by Stephanie Drew, Public Relations Director
As the cold winter months approach, it isn’t rare for me to grab a pair of sweatpants, put the kettle on, and cancel any existing plans that were approaching in the near future. The thought of curling up on the couch and turning on Netflix is just SO much more appealing than putting on multiple layers, a parka, heavy boots, then desperately trying to find one of my gloves before I sweat to death. After moving to the city, I learned very quickly that you shouldn't become a hermit until after the holidays. The city is festive, everyone is in a good mood, the food is flowing and even though the air is cold, a fresh cup of coffee or tea can warm me right up.
Although the holidays are usually a busy time for all, it is probably the time of year when I see my family and friends the most. Between cocktail events, dinner parties, toy drives and other gatherings, I find the holidays are when everyone can put their chaotic lives on pause and really enjoy each other's company. Here are my top 5 favourite things to do with my favourite people during my favourite time of year!
1. The Toronto Christmas Market
If you live in Toronto, this Christmas market should be added to your “must-check out” list if you haven’t already. Located in the Distillery District, there are shops, hot chocolate stands, food vendors, live music, and multiple photo ops for your Instagram feed. According to their website, it is actually ranked one of the top 10 Holiday markets in the world. I would highly suggest visiting the market during the week if possible, but if you can’t play hooky, be prepared for crowds and lines. The energy in the market is comparable to what I imagine the North Pole would be like and I promise you will leave this market feeling full and festive as ever!
2. Hit the Ice
Skating during the Holidays is definitely something people (especially in Canada) should participate in. Whether you have put on a pair of skates before or not, it is fun and a great excuse to substitute daily coffees/teas with hot chocolates. Toronto’s most popular skating destination is Nathan Phillips Square. The lights, tree and crowds will guarantee to put you in the holiday spirit. Bundle up and make sure to wear a helmet if you are doubting your ability to stay on your feet!
3. Cookie Exchange
I don’t know why the holidays means all control goes out the window on December 1st, but I’m totally okay with it! Baking is an incredibly competitive hobby. Everyone thinks their mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe is the best (my mom’s actually is though). A cookie exchange is a great way to collect all different types of cookies and baked goods to serve during the holidays while proving to all participants that your baking skills are up to par!
4. Exploring the ‘Burbs
This budget friendly adventure is a great way to get in the spirit and see some pretty amazing light displays. Grab a friend or 2, a coffee and hit the road. What people can do with their house and a few thousand strings of lights is incredible. You can Google the area you are visiting and will find the houses with the most elaborate displays.
5. Host or Attend a Holiday Giveback
This is something my girlfriends have been doing for years. It is so important to recognize the less fortunate in our communities during a time of year when many of us are getting gifts that are appreciated but not necessarily needed. Every Christmas, one of my girlfriends hosts either a PJ or cocktail party and asks everyone attending to bring one toy. Before you know it, there is a mountain of toys at the party, all of which are donated the next day. It is such a simple gesture that can make an incredible difference in someone else's family celebration.