A Christmas carol this is not, but taking inspiration from the classic song The Twelve Days of Christmas, we’ve come up with 12 home-themed things to do over the holidays in this strangest of Christmas seasons. We may not be able to gather with family and friends the way we usually do, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate and have fun.
No. 1: Got your tree?
First off, if you don’t have your tree yet, let’s check this one off the list. One source for real trees that also helps others is the Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa Christmas tree sale. Fresh, local Balsam and Fraser firs are available until Dec. 24 at the Ottawa Tennis Club parking lot, 176 Cameron St. Hours are 1:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends. Trees are $50-$60. Delivery/set-up available. Details: 613-738-3721. Need tips on choosing the right tree? Check this Lee Valley Tools newsletter or this All Things Home article.
No. 2: Your own rink
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This might be the year to build your own backyard rink, since it’s a safe way to stay active this winter. Not sure how to get started? Home Depot has teamed up with Jeremy Rupke of How to Hockey to offer tips, tricks and a step-by-step how-to. For details, check his YouTube video.
No. 3: Tour model homes
Visiting builder model homes is a fun way to get design inspiration. While many models are not open to casual visits, you can still visit them virtually. When the pandemic hit, several of Ottawa’s builders created 3D virtual tours of their models that let you “walk” through them from home. Use our handy map to find out who has models.
No. 4: Family video chat
You may not be able to gather in person, but you can still hold a virtual family gathering. Whether Zoom, Teams or other video conferencing platform, if it works for business meetings, why not for a family gathering? This is also a great way to help older family members visit safely with their extended family. Note though that some platforms, like Zoom, have limits on how many participants you can have or how long you can chat if you do not have a paid account.
No. 5: Light bright
Escape and see the lights; it might inspire your home decorating for next year. There are several options to explore — Magic of Lights at Wesley Clover Parks (there is a charge), Lights at Lansdowne (this one is free), Confederation Boulevard as part of Christmas Lights Across Canada, or even around your neighbourhood.
No. 6: Trees of Hope
Every Christmas, the Fairmont Château Laurier becomes a twinkling forest of decorated trees to raise funds for CHEO. Although you can usually visit in person, this year the event has gone virtual. Check out the trees and vote for your favourite.
No. 7: Snow maze
A favourite among young ones, a snow maze in your yard is a simple way to create some outdoor fun that you can enjoy all winter. Then see who can get through it first.
No. 8: Declutter & donate
Chances are your social calendar is a little lighter this year. Why not take advantage of the down time to declutter and donate to a good cause? There are many worthwhile charities looking for household items. This article shares several.
No. 9: Reno research
Thinking of renovating? Check out top Ottawa renovators by touring some of their projects. Like many other things this year, the Reno Tour has gone virtual. See whole home makeovers, additions, kitchens, basements and more. Check our write-up on the tour or go directly to it here.
No. 10: Online workshop
There are a ton of workshops, tutorials and video demonstrations you can explore. Learn how to create your own art for your home, assemble a centrepiece, cook, change up your decor — you name it, there’s a how-to for it.
No. 11: Get inspired
Looking for design inspiration? For the first time, you can immerse yourself in housing and design eye candy by watching the Ottawa Housing Design Awards virtual showcase. Usually, the awards are presented at an in-person gala dinner. That was not possible this year, so organizers created a video of all the finalists and winners that you can watch at your leisure.
More info: Check out our awards wrap article
Video: Watch the virtual showcase
No. 12: Sweet charcuterie
In a twist on the typical charcuterie board, this one is for hot chocolate lovers. The ingredients can be whatever you want them to be — marshmallows, sprinkles, cinnamon sticks, candy canes and more. Here’s one for inspiration from Gathered Living. Create your board, snuggle up with the family and enjoy a movie marathon.