Five ways to kick off the holidays: An adult-oriented pop up, soaring sleigh ride, and shopping-themed cocktails

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      As far as Christmas Carols go, it’s one of the more inexplicably demented ones, that fact once driven home by South Park. Remember the “Red Sleigh Down” episode when Jimmy Valmer, who has a pronounced speech impediment, asks if he can sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas”—promising to do it “real quick”—before a giant tree-lighting ceremony?

      And how, after finishing a couple of hours or so later, he gets the applause he richly deserves, except from those still asleep? The holidays do indeed bring out the best in people.

      As for Frederic Austin’s now-timeless carol, whoever has space for eight maids a-milking, 10 lords a-leaping, and a dozen partridges in pear trees is clearly not living in a 380-square foot Yaletown condo. Also, that’s a whopping 364 gifts by the end of verse 12, the price tag being almost $46,000—suggesting the gift giver is either Chad Kroeger or a LottoMax winner.

      Ponder these important subjects and more as you kick off the holiday season with one of the following Christmas-themed events. 

      Honey Salt Gingerbread House Decorating

      As anyone with kids knows, dining out can be a challenge if you’re one of those parents who doesn’t believe in electronic babysitters. (Or patiently explaining for the 200th time that there really is a Santa, because if there wasn’t, how would all those presents get under the tree?) Honey Salt makes entertaining while eating with little ones fun with the return of Gingerbread House Decorating on December 3, 10, and 17. Families—or those who simply enjoy building things and want to escape the house—are given all the ingredients and tools needed to build miniature edible homes. In addition to pilfered gumdrops, Smarties, and licorice pieces, the menu for the event includes options like Tourtière Quebecois and a Biloxi fried chicken sandwich for adults, and a grilled chicken mac & cheese with Scooby-Doo noodles for kids. Reservations are recommended here, as is explaining to your child that, because you don’t have a chimney, Santa will obviously be letting himself in with a universal key. (Honey Salt, 39 Smithe Street; go here for more info.)

      Liven UP — Coal Harbour

      One of the great things about the holiday season is the way it has something for everyone, whether you celebrate through music, theatre, food, storytelling, or decorating. Liven UP — Coal Harbour brings together multiple disciplines for a free, family-friendly celebration running from December 1 to 30. Highlights start with fire performances at Canada Place Plaza, live opera and singing at Cardero Park, and storytelling at Komagata Maru Memorial. Walks and talks give a new perspective on the history of Vancouver, light installations turn Luna the Whale and Davie the Grizzly Bear into seasonal attractions, and Coastal Jazz and Blues coordinate a myriad of musical acts. Should you need a break on the walk along the seawall from the Pan Pacific Vancouver to the Westin Bayshore, a tented space in Harbour Green Park will feature not only the music, but a specialty bar with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. (Various locations in Coal Harbour; go here for more info.)

      12 Cocktails of Christmas Shopping

      It’s an experience so overwhelming it’s inspired entire movies (Jingle All the Way) and songs (Jason Ringenberg’s “Lovely Christmas”): holiday shopping. The Westin Bayshore’s H Tasting Lounge now pays tribute to the experience with 12 Cocktails of Christmas Shopping. To get you into the frantic spirit of finding that perfect gift, the menu riffs on an ’80s-flavoured retro-shopping experience, the drinks inspired by imaginary stores on one of two floors. Confused? We’re here to help. On the First Floor part of the menu, head to the Clothing Store for a Fast Fashion (chai Campari, Swedish punsch, nitro orange, maple, and cardamom) or the Bath & Body Store for a Blessed Love Indigo Potion 2.0 (Bombay Sapphire, cocchi Americano coconut, shea butter, and an edible bath bomb). On the Second Floor, head to the Lingerie Store, where you’ll find the Barbados Bombshell (Barbados rum, chinola passionfruit liqueur, fiol prosecco, island falernum, white chocolate, and Scotch bonnet). Christmas shopping has never been so civilized. (H Tasting Lounge, 1601 Bayshore Drive; go here for more info.) 

      The Barbados Bombshell.

      Soar With Santa

      Ever wonder what exactly Kris Kringle sees when he’s playing sleigh jockey on December 24? FlyOver Canada gives you a window seat with Soar With Santa, a virtual experience where passengers bomb across the Great White North coast to coast, and then veer up to the North Pole, where things are at their busiest in December. Yes, the snow-capped Rockies are spectacular, and the shores of the Maritimes are almost as magical as the sight of the waves crashing down on the sands of Tofino. Giving it a run for the money ,though, is Soar With Santa’s Kringle Werks, starting with the dancing elves and six-storey high Christmas tree. (FlyOver Canada, #201-999 Canada Place; go here for more info.)

      Tinseltown Bar

      There are casual Christmas fans, and then there are those who go full-bore Buddy the Elf. Already got the Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer display set up on the fireplace mantle, and two gallons of homemade eggnog sitting in the fridge? You know who you are, which means you’ll be beyond thrilled with what the Le Soleil Hotel has been up to with a Christmas-themed pop-up dubbed Tinseltown Bar. Cocktails are Christmas-themed, with reservable 90-minute slots giving you time to not only drink, but interact with onsite characters—including, presumably, the big man himself. Decorated in seasonally-themed fashion (where silver and gold compete neck and neck with poinsettia-red and holly-green), the spot is a 19+ tribute to the magic of Christmas—including Santa’s elves, acres of tinsel, and a tree that no less than Frank Parker would appreciate. And yes, if you got that deep-cut reference, cheers, because you truly are all-in on Christmas. (Tinseltown Bar, 567 Hornby Street; go here for more info.)