Person sledding and laughing

103 ways to make this your best winter ever

Winter. It’s cold, it’s dark and it’s time to lie low. Right? Wrong. Get ready for the best, most active, winter you’ve ever experienced. Use this ultimate checklist to make your season of snow awesome – you may just create some new traditions along the way.

What are you waiting for? Make some “lart” (#98), give the gift of the climbing bug (#89), and let us know how it goes with the ice screw in the turkey (#13).

How to make the most of winter

1. Dip in a hot tub, then do a snow angel in your bathing suit. Repeat.

2. Howl at the last full moon of the year (December 12).

3. Hold a gear potluck! Everyone brings used gear to trade.

4. Practice stealth yoga in long lineups. Recommended: mountain pose. Not recommended: savasana.

5. Go skiing.

6. Go espresso-shot skiing.

7. Snowshoe + fondue.

8. Determine your ideal pompom to head ratio.

9. Make outdoor-themed gingerbread: mountains, trees or bears.

Person with gingerbread bear cookie

10. Polar bear swim.

11. Polar bear swim in only a crazy hat.

12. Eat poutine at après.

13. Ice climbers: Can you train by winding an ice screw into a frozen turkey, then later fill the holes with butter? We’re not sure. Try it and report back.

14. Winterize your recovery drink, and swap out chocolate milk for hot chocolate (or something equally delicious).

15. For every cup of hot chocolate consumed, sign up for one race.

16. “Plan a luau-themed run on the coldest day of the year.” – MEC Ambassador Jim Willett

MEC Ambassador Jim Willett on a frozen luau themed run

17. Surprise your chairlift buddy with extra handwarmers.

18. Organize group trips for spring/summer – no one will have plans yet!

19. … then mark your calendar for the date campground reservations open.

20. Hide a clue at the top of an indoor route for your best climbing pal. They have to climb the route for the clue that leads to their gift hidden in the gym.

21. Listen to snow crunch under your feet.

22. Embrace hygge …

23. … but first, learn how to say hygge.

24. Create a winter Olympics course for kids or friends. Ideas: speed sledding, snow-pit long jump, snowball accuracy.

Person speeding down hill on a sled

25. Get first chair at the ski hill.

26. Play snowball-bocce.

27. Carry an extra mini-light, and give it to someone you spot biking or running in the dark.

28. Deliver at least one gift on foot.

29. Ice skate under the stars.

30. For your gym crew: hold a fitness secret santa. The gifts? Different workouts!

31. Hang a hammock in the snow.

32. Have an Ullr party.

33. Get a group of fun people together and make s’mores in the snow in your backyard.

People making s'mores outside in the snow

34. Camp in your backyard or living room.

35. Maintain your outdoor stoke on snowbound days by watching epics like Reel Rock.

36. Collect gently used sleeping bags from friends and co-workers, and donate them to your local shelter.

37. “Do 10 push-ups every time you hear jingle bells.” – MEC Ambassador Reuben Krabbe

38. Make tire sur la neige – maple candy in the snow.

39. If you skate-ski, try classic (and vice versa).

40. Try outdoor drawing and use it to make your holiday cards.

A photo posted by Jessa Gilbert (@jessagilbert) on

41. For cyclists: tackle the Equinox 8 (log the longest week of riding of the year during the shortest week of the year). Trainer rides count too!

42. Take close-up photos of beautiful frost patterns.

43. As a holiday gift, organize an outdoor adventure or experience for someone who wants to try something new.

44. “Put mini-strings of lights on your commuter bike – it’s a fun way to start a lot of conversations!” – MEC staffer Kim

45. Geocache.

46. Learn to juggle 3 snowballs. Tip: you’re not learning to juggle, you’re learning patience.

47. Run in an ugly sweater.

MEC Ambassador Jim Willett and run crew ready for an ugly sweater run

48. Wear shorts on the shortest day of the year (December 21).

49. December 22, the day after solstice, has 5 seconds more daylight than the day before. Enough time to look up at the sky, take a deep breath in and long slow breath out.

50. For backcountry skiers: give the gift of safety and sign up a friend for an avalanche course.

51. “Headlamp ski – or full-moon ski – around a city park or golf course.” – MEC Ambassador Bruce Kirkby

52. While the trees are bare, locate all the bird nests in your neighbourhood so you can revisit them in the spring.

53. If you plan to decorate for the holidays, get creative and use outdoor gear you already own. Bear bells, race medals and shiny sporks all work on a tree.

