Having a hobby can be a great way to enjoy your down time, but the expenses can add up. If you're looking for something new to try, here are a few low-cost alternatives worth checking out.
For you creative types, making your own stamps can be a clever way to add a personal touch to stationery, letters and gift wrapping. All you need is a Sharpie, a craft knife, ink pad, and a few corks.
First, draw your design onto the bottom of the cork. Next, slowly and carefully cut around the outine of your design. Once you're done, turn the cork sideways and trim away the excess. In just a few minutes, you'll have your own eco-friendly stamp. For different textures, try carving shapes in potatoes, apples and other veggies.
Another low-cost hobby is pickling. It's easy to do, and you won't need any special equipment. To get started, you'll need a jar, a saucepan, pickling ingredients and one pound of the vegetable of your choice.
Begin by packing your vegetables and garlic as tightly as possible into the jar. Then, combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring the mixture to boil. Pour the hot liquid carefully into the jar and let it cool for one hour with the lid off. After that, put on the lid, stick it in the fridge and you're done.
If you're looking for something new to do, try your hand at making homemade stamps and pickles. You can be creative and have some fun without breaking your budget.
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I always assumed I needed a cabin in the mountains, an ax or other weaponry draped over my shoulder, and a full beard in order to snowshoe. But as it happens, snowshoeing can be done by pretty much anyone, fairly cheaply. Find a local outdoor equipment rental supplier and snag yourself a pair of snowshoes for under $10.
Sledding has two perks that make it a perfect winter activity: 1. It's free (assuming you have a sled or a friend's you can borrow). 2. You're outside, but you're not cold, because all it takes is a couple of times climbing back up your favorite sledding hill, and you're breaking a sweat. And did you know that sledding is the cutest photo op for a family ever? Oops, that's three things.
There's no better way to enjoy winter than from the inside of your toasty warm car. And no December is complete without a self-guided tour of the best local Christmas lights. This list compiles some favorite spots across the country, but you can also Google the best displays in your area. And (added bonus), your children are strapped in for this activity, which should keep things simple and (relatively) drama-free.
Thanks to Pinterest, the DIY bug is more contagious than ever -- especially during the winter. If you're looking for a free way to unleash your inner Martha (or Marty, for you guys out there) Stewart, try out a free DIY workshop from home-improvement stores like The Home Depot or craft stores like Michaels. Other retailers are also getting in on the action, such as Apple, which hosted hour-long coding classes for children at their stores this week.
Get the thrill of the outdoors without the winter weather in the pleasant confines of an indoor rock gym. For the price of a movie and popcorn, you can get a day pass, learn how to belay friends and family safely, and scale to your heart's (and ripped forearms') content.
When winter gives you frozen lemons, make piping-hot lemonade -- and then swim in it. (That's the expression, right?) According to the National Geophysical Data Center, there are over 1,661 natural hot springs in the United States. However, most are out West. If you happen to live east of the Rockies, it's high time to make friends with a hot-tub owner.
Leave the fancy clubs and goofy-looking pants at home; this is poor man's golf. But don't let that fool you. It's a great game for beginners and Tiger Woods frisbee-ers alike. With public courses across the country and greens fees that are typically 100 percent cheaper than regular golf, you might completely forget about those clubs in your trunk come spring.
Going to a movie for a dollar might sound like something your grandparents did in simpler times, but believe it or not, you can still catch recent releases in theaters for just a buck or two. They're getting harder to find, but do yourself (and your budget) a favor by finding a local dollar theater this winter for some quality entertainment.
So leave the hibernating to the grizzlies and your weird roommate and get yourself out and about this winter. If your budget can get along and have a good time with these cold-weather activities, so can you.