During the holidays, there is nothing quite like being at home surrounded by loved ones and friends all while enjoying the wonders of the season. From indulging in holiday movie marathons to baking delicious goods and sipping on warm and cozy beverages, there are countless ways to create cherished memories. Additionally, spending time outdoors in the backyard can be incredibly fun, especially when building a snowman or engaging in outdoor games. Here are a few activities this holiday season to keep your heart warm:

Make a holiday music playlist:

Before starting any of the normal activities, it’s very important to set the mood with a holiday music playlist with all of your family/friends favorite songs. Start with Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree and Feliz Navidad and see where it takes you!


Gingerbread house contest

Next up, it’s important to stir up some competition with family to truly make it an evening. Turn your home into a gingerbread wonderland by making your own gingerbread from scratch, or by using pre-made kits. If you want to win, you’ll need to pull out all the stops. Icing roofs, gumdrop walkways – add them all if you want to triumph over your family in this competition!

Make some holiday-themed cookies

It wouldn’t be a true holiday-themed evening without some classic baked sweets! Here’s a simple and delicious sugar cookie recipe that families can enjoy making together during the holidays:


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional for decorating:
  • Icing
  • Sprinkles
  • Food coloring



  • Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Creaming the Butter and Sugar: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. This can be done with an electric mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon.
  • Adding Egg and Vanilla: Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until well combined.
  • Mixing Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Combining Wet and Dry Ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until a soft dough forms.
  • Rolling the Dough: Divide the dough into two equal portions. On a floured surface, roll out each portion to about 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Cutting Shapes: Use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes from the rolled-out dough. Place the cut cookies onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving some space between each.
  • Baking: Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Keep an eye on them to prevent over-baking.
  • Cooling: Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Decorating (Optional): Once the cookies are completely cooled, you can have fun decorating them with royal icing, sprinkles, or any other festive decorations.
  • Enjoy: Allow the icing to set before storing the cookies in an airtight container. Enjoy your homemade sugar cookies!

Feel free to get creative with shapes and decorations to make these cookies festive and personalized for your holiday celebrations!

Movie marathon

We couldn’t make it very far into a list of holiday traditions without mentioning a movie marathon! Gather up the blankets, pillows and freshly-made cookies, and load up your family’s go-to holiday movies. The movies you watch doesn’t matter (as long as you find time for Elf, of course), but the time spent with family does! Visit this link for a list of Holiday Movies to watch!

Build a snowman

If there’s snow available, then you’ll have little choice but to head to the backyard to build a snowman. Packing snow is important to make sure it all sticks together, but so are the accessories! Don’t forget to give your new snowy friend a carrot nose, scarf, even sunglasses if you have one. But the snowman won’t be complete until it’s given a hat, so choose carefully!


Make hot chocolate from scratch

If you’re trying to warm up after building a snowman, there’s no better way than making up a few mugs of hot chocolate! Pre-made mixes are delicious, but if you have the time you can also try this special recipe with peppermint whipped cream if you want to add a festive and delicious twist.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • Whipped cream (for topping)
  • Crushed peppermint candies (optional, for garnish)



  • In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder and sugar together until well combined.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it’s hot but not boiling. Stir occasionally to prevent scalding.
  • Gradually whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar mixture, ensuring it dissolves completely into the milk.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract, peppermint extract, and a pinch of salt. Adjust the sweetness and peppermint flavor according to your taste preferences.
  • Once everything is well combined and heated through, pour the hot chocolate into mugs.
  • In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
  • Gently fold in a few drops of peppermint extract, adjusting to taste.
  • Spoon a dollop of peppermint whipped cream on top of each mug of hot chocolate.
  • Sprinkle crushed peppermint candies on top for an extra festive touch.

Host a board game night

For those still bitter about losing the gingerbread contest, you can also hold a board game night in order to exact your revenge! Whether you’re cutting off grandma’s train to New York in Ticket to Ride or clawing your way back from bankruptcy in Monopoly, a night of board games are a great way to involve the whole family in a fun activity.


Get Social With Us

The holiday season is a truly unique time of year to explore the sights and sounds the Waterloo Region. This list of activities barely scratches the surface on all the area has to offer. If any of these caught your eye, be sure to let us know on @builtbyactiva on Instagram or Facebook for a chance to be featured.

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