Five outside activities that will help your holidays shine

I love this time of year. Right about now I start getting that good feeling of what's to come.

And, I've intentionally scaled back so much throughout the years that now the season feels way more festive than frenzied.

Not only have I trimmed back, but I've let go of all my expectations (well most). That in itself is a great gift!

This year we are opting for a different kind of Thanksgiving. Circumstances (good ones) just worked out that Curt (my life partner) and I have the day to ourselves.

So, I'm packing a lovely simple picnic with a great bottle of Pinot Noir (exellent with turkey and cranberry sandwiches) and we are heading to the foothills of the Cascade mountains for a nice hike along a river.

It seems like the perfect place for us to give thanks for all that we have in our lives while surrounded by natural mountain beauty.

Here are four more ways to experience the beauty of the holiday season outside...

  1. Create a cozy area outside your home. Bundle-up, pile up the blankets and sit outside on your porch with a warm beverage. If you have an outdoor fireplace, even better. Light a couple of candles and read the Polar Express to your kids or grandkids. If you don't have young ones around, it's still a wonderful story to read or just enjoy the cocooning feel of nighttime and gaze at the sky.
  2. Gather sprigs of holly, green boughs and fresh herbs. Local nurseries are a great source for these, if you don't have them in your yard or live near a natural area. Bring them inside, adding nature elements to your holiday decor and tuck some in the wrappings of your gifts. Pinecones are easy to gather and add a nice touch to your decor, too. 
  3. Give our feathered friends a gift. Make your own bird suet. Birds love and need these energy-rich high fat feed cakes in the winter. You can find a variety of recipes online. An easy recipe is to mix equal parts peanut butter, lard, mixed bird seed and cornmeal. Add a few raisins or other dried fruit, if you like. Melt on low heat until mixed together. You can drill holes in logs or posts and stuff the suet in them. Also, you can freeze the suet mix in ziplock square containers and once frozen, remove and place them in a mesh bag or wire suet cage that you can hang on a tree or pole. Wrens, jays, warblers, chickadees, finches and woodpeckers are among the many birds that are fans of suet. 
  4. Take a walk and set your intention to notice all of the bare trees. No matter what type, trees are absolutely beautiful this time of year. Frost laden. Twisted branches. Scruffy bark. Strong silhouettes. Going inward, deepening their roots, preparing for spring. Look at them!       

Local Puget Sounders: We've got a new Walk This Way planned for Sunday, December 20th. We are going to take a short urban nature walk around Ballard and then hit the year-round outdoor Ballard Market. It's so FUN! And just in time for you to shop for all of your holiday bounty. Another post to come with more details. (In the meantime, see brief in the column to the right of this post.)

I'd love to know what you like to do outside during the holidays. Do you have any special outings that add to your holiday season or help you turn the frenzy into festive fun? And how about all of you warm climate readers. We'd love to hear what you do outside this time of year, because I'm betting you have some great ideas that we can aspire to. Here in the Northwest, we are well known for doing outdoor activities year-round, rain or shine! 

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And for more holiday ideas read Seven ways to get your holiday glow on and Five ways to practice gratitude in nature.