The Ultimate Holiday Bucket List

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Take part in these activities to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends! 

1. Festive Lights

Zoo Lights is back for more holiday magic! Enjoy the stunning light displays, treats, and live music and entertainment in a winter wonderland.

December 1, 2022 – January 8, 2023

Sunday – Thursday 5 pm – 10 pm

Friday and Saturday 5 pm – 11 pm

Check the website for dates closed

2. Fort Whyte Alive Winter Activities

Choose among the following activities:

  • Inclusive Exploration and Indigenous Games
  • Wreath making
  • Alive in the Woods
  • Campfire S’more Roast
  • Sod House Homesteaders
  • Holiday storytelling
  • Storytelling by the Fire

3.Movies at the Met

The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre presents its Dinner & Movie program. Enjoy the signature holiday buffet and the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life with family and friends on Wednesday, December 14, 2022.

The dinner buffet is open from 5 pm to 6:45 pm. The movie begins at 7 pm. Hot buttered popcorn and beverages are included. Coffee and dessert will be provided during intermission.

4.Treat Yourself

Choose a spa and wellness centre in Winnipeg.

5. Random Acts of Kindness

  1. Ask a neighbour if you can perform chores or run errands.
  2. Bake holiday cookies and bring them to a local nursing home.
  3. Donate your time to Operation Red Nose to keep the streets safe during the holiday season.
  4. Donate blood and/or sign up to be an organ donor.
  5. Make a care kit with socks, deodorant, mittens, feminine hygiene products, and snacks to give to those in need.
  6. Donate gently used DVDs, games, and crafts to the Youth Resource Centre.
  7. Invite an elderly neighbour or a newcomer to your holiday dinner, movie night, or celebration.
  8. Become a Meals on Wheels driver.
  9. Organize a coat and winter clothing drive and donate the items.
  10. Compliment a stranger.
  11. Drop off thank-you cards for staff and volunteer at a local non-profit, charity, or community centre.
  12. Bring blankets, pet food, or toys to an animal shelter.
  13. Anonymously buy someone a warm drink.
  14. Host an ornament-making party, office holiday sweater day, or another fundraiser for the cause of your choice.
  15. Share your holiday acts of kindness on social media to encourage others to give back! Tag Volunteer Manitoba so they can share your posts.

6.Visit the Forks & Skate the River Trail

Check the website for the conditions of the walking, skating, and cross-country ski trails.

7.Tobogganing and Snow Tubing

Friday 7 pm – 9 pm

Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 5 pm

Check the website for details.

8.Snow Maze

A Maze in Corn is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest snow maze!

  • Enjoy the challenge of the snow maze.
  • Admire the snow carvings and buildings.
  • Slide down Snow Mountain.
  • Warm up by the bonfire.
  • Try the Giant Luge.
  • Play snow games.
  • Enjoy hot chocolate or an adult beverage at The Snow Bar.

Opening in January 2023

Thursday and Friday 3 pm – 9 pm

Saturday 11 am – 9 pm

Sunday 11 am – 8 pm

Check the website for holiday hours

9. Build a Snowman

Enjoy quality time with family and friends by building snowmen! If you don’t have snow, you can use sand.

  • Add tools and hard hats for DIY snowmen.
  • Order a snowman-making kit with a top hat, scarf, and arm, eye, nose, and mouth fixtures.
  • Build a sand snowman, then add a Santa hat, sunglasses, and sticks for arms.
  • Develop a snow couple using sticks for arms and gloves for hands.
  • Construct a snowman with a carrot nose, rocks for eyes, and pine cones for buttons.
  • Create identical snow quintuplets with matching hats and scarves.
  • Use prairie grasses, twigs, dried plants, or leaves for snowman hair.
  • Make a snowman out of sand, then use a bucket for a hat, sand shovels for arms, and shells for buttons.
  • Purchase a felt snowman kit online to build an indoor snowman.

