The 12 To Do’s of December

Play Inside

Can’t afford a trip south this December? The Bloedel Conservatory has got you covered. Drop by the twinkly, bird-filled, tropical oasis during the “Jewel Box of Lights’. Evenings until 9:00 pm for only $7.

Ping pong players are the new pool sharks. Embrace your inner geek and join the Electric Owl’s new Table Tennis Society. For $25 you get a free t-shirt, unlimited ping pong access for a year and folks will even bring you drinks and Japanese grub while you practice for the next World Championship of Ping Pong.

Play Outside
Cypress Mountain, home of Canuck hero Alexandre Bilodeau’s first bit of bling, has the most terrain of the three north shore hills. Play in the deep, white fluffy stuff on bunny, beginner, intermediate and expert runs. Then, reward yourself with a GIGANTIC plate of nachos and Granville Island Winter Ale fireside at the Crazy Raven Pub.

While Christmas carolers may be a tradition of the past, Vancouver does have its own marine-inspired version: the annual Carol Ships Festival. Fill your thermos with something hot and boozy, head to the seawall for some Christmas choons. Check the schedule here.

Shop Local
Tired of buying people things for Kwanzaa or Hannukah or Christmas? What about an experience? For the artists, history buffs and science nerds in your life, a membership or gift certificate to a local museum or gallery is perfect. The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Museum, Beatty Biodiversity Museum and Museum of Anthropology all issue gift certificates.

You can’t get more local than gifting art or jewelry from BC’s Aboriginal communities. Nestled in the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre (near Hastings and Commercial) is the Cedar Root Gallery. A fantastic source for Aboriginal arts, crafts and gifts societies the Cedar Root source their wares from BC and beyond.

When it gets cold, I crave the spicey flavours of Jamaica or India. Calabash Bistro has a number of cockle-warming dishes (and the city’s best rum selection) both sure to make your brow sweat and your lips burn. If you’re craving curry in a big way (as in you’re starving) then try Indian buffet at either All Indian Sweets (6507 Main Street) or Himalaya Restaurant (6587 Main Street), both serve all you can eat vegetarian buffet for a whopping $9.95 plus tax.

Does baking stress you out? Calm your nerves and be the star at the next holiday potluck by bringing a box of petit fours from Gastown’s Cadeux Bakery. With flavours like Dark Chocolate Lime Bourbon or Salted Caramel & Pecan Truffle, your après-dinner small bites will get you an annual invite.

Be Merry
Did you know that there are a dozen wineries within an hour’s drive of Vancouver? Sip, savour then finish the last of Christmas shopping for your wannabe sommelier friends/family by hitting up local wineries like Township 7 or Neck of the Woods in Langley.

Beer drinkers of the world can unite in Kitsilano for winter brewery tours. First up: Vancouver Food Tour takes groups twice weekly into the inner workings of the Molson Coors Canada brewery at the southern foot of Burrard Bridge. Then, mosey over to Granville Island to sample Granville Island Brewing seasonal winter beer after taking one of their thrice daily tours.

Local gastown/DTES developer extraordinaire Mark Brand has come up with yet another great idea that combines social responsibility + good food: the Save on Meats sandwich token. Invest your pocket change in a sandwich token to give those less fortunate.

The next Keroac, Hemmingway or Atwood could be a student at one of Vancouver’s inner city schools and she/he may just need a bit of coaching. Support the Writer’s Exchange, a Vancouver non-profit that pairs writing mentors with inner-city students.