Even though the pool is closed and the days are short, there’s no need to banish yourself indoors to hibernate all winter! Pining all winter long for the summer sun to come again is futile, since it’s not coming any faster, no matter how much you stare at your pool liner. Rest assured, because even on chilly nights there’s outdoor fun to be had with so many unique ways to utilize your backyard all winter long. Even if the pool isn’t an option, we’ve laid out a bunch of ideas to make the most of your backyard, even when the weather is cold. Keep reading for some “cool” suggestions!

Embrace the festivities! Winter is a season filled with holiday cheer, so string-up some lights across your yard to brighten up the dreary winter days. You can make your own little winter wonderland with only white christmas lights; adorn trees, canopies, fences, and decks with festive lighting to bring the holiday cheer to everyone inside your house and walking by it. There’s something magical about a chilly winter night, wrapped in a blanket, watching the lights twinkle as snow gently begins to fall softly to the ground. It gives you a minute to take it all in and relax.

Open up your Hot tub if you really miss being in the water for bubbling, steaming relaxation time. Hot tubs are great for the winter time, shielding you from the icy cold with hot water. The contrast between the air and the water temperature makes the hot tub even more cozy, Pack it filled with people you love to have fun and hang out outdoors, or pick one person to relax next to with a glass of wine and good conversation. Plus, you’ll love all the great health benefits you’re experiencing while you sit in the hot water, under all the powerful jets.

Gather ‘round the fire. A warm, crackling fire is the epitome of wintertime, with yule logs and a warm fire being staple holiday images. Getting a fire pit and surrounding it with some comfy cushioned chairs practically invites people outside, ready to get a fire started. Sip on some hot cocoa or egg nog, talking deep into the night and admiring the winter star scape. If fire is a little too dangerous, invest in a restaurant style propane heater to warm up the surroundings without the open flame.

Design an outdoor pavillion to spend time outdoors, shielded from the elements. Invest in some hefty outdoor furniture and pile on the cushions to make a cozy space under a canopy or attached enclosure. Feel free to utilize a space heater from indoors or an outdoor heater to warm up the place, then spend some time outside under the pavillion doing some work or hanging with family. You’ll be grateful for this kind of space year-round, giving you not only another living space, but also a closer connection to nature.

Enjoy the snow, no matter how much you complain about it when it comes. You never know when the last snow is going to be, so use your backyard to the fullest when the snow comes down. Build snowmen and snowwomen, snow forts and have snowball fights, because once the snow’s gone, you’re not going to be able to recreate those experiences...for another year! Let them stand until they melt, making sure to take commemorative photos as reminders of your winter fun. After frolicking in the snow for hours, usher everyone inside for some hot cocoa and warm blankets.

Keep it colorful, even in the winter! There are dozens of winter plants that stay green all year long, so invest in some to add a touch of life to a bland winter backyard. Popular shrubbery options are evergreens and boxwood hedges, while winter blooming flowers include the sunny Winter Jasmine and bright Kaffir Lilies. You’ve probably noticed holly plants before, with their distinct bright red berries, so these make another great option for adding some more color.

There are so many ways to enjoy your backyard, even in the wintertime. It’s the coziest, most festive time of the year, so take advantage of the holiday spirit in everyone. Winter can be a great season for family bonding, since nobody wants to venture far from home in the ice cold weather. Take advantage of everyone being home to create a warm family moment.