10. Christmas Gingerbread

Make a gingerbread house with family and friends to get in the holiday spirit!

Break down the process into steps:

4 days before: Buy your ingredients.

3 days before: Make your dough.

2 days before: Print and cut out your patterns.

1 day before: Gather the base for your house, cookie sheets, parchment paper, a rolling pin, a sharp knife, an electric mixer, and a pastry bag with tips or a plastic freezer bag.

Day of: Bake your house pieces, assemble them, and decorate! Or, bake your house pieces one day and decorate them the next day.

Best candy to use:

  • Gumdrops
  • Round peppermint candies
  • Candy canes
  • Nonpareils
  • M&Ms
  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Regular or mini marshmallows
  • Red licorice twists
  • Evergreen tree and snowman Peeps
  • Sprinkles
  • Shredded coconut
  • Colored cereal O’s

Make your gingerbread house

PREP TIME 2 hours

COOK TIME 15 minutes

TOTAL TIME 2 hours 15 minutes

SERVINGS 12

YIELD 1 gingerbread house

How you measure the flour makes a difference. Lightly fluff up the flour in the container, use a cup measure to scoop up the flour, then use a blunt knife to level the flour. Do not pack or tamp down the flour in the cup.

Ingredients

For the gingerbread house dough

  • 6 cups (828gall-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 1/2teaspoon baking powder
  • 4teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170gbutter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (284g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2large eggs
  • 1cup molasses
  • 1tablespoon water

For the royal icing

  • 2large egg whites
  • 2 2/3cups powdered sugar, divided

Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer
  • Piping bag or freezer bag

Method

Make the Gingerbread Dough

1. Whisk the flour and spices: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves or allspice, and salt. Set aside.

2. Make the butter, sugar, egg, and molasses mixture: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy and well blended. Beat in the eggs, molasses, and water until well combined.

3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and knead the dough: Beat half the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth. Add in the remaining flour. Continue to mix until well-blended into a soft, cohesive dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand 5 or 6 times until the dough is smooth and combined. If the dough is too soft, add a little more flour.

4. Divide the dough, wrap and chill it: Divide the dough in half, pat it into disks, and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight.

You can make the dough up to 3 days ahead of time. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before rolling out.

Make the Gingerbread House Pieces

1. Create and cut out the pattern pieces: Create a gingerbread house pattern by cutting out pieces from the printable templates. The templates should print out with the correct proportions (1 inch on the pattern = 1 inch in real life), but if not, the dimensions are also given on the pattern so you can use a ruler and create your own. You can use the paper template pieces as they are or trace the pieces onto stiffer paper like a manila folder or cardboard.

2. Prepare the oven and cookie sheets: Preheat oven to 350°F with the oven rack in the middle. Have 2 to 3 flat cookie sheets ready.

3. Roll out the dough: Spread parchment paper on a large flat surface for rolling. Dust the paper lightly with flour.

Working with one portion of the dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to an even thickness of 1/4 inch. Add a little flour to the surface of the dough and check for sticking as you roll it out. If it sticks to either your rolling pin or the rolling surface, dust it with more flour.

If the rolled-out dough is very soft, you may want to freeze it for an hour before cutting out the patterns.

4. Cut out shapes in the dough with pattern pieces: Rub a little flour over the surface of the dough. Place on the dough as many pattern pieces as will fit. Use a small, sharp knife to cut out the pattern pieces from the dough. Frequently wipe the knife clean.

Depending on how soft the dough is, you may need to use scissors to cut the parchment paper. You can cut out the patterns through the dough and parchment paper, placing the dough pieces with the paper directly on the cookie sheets. If you are not using parchment paper, you may need to use a large metal spatula to transfer the dough pieces to a greased cookie sheet.

Space the pieces on the cookie sheet an inch apart from each other. If the dough pieces stretch during the transfer process, push them back into shape.

You can cut out a door and window(s) at this point, or you can wait until after baking, soon after the pieces have come out of the oven while the cookies are still warm.

