February is one of those months that has an image problem.
Sure, it’s the month of love — after all, Valentine’s Day calls it home.
But, it’s also wrapped tightly in the embrace of winter’s coldest depths.
And nothing kills the mood quite like icicles hanging from body hair. Or, the frigid gust of a wintry breeze across bare skin.
But, as the Her Hacks team is know to opine around the office, “There’s nothing to warm a cold heart like the warm fire of an effective life hack.”
So, here are 28 hacks, one for each day of this lovely, frigid month, half of which are winter hacks and half of which are for your love life. Feel free to apply them in the order that best suits your life.
If you work in an office, it can seem like winter’s many thick, woolen accessories can be out of place in such a professional environment. That’s why the team is so fond of the old desk drawer full of (possible) necessities.
Dress shoes to replace soggy boots, extra socks for the same reason, a can of soup in case you don’t feel like walking outside for lunch, deodorant if you need to freshen up after digging a snow tunnel to the car and, of course, a festive doohickey to brighten your day. (Festive doohickey optional.)
Discover the wonders of having hand sanitizer … on hand … at all times.
Winter is a time of sickness. Everyone’s cooped up inside with other sickies for days on end and germs are getting passed around like a new grandbaby at Thanksgiving.
So, hand sanitizer is a great thing to pop in your bag, pocket or purse in case of hand-to-hand contact with one of those leaky human beings all around you.
It can even be used to defrost a frozen car lock in a pinch, since isopropyl alcohol lowers the freezing point of water.
Let us introduce you to a true modern major “miracle:” Yaktrax (yaktrax.implus.com).
If you haven’t thought about getting yourself a pair or buying it for a loved one, you should consider getting on the “trax train.”
In the Midwest, we often get to contend not just with the icy breath of Jack Frost, not just heavy snows of winter, but also the thick, shiny layers of ice, too.
Yaktrax won’t stop you from slipping — after all there something of an art to safe wintry walking — but they’ll go a long way toward lowering the chances of noggin’ knockin’ fall.
The only way we could take seriously the concept of making a DIY space heater and not worry about burning down the house is if such advice came from “Mr. House” himself, Bob Vila.
Still worried about ice?
Well, there might not be a “Walk Like a Penguin Day,” but there should be because, according to Germans, you should do so on ice: tinyurl.com/yarnl6ll.
If it’s good enough for Deutschland, it’s good enough to hack.
You might not be spending much time in pools while the snow is flying, but that doesn’t mean you have to neglect your pool noodles.
The wiggly, waggly, watery fun toys are the perfect way to keep your boots upright while they’re sans feet. And, if it’s gotten to the point where the kids (and significant other) are in their post-pool noodle years, feel free to cut those noodles down to perfectly fit each boot.
There’s nothing quite like a little repetitious alliteration, which is why we’re recommending handmade hand warmers … for your hands.
Check out Homesteading.com’s guide at tinyurl.com/yaec5u3n.
They’ve got quite a few options, including “Star Wars”-themed warmers for all those people who are wrong about the whole “Star Trek” being superior to “Star Wars” thing.
You know what really ties a room together? According to The Dude, it’s a rug. And, grandma agrees, which should tell you something.
What gets lost in the analysis sometimes is that throw rugs can be the best cold-feet remedy of them all.
And the old man said you could take any one you like, so there’s that.
Sandwich bags are for more than just leftovers. And, if the idea of wet feet is anathema to your having a good day, they’re great for saving your feet.
Just slip some bags over your socks, pre-shoe, and you’ve got some well-insulated, dry feet.
If you’ve ever seen a period drama where someone goes to bed, you’ve probably seen a bed warmer put to good use. The good news is, these days, we don’t have to rely on hot coals in metal encasements to get the job done.
And, if you’re not into paying even more on your winter electric bill, look into getting a hot-water bottle. Fill it up, slip it between the sheets and relax into a warm comfy bed.
Electric hand warmers are a thing that exists because technology (sometimes) is awesome.
Wirecutter’s favorite model is the EnergyFlux Enduro by Human Creations (tinyurl.com/ybjvs2vh). Check out the whole list, though, because there’s something for everyone, including a very cool catalytic warmer from Zippo that runs on lighter fluid.
Socks are wonderful things.
They can be decorative (tinyurl.com/yb74o5pl).
They can keep your windshield wipers clear of snow (tinyurl.com/y8vdo894).
They’re easy to slip into a glove box in case of emergencies (tinyurl.com/yb2cmd8t).
They’re even an easy remedy for a frosty potty seat (tinyurl.com/y8dls23m). Just, uh, be sure to change them every once in a while.
