For the most part, winter is a drag. It’s cold, oftentimes dreary, and by January, the lack of visible daylight hours can have us all champing at the bit for some kind of escape. Traveling can be a much-welcomed form of reprieve during this frosty time of year, but if you’re staying home because of work, family needs, or just the pandemic, that’s OK. You can still find sweet release right from the comfort of your own couch; all you need is a little staycation.
Transforming your home into a vacation paradise worthy of the ‘gram isn’t that difficult. With the right stuff (think: puzzles, bath bombs, and good books)you can while away the hours during the worst kinds of weather and still find your happy place. Below are 11 of the best products we think will make your winter staycation all the better.
1. Murder Mystery Jigsaw Puzzle; $19
We now interrupt your regularly scheduled staycation with an important announcement to make: There’s been a murder! Fortunately for you, this puzzling whodunit is just of the make-believe variety. Don your best Sherlock Holmes hat and get to work over your staycation on this 500-piece jigsaw. Apart from puzzle pieces, each 4.6-star-rated kit comes with a story—you can chase after clairvoyants in one or track down a missing will with the other—which will help you put the whole thing together, literally.
Buy it: Uncommon Goods
2. Fred Purr Tea Cat Tea Infuser; $12
Craving a warm cuppa? Don’t just go for your usual Lipton’s during this staycation. Give loose-leaf tea a try instead with this adorable kitty cat infuser, which has a 4-star rating on Sur La Table. All you have to do is fill this silicone feline and place it inside a mug of hot water. The paws will hold firm to the rim, proving cats really do have nine lives after all (and maybe then some). The brand offers other animal-inspired infusers too, including ones shaped like a llama or manatee.
Buy it: Sur La Table
3. Sophie Faux Fur Throw Blanket; $69
Soft to the touch and available in seven colors, the Sophie faux-fur blanket will feel like a wintertime essential once you have it draped over your bed or sofa. Made from Oeko-Tex certified materials (meaning it’s eco-friendly), it’s thick, heavy, and has a velvet-like lining under all the faux fur for an incredibly sumptuous feel. Fun fact: Even though Anthropologie says this throw is dry-clean only, many of its close to 500 reviewers on the site say it’s perfectly fine to toss in the wash on delicate mode and to tumble dry on low heat.
Buy it: Anthropologie
4. Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite Circle Cardigan; From $70
During winter staycations, comfort is the name of the game. Whether you’re rocking pajamas all day long or putting on “hard pants” and nice blouses to run errands, this stylish cardigan from Barefoot Dreams will serve you well. Available in eight shades and in sizes up to extra-large, this lightweight number is surprisingly cozy and versatile. More than 1500 Nordstrom shoppers swear by it, too, and give it a combined 4.7-star rating on the site.
Buy it: Nordstrom
5. The Curious Reader Journal for Book Lovers by Erin McCarthy and The Team At Mental Floss; $19
No matter how much you adore a certain turn of phrase or passage, chances are you don’t want to underline things or make notes in your favorite tome. This interactive companion book to The Curious Reader: A Literary Miscellany of Novels & Novelists (penned by Mental Floss staffers!) can be a great way to spend the time during your winter staycation, as it’s filled with book-related prompts, trivia, and more to help you get the most out of your reading experience. Take it from us, your paperbacks and hardcovers will appreciate that you spared them the red-pen treatment.
Buy it: Amazon
6. Cake Socks; $16
Wool socks are cozy, sure, but if you want to have some fun on your staycation, give these fuzzy ones with a 4.3-star rating on Amazon a try. Packaged like little cupcakes and knitted with color-blocked patterns, these cuties will make a sweet addition to your sock drawer. As they’re made with moisture- and odor-resistant fabric, they’ll also keep your feet dry in case you accidentally step in snow someone tracked in from outside.
Buy it: Amazon
7. Portable Projector And Accessories; From $30
If you love going to the movies but don’t want to leave your house right now, an at-home projector like this one from AuKing is the next best thing. It has a 4.3-star rating on Amazon and offers 1080-pixel resolution for ultra-crisp images, along with a 2000:1 contrast ratio and up to 55,000 hours of LED lamp life. It can project images from 32-inches to 170-inches and its compact size makes it easy to mount or carry to other spots around the house, in case you want to mix things up.
To really drive the cinematic experience home, grab a projection screen (the one included here was made with 16:9 screen formats in mind) and a digital AV adapter, which can output video content from your laptop or other compatible device to your projector, for added flexibility.
8. TURBRO Suburbs TS17 Compact Electric Fireplace Stove; $96
Blustery winter winds might be slapping at your door, but even on the chilliest days of the season, you’ll stay nice and toasty when you’re nestled up near this electric fireplace. Perfect for folks who don’t have a built-in hearth of their own at home, this 4.5-star-rated item offers up to 4777 BTUs of heat with overheat protection and can recreate the look of a real crackling fire without all the smoke and soot that typically comes with. Whether you’re in the mood for fireside snuggles or just want a charming backdrop to your next Netflix binge, this easy-to-use appliance is worth grabbing.
Buy it: Amazon
9. Patchwork Board Game; $27
This two-person game captures all the fun of creating a quilt without the exacting needlework and precision that often goes into making a real one. Designed to only take about 15 minutes per session, Patchwork lets you collaborate with your loved ones on which type of fabric to use via each tile, and use buttons to pull all of it together, revealing a pretty work of art.
Buy it: Amazon
10. Bath Tray And Accessories; From $20
Staycations are a golden opportunity to luxuriate in simple pleasures you might not have the time—or, let’s be real here, the energy—to do after a 40-hour work week. If the idea of settling into a nice, warm bath and soaking for as long as you’d like makes you giddy, consider grabbing a bath tray ahead of your next break.
The fully adjustable tray featured here offers plenty of room for you set up a candle and read from a tablet as you suds up, and if you really want to take it to the next level, don’t forget to pop a bath bomb in the water before you slip in. Don’t have a tub that’s big enough for baths? Cleverfy’s popular aromatherapy steamers are like bath bombs for the shower and are packed with soothing essential oils, for a spa-like experience you can have at home.
11. Vibes Hi-Fidelity Ear Plugs; $24
Treat yourself to what perhaps might be the best staycation item of them all: a good set of ear plugs. These reusable, silicone-tipped ‘buds are like a one-way ticket to relaxation, as they come with a pocket-sized carrying case and are designed to reduce noise levels by up to 22 decibels. All that background noise that’s been bugging you lately—be it from dogs, your neighbors, or heaven forbid, even your family—will simmer down to a gentle murmur if you want it to, which is all the more reason to give these 4.3-star-rated plugs a try.
Buy it: Amazon