so much better. If you can’t wait to take it home, you could try eating it raw with the ice, Inuit style!

Whatever you do, don’t spend all the winter indoors, hiding away. Sure, it’s great to come back home to a warm fire and some mulled wine but you’ve gotta earn it!