Think back on your favorite holiday memories and it’s unlikely that you’re thinking about that chocolate fountain you really, really wanted in 2004. Odds are, your best memories are of times spent with your family or loved ones.
On some level, we all know that doing almost always makes us happier than owning. Even thinking about spending money on experiences makes us happier than thinking about spending money on things, according to a scientific study conducted by researchers at Cornell University.
And yet when the holiday season rolls around, we lose all reason. Sale circulars substitute for to-do lists. We make our lists, obsessively study and update them, shop for the people on our lists, find the items we bought cost less at another store, buy the cheaper item, forget to return the original items and eventually end up at Shoppers Drug Mart or Canadian Tire, waiting in long lines to buy all the last-minute things we forgot. Then on Boxing Day, we reverse the cycle.
It’s exhausting, no?
Moreover, this holiday frenzy is not exactly eco-friendly. Which is why Metro Vancouver is rolling out its annual “Create Memories, Not Garbage” campaign, encouraging residents to invest in the gift of time.
The Metro Vancouver Green Angel web page gives suggestions for gifts that last, decorating tips that are easy on landfills and ways to reduce food waste. (30 per cent of what is sent to Metro Vancouver landfills every day is food waste.)
Additionally, the site provides a fantastic list of experiences that perfect for holiday giving. While the list understandably consists of local experiences, I’ve expanded the options for people who want to add a little travel to their holiday calendar.
Metro Vancouver: Take advantage of our local mountains.
TravelPulse Canada: No doubt. The sky is most certainly the limit when it comes to scenic peaks in British Columbia. Want to spend some time away from home? Delta Whistler Village Suites is offering a B.C. residents’ rate from C$153 per night. Or enjoy your winter view from the hotel’s sublimely heated outdoor pool, with rates starting from C$271 per night.
Metro Vancouver: Passes to a community centre or fitness place.
TravelPulse Canada: Wellness travel is definitely a growing trend and these days there are many paths to wellness. Quebec’s newly opened Le Monastère des Augustines offers health and history in one happy dose. The property is located in the historic Hôtel-Dieu de Québec monastery (1639), which was the first North American hospital outside of Mexico. The “Monastic Stay” package includes accommodation in an original cloister as well as a vitality breakfast (held in silence.) Package rates start from C$72 per person, per night.
Metro Vancouver: Cooking classes
TravelPulse Canada: Learn the fundamentals of seafood cookery at Trout Point Lodge of Nova Scotia. While the gift can’t be redeemed during the holidays—classes are only available May through November—this still makes a terrific gift. Special three-day culinary vacations include instruction on Mediterranean, Creole, Acadian, French and Cajun cooking methods as well as plenty of outdoor field trips. In 2015, culinary packages started from C$899 per person.
Metro Vancouver: Massage, pedicure, facial
TravelPulse Canada: With so many excellent spa facilities across Canada, it’s pretty easy to find a way to get pampered. But a stop at Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Banff Springs, deemed the top hotel spa in Canada by Travel+Leisure, is sure to elicit a sigh of pleasure. The Escape to Willow Stream Spa Package starts from C$529 per night and includes accommodation at Fairmont Banff Sprins and one spa treatment per person per day. Upgrade to Fairmont Gold and the package includes a continental breakfast, access to the fireside lounge and complimentary tea, coffee and canapes throughout the day.
Metro Vancouver: Passes to any neighbourhood theatre.
TravelPulse Canada: Theatre lovers might want to start with Canada’s longest-running musical, Anne of Green Gables at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, in Charlottetown, PEI. The Kindred Spirits Country Inn and Cottage offers a comprehensive Anne of Green Gables package, including two theatre tickets, admission to Avonlea Village, and a homemade PEI chowder dinner. Packages are totally customisable, but plan to budget about C$250 to $350 per couple during the low season.
Metro Vancouver: Passes to local museums and attractions.
TravelPulse Canada: Spend some family together time by tracing your family history at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, N.S. Once the gateway for a million immigrants, Pier 21 is now a National Historic Site, a Canadian national museum and a research facility. The Westin Nova Scotian, itself a historic site, is offering a Pier 21 package, with rates starting from C$189 per night.
No matter how you plan to spend your holidays, be sure to cash out your vacation days and enjoy some quality time with your loved ones. Be sure to tag your experiences at #GreenAngel on Twitter.
Metro Vancouver is a partnership of 21 municipalities, one Electoral Area and one Treaty First Nation that collaboratively plans for and delivers regional-scale services. Its core services are drinking water, wastewater treatment and solid waste management.