Find the Spirit of the Holidays in Toronto

Now more than ever it seems as though the holidays are more about receiving than they are about giving. The packed shopping malls, long gift lists and stressed out shoppers are all proof of this.

If you’re looking to get more out of the holidays, and help your children get more out of them too, look a little closer to home. Whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or something else you celebrate, these four great activities can help you connect as a family and realize what’s important all year long.

 Give instead of receive

Show your children that it’s always better to give than receive, especially to those less fortunate than they are. You’ll be surprised at how good it will make you both feel.

Swarovski Stars for Wishes Workshop

From December 3rd to December 10th, kids can make a Swarovski crystal ornament at the Eaton Centre and all the proceeds go to the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

CP24 CHUM Christmas Wish

Now in its 45th year, the CP24 CHUM Christmas Wish  program has become one of the largest distributors of toys and financial assistance to children in need during the holiday season. Encourage your little one to help those less fortunate by donating a toy or money this holiday season.

 Get Outside

Living in Canada we should be able to stand those plummeting temperatures and the snow storms Mother Nature throws at us. Instead of battening down the hatches and sitting in front of the TV, get outside with your kids and show them why winter can truly be a wonderland of fun and exercise.

Skating Around

Many places in the city offer outdoor skating, from Nathan Phillips Square, Mel Lastman Square and the Harbourfront Centre. Most city parks offer outdoor skating too, such as Christie Pitts, Kew Gardens, High Park, Riverdale Park East and North Toronto Memorial CRC/Eglinton Park.

Skiing Across or Down

You don’t have to leave the city to get in some good cross country or downhill skiing either. High Park offers some great trails to check out, as does Earl Bales Park and even some of the city’s ravine systems. Both Centennial Park and Earl BalesPark offer rentals, lessons and a snack bar.

A Tobogganing We Will Go

Winter wouldn’t be complete for kids without some good tobogganing time. Riverdale Park undoubtedly has one of the best hills for sledding and one of the best views of the city. A few others to try are Christie Pitts, High Park Winston Churchill Park, Crestview Park and Trinity Bellwoods.

The Christmas Story

If Christmas is what you celebrate, return to what the holiday is really all about by going back to the beginning. Whether you read the Christmas Story at home or take it in play or concert form, it will leave you feeling full of peace and joy.

The Christmas Story at The Church of the Holy Trinity

As one of Toronto’s oldest holiday traditions, the performance was first done in this location in 1938. Using narration, organ music and carols, the show also uses real babies who play the role of baby Jesus. The group asks for a donation of $20 for adults and $5 for children and is on December 9-11, 16-18 and 22-24.

Live Nativity in the Park

Spend Christmas Eve enjoying “Bethlehem on Yonge,” an outdoor nativity with animals. Afterwards, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies followed by carols in the sanctuary.

Volunteer your time and caring

If the holidays are about giving, there is really no better gift you can give your child then the compassion to care about others. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer and share both your time and energy this season

Daily Bread Food Bank

Those in need always need food, so why not give the gift of either a donation or your time? Non-perishable food can be dropped off at any local fire hall, Loblaws or Metro until January 4th. Or donate your time to help sort food and make it a family affair. Every little bit helps. The Daily Bread Food Bank also offers workshops to educate youth on poverty and community.

Ronald McDonald House

Providing a home for those with a child in the hospital or receiving treatment, Ronald McDonald House is always in need of volunteers to help spread some joy. The House is always looking for help either in the form of donations, fundraising or volunteering to help out at the House. Kids can even get in the act through their Kids 4 Kids Challenge by fundraising through sales (bake sales, book sales) or through “a-thons,” such as a read-a-thon.

Kids Cook To Care

Kids age 6-16 can sign up to learn about new cultures, basic cooking skills and the feeling of caring while serving a meal with a chef to those in need. Meals are held monthly at different community centres around the city.

So tell us, how do you find the spirit of the holiday season?

Photo by Mark Watmough

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