While we usually wouldn’t recommend any hacks coming by way of Clark W. Griswold, of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” fame, this one is too back-saving to pass up.
Where “Sparky” used his cooking spray to get a little less friction while sledding and ended up in a dumpster, the Her Hacks team recommends you confine your use to the kitchen and your snow shovel.
A light layer on the digging implement means no more stuck snow and an easier time clearing the sidewalk.
This last cold weather Her hack comes from unfortunate experience.
Hot water heaters have a habit of going out at the worst possible times, including the depths of winter right before you need to shower before work.
In such a situation, where a frigid (and hopefully quick) scrub down is the only option, get that hair dryer ready to go before you step into the agony booth/shower.
When you’ve had all you can take, grab it and use it to dry off while also bringing your core temperature up from hypothermia levels.
There are more than a few memes based around couples trying to decide where to go for dinner. And, there’s a reason for that.
One person wants to know where to go, the other doesn’t care and no one is happy when you end up going to White Castle yet again.
That’s why some people swear by game-ifying the process using the 5-3-1 method. Person one comes up with five options, person two eliminates two, person one eliminates two and voila! You’re going to Shoney’s.
Alternatively, there’s an app for that.
There are several. But the Her Hacks team-tested one is called Random Restaurant Picker, and it’s super easy to use.
While we’re on our app game, don’t be afraid to take advantage of all those often-forgotten personal organizer functions inherent in a smartphone.
You might be tempted to think it doesn’t count if you set reminders for yourself for important dates, but you know what? No one’s keeping score unless you forget.
So, mark down all those anniversaries — large and small — in the calendar app of your choice. And don’t forget to mark them as yearly repeats.
Speaking of anniversaries, one of our favorite hacks for loved ones is to celebrate everything, big and small.
Sure, the anniversary of the first date with your significant other isn’t a fancy-dinner-and-hotel sort of event. But just a little bit of acknowledgment can go a long way toward reminding them how much they mean to you.
Chores. They are the bane of your existence when you’re 6 and they’re the bane of your existence when you’re 32.
One of the great benefits of having a partner, though, is the division of such household work. Eschew the chaotic temptation to use the ol’ “wheel of chores.”
Instead, focus on splitting them by distaste. If you hate vacuuming, then that can go to your partner. Do they hate doing laundry? Jump in and take charge of the suds.
Sometimes the temptation to try and fix any problem your partner has can be overwhelming. He or she comes to you with an issue, you see a seemingly obvious solution and, bam, you’ve got it fixed.
Only, it never seems to turn out like that.
Instead of cultivating a “fix-it” attitude, start making “Is there anything I can do to help?” your mantra.
It’ll help you gauge if the significant other wants direct help and it continues the conversation in a way that helps dig deeper into the problem.
Keep notes. Now, this can be the old fashioned paper and pencil method or another great use of phone apps. But either way, whenever you here them talk about something they like, a date that’s important or something they’ve always wanted to try, make a note.
The next time their birthday rolls around, you’ll be ecstatic that you did.
A gift is just a gift, though, right?
But, it doesn’t have to be.
When you’re trying to come up with something good for your significant other, why not think even more personalized?
Maybe they played piano as a kid, but haven’t had a chance to touch keys in years? Look into getting a keyboard.
Are they talented with graphite and charcoal but can “never find the time to draw?” Pick up a sketchbook and an artist’s kit.
You’ve probably heard this advice before — read “The Five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman — but there’s a good reason for that.
It truly is an excellent way to learn how to appreciate your partner better and more fully. And it will help you understand what you’re looking for from them, too.
Cook. Seriously, if there is one universal language of love, it’s spoken gastrointestinally.
Even the simplest dinner (or pre-prepared lunch for work) can mean the world to a significant other.
Stocking up isn’t just for toilet paper and Oreos anymore.
Do you find yourself picking up something — razors, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. — for your partner on a regular basis?
If so, the next time you buy some pick up extra, then squirrel it away for later. The next time they ask you, you’ll have it on hand and ready to go.
Doing stuff together might seem obvious, but there often are opportunities at hand that you might not have noticed.
And, just putting the effort to turn an activity into together time can show that you care.
But, don’t forget that it’s just as important for couples to spend time apart and pursue separate interests.
It helps partners maintain their identities separate from the couple, encourages autonomy, makes your time together more special and can give you something to talk about.
Showing appreciation for your significant other might seem fundamental — not to mention obvious — but it’s one of those things that easily gets lost.
When you’ve got vet appointments, soccer clinics, work meetings and grocery shopping all on the to-do list at the same time, it can be easy to forget to thank your partner for taking care of two of the four.