1. Visit Utah’s national parks during the off-season.
Utah’s national parks are very popular with tourists, and it’s no wonder. The parks offer stunning scenery and killer recreational opportunities. During summer months, they’re packed with tourists from all over the world. Visit this winter, instead. Most of our national parks are still quite warm and sunny (especially compared to the northern part Utah). And, the tourists have all gone home, so you can enjoy a little bit of peace and quiet.
2. Take a picture of your long-term parking spot at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
Have you ever parked at the airport, enjoyed your two-week trip to Hawaii, then returned and had no idea where you left your car? Next time when you park your car, take out your phone (or camera, if you’re really old-school) and snap a pic of the row number. When you return, you can pull up the photo so you don’t wander around looking for your car. It’s bad enough that you’re no longer in Hawaii!
3. Go to Costco on Sunday.
Costco is pretty busy every day during the week, and it’s an absolute madhouse on Saturday. Go on Sunday, when half the state is in church. If you’re one of the people who’s supposed to be in church, but you’re just dying for one of those 7-layer chocolate cakes, go to a Costco in a neighboring town where no one will know you.
4. Assign the seating at your next family party.
The holiday season is coming up...which means lots of family gatherings. Remember last year when Cousin Joe, the ultra-conservative, card-carrying NRA member got into a heated argument with Uncle Henry, the liberal vegan, before dinner even started? Avoid disaster by creating place cards in advance. Put Grandma in between both of them — she’s a master at handling unruly relatives.
5. Add Nutella to your Stephen’s Sipping Hot Cocoa this winter.
How can you make Stephen’s Cocoa even tastier? Melt a spoonful of Nutella in it.
6. Avoid IKEA like the plague on Tuesday.
IKEA is a wonderland of inexpensive furnishings and cool, modern Swedish style. It’s fun to spend an entire afternoon wandering through (read: getting lost), but stay away on Tuesday. Why? Tuesday is Kids Eat Free Day. And Utah...has a LOT of kids.
7. Put a blanket in your vehicle.
If you get stuck in the snow (or your husband just miscalculated how much gas was really in the tank), your car can get cold pretty fast. While you’re waiting for AAA (or waiting for your husband to trudge through the snow to get gas), you can snuggle up and stay warm.
8. Get your holiday spirits a week early.
Utah’s state-controlled liquor stores make buying booze for holiday parties difficult. If you wait until the holiday itself, you’ll find the liquor store closed. But if you go the day BEFORE the holiday, you’ll suffer long lines and insanely crowded parking lots. Plan your trip at least three days prior and you’ll be a lot less inclined to down an entire bottle of wine the minute you get home.
9. Bring a thermos when you go skiing.
Utah’s powdery snow really is the best on the planet, but skiing (especially with a family in tow) can get pricey. Take lunch with you and bring a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate to warm everyone up. Depending on how many kids you’ve brought, you’ll probably save enough to buy a lift ticket for next week!
10. Take TRAX to Downtown Salt Lake City this December.
There’s a lot going on in Salt Lake City at Christmastime. In addition to the residents of the Salt Lake Valley, Utahns come from all over the state to shop at City Creek, see The Nutcracker and visit Temple Square. Traffic gets crazy, especially on Saturday and Monday nights. Drive into the valley, but park your car at one of TRAX’s many stations and ride the rest of the way in without the stress. Your kids might even think it’s cool.
11. Make your own fry sauce.
Don’t you hate it when you unpack the burgers and fries from the drive through...and they forgot your fry sauce? Make your own with 3 parts ketchup and 1 part mayonnaise (adjust to your liking).
12. Find some clean air to breathe.
Utah Valley and the Salt Lake Valley both suffer from polluted, dirty air during the winter. Some days the air gets so bad that kids stay in from recess, and those with asthma or other health issues are told to stay in, too. If you can, go for a drive in one of Utah’s beautiful canyons. Or, pack up and go south...it’s warmer down there.