Green bear bell used as a tree decoration

54. Be a snow angel – shovel driveways and walkways for your neighbours.

55. Ride a bike-share bike in your hometown or a city you’re visiting.

56. Serve hot cocoa next to a busy bike lane or transit stop.

57. “Spend New Year’s Eve on a mountain peak.” – MEC staffer Terry

58. Do a cartwheel in snowshoes.

59. Learn to knit while you run – run a marathon and knit a scarf longer than 3.70m, you’ll have a world record! But really, any scarf knit while running would make an amazing gift.

60. Try winter surfing.

61. If you have to drive to a shopping mall, park at the farthest spot away and enjoy a stroll to the door.

62. Pack hot-shots and wooly socks and go bouldering outside to experience how amazing the friction is when it’s cold.

63. Learn to slackline while there’s snow on the ground to cushion your landings.

64. For runners: plan a destination race. Invite a buddy so you can train together.

65. “If a big storm hits the city, put on snowshoes or cross-country skis ASAP, and enjoy the freedom of exploring while everyone else is stuck in a snowbank.” – MEC Ambassador Bruce Kirkby

66. Does your local nordic club host a lantern ski? Get in on that!

67. Or make your own snow lanterns in your backyard.

68. Snowshoe from one holiday party to another.

Two people with a sled full of presents in the snow

69. Cozy up in sleeping bags and learn a new constellation.

70. Go bike-carolling.

71. Try a 30-day challenge – yoga, planks, bike trainer rides.

72. Trail run by headlamp with friends. Make sure you know the trails well – things always look different at night.

73. “Share your training schedule with your family… my parents love to come to the climbing gym with me.” – MEC Ambassador Sarah Hart

74. Start an outdoor book club: pick a book, find some friends to read it with, then meet up outside to chat about the book a month later.

75. Go climbing in the desert.

76. Sign up for a lesson, class or even a guided tour to learn something new. Some ideas? A guided snowshoe tour to find out about the cultural history of trails near you, a bike maintenance clinic to fix your squeaky brakes, or cross-country ski lessons.

Three people cross-country skiing and smiling

77. Go for an early morning run or walk on Christmas morning, and bask in the quiet, empty city.

78. Create a scavenger hunt for your significant other’s gift that requires finding clues via everyday adventures around the neighbourhood.

79. Have a bundled, wintry picnic after a holiday feast to polish off precious leftovers.

80. Host a potluck party for all your climbing pals with an open bar. The price for a drink? Chin-ups/deadhangs/L-hangs on your hangboard.

81. “Night sledding by headlamp – it’s crazy fun!” – MEC Ambassador Louis Rousseau

82. Build a little kicker at your local park to perfect your 180. Keep it low and rolling. Repurpose it as a sledding jump.

83. Crank out a long run on Boxing Day. Wear micro-spikes if it’s icy.

84. Build a snow tunnel maze for the dog or your kids.

85. Leave build-your-own-snowman kits on your neighbours’ and friends’ lawns. Include a carrot, old hat and scarf, rocks and sticks.

Snowperson wearing snowshoes and a toque

86. Build a new habit with the 12 days of stretch-mas: foam roll and stretch your over-hiked, over-biked legs, arms and glutes.

87. Air-out, patch and prep your summer gear for next season. Lovingly pack it away with a new treat for next year. Some ideas: a note reminding you of places to go, a fancy chocolate bar, or a paperback book to read by the lake.

88. Sunrise walk.

89. Random act of kindess, climber edition: Pre-pay the drop-in fee for the next new climber that arrives at the front desk at your climbing gym.

90. “Have a “Light up the Ave” run meet-up. Get decked out in bike lights, headlamps, turtle lights, then run through the downtown core.” – MEC staffer Josephine

91. Try winter camping.

92. Hit up a tubing park.

93. Volunteer at least once – bonus points if it’s outside.

94. Ride a fat bike to a holiday party.

95. Walk a dog and throw snowballs (or whatever they like to fetch) to see how much fun they have in fresh snow.

A large dog playing with a stick

96. Make your own wrapping paper with water-based paint and the pattern on your hiking boots.

97. Have a backcountry feast, complete with freeze-dried dessert.

98. Create holiday cards by capturing light art (“lart”) with sparklers or headlamps outside.

99. Pick a ride or race in early 2020 and start training now. It’s about a 16-week training window – perfect.

100. “Make snow cones in the woods! Pack in simple syrup and some parchment paper for a cone.” – MEC staffer Paula

101. Build a self-portrait snowperson.

102. Flannel Friday: wear every piece of flannel you own. Plaid-urday works too.

103. Make an advent calendar for your favourite outdoor buddy, but instead of chocolate, it’s awesome things to do outside. Use this ginormous list as inspiration.

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

A Canada-wide crew over 2000 strong. Includes adventurers, thinkers, doers, writers, photographers and people who get out often.