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I’ve had a lot of posts and questions from people recently asking about keeping warm in the winter, and having just dug out my annual (what I call my) ‘survival kit’, I thought I’d do a quick post about it in case anyone finds it helpful. As with the nature of these posts, I’m sure there will be lots of helpful hints and tips popping up in the comments below as well!
This winter I am living in a flat with large windows and wooden floors – again – BRRRR!! So number 1 item on my list is SLIPPERS. Or in my case, fleecy ‘footsie’ things, that were £3 from a certain cheap high street clothing store… I put them on when I get through the door and take them off when I’m safely tucked up under a duvet.
I am used to layering up by now, and do it out of habit when the colder weather sets in – I think I’ve got it pretty nailed.
First up, thick wool-type tights, under thin leggings, under jeans. In order to save on washing, I wear the tights and the leggings for a few days – I mean, how dirty are they going to get under a pair of jeans anyway? I hang them up to air overnight to freshen them up. I’m sure someone would have told me by now if I didn’t smell great – but I’m assuming I’m all fine!
On top, I wear a vest top, then a long sleeved top, then a jumper.
In the evenings, I keep the leggings and long sleeved top on under my pyjamas, and throw a dressing gown over the top. Apart from my hands and face, I try to cover up everything, so I don’t get any cold patches of skin – including tucking vests into tights. I have no shame, but it works.
Thermal underwear can be expensive; I find a pair of £2 woolly tights and a £3 long sleeved top (both from that super cheap high street store) just as effective – layers work by trapping warm air between them, and that warm air isn’t fussy about what brand name your layers are!
Other things I do, almost without thinking about them:
– Shower in the evening; it’s evenings I find the worst of all. In the mornings it’s unpleasant to get out of bed in the cold, but with a toddler to organise and breakfast to make etc, I’m up and about and moving, so the cold feeling doesn’t last too long. In the evenings, when I relax and unwind and am doing less pottering about, that’s when I start to feel the cold – so I jump in the shower and blast myself through, even a warm shower is bliss when your home is freezing, and takes the edge off for an hour or so.
– Draw the curtains in the evening to keep heat in, especially if you have large windows. I have an enormous bay window and keeping the curtains closed makes a noticeable difference.
– Wear a hat indoors. I know it sounds a bit daft but (apparently) a lot of heat is lost through your head, I’m not sure about the science but I certainly always feel warmer with a hat pulled down around my ears. In the coldest months I even sleep in my hat, and it’s the best warm and cosy feeling!
– Eat hot food: I like porridge in the evening as a snack, it warms me up and gives my body something to ‘do’ – we get colder when we are hungry. Carbs get a pretty bad press these days, but a quick bowl of pasta or porridge does wonders for warming me up. Plus standing over that pan of boiling water for 10 minutes as pasta cooks is good for warming up a little bit…
– Drink hot drinks: if i’m feeling organised, I keep freshly boiled water in a Thermos-type flask to keep it hot for hours instead of reboiling the kettle. When I was younger, my mum used to make us hot blackcurrant juice in the evenings, I still find it quite comforting now. Warm drinks will raise your core temperature, and warm up your hands and fingers too.
– Pick a room and stick to it. In the evenings, I migrate into the ‘snug’ – which is my lounge/bedroom and sounds a lot posher than it really is! It’s basically a room with a single daybed in but it’s the only room with a rug – and lots of blankets and throws! I work from there if I have work to do, tucked up on my sofa-that-is-also-my-bed. I close all of the doors in the flat to stop cold air from circulating around it – and hermit in my corner far away from the big windows.
– Bedtime camping! This sounds bizarre but I think most of my readers will have worked out i’m cut from my own cloth by now: make a bed-tent. Less complicated than it sounds. When you go to bed, pull the covers right over your head. Your breathing will warm the little space up very quickly – and you can pop your head back out again in a minute or so.
– Rice socks. Put a handful of rice into a sock, tie the end (or sew it if you’re good at that sort of thing) and pop it in the microwave for a minute to make a reusable heat pack for your hands.
These are just my tips, from trial and error over the last few winters – please feel free to add your own! I hope some of these are helpful. And here’s a cringey selfie of me in all my layers, just because!

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Jack Monroe.
Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
Facebook: www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack