Holiday bucket list: Fun things to do at home
We’ve spent weeks - okay, months – counting down the days until it became socially acceptable to do holiday activities. The holidays are our favourite time of the year and we love getting into the spirit in any way possible. Though the holidays are a little different this year, don’t let that stop you from making it the best year yet! We’ve rounded up our favourite holiday activities you can do at home and outside to ensure you’re making the most of your days off.
Forage your own wreath
We love bundling up, pouring a hot mulled wine to-go and venturing out to gather items for our own wreath! This is a great way to get outside not to mention a much cheaper alternative for your decor, as wreaths can be quite costly to purchase ready-made. You don’t need to live in the country to find all the items you need, as you’ll likely be able to find everything you need on a tree-lined path. Before you head out on your walk, you’ll need to bring gardening shears or a small knife to be able to cut branches and evergreen foliage. You may also want to consider gloves. You’ll want to keep an eye out for flexible sticks and branches you can make into a hoop and enough evergreen foliage to cover the hoop, which you can order from Michaels or most craft supply stores. You may also want to forage for some pinecones or red berries to add dimension and texture. Just be sure not to take too much from one tree, be careful how you cut to minimize damage, and gather already fallen items if possible. Once you’re satisfied with what you’ve collected, you’ll just need green wire to attach the greenery and a hot glue gun for the smaller details like pine cones. A step-by-step guide to constructing your wreath can be found here.
Make your own garland
A garland is such a cute accent to any space during the holidays, so why not make your own this year? It’s super simple and there are tons of different garland options to suit any style! You can forage your garland from greenery outside or step outside the box and create a garland with household items such as popcorn (a great option to do with kids) or dried fruit (adds colour and looks great over windows)! We love adding all the greenery we can to our home during the holidays, so we will try to forage a little extra on our wreath expedition to make a garland as well, as you’ll use mostly the same materials.
Chop down your own tree
This has been one of our family traditions for over 20 years and it’s something we look forward to every year! Round up your bubble or your close family and visit your nearest Christmas tree farm. It’s a great way to spend time together and walk searching for the perfect tree. We make the experience into a friendly competition to see who can find the best one. If you’re a faux Christmas tree household, you can still enjoy this activity but instead of searching for the main tree, perhaps search for a smaller, accent tree. Nothing quite beats the fresh scent a real Christmas tree brings into a home!
Make a gingerbread house
Constructing a gingerbread house is a great way to showcase your creativity this holiday season. If you prefer to stay indoors, this is the activity for you and it’s also great for kids! You can choose to buy a gingerbread house set at the grocery store or if you’re up to it, you can bake your own gingerbread and create the icing at home! Here is a great link to a gingerbread house recipe. We usually decorate gingerbread houses on Christmas day with our extended family, but since large gatherings are out of the picture this year, why not host a gingerbread-making contest via Zoom with your family and friends? You can make it a timed event and everyone can showcase their creations and vote for a winner at the end.
Hold a (socially distant) cookie swap
I’m sure we don’t speak for ourselves when we say we’ve been baking a lot more than normal during the lockdown. With baking skills at an all-time high, why not show off by hosting a cookie swap with your neighbours, family, or friends? You can share recipes and ideas and taste the delicious batches of cookies that everyone whips up. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, leave flyers at your neighbours' doors prompting them to participate or just organize an exchange with friends and family. Our favourite holiday cookie recipe to make is whipped shortbread cookies - they just melt in your mouth!
Craft salt ornaments
This is a wonderful family activity that ends with you having beautiful ornaments that will last for decades! All you need to do to create these ornaments is make this three-ingredient dough. The large amounts of salt involved make the dough not-so-tasty, which is a good thing if you have little elves helping. You can create your own shapes with the dough, or use cookie cutters to create festive shapes. To spice up this activity, you can bring out the paint, glitter and gold to really make your handmade ornaments pop!
Drive out to see lights
You don’t need to freeze outside to enjoy the holiday magic this year. There are tons of drive-thru Christmas light festivals in and around Toronto for you to admire without having to leave your car! With so many glowing tunnels to choose from, you could visit a new one for every day of the holidays. Some drive-thrus around the GTA include the Bluffs Winter Wonderland in Scarborough, Holiday Night of Lights in Vaughan, Journey into Enchantment in Markham and the Polar Drive in Mississauga. Take your pick, grab your thermos of hot chocolate and buckle up your family for a memorable night out!
Donate & give back to your community
Charities have been hit hard due to the pandemic. Though donating to local charities is one way to give back, there are many other ways to contribute! You can put your crafting skills to good use and donate hand knit items to StreetKnit, a social initiative of knitters who donate hats, mitts and scarves to shelters, hospitals, schools, and others in need. If you have kids who have outgrown old winter clothing like coats and boots, donate them to West Toronto’s Youth Without Shelter, who serve youth in need aged 16-24. If you have extra funds available this season, consider donating to TOArtist COVID-19 Response Fund, which provides financial support to Toronto artists who face loss of income from cancelled events and performances. You could also subscribe to a weekly Good Food Box packed with fresh fruits and veggies. All contributions go to Toronto food justice organization’s community food programs, whose goal is to ensure everyone has fresh, affordable, nutritious food. If funds are an issue and you’ve got nothing to donate, look into the charities you typically support or causes important to you - many are offering virtual volunteering opportunities. You can even get outside and pick up litter in your community as a donation-free way to give back!