Winter Fun: 10 Events and Activities For Cold Weather

By Joseph Oriente

If you're a part of the recreation department for your community, you likely plan events and activities constantly. However, as the months get cold, it can be tough to brainstorm and plan engaging events for the community. People tend to want to stay indoors and remain warm.

Though the cold weather can cause fewer individuals and families to attend outdoor events, there are ways to make use of your various recreation facilities and get creative with your programming.

It's a good idea to look at the trends from previous winter months in order to gauge what might be the best event or activity to plan. Even if you've had some success in the past, it's also a good idea to see what internal management processes can improve so your team doesn't feel as scrambled and rushed as the holidays approach.

As you streamline your operations, you can prep your team to start planning events for the winter. Engage your community members with smart programming ideas and make sure you keep these best practices in mind.

Best Practices for Event & Activity Planning

If you've been planning community events for a while, you likely already use software to help manage your different activities and store community member information. As your staff is gearing up for your winter programming, it's a good idea to review your software solution and see what can improve.

Even better, if your staff has been handling processes manually, now is a great time to look into tools that will make your lives, as well as your community members' lives much easier. If you're on the hunt, be sure to look for a solution that offers quick and easy online registration, facility management and communication tools.

Quick & Easy Online Registration

There are going to be times when community members want to attend an event or sign up for a program, but don't have the time to wait on line at the registration office. Providing online registration could very well change the game for your recreation organization.

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Searchable program catalog. This gives individuals the power to scroll through the different events and activities that you offer. Find recreation management software that lets users search and filter for events and programs in multiple ways, and displays all the pertinent details.
  • Customizable online forms. No matter how many events you plan for this winter, you can customize each of your registration forms to the specific program or activity. Additionally, since all of your forms are hosted online, you don't have to worry about manually organizing paper or keeping track of loose pages!
  • Registrant profiles. Some recreation management software will save the information of each user and create an account profile. This way, personal information is saved for those who register for many programs and events, and they don't have to input the same information over and over again.

Let people register and pay for your activities online when it's most convenient for them—whether it's at 2 in the morning or on their mobile phones.

Facility Management System

If you help plan events and activities for your community, you likely also oversee the recreation facilities. When your community has rec centers, parks, fields, etc., how can your team juggle it all? With the right recreation management software, all your facilities and their availability is accessible through one centralized system. This means you can:

  • Filter through and approve online public requests for rentals of buildings, rooms, fields and more.
  • Access a master calendar to quickly and easily determine which facilities are available.
  • Schedule and adjust reservations as you see fit.
  • Create recurring time blocks for weekly practices or meetups.
  • Market your facilities with attractive and informative web pages.

Don't risk double-booking your facilities and ensure a smooth process with one centralized system.

Communication Tools

Being in charge of multiple activities and events for your community requires effective communication tools. In addition to marketing upcoming programs, your staff needs an effective way to alert the public about closures, cancellations, weather and other time-sensitive updates.

Your software solution should have text and email capabilities that enable you to effortlessly send out messages when they are needed to the right audience. With the management software, you should be able to:

  • Send targeted emails and texts to specific groups to keep your communications personalized and relevant. For example, say you want to send a wrap-up email to those who came to your last event. Specify the audience to be the recent attendees and don't bother those who weren't there.
  • Send alerts quickly and efficiently. This can come in handy when your team has to react to changing situations such as an emergency closing of a facility.
  • Schedule emails and texts so that you can plan your communications for a certain time and day. That way, you can pick the best time to be in people's inboxes.

Communication is key. Make sure nothing slips through the cracks and everyone is on the same page with your recreation management software tool.

10 Engaging Winter Event Ideas

Now that your staff has a solid foundation with recreation management software and best practices, you can start brainstorming event and activity ideas. With past community event trends in mind, think of programming that brings families and individuals together, even despite the cold weather.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Indoor sports league. Thinking of new and exciting sports programs can be tough, however most people will be happy just having something active to do in a team setting. While the temperatures are dropping outside, encourage community members to participate in an indoor sports league. Whether it's flag football or soccer, moving a typically outdoor sport inside doesn't have to be difficult. With the right recreation management software, you can easily set up an indoor sports league.
  2. Snowman building contest. Bring some competitive spirit to an event with a snowman building contest. This will surely get kids out of the house and encourage them to interact with each other. Gather some local community members to be judges and watch people start building!
  3. Arts and crafts night. Gather families in one of your indoor rec centers and have an arts and crafts night! This is the perfect cold weather activity as you can stay cozy inside. Plan this event right before the holidays and people can start making gifts and cards.
  4. Theater production. This is an event that requires more planning, but will engage your community for a longer period of time. You can employ different members with set design, costume design and acting, and watch them get excited with each practice for the show.
  5. Family ice-skating night. This will require having a rink or access to one, but a family ice-skating night is the perfect winter activity. Sell hot cocoa and play some festive music as people skate around the rink. This is one of those events that would not happen in any other season, so community members will flock to a well-planned ice-skating night.
  6. Rec center movie night. Your recreation centers should be designed with flexibility and multi-use in mind. When the weather starts getting colder, moving more of your community events into your various rec centers is a great idea. Host a movie night in one of them, providing popcorn and other treats. Families and others will love this idea and bring their blankets for a cozy community night in.
  7. Winter chili cookoff. Combine a hearty winter meal with some friendly community competition with a winter chili cookoff. Not only does this get people engaged in the cooking competition, but it also attracts other community members to attend and taste the different chilis. This event is a great way to get people out of the house, and it also caters itself.
  8. Polar plunge. Though most of your winter activities may be indoors, consider something like a polar plunge. This is a popular event where a group of people will go and take a dip in the cold winter water.
  9. Indoor run-a-thon. Set up some treadmills in your rec center and host an indoor run-a-thon. This is an efficient way to engage community members by encouraging some friendly competitive spirit and philanthropy. For more details on how to plan a run-a-thon event, read this article.
  10. Winter concert. Host a winter concert, either inside one of your rec centers or in your local park if it's not too cold. Encourage families and individuals to leave their homes and enjoy some tunes with the rest of the community!

One of the great things about any of these community programming ideas is that they are flexible and can be customized to your community's needs. For example, you can focus an event to engage only youth or only families.

Additionally, any of these events can be easily turned into a fundraising event with tickets, donations and concessions sales. Bonfire has a resource for fundraising event ideas if you're curious for more information.

Cold weather doesn't necessarily mean your community programs should slow down. With the right recreation management software, you can easily engage members with events and activities. Reference our list of ideas if you don't know where to start, and good luck!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joseph Oriente is the president and founder of Capturepoint, creator of CommunityPass software. Joe established Capturepoint in 1999 and launched CommunityPass in 2003, which was initially created to provide online registration and payment for a local town sports council that was overwhelmed with an increasing number of paper registrations. Since then Joe has been responsible for expanding CommunityPass nationally to become one of America's most well respected and complete online management solutions with registration, membership and facilities software serving the recreation and school markets. For more information, visit www.communitypass.net.


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