Stardew Valley: Winter Activities
What to Do, Winter Money-Making, & Spring Preparations
Winter is perceived to be a bad time of year to be a farmer, but it's not entirely true. You're simply blocked from planting the usual mass-crops and money-making can slow to a crawl if you're unprepared. Instead of being bored of Worried about winter in Stardew Valley, take it as an opportunity to both prepare for Spring and explore other gameplay options that are available to you. Here's a list of things you can do in winter, and good practices that help you to prepare for the upcoming growing season.
Before Winter - If You Have Animals
Ensure your Silo is full, so that you can feed your animals. The only type of animal that won't produce during winter are pigs - they can't go outside to fetch truffles. You'll need 28 food per animal and the Silo can hold 240 hay (harvested by using the scythe on grass). Each animal will want food each day, and the grass will be covered by snow. They'll need fed to produce and remain happy and you do not want to have to spend 50g each on hay from Marnie's Ranch. For animals like chickens, that's a loss most of the time. Also, a heater (2000G from Marnie) for each building can be a wise investment as it will keep the animals happier during the cold, thus resulting in more quality products from them. You may need more than one heater depending on how many buildings you have. So 240 hay, and heaters.
Money on Hand
Money is not as necessary at the beginning of winter, unless you plan to expand your farm. You can get enough to upgrade tools during the season itself, and have plenty of time to accomplish that. There's no rush to buy seeds in winter. However, you do want cash at the end of it. The main goal should be to build up money for when Spring arrives, so that you do better in your second year than you did in the first. You'll want to be able to make a run on those profitable spring crops like potato or rhubarb seeds when they become available, as well as any other plants that you missed for bundles.
Winter Foraging Bundle
One thing worth completing is the Winter Foraging bundle at the Community Center. To complete the bundle you need 2 easily found items and 2 roots, which must be dug up with the hoe. Find Crystal Fruit and Crocus by regular foraging - look around until you find one lying there. The Snow Yam and Winter Root can be found by digging up dirt - think, the path to the east of your farm, the dirt paths in Pelican Town, and on the beach.
Getting all four of the items needed for the Winter Foraging Bundle, you can get yourself 30 winter seeds as a reward from the Crafts Room in the Community Center and will have knocked out one of the many bundles. In addition to these, lightly working on your Foraging in general is not a bad idea. You can find a Nautilus Shell on the beach which is used for the Field Research Bundle.
Fishing is profitable as ever during Winter. Head to the beach at night to catch squid (you should get a quest for this, actually). Explore all the various types of fishing spot and catch a few new types. Most fish are available during 2 seasons each, so you can get Tiger Trout for example by fishing in the afternoon at the river. Overall this is the single best winter money-maker, and you can make further progress on bundles.
Animal Products & Artisan Goods
If you haven't yet, consider working on your ability to make more complex goods out of your animal products instead of selling them raw. Turn milk into cheese, eggs into mayonnaise, and gather more materials to help you improve your production capacity if it's not enough. You can also stock up on some crops during Spring-Fall to turn into goods for Winter and make more money from them. You can make 4-10 batches, depending what types of items you're making. Read up on Artisan Goods and how much money they make. This is the only way to turn livestock into a comparatively profitable investment.
Fruit Trees Grow
Winter is a good time to snag some of the fruit trees you may want. They'll still grow during the winter, though normal trees apparently do not. The fruit trees are expensive and not major money-makers, because of how long they take to pay off but look at it as a long-term investment and one more thing you can do to complete bundles!
The mines are exactly the same during Winter, so players familiar with them will be just as effective during the holiday season. Going mining is a good idea if you need materials for crafting or tool upgrades, in general it's not a huge money maker but is something you can do to improve your character and his or her farm.
Upgrade your Hoe & Watering Can
Winter is downtime for your farming tools, so you can afford to lose them the two days it takes them to be upgraded. Take 5 bars of the next material you need (it goes copper, iron, gold) to the blacksmith along with several thousand gold (more is needed depending on the level of your tools). Getting the watering can upgraded is a huge boost to your ability to make money, as it both holds lots more water and gains a special ability to water more tiles at once. Similarly, the hoe can till up more dirt at once and actually makes foraging with it much more profitable!
There are benefits to having friends (and a spouse) in Stardew Valley. Raising hearts with the NPCs offers many varied rewards, such as cooking recipes and mail-in gifts of valuable items. Learn what they like and give them presents. During Winter there's a secret santa contest for the Feast of the Winter Star that gives several times more friendship points for a good gift! You'll learn who you're Secret Santa to via mail about a week before the event, which is of course on the 25th. If you like to figure things out yourself you may try giving them a variety of things to see what they react positively to, so that you can make that type of item their gift.
Clear Farmland and Collect Supplies
Of course, you can always keep chopping and smashing your way to success just using your tools on the farm, or visiting the secret forest if you've got access. Building up supplies is never a bad thing, especially if you plan to expand your farm in the year ahead.