We know the feeling: It’s February, and you’re suffering from some serious S.A.D.. The snow outside has turned from a pillowy-white blanket to hard dirt-stained glaciers that make it impossible for you to find footing on the sidewalk. The best holiday you have to look forward to is Valentine’s Day, and let’s be honest—even those of us coupled-up aren’t exactly jumping up and down in anticipation of that pressure-filled holiday. There’s no occasion to gather, so you spend most weekends binge-watching The Office and shoveling handfuls of popcorn into your mouth like it’s your last meal. Life is… bleh.
So this winter, we propose a new idea—creating your own kind of holiday. Be it gathering with friends for a bake-a-thon or getting your siblings together for some goodhearted rivalry, winter is best when cozying up with company. We did the work of finding the best party ideas out there. Now you get to bring them to life.
1. Start a tv show viewing night
If you and your friends are all obsessing over the same show, why not watch it together? A couple bowls of popcorn, dimmed lights, and some sharable-sized blankets like our Lambswool Throw, and you’re theatre-ready. To make sure the party isn’t a one-time binge watch and that friends don’t watch ahead of next week’s viewing, pick a show that comes out with a new episode each week. Some of our current lighthearted favorites: The Bold Type for the on-the-go girl gang, or Awkwafina is Nora from Queens for your raunchy comedy crowd.
2. Plan a murder mystery dinner party
It’s like Halloween in winter: spooky, theatrical, and loads of fun. Create your own theme and characters, or shop a game with scripts already written (we love this 1920s Gatsby-inspired option) and get to acting. Encourage your guests to go all-out with their costumes, and keep a couple props on hand for those who come less prepared. Getting into character is half the fun.
3. Host a swap party
Gone are the days when hand-me-downs were relegated to the dump or donation drop-box. Trading stuff is the newest party trend that’s economical, environmentally friendly, and a creative way to have good, old, analog fun. Popular items to swap right now are books, clothes, plants, and toys, but feel free to pick a category off the beaten path if it speaks to you and your pals. What you decide to swap will help you whittle down your guest list—for example, if you’re a parent throwing a toy swap, invite other friends who have kids. (But unless you want to see some major tantrums, we recommend leaving the tots at home.) Have friends bring other acquaintances that would appreciate the swap category, so there are some new faces in the crowd.
4. Create your own cooking competition
Forget the video games and Trivial Pursuit: try racing against the clock and your friends to create something you’re (hopefully) going to want to gorge on when the cooking’s over. Have everyone fry up a signature grilled cheese sandwich or bake their most prized family cookie recipe, then have guests sample each other’s creations and vote on the best. Winner gets first picks when filling their to-go Tupperware.
5. Do a throwback night out
Get a group of ten or more to take over your establishment of choice: an arcade bar, roller rink, bowling alley, karaoke bar, or rock climbing gym, to name a few. The bigger the group, the better the party, and the best nights involve a place with an activity to do (other than eat and drink.) Make it an event with some light decorations like balloons and posters where allowed and appropriate, and keep the outfits, music, and even food on-theme. (A pack of Gushers and jean jackets for your fellow bowlers, 90s-themers?) People may stare, strangers may join you, but you’ll never forget the thrill of blasting Shania out your Subaru speakers while your friends scream the lyrics.