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How to Have a Stress Free (and Active!) Holiday Season

by Karen Ung
Our Christmas tradition involves a mountain mini-break for a few days before Christmas. It’s a special time before the relatives descend on us, when we get away from it all. The mountain towns are virtually empty, hotels are cheap, and best of all, the trails and ski runs are covered with snow but free of crowds. How do you do it? You just need to plan. For many, plan is a 4-letter word, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you plan ahead, you can have the best Christmas ever and spend more time playing outside. Truly, any time in the great outdoors, is “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Check out the Christmas decorations at the Banff Springs Hotel, then go skating!

Tips for a Stress Free and Active Holiday Season

  1. Shop for Christmas presents throughout the year. This way you get the best deals and aren’t stuck in the malls at the start of ski season. Don’t forget gifts of adventure for your family like a Family Season’s Pass to your favorite ski hill. Super Early Bird Specials are available in the April/May and can often be 50% off or more.
  2. Shop less. a) Instead of buying for each relative, draw a name from a hat, or buy gifts only for the children. b) Buy one gift per family member instead of several. c) Don’t be afraid to make a wish list of things you need. We got a few relatives to pitch in for cross country skis for the kids. By buying less, we save time and money; time and money we can spend in the mountains.
  3. Decorate in November. The kids will love it, you can enjoy the decorations longer, and it’s one less thing to do before company comes calling. We put our tree up at the beginning of November!
    Oh Christmas Tree!
  4. Write your Christmas cards in November so they’ll be ready to mail in early December. To save money, make your own! We get our blank cards at Walmart and accoutrements at the Dollar Store.
    DIY Christmas Cards
  5. Start your Christmas baking in late November and freeze it. We put together tins of gingerbread, sugar cookies, and shortbread for our favorite people. It’s an inexpensive, but well anticipated gift. Here is a great gingerbread recipe.
    Homemade Gingerbread Cookies
  6. Buy all your holiday entertaining non-perishables (and freezables) in early December so you don’t need to do a big shopping right before Christmas. This also ensures you get what you need before it’s sold out. Remember that year you drove to three grocery stores on the 24th looking for cranberry sauce? Fresh cranberries freeze well and make the best sauce!
  7. Plan some outdoor adventures. They can be microadventures – sledding in a nearby park or a neighborhood Christmas lights walk – or out of town adventures like skiing / snowshoeing trips. We love going to Canmore, Banff, and Lake Louise. *Sign up for email alerts from your favorite places to stay. They often have last-minute price reductions.
    Canmore Christmas Lights
My wish for you this Christmas is that you can play outside over the holidays, stress less, and spend less. Your kids will remember the fun they had more than any gift.
Jura Canyon Ice Walk
Skiing at Canada Olympic Park

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Play Outside Gal December 10, 2014 - 5:35 PM

Do you have a favorite spice blend? I use McCormick's gingerbread recipe but find it is light on spice and have to add extra cinnamon and ginger…always looking for the perfect spice mix!

Play Outside Gal December 10, 2014 - 5:34 PM

Mm… pastry! What a nice memory of your great grandma. : )

Linda McGurk December 3, 2014 - 3:17 AM

Such great advice – we do a lot of those things too. By simplifying the holiday I find that I enjoy it more. Still need to bake those gingerbread cookies, though!

Candy Cook December 2, 2014 - 5:11 PM

Some great tips. My great grandma used to start making her wonderful pastries in the fall and freezing them. By the time Christmas came around, she had enough little lady locks to feed an army!

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