5 Wallet-Friendly Hobbies To Take Up This Winter

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Time to bunker down.

Cauliflowers pickling in three jars.

It’s hard to muster some enthusiasm for life once the sun goes down. Come winter, the sun doesn’t even really factor into your daily life – it’s barely there when you head into the office and it’s well and truly out of sight by the time you start your dreary commute home.

But life doesn’t have to stop just because the sun has given up for a few months. Here are a few evening-passing hobbies you can manage from your very own home that won’t stretch the budget, but will stretch your skills.

Learn a new language (for free)

Sure, you can sign up to a six-week course and schlep it across your home town to get there after work, or you could take up a sweet at-home option. Popular app Duolingo is great for picking up a new language on the go, but there are also heaps of varied resources online: BBC’s language page is brimming with free resources in almost 40 languages, and SBS offers radio and news broadcasts in a heap of other tongues, so you can familiarise yourself with these. Also, SBS On Demand has a huge offering of foreign films to turn on while you’re cooking or cleaning – immersion complete.

Preserving and pickling

You’ll be shocked at the kinds of things that make a killer pickle – watermelon rinds, leftover lemons and cauliflower florets all make some seriously tasty treats and they’ll all the kinds of things you’d fish out from the back of your fridge with disgust. Make these leftovers and your winter evenings worthwhile by giving them a new life with a pickle recipe.

Make your own classic movie club

Not all hobbies have to be done with your hands. If you’re someone who’s immediately lost when a friend mentions the genius of Charlie Kaufman or you still think Dustin Hoffman’s greatest role was in Meet the Fockers, get yourself an education. Netflix has a dedicated section for classic flicks, but local libraries are an absolute goldmine when it comes to free DVD rental, and you can also try Internet Archive for free, legal streaming.

…Or a virtual book club

You’ve been meaning to get a book club up and running for a million years, haven’t you? Instead of stumbling through another winter where it doesn’t happen, get yourself going on a virtual one. Digital book clubs are more popular than you’d expect: you can try Emma Watson’s feminist Our Shared Self, or the hugely popular #WLClub that allows you to weigh in on the month’s book live on Twitter.

Letter writing

Admittedly, this will cost you a stamp and letter-writing paper (which is actually extremely hard to come by), but the reward is priceless. Spend some time each week sending a handwritten letter to a friend or family member you’re not in close contact with, and vary it each week. Not only will you have a cute way to cement your relationship, you’ll likely have real live snail mail through your mail slot soon. What could be more fun than that?

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