I’ll be home for Christmas...

Our top picks for getting into the holiday spirit with the family in 2020
by Maris Lemba

I don’t think any of us ever thought a holiday season like we are about to have will be something we’d have to tackle: no usual large holiday events, no traveling, no home gatherings with extended family and friends.  The good news is that there are plenty of ways we can still create the holiday magic for our kids and make memories for our families.  Below are some of our top picks on the North Shore - parent/kid tested and approved.

#1 - Take the gondola up to visit the Winter Wonderland at Grouse Mountain.  You don’t need to ski or snowboard to have a wonderful time: you can choose between sledding, ice skating, or enjoying the Light Walk through the snowy forest.  You need to rent a sled for the sledding zone, as no personal sleds are allowed.  Advance reservations for gondola are a must.

#2 - Try cross-country skiing as a family up at Cypress Mountain.  The rental boots start from size 8, so even your preschooler can get a taste of skiing on their own, or you can rent a chariot to pull your crew while you ski (it looks harder than it feels, trust us).  Tip for family skiing: if you want to keep it simple and appealing for all abilities, you can set Hollyburn Lodge as your ski destination.  It’s about a kilometer from the start and a great spot for refreshments or special treats

#3 - Don some snowshoes and take a walk in the woods.  All three mountain resorts on the North Shore offer snowshoeing, or you can adventure out on local free snowshoe trails (note that parking may be a challenge this year).  Among the free trails, Dog Mountain is an all-time family friendly favorite up on Seymour, with Bowen Lookout at Cypress as our next pick for more vertical.  For even more challenge for older kids or if hiking with a kid in a carrier, you can try Hollyburn at Cypress or Pump Peak route on Mt. Seymour.  Except during large snow dumps, these trails are usually hard packed so traction devices like microspikes will serve you better than snowshoes.  Note that there is no extra charge for snowshoeing up at Grouse beyond your regular gondola ticket.  If you are out with a very young but walking tot, you may want to avoid trails at Cypress and Seymour resorts where wearing snowshoes is a must: your tot with a short stride length will likely struggle to not step on snowshoe tails.

#4 - Check out the holiday lights and decorations on some of the best decorated houses on the North Shore using our Holiday Lights Map.  While very young tots will be thrilled simply to gawk at lit up penguins or snowmen or Santas, pair this with our Candy Cane Cruise Checklist for a fun evening out with an older child. 

#5 - Make a new set of ornaments together as a family.  For a kid-friendly and low waste ornament creation, consider making ornaments from twigs, pinecones and other natural materials you can find outside.  For extra festive and olfactory experience, try using oranges either by drying them in the oven for a beautiful garland, or decorating fresh ones with cloves to make pomanders - even young toddlers are likely to enjoy this activity! (Thank you to Nicole for making these ones!).

#6 - Find ways to make (holiday) music at home with your kids.  Several local music stores offer Christmas sheet music if you have an option of playing a piano or guitar at home.  You probably still have some rattles or maracas or a tambourine lying around somewhere to give your youngest ones an instrument to play as well.  Or, put on your favorite tunes via a music player, and rock out as a family band with handbells or whatever you can easily source.  

We hope these ideas help you and your loved ones spend some fun and festive quality time together.  Happy Holidays and our best wishes from everyone at NSK!