By Alyson Sheppard
GEICO’s customer service is every bit as delightful as getting a day off to play in the snow. Here are a few projects to keep you busy during your next snow day.
1. Play Snowball Darts
Draw a bull’s-eye target on the side of your garage with chalk. Assign point values for each of the concentric rings and then warm up your throwing arm. Compete with friends to see who has the best aim. And remember, even if the snowpack feels soft, stay away from windows.
2. Make Fruity Slushies
Collect fresh, clean snow and densely pack it into a cup. Spoon juice or soda on top and drink through a straw. For a more sophisticated slush, add pureed berries to the mix.
3. Track Furry Friends
Leave animal feeders out in your backyard to attract your neighborhood’s winged and four-legged residents. Spread peanut butter on a pinecone, sprinkle it with birdseed and hang it from a tree branch with yarn. Hang feed corncobs outside as well. Once a fresh layer of snow has fallen, go look for paw prints. You may find evidence of birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer, or maybe just neighborhood cats. Reference a field guide to best identify the tracks.
4. Construct an Igloo
Igloo building requires more thought than your run-of-the-mill snow fort. Clear out a large area of your yard and pack down the snow to form a smooth surface. Using a stick, draw a circle in the snow large enough for you to sit inside. Now build your bricks: Densely fill a loaf pan with snow. Place the pan upside-down on the edge of the circle and tip out the brick. Repeat all of the way around, leaving a gap for a door. Continue adding bricks on the next layer, overlapping the joints like a real bricklayer would do. Tilt the walls slightly inward until you reach the top. Cap off your dome with a single brick.
5. Create Miracles
Never underestimate the power of a strategically placed snow angel to delight a friend. Or, if you’re feeling more ambitious, a full army of snow angels.
6. DIY Icicles
Fill plastic soda bottles with colored water. Hang them from tree branches using yarn. Puncture the bottom of the bottles with small holes. As the colored water drips out, it freezes, forming bright icicles. Keep adding different colored water to the bottles to create rainbow icicles. If the icicles stop forming, make the holes larger or poke new holes.
7. Repurpose Snow in Your Home
Collect clean snow and use it around your kitchen for tasks like keeping seafood fresh. To water houseplants or Christmas trees, stick icicles straight into the soil. Fill buckets with snow and let it melt, using the liquid in place of running water to hand-wash delicates or mop floors.
8. Get Artistic
Fill a spray bottle with colored water and tag your front yard and sidewalk with amusing snow graffiti. If you’d rather be arty inside, pile some of the white stuff on a cookie sheet and work at the kitchen table. Build animals and paint them with watercolors. You’ll need to move your sculptures outdoors quickly to keep them alive through the winter.
9. Mix Up Snow Ice Cream
For a simple treat, fill a bowl with clean snow and pour sweetened condensed milk on top. Jazz it up with a drizzle of vanilla extract, chocolate syrup, or cold coffee. Mix and eat with a spoon. Make it even more decadent by turning the sweetened condensed milk into dolce de leche first: Remove the wrapper from the milk can and boil the whole thing, covered in water, for an hour. Let the can cool and then open it for creamy caramel-y delicacy.
10. Build Snow-People
Recreate your family members or friends with snowmen and dress them in thrift store finds. Play pin-the-nose-on-the-snowman to create the faces. Blindfold the builders, spin them around and see who can place the carrot nose, coal eyes and stick arms closest to their rightful places. When the snow melts, be sure to wash and re-donate the clothes to charity.
11. Plot a Mini-Golf Course
Miniature golf isn’t reserved for fake grass. Design a challenging, geometric mini-golf course and stomp the snow down to create various lanes. Firmly compact the snow along the side of the lanes so balls can bounce off. Create holes by burying empty aluminum cans under the surface of the snow. Tee off with a real putter and golf ball and aim to finish the course using the lowest number of strokes. Windmill obstacles are optional.
12. Jump Your Sled
Practice your engineering skills by building a sled jump. Find a good hill and build a ramp about 1/3 of the way from the bottom. Build up the snow and compact it firmly. Smooth out the transition and plot the landing.
13. Blow Icebubbles
So easy, yet so cool: Next time it’s freezing outside, blow bubbles. They’ll freeze in glass-like spheres right on the wand!
14. Hunt for Treasure
Place hard candies in ice cube trays and cover them with colored water (dyed with food coloring). Freeze. Pop the candy blocks out and hide them around your yard. Send your friends on an Easter egg-like scavenger hunt to find the sweet buried treasures.
15. Cook Snow Candy
You can make this delicious taffy treat with either pure maple syrup or molasses. Fill pie plates with snow and leave them outside until you need them. Combine ¼ cup butter with either 1 cup maple syrup or 1 cup molasses in a heavy pot. Boil the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it reaches 220 degrees to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Allow the hot sugar to cool for a few minutes and then ladle it in swirly ribbons over the snow. It will quickly harden into sticky taffy.