5. Bake: Bake in a 350°F oven until the edges are just beginning to darken, 11-15 minutes for the large pieces, and 6 to 8 minutes for the small pieces. Rotate the cookie sheets halfway through the baking for more even browning. Remove the sheets to racks to cool, for about 15 minutes.

6. Trim the pieces while warm: Lay the pattern pieces over the baked pieces. Use a large, straight chef’s knife to trim off any parts of the pieces that have spread beyond the pattern. Remove the pieces to completely cool directly on racks.

Make the Royal Icing

1. Make the royal icing: Whisk the egg whites and 1 1/3 cups of the powdered sugar together until smooth. If you are planning to eat your gingerbread house and are concerned about the safety of raw eggs, you can cook the egg white powdered sugar mixture in a double boiler until the mixture reaches a temperature of 160°F but not higher than 175°. You also can use pasteurized dried or liquid egg whites.

2. Add more powdered sugar and beat to stiff peaks: Add the remaining 1 1/3 cups of powdered sugar to the sugar-egg mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until the icing holds stiff peaks. If it doesn’t form stiff peaks, add more powdered sugar.

3. Place a clean, dampened towel over the bowl of royal icing: Keep the towel over the icing to prevent it from drying out while you work with it.

4. Pipe the icing with a pastry bag or cut freezer bag: When you are ready to mortar or decorate, fill a pastry bag with the icing. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can make your own with a resealable plastic freezer bag. Just make a small cut at the tip of one of the corners.

Build the House Using Royal Icing as Mortar

It helps to have more than two hands working on a house. If you are working on the gingerbread house alone, you may want to grab some canned goods to prop up the pieces while the icing mortar dries.

1. Pick and line a base: Choose a solid base for your gingerbread house – either a flat cookie sheet or a thick, sturdy piece of cardboard. If you want, line the base with aluminum foil or wax paper.

2. Mortar the sides of the house with royal icing: Pipe a thick line of icing along the short end of one of the side pieces. Press the iced side piece against the edge of either the front or back pieces. Hold in place for a few minutes until the icing is partially set. Repeat with the other side piece. Prop up with cans if necessary. Repeat with the other short edges of the side pieces and the remaining front/back piece.

Pipe icing along the seams, inside and outside of the house, to fill in any gaps and to add extra stability. Pipe icing along the edges of the house where it meets the base.

Let the house sit for at least an hour before adding the roof pieces.

3. Mortar the roof with royal icing: Once the royal icing has dried enough that the base structure is solid, go to work on the roof. Pipe icing all along the top edges of the structure, front and back, and two sides.

The roof pieces are rectangular-shaped. Place the roof pieces so that the long ends of the rectangle run along the top of the house.

It helps if you have two people working together to place the roof pieces on the house at the same time so they easily meet at the top center and extend out a bit, forming an overhang at each end.

Gently hold the roof pieces in place for a few minutes until they are set enough that they don’t slide off when you remove your hands.

Pipe the top seam of the house with extra icing. Let the house stand for at least an hour, preferably 8 hours before decorating. 

4. Mortar the chimney with royal icing: The dimensions of the chimney can be a bit tricky because of the angle of the roof. It’s easiest to assemble the chimney upside down, separate from the house.

Pipe the pieces together with royal icing and let set until stable. Then, turn the chimney right-side-up and attach it to the roof using piped royal icing. You can do this either right after the house has initially set (1 hour after assembly) or later, during the decorating process.

5. Decorate the house: Decorate your gingerbread house with piped royal icing and candies such as red hots, gum drops, candy canes, chocolate truffles, or whatever you like.

Need a temporary employee for vacation coverage this winter?

Mercer Bradley can help you fill accounting and finance roles in Winnipeg or  when your employees take vacation.

 

Credit is due to the Winnipeg artist – Alex Plante, for this wonderful piece! You can purchase her artwork at https://www.aplante.com/

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