What should I buy now for a winter quarantine?
July 29, 2020 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Prior to the first quarantine, I really wish I would've purchased some adjustable dumbbells and a bicycle. At, you know, normal retail prices. What are the winter items that I wouldn't be thinking of purchasing in late July, but come late December I'll be thanking my past self for buying early?
posted by po822000 to Shopping (36 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if it counts as a "purchase" but I lost my therapist (she left the profession) right before quarantine began and you better believe I'm making sure I find a new one before everything goes absolutely to utter shit again.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:45 AM on July 29 [10 favorites]

It might help to narrow it down just a little unless you really do want anything vaguely related to winter (indoor hibernation activities vs winter clothing vs outdoor activities will be very different responses, for example). Your local climate also matters for anything outdoors.

Since you mention exercise equipment, maybe stuff to make winter exercise more appealing, like high-quality winter clothing or gear like winter-hiking boots/snowshoes/skates/skis if you're into that kind of stuff and you live in a snowy area.
posted by randomnity at 7:48 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]

Are you in a climate that gets cold, or not? That would suggest what gear to get for outdoor exercise & fun.

If there are things that you always have around the winter holidays, then I would make an effort to get them as soon as they're available this winter. Like, you can't buy a live Christmas tree, but you could get lights or a traditional decoration or whatever.

Once you're indoors, lockdown will be lockdown -- so if you wanted it the first time, you'll probably want it again/still.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:51 AM on July 29

Go to Costco now and stock up on the must-haves: t.p., paper towels, generic kleenex, maple syrup.
Get your dental check-up and cleaning now.
Make sure your prescriptions are such that you don't have to go in for a "med check" to get one renewed (such bullshit.)
When you do buy a bicycle, you might want a trainer to use in the winter.
If applicable, make sure your glasses have your newest prescription, and stock up on contact lenses.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:53 AM on July 29 [9 favorites]

I live in Central Indiana, so while it gets cold, activities like skiing is off the table.
posted by po822000 at 7:54 AM on July 29

The things I didn't know I needed but was so happy to have gotten for Christmas, once confinement hit: an Aerogarden, Ring Fit for the Switch, and a fat stack of board games.
posted by Freyja at 8:01 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]

Do you need any large appliance or tech device but have been dragging your feet (like us)? We needed a fridge and appliance stores didn't have much that fit our dimensions. Even the display models were gone and they just had empty spots where they used to be. I guess things aren't getting shipped like normal from Korea and China.
Maybe Christmas shop early? Shipping could be an issue and also supply.
Maybe think of some hobby, like miniature painting, knitting, or cooking. Buy yourself a few supplies and put them away. When you need it you have a "Happy Pandemic" present for yourself. (Maybe the hobby result can be Christmas presents)
I can't think of a easier hobby that's good for exercising in a pandemic than Geocaching. I agree with get some great winter clothes.

Great question!
posted by ReluctantViking at 8:14 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]

Anything that might optimize a home/home office for cold weather. If people are at home all day, they're going to be doing stuff they might otherwise neglect. So those plastic window insulation kits, weatherstripping stuff for doors, a space heater so you don't have to heat the whole place if you're only in one room, a smart thermostat if you will want one, and just generally all the autumn/winter chore supplies (replacement tools, plant insulation stuff, caulk, gutter repair, etc.) you might want. I'm not saying it'll all become scarce, because I have no idea what the supply chains are like and maybe companies can just keep cranking it out, but you aren't going to want to run to the hardware store in cold/flu season even if there's not an official shutdown.

Related: try turning your furnace on early, as soon as it's a little chilly. You'd be very glad to have had any service work done well before it's an emergency.
posted by teremala at 8:15 AM on July 29 [11 favorites]

Your question is making me think that I want to get myself a weighted blanket before they all get bought up.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:16 AM on July 29 [10 favorites]

Air quality supplies: humidifier & replacement filters, air filters for your heating system (MERV 13 or better, if your system can handle it). The jury is still out on HEPA air purifiers, but you might consider one of those, too.
posted by ourobouros at 8:50 AM on July 29 [5 favorites]

I would agree that downhill skiing isn’t an option where you are, but cross-country is. Depending on your location it can provide outdoor activity, transportation, and great cardio training.
posted by myotahapea at 9:10 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]

I've been thinking about this too. I'm thinking home improvement stuff may become scarce if it isn't already, so, I'm wondering if it's time to buy some paint and also lighting stuff (people will be wanting their houses bright and cozy in a cold dismal winter). If you need stuff from Ikea, maybe try to do that now.

