Jan 8

How to Create Cozy Cold Weather Rituals

by Meghan Fitzgerald

When tea becomes ritual, it takes place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. - Muriel Barbery

As a kid, it was butternut donuts for breakfast on my birthday, and staying up late one night a year to watch A Christmas Story when it was on TV. Now, as a parent to three kids, it's making pancakes on the weekends and doing what each one of them enjoy most, from a lavender scented bath to a song to circles traced on their back, as I help them get ready for sleep at night.

Research shows that family traditions correlate to a range of outcomes for kids, and even for parents. Psychologists have been researching the impact of family rituals for over 50 years, and their findings link family rituals to increases in children’s happiness, emotional well-being, sense of identity, and even success in school. Not all families face the same challenges, but evidence shows that, even when families deal with significant stresses, the creating and nurturing of traditions are linked to better outcomes for kids. At Tinkergarten, we are all about rituals. The ritual of coming together each week (in person or through the magic of a screen), the earning of a season's badge, the ritual of the circle, the song, and the closing celebration. 

One of our favorite set of rituals are those that help us add a little extra cozy to the chilly months. First, an important part of loving being out in the cold is how amazing it feels to get cozy while you're out and when you come back inside. Plus, just knowing that you can create a little cozy in the midst of all that cold is empowering for humans at any age. 

Some Ways to Spark Cozy Rituals

Here’s a peek at this week’s suggestions for not only getting your time outdoors together, but finding comfort, coziness, and magic with some added winter rituals:

Tinkergarten New Leader Scouting Team...

Time Out for Tea

In ‘Time Out for Tea,’ add a break for warm tea into a walk or hike. The ritual helps to create a moment of quiet and warmth that you can share alongside the active exploration.


Tinkergarten New Leader Scouting Team...

A Wish Tree

In 'A Wish Tree For Me,’ kids have the opportunity to make thoughtful wishes--for themselves, people they love, the world--and then hang those wishes on their own special trees.


Coming Back Inside

‘Coming In Is Part of Being #OutdoorsAll4’ is all about the deliciousness of coming back into warmth after you’ve been outside in the cold.   

Community Can Amplify the Impact of Rituals

Sharing your ideas and time spent on rituals with others, whether in your family, friend group, school community, local community, or a virtual community like our Tinkergarten learning community and OutdoorsAll4 community, can give you and kids a boost. What a powerful thing it is to see the rituals that you value as a family or a classroom community echoed and shared with others.  

Thank you for the Photographs!


Sarah Maxwell, Eugene, OR | @greatjoyshouts 

Huge thanks to Sarah and Theo for sharing their wishes and tea time with us! 


Meghan Fitzgerald


After 20+ years as an educator, curriculum developer and school leader, I have my dream gig—an entrepreneur/educator/mom who helps families everywhere, including my own, learn outside. Prior to Tinkergarten®, I worked as an Elementary School Principal, a Math/Science Specialist & and a teacher in public and private schools in NY, MA and CA. I earned a BA with majors in English and Developmental Psychology at Amherst College, an MS in Educational Leadership at Bank Street College, and was trained to become a Forest School leader at Bridgwater College, UK. My worldview is formed in response to my environment, culture, family, identity and experiences. What I write in this blog will inevitably betray the blind spots I have as a result—we all have them! Please reach out if there are other perspectives or world views I could consider in anything I write about. I welcome the chance to learn and update any pieces to broaden our shared perspective!

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