Winter break brings a multitude of opportunities to refresh your spirit. Whether it's spending time with family, strolling downtown to see the holiday lights, or simply resting by a cozy fire, the season can leave you feeling re-energized and ready to tackle a new year. If you're staying local, all it takes is a little planning to make it the best winter break ever.

Try yoga at the local gym for a relaxing unwind

If you're feeling like it's been a long year, you'll benefit from incorporating yoga into your winter break schedule. Yoga delivers myriad health benefits, including total relaxation of the mind and body. We can all use more of that! Check your local community boards for information about yoga classes. Some classes may be offered for free during the holidays or offer special discounts during the winter break. If you can't find a class nearby, grab a mat and settle down in your living room. Tune into online yoga videos and transport your space into a yoga studio in no time! Practicing yoga regularly reduces stress and boosts your mood. Increase the fun and fellowship by inviting your family and friends. Enjoy a hot cup of coffee or green tea afterward and savor the bliss of a good stretch and a warm beverage!

Become the head chef of your own cooking class

This can be one of the most awesome winter break activities of all when you invite family or friends to your kitchen. Decide on the main course recipe and design a menu with your participants in mind. Check your local grocery stores for special sales and savings opportunities while planning your list. Think balance: If you're preparing a higher-cost entree, make an easy dessert with minimal ingredients. Instead of an appetizer, do a soup or salad. For a creative spin, pair your participants into teams to create unique dishes to share with the group. You're certain to enjoy the camaraderie that teamwork offers and you'll be making holiday memories to last a lifetime!

Go to Harvard University for free

It's true! Harvard University offers more than 260 free online classes on a variety of subjects designed to engage and fascinate their students. If a semester is too much, consider Harvard's short-term courses, only 3 weeks for some, in humanities, computer science, health and medicine, and social sciences to name a few. For example, you can wrap PredictionX: Omens, Oracles, & Prophecies in just one week. In this combination of sociology, history, and religion, you'll explore mankind's relationship with fortune-telling from ancient times to the present day, including ancient Chinese bone burning to modern-day astrology and tarot. Invite a friend to join you so and continue the discussion after you've completed a chapter. Talk about a conversation starter! 

Join a book club and make new friends

If your winter staycation has you daydreaming about long days curled up with a book and a cup of hot chocolate, you'll probably enjoy joining a book club. Book clubs bring people together who share a common love—books! It's a nice way to join a community and make new friends. Book clubs challenge their members with critical thinking and encourage thought-provoking dialogue. They also push you to finish that stack on your nightstand. Make it a night and have everyone bring a pot luck dish. Don't forget the wine!

Feed your love of adventure with a ghost hunt

Do you love mysteries and detective work? Launching a paranormal investigation with family and friends can be a spooky good time for adventure lovers when you've got extra time. First, identify somewhere that's safe to investigate. Perhaps an old cemetery, abandoned barn, or haunted house is on your list. Make sure you have permission from the owner before entering any location. Carry a backpack with flashlights, camera, water (to quench your thirst because ghosts can drain your energy), audio recorders, and other ghost hunting gadgets that you may want such as an EMF detector. Spirits are believed to carry electromagnetic fields that can be measured with EMF (electromagnetic field) detectors. Save money by downloading free ghost apps on your phone. Some are wildly entertaining as long as you understand that the data they collect haven't been authenticated in most cases. Still, you'll have an unforgettable night of ghost hunting that's certain to make winter break 2021 a memory like no other!

Explore like Indiana Jones in your hometown

Every town and city has a story, a historic past that sometimes includes murder, mayhem, and mystery. If your town has a local museum, visit it with friends or family. You're likely to uncover stories about your hometown that you never knew existed. If you are more adventurous, spend a week exploring the area as an archaeologist. You might live on land that was once occupied by early settlers. A little research at your local clerk's office will reveal who owned your property years before. Many city offices maintain property records that date well into the early 19th century. Use a metal detector to unearth hidden treasures buried just beneath the ground's surface and you'll likely discover much worth talking about over dinner!

Search for savings and special deals

Check your local community boards and social media for events in your area. See a matinee movie to save a few dollars off the ticket price (and likely enjoy an emptier theater). Consider getting together with friends for lunch or happy hour versus dinner when the restaurants have special lunch menus with added savings. Cheers!