Living in a cold climate my other predictions are that we will be:

Making a lot of bread again and baking (if you ever stopped as I did)
Wanting cozy blankets and throws and pillows
Tea and hot chocolate
Trying more than ever to be healthy - so get your vitamins etc
Christmas will be a lot about homemade decorations
posted by kitcat at 9:16 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]

Salt for melting ice if you don't have a bunch.

If you live in an area prone to power failures in the winter, consider a generator if you don't have one already. Preferably a propane one so the fuel is shelf stable.

If you have a house and don't have them already, get the covers for your outdoor faucets. A burst pipe is never a good time but one during an epidemic is really not a good time.

A comfy electric blanket if you don't have one already. I like to use color changing lighting during the winter to stimulate sunrise. You might consider one of the light therapy lights as well, even if you don't have seasonal depression. Stock up on pseudoephedrine and other cold medications so that if you do catch something, you don't have to go to the store.

I'll personally be laying in a stash of shelf stable proteins like lentils and beans in case things get really bad and there's a meat shortage. And seconding some form of hydroponics for fresh herbs.
posted by Candleman at 9:17 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]

posted by deludingmyself at 9:19 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]

Are you stocked up with stuff in the event that you do get COVID or one of the usual seasonal infections? Thermometer, cough syrups, pain killers, tissues, vitamins, decent quality canned soups and other easy proper meals....which reminds me that I need to go shopping again.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:36 AM on July 29 [5 favorites]

Flannel sheets are a life changer.

Is there a hobby you've been thinking of that seems like a nice and cozy fun thing to do inside that also keeps you from doom scrolling? I finally took up quilting a couple months ago and I imagine if it's this much fun in the summer, I will be infinitely glad for it once winter comes around.
posted by mostly vowels at 9:58 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]

If your car or house or appliances are borderline in need of repair/replacement, do it now.

Our washing machine crapped out, and there are already long delays to get new items from big-box stores. This is probably true of all big-ticket items.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:10 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]

Schedule PM/service calls NOW if you want to get an annual check of your furnace or gas fireplace or whatever for the winter: again, parts or service people may be hard to get later.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:12 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]

If you have the space and don't have one already, consider a chest freezer. Start filling it up with things like frozen soup and hearty spaghetti sauce so you can have low effort cozy meals when it's dark and you're tired and low on energy. Also, an Instant Pot or similar.

If you have a fireplace and buy wood, start laying in a supply now.
posted by Candleman at 10:16 AM on July 29 [9 favorites]

Heated mattress pad! This is a bit of an energy suck but OMG, I love, love, love, getting into a warm bed in the winter. I turn it on preheat mode about 30 minutes before going to bed and either turn it off or down to the lowest setting once I get in. There is something so comforting and cozy about it.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 10:37 AM on July 29 [6 favorites]

Budget for a few experiences prior to the next lockdown. When I saw ours was coming I booked an expensive midweek trip with friends and our kids the week before as something we could have fun together remembering during lockdown.

N’thing I plan to have all my Xmas shopping done and wrapped by the first week of August so I won’t have to even think about it (I’m not in the mood for it but I have kids, sooooo...). I’m also doing a lot of community-building right now and making new friends while we can meet in person, to make a better community and have fresh social connections.

If you have your own house with yard, a hot tub. A bonfire pit or outdoor fireplace or those tall heater things at patios and covered seating. Comfortable seating for your front porch. A super warm parka and snow pants so you can go outside for walks even when it is cold. Plants/indoor greenhouse/succulents. A snowmobile if you like that kinda thing (boats are super hot right now where I am and are getting stolen at an increased rate, I assume the same will be true of snowmobiles so have a secure place to store it and keep it locked up as well).
posted by saucysault at 10:51 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]

If you are a cyclist, think about what you need for winter. Winter cycling can be great with the right gear! In a cold snowy climate that might be:
Lobster mittens
Winter tires (talk to your local shop about whether studded tires are a good idea for the type of riding you do)
Insulated shoes/boots of some kind. Winter boots can work fine, but if you have clips you'll need winter shoes.
Buff & goggles
Long underwear
posted by veery at 10:59 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]

Since it seems we will not be going outside as much, a sun lamp to battle the SADs may be a priority.
posted by General Malaise at 11:04 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]

Plan a couple of long projects, like making a photo book for every year, or genealogy, or scanning all those family photos, or converting old 8mm video tapes, or something that takes a while and which You Have Been meaning To Do.

If necessary, pay for a subscription (to ancestry.com or a photo-hosting site, or whatever) so that you have skin in the game.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:21 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]

I would agree that downhill skiing isn’t an option where you are, but cross-country is. Depending on your location it can provide outdoor activity, transportation, and great cardio training.

