Readers tell us how they stay cheery during the cold, dreary months.

By Real Simple
Updated July 31, 2008
Beatriz da Costa

On a dreary, cold winter day, I head to the Denver Botanic Garden's tropical room or butterfly pavilion. As I step through the door, my glasses fog up and my spirits lift. The flowers, greenery, moist smells, butterflies, and birds take me away from the Rocky Mountain region for half a day. I come out renewed and ready to plow through a little more winter.
Ruth Pendergrast
Fort Collins, Colorado

On cold, dark afternoons, my 4-year-old daughter, Tara, and I plant a range of bulbs in colorful containers. Once the tiny, green spears appear, we bring out the pots to brighten and perfume various areas of our home. We also present them to friends―a gift of hope and beauty from our home to theirs.
Hema Nair
Ewing, New Jersey

Pedicures aren't meant just for the summer months; I indulge in them during winter, too. There's nothing more cheerful on a cold, dreary day than to pull off heavy wool socks and see pretty, polished toes.
Jennifer Stiger
Sacramento, California

I refuse to wear black. No dark browns, midnight blues, or grays, either. I wear pretty twin-sets in bright red, lime green, or lavender. Bright colors work well with winter-white jeans in the cold weather.
Kathy Kindly
Marblehead, Massachusetts

I go through all my photos from the summer months and frame the best, warmest, and brightest ones. Then we have something to remind us of what will come after the cold goes away.
Tara McLain
Salem, Oregon

Last year I started planning my spring plantings while in the middle of a typical Ohio winter. I ordered plants and seeds and laid out my garden designs. When spring eventually came around, I had all I needed to start my work.
Elizabeth Hardesty
Columbus, Ohio

We spend weekends at our family cottage ice-skating, making snowmen, and roasting marshmallows over an open fire in the snow. Being out in the fresh, crisp air invigorates us, and making snow angels with our boys gives us that carefree feeling we had in childhood.
Amy Kelly
Canton, Michigan

I load my camera with black-and-white film and head for the woods or a park. There's something about the lines of a tree and the shadows on a hillside in winter that is particularly suited to photography. And when the sun peeks out after a fresh snowfall, nothing is more beautiful.
Lora Kerns
Missoula, Montana
I turn my mood on its head by getting active―usually in the form of a particularly challenging yoga class or an adventurous hike with Gus, our thrill-seeking Chesapeake Bay retriever. Going outside and moving never fails to recharge my body.
Kim Zepezeuer
Pasadena, California

I move as many social commitments and obligations as I can from December to early the next year. That way I have fun activities to look forward to and I alleviate the crush and stress of an overloaded holiday social calendar.
Noel Hill
Boston, Massachusetts

I head to the grocery store, buy about six loaves of bread, and then find a pond full of ducks and geese.
Melanie Fletcher
Beaverton, Oregon

I take ballroom-dancing lessons. The dancing is challenging and exciting, and the dark evenings pass more pleasantly.
Lynn Ellis
Spokane, Washington

My town has several used-book stores that are open late. When I have to trudge to the grocery store in bad weather, I tack on an extra half hour to browse among the books. Usually I find some treasure: an older mystery by an author I've just discovered or a 60s-era book on how to give a dinner party. My kids hang out in the children's section, and for the cost of a candy bar they can take home a book instead. A new story at bedtime makes everyone more tolerant of the long winter nights.
Beth Pirkle
Albany, California

On a snowy day, there's nothing better than trudging up to the local pub to enjoy good company and conversation in a warm, inviting atmosphere. The more friends, the merrier.
Stacie Gwiazdowski
St. Louis, Missouri

I enjoy cooking. I make big pots of black-bean soup along with red beans and rice, and I bake homemade bread and cookies with my children. We share with friends and neighbors and freeze the leftovers.
Ashley Hamlett
Montgomery, Alabama

I spend time at home doing the things I don't have time for during the rest of the year: sewing pillowcases, organizing closets, etc. At the same time, I do all my spring cleaning, so when the nice weather rolls around I can spend the time outside in my yard rather than inside washing walls.
Lisa Prpich
Yorkton, Saskatchewan

Each winter I learn a new hobby or craft. Last year I took up crocheting and knitting. This year I'm going to set up a darkroom and begin printing my own photographs.
Lindsay Hoffman
Chicago, Illinois