Can’t think of anything wintery to put your characters through? If the winter months in your book are missing that holiday cheer, here are twelve holi-dates that remind us of winter and the holidays (and sometimes Christmas).
These “dates” can be for platonic or romantic characters, and in the spirit of the holiday season, let’s start with my favorite…
Ice Skating. Not only is ice skating great exercise, it’s also perfect for two characters who are just getting to know each other. Think about the first step into an ice rink, how your skate slides away from you and you almost do a split. There’s lots of opportunities for characters to support each other on that slippery surface and offer words of encouragement. And, in a cold environment, characters blush easily.
Play Games. Charades, card games, chess, board games, video games…all of the above! When characters get together for game night, there’s tons of room for laughter and good times. Think about all the great banter you can write!
Decorate Cookies. Whether it’s dreidels or gingerbread men, be sure to make way too many cookies. And if the kitchen looks clean afterwards, you’re doing it wrong. Competition is baked into cookie decorating, so lean into it and to bring out the worst, or best, of your characters.
Decorate a GINGERBREAD HOUSE. A.k.a. when cookie decorating becomes an extreme sport. Perhaps you don’t have the time to spend six hours making an elaborate gingerbread structure, but your characters do! Don’t lie and act like you’ve never wanted to make one. Now, you can do it vicariously through them. What if each character decorates one side? What candies would they choose, and what does that say about their personality? Maybe I’m getting too deep into gumdrops, so I’ll move on.
Snow Date! A snow date is a catch-all for anything involving snow. Having a snowball fight, making a snowman, sneaking onto the golf course at night to sled on it—you know, normal snow things. Other stereotypical winter activities include anything in a Hallmark movie, like making snow angels or catching snowflakes on your tongue.
Vacation. Going on a trip can also bring out the best and worst of people, so why not put your characters through it? If you have YA characters, maybe one character’s family is going to the mountains (or perhaps somewhere warm) for vacation. If it’s a snowy location, popular activities include skiing and snowboarding. Winter sports can be tough but rewarding. How do you feel when you accomplish something difficult with someone else? Like you’re in this together.
Burn Stuff. Kidding (but not kidding) — make your characters build a fire. Not only is it cozy and pretty to look at, having a fire is an easy segway into s’mores, hot dogs, or roasting chestnuts. Side note: does anyone actually roast chestnuts?
Quality Time Together. Who doesn’t like snuggling up on the couch with a big blanket a book and some tea, and having your friend doing the same thing beside you? The holidays are about being with the people you love, so it’s natural that your characters do this too. It’s easy to create a cozy scene with this activity, and it shows the close bond between your characters.
Go to a Party. If I’m being honest, getting ready for a party is always more fun than the actual party. How do your characters react to the other when they’re all dressed up? This can be a great opportunity for crushes to develop or for characters to hype each other up.
Christmas Tree-ing. Christmas Tree-ing is anything involving a Christmas tree. Chopping down a tree in the cold is hard, but doable with a willing axe-holder. If your characters are allergic to anything below sixty degrees, what about pulling the plastic tree from the attic and setting it up together? And did I mention decorating? Come on, that’s the clear winner of Christmas Tree-ing. How do your characters interact as they decorate? Focusing on something can cause characters to reflect on times they have done it in the past, so it’s a good time to share memories or backstory.
Christmas Movies. The best part about watching a Christmas movie is getting to make fun of it. Yes, there are some movies like Elf that will always be good, but watching bad Christmas movies so you can laugh hits different.
Look at Lights. Something I think every book needs is wonder. And walking around a neighborhood in the cold at night, passing lights on roofs and in bare trees with the stars overhead, that’s wonder. Something in us likes to look at light. Characters can also see Christmas lights by driving somewhere or watching a tree lighting ceremony.
The holidays are a great time to bring characters together. It’s the season of winter break, of vacation and snow days, so why not celebrate? But remember this, it’s not about what your characters do, it’s about how they connect with each other. If nothing else, we hope you can use one of these ideas on yourself this winter season.
Happy holidays from Juven Press.
is a writer based in North Carolina. She attends writing classes of all kinds at UNC Chapel Hill and has a particular fondness for sharp imagery. In her free time, she drafts her own novels.