It’s no secret Chicago winters can be brutal. The snow, sleet, freezing rain and pure cold, windy, icy air that sometimes doesn’t seem to let up until April can feel like it’s relentless.
But seasoned Chicagoans have figured out ways to not just endure it – they’ve discovered how to embrace the season and even love it.
It all has to do with how prepared you are, says Joe Dandan, store manager of the Lincoln Park Home Depot in Chicago.
“Once you have the resources to weather the cold, you’d be surprised at how much friendlier Chicago winter can be,” Dandan says. “Sometimes, even the smallest investments can make all the difference in your day-to-day.”
For instance, he says, a snow scraper for the car, a space heater in a drafty bedroom, stocking up on firewood or ice melt for your sidewalk are all ways to make a Chicago winter that much easier.
Still, just being prepared for cold doesn’t necessarily make it cozy. To do that, you’ll need to go beyond just stocking up on house-hold items. To truly enjoy inviting evenings home in the winter, you’ll need to add warmth – and not just the kind from space heaters.
While noting a big seasonal meal is the perfect excuse to get outside and enjoy winter, according to Darnell Reed, executive chef at Conrad Chicago hotel who loves to offer braised short ribs this time of year. He adds that these meals could also be done at home as long as you buy good quality meat.
“The heat of the meat and the steam from the natural juices keeps you warm inside and out,” he says. “If you are preparing them at home, due to the long cooking times, the kitchen is warm and perfumed with the aromatic vegetables, combined with the braised beef.”
Other great treats synonymous with winter include seasonal hot beverages, such as the ones you’d find at Starbucks or tea shops such as DAVIDsTEA.
In fact, David Segal, co-founder of DAVIDsTEA, says he challenges himself to find new ways to blend classic holiday flavors and ingredients into his teas.
“Our new gingerbread tea is a new favorite of mine. It tastes just like a gingerbread cookie. But forever nuts has to be the classic winter treat – it’s a blend of apples and almonds, but it steeps a beautiful bright pink,” he says.
There are other non-foodie ways to stay home to enjoy winter in Chicago too. Candles add a warm glow to your home on dreary evenings with holiday scents reminiscent of childhood memories.
“They make your house smell incredible, and it gives you a homey feeling of being at home,” says Larry Ravenna, owner of Climate Home in Lincoln Park, about the candles carried in the store. Candles that can leave your house smelling like brandied pumpkins, black currants or Christmas trees, says Climate.
Need more ideas? There are plenty of products that’ll make you wish that a Chicago winter would go on and on (well, almost).
- A well-made down jacket.
- Lined slippers
- Snow removal tools (shovel, car scraper, sidewalk salt and/or snow blower)
- Water-proof, warm winter boots
- Warm outdoor accessories (hats, gloves, scarves)
- Cozy, fleece PJs
- Tea pot and mugs for warm drinks
- Cupboard stocked with hot chocolate, tea or coffee for making hot drinks
- Colorful winter coat for work and weekends
- Roasting pans for home-cooked comfort food and perhaps a winter CSA subscription
- Scented candles