5 Clever DIY Hacks for Winter

A stack of brightly colored blankets.

To a child, winter days are fun. I have fond memories of snowball fights and building snowmen with my siblings for hours until we were forced to come inside to thaw out. My optimism for the season was unwavering in my youth and reflected the fun and joy throughout childhood, though my adult mind thinks of the cold seasons slightly differently today. The levity for the season still glows, but survival is always at the forefront of my mind as an adult when I see the snow fly I think of shoveling snow, slippery roads, and the ever-growing heat bill for cold winter nights. Growing up in Buffalo, New York, I have learned a few things about persevering in the season, therefore this article will offer tips and hacks I have learned to make daily life in tricky conditions a bit easier.

1. Candle Heater or Candle

What you’ll need:

  • Can of vegetable shortening
  • Cotton strips from an old t-shirt or store-bought wicks
  • Pencil
  • Flower pot the size of the vegetable shortening can or larger
  • 2 Bricks

Option 1 - Make a Candle

Open your can of vegetable shortening and using a pencil, push a hole to the bottom of the can cutting through the shortening. Again, using the pencil as a means of force, push your pre-cut cotton strip or wick to the bottom of the can, using your hand to push the shortening around the material, supporting it. As the vegetable shortening works as a wonderful DIY candle wax, it will feed the candle’s flames and burn for hours without fault.

Option 2 - Make a Space Heater

Retaining the candle’s heat is rather easy, as we will use the flowerpot as a candle homemade cover. Fashion the two bricks on either side of the vegetable can. Place them short end down, so they hover a few inches above the can’s rim. Finally, place your flowerpot, upside down, on top of the bricks.

As heat rises, the heat given from the candle will be caught and retained by the clay pot, therefore keeping it in the room longer. This is a great hack for those hoping to heat a small room or space, and it looks neat as well.

As always, use caution when working around fire.

2. The Car Mirror Trick

A car covered in snow.

Avoid snow and ice build-up on car mirrors with this trick.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 Ziploc bags
  • Rubber bands

Place a Ziploc bag, tied off with a rubber band, on your car’s side mirrors every night before bed. When the morning comes, the winter elements will adhere to the plastic and not the mirror underneath. Remove the bag for snow-free mirrors. As driving in the cold is often dangerous enough, this hack creates a more visible and safe driving experience.

3. No-sew Blanket

Make a cozy blanket without sewing a stitch.

What you’ll need:

  • Soft material. Fleece is preferred for its durability and warmth.
  • Scissors

Step 1

Cut two pieces of fabric to the size desired for a blanket. When this was first done for me, it was made nearly 7 feet long (to compensate for my great height) and 5 feet wide.

Step 2

Lay the pieces one on top of the other on a clean, flat surface. Using your scissors, take hold of the material’s edges, and begin cutting a fringe through both pieces, three inches deep, on all four sides of the material.

Step 3

Now, all one must do is take one piece of fringe on both pieces of material, and make knots with them, fashioning the fabric into a blanket. This technique is functional as one can truly make the blanket any thickness desired (by doubling or even tripling the number of layers included) and the length personalized. It also has a wonderful, handmade style to it so there is no shame in leaving it in plain sight.

Finally, as there is no sewing involved, it is the perfect DIY craft for the whole family.

4. Warm Keys

A hand holding a broken key.

Prevent a key from breaking in a frozen lock with this trick.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 standard lighter

Before placing a key into a frozen lock, simply take a standard store-bought lighter and warm the key in its flames. The key, when slid into a lock, will create enough warmth to ensure proper unlocking, without jamming or, even worse, breaking in two.

5. The Plastic Bag Trick

Keep feet dry outdoors with this easy trick.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 gallon-sized plastic bags
  • Rubber bands

Do your feet every get wet in the winter snow, even while wearing supposedly waterproof boots? Here is a winter hack to help stop it: to keep your feet dry, simply place the large plastic bags over your feet before putting on boots when shoveling or working for long periods in the snow. Depending on shoe size and the conditions at hand, rubber bands may be needed to ensure the protection stays on and continues to be watertight.

This often feels ridiculous and one may even slide about inside their boots. But the simple act of tightening laces can be enough to combat the sensation, as dry feet in freezing temperatures is most definitely worth it.