Snowshoeing fits the bill, too. And, hell, a home ice rink if you have flat ground. A hot tub and/or fire pit are a great idea.
posted by jgirl at 11:27 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]

We are getting a fire pit, and friends highly recommended the Solo Stove Bonfire. It's vented in a way that preheats air and burns much cleaner so their friends with asthma aren't disturbed by smoke. I also got a wood fired pizza oven which isn't just about winter, but I'm excited about it nonetheless.

We also are really attached to our warm couch blankets to extend our porch season. There's a small down throw and a wool one.
posted by advicepig at 11:54 AM on July 29 [5 favorites]

Elaborating on my plug for the Aerogarden (or any countertop hydroponics setup)... On top of providing fresh tomatoes and herbs in February, it functions as a pretty solid SAD lamp/light alarm clock because it is Very Bright, comes on at a set time every morning, and has to be on for ~12 hours/day. Plus there's something grounding about how it counts the days, aside from the visible progress of plant growth. I used to make fun of them ("get a real garden" I'd say), but I was amazed and humbled by how much calm joy it brought to the dark winter months.
posted by Freyja at 12:34 PM on July 29 [8 favorites]

Heated mattress pads are very energy efficient and let you turn household heat down lower at night. They are also, frankly, extremely comforting on a bad day.

Instead of using SAD-specific light boxes, my husband and I are both using HUE lights in our offices and setting them to cycle through the day a little bit to mimic daylight shifts. I feel like it is helping.

This is not exactly accessible or feasible for everyone, but the absolute #1 winner of my pandemic purchase decisions was getting a new fridge that I liked better than my old one, and moving the old one into the dining area for overflow. The second fridge has made it much easier to shop/order groceries less often, and store stuff that doesn't necessarily require refrigeration/freezing but will last longer if you can. It's not attractive, but it's not like we're having company over either.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:08 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]

Oh, also, a humidifier or seven.
posted by General Malaise at 1:44 PM on July 29

The other kinda minor bit of equipping I have been doing is making sure I have redundant systems for anything critical. I've been (definitely not prepping!) collecting some travel and camping gear that we really ought to have in our natural disaster arsenal ANYWAY to ensure that we can cook, store/transport water, do basic washing, keep warm (we don't live in a climate where the cold could kill you easily, but certainly could make an uncomfortable night without heat and power), and keep online/charged if there was a disruption in services.

Some of these items would also be useful if a) one of us needed to quarantine in the house, b) we need to take in friends in a housing emergency and one or more people needed to quarantine separately in the house. We could also lend to someone in similar circumstances.

This just might be a good time to review your emergency supplies and figure out what you might want in the case of even a very localized long power outage where in other circumstances you might go to a hotel or a friend's house. Just having a good water storage solution and usb-rechargeable faucet (alternate style), big battery bank, hand warmers and hot water bottle, extra blanket, pet care supplies, maybe a little (or mini) camp stove in case of a boil order situation. If there was ever a year for some kind of unusual natural event in your location, this would be it!
posted by Lyn Never at 4:49 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]

I had been considering buying a bidet for awhile after christmas this year (but the temperature of the tap water in the winter in canada was making me hesitate), and I really wish I'd pulled the trigger on that purchase before they were all sold out and our city couldn't keep toilet paper on the shelves for 3 months!
posted by euphoria066 at 7:23 PM on July 29

If you want a camp stove, figure out which and start looking for fuel now. The green Naglene-sized propane tanks are still easy to come by, but the isobutane mixes for backpacking-style ones just disappeared a month or so back. A little goes a long way though, and getting municipal water back online would be a huge priority as long as the municipality still existed, so it's not like you'd need more than one canister.
posted by teremala at 7:34 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]

I have a little elliptical stepper that's just pedals, no handles, so it takes up very little space. It gives me a great feeling of satisfaction to use it for 22 minutes every weekday, so even if I Netflix the remainder of the day away, I have done something.
posted by tizzie at 5:45 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]

I was at Home Depot today and was surprised at how picked-over their stock of yard tools (hoes, etc) were, and it made me wonder if maybe fall and winter yard tools would be a good thing to grab now - so if you're in need of a new rake, snow shovel, snow (or leaf) blower or whatnot you might want to consider getting them sooner rather than later.
posted by DingoMutt at 4:31 PM on July 30

I think we are all going to be really hard pressed to socialize in the winter when being outside together is less pleasant and we would normally all be doing indoor activities. If you have a backyard or balcony, a heat lamp like they have on some restaurant patios would probably make you very popular, with a nice couch setup and maybe a firepit like mentioned above.

Think also particularly of outdoor group activities you can start with your friends because wow, this winter is going to be hard.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:52 PM on August 2

If it's something you wear, several well-fitted bras.
posted by yohko at 4:20 PM on August 22

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