How to Make the Most of the 2020 Holidays in Calgary

From ordering in Christmas dinner to giving back, here are some ways Calgarians can celebrate the holidays while supporting local and staying safe.

Photograph by MNStudio, courtesy of Canva

Thanks to the pandemic, Calgary’s 2020 holiday season will be unlike any other. While the situation is far from ideal, there are still ways to make the holidays feel a little cheerier while supporting local and staying safe.


Treat Yourself to Some Great Food

Cooking and baking has been an escape for many during the pandemic. But if you’re able to, ordering meals and special holiday snacks for takeout or delivery is a great way to support local and give yourself a break. And let’s face it, we could all use a treat right about now.

Many Calgary restaurants are offering special holiday meals that are pre-made and just need to be popped in your oven. Deane House‘s Christmas dinner offering can be picked up or delivered on Christmas Eve, while Vin Room has holiday dinners for one or two people (among other dining options). Sunterra Market, Charcut and Cravings Market & Restaurant are just a few of the many other spots also offering holiday meals. Many restaurants are getting creative this year, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your favourites and see what options they may be offering for the holidays.

If you’ve got Christmas dinner covered but are craving some holiday treats, that can be arranged too. Pie Junkie recently started offering city-wide delivery, which means you can get your hands on full size and mini sweet pies ranging from pumpkin candied ginger cheesecake to chocolate hazelnut. Vegan bakery Canela has yule log cakes, butter tarts, Christmas cookies and more for pickup and delivery, while Wow Bakery has nine kinds of beautifully decorated Christmas cakes available for delivery. And Calgary-based coffehouse chain Good Earth is once again selling its packets of gingerbread family cookies for takeout and delivery, with $1 from each packet sold supporting food banks.


Stay Busy with Indoor Activities

Many Calgarians mark the holidays by attending a local theatre production, shopping at Christmas markets and attending other in-person holiday events. While most in-person events are cancelled this year, you can still keep busy and foster the holiday spirit from home thanks to the creativity of local organizations and businesses.

Several Calgary theatre companies have found a way to still offer holiday music and theatre productions virtually. This includes Theatre Calgary‘s online production of A Christmas Carol that you can watch digitally for $25 from December 11 to 31, as well as Calgary Opera‘s holiday concert, The Yuletide Sessions, that can be streamed for $10 from December 18 to January 3. Vertigo Theatre and Lunchbox Theatre have also teamed up to stream a live radio play of It’s a Wonderful Life ($21 per ticket) from December 15 to 24.

If you’re looking for more things to watch, the Okotoks Film Society is is holding the Bite-Size Okotoks Christmas Festival on December 23, featuring holiday short films that will be live streamed for $5.

When you’ve had enough screen time, try getting crafty or playing a game. Local paint studio Raw Canvas is delivering DIY arts boxes and the DIY Delivery by Pinnovate service can bring both holiday-themed and regular crafting kits to your home. Many local board board game stores, including The Discovery Hut and The Hexagon Board Game Cafe, also offer pickup and/or delivery.

You can also get creative in the kitchen. If decorating cookies is more your speed than baking them, you’re in luck — several local bakeries have DIY cookie decorating kits that come with pre-baked cookies and all the toppings you need to decorate. Crave, Yum Bakery and Bistro, Cakeify Studio and Pretty Sweet are some of the spots with cookie decorating kits for pickup and/or delivery right now.

You can even try your hand at making your own hot chocolate bombs — the it treat of the season — with the help of this handy video tutorial from Sweet Relief Pastries.


Get Fresh Air Safely

Staying active, getting fresh air and spending time outdoors is a good way to keep your spirits up over the holidays. One way your household can do that is by driving by one of the free, outdoor Christmas light displays around the city. The Legacy community will be lit up until January 10, the Spruce Meadows’ Christmas Lights Drive-Thru is on until January 3 except for Christmas Day, and the Lions Festival of Lights runs until January 8. It’s a fun way to get out of the house while staying safe in your car.

Outdoor skating rinks can still operate under the current restrictions (public health and physical-distancing guidelines must be followed). Be sure to read up on rink capacity limits, keep at least two-metres away from those who aren’t in your household and acquaint yourself with any other guidelines. Currently, both the Bowness Park Lagoon and Olympic Plaza rink (which is decked out in lights) are both open. Check back here for updates on which City-maintained outdoor rinks are closed and open.


Give Back if You Can

Local charities and non-profits have been hit hard by the pandemic. If you are able to, consider giving back with your time or money this holiday season.

Not sure how? The Leftovers Foundation, a Calgary-based food rescue charity, is holding a digital 50/50 holiday raffle to help raise funds for 2021 that runs until January 2.

The Calgary Community Fridge, a “mutual aid initiative” in Crescent Heights, is another great way to give back. Calgarians can drop off food for those who need it, make a donation to the initiative’s GoFundMe page to help buy food or even volunteer for a cleaning shift.

The Calgary Women in Need Society recently launched a special campaign called Make a Home for the Holidays. Essentially, you can browse a variety of home-furnishing options online and donate money to help get it to a family in need. Donation options range from $25 bedding or cookware to $340 donations to furnish an adult bedroom.

If you’re still not sure where or how you want to give back, check out Volly, a program created by Alice Lam (who was featured in Avenue‘s December issue) that can team you up with a non-profit in need of volunteers.

Get a weekly serving of suggestions for how to experience Calgary's restaurants, bars and markets by signing up for Avenue’s Food & Drink Newsletter.

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