A Cottage Life Christmas
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A Cottage Life Christmas

Everyone loves to have their closest family and friends around them for the holidays. Hosting a weekend retreat at the cottage, or at a cottage resort, makes the season memorable for everyone involved, but it can also make entertaining a little more complicated. You may not have all the comforts of home at your fingertips, so settling guests in, cooking, and keeping everyone busy takes a little extra thought and preparation. Luckily the Cottage Life + Style cast and crew has put the thought in for you. Read on for helpful tips to keep your cottage Christmas festive and fun for all.

The Tree:

  • In many of the most popular cottage areas or winter resort towns across Canada, Christmas tree farms are close at hand. Don't miss this opportunity to take friends and family out to cut down a fresh tree. It's a great way to enjoy the outdoors and have some fun as a family.
  • Not sure what kind of tree to buy? There are many options and people always have their favourites. If you're not sure where to start, a good choice is a Fraser Fir. These short-needled beauties are rugged and sturdy. They'll stand up to the heaviest decoration load, not to mention the bumpy ride from the farm to the cottage.
  • Once you've got your tree, save the decorating until all your guests have arrived. That way making decorations and dressing the tree becomes an event that everyone can share.

The Decorations:

  • Here's another way to keep guests busy and having fun. Set up a crafting station and have them help make decorations for the tree, the table and other places around the cottage.
  • Start out by collecting materials that you can use from the natural surroundings of your cottage. Try pinecones, stones, birch bark, colourful twigs and sticks. These are all items you can use to make festive holiday decorations.
  • Create beautiful, natural place cards using some of the above items. Glue rectangles of birch bark to some solid card stock. Write the names of your guests on the bark. Then glue a small stone to the bottom, center of your card, to serve as a support that will allow your card stand up. Finally, decorate the front of the card using small pinecones, berries and holly.

The Great Outdoors:

  • Why spend the holidays at the cottage, if you're not going to get outside and enjoy your surroundings? Even if it's snowy and cold, all it takes is the right clothing. The safest, and warmest way to dress for cold weather is to use the layering system.
  • The layering system consists of three separate layers of clothing, each one designed to protect in a different way against the elements.
  • Layer one: This is the layer that you'll wear closest to your skin. This layer will act to keep your skin dry, to draw moisture away from your skin and out towards your second layer. Layer one should be made from a man-made material such as polyester.
  • Layer two: This is the insulating layer, used to trap warmth in and keep body temperature up. Fleece is an ideal material for layer two.
  • Layer three: This is the waterproof layer, the one that keeps the elements outs. If you are very active in the winter-skiing, skating, tobogganing-then you should get a breathable outer layer. It will cost more, but be well worth it on those long days out in the cold.

Linda Armstrong's Hot Apple Cider Recipe:

This simple recipe serves multiple purposes! Infuse the cottage with a warm, inviting scent and have a hot, scrumptious treat for guests as they arrive in from the cold. Get it brewing in the pot and leave a sign next to saying "Please Help Yourselves!"

16 cups Fresh Pressed Cider
8 Cinnamon Sticks
2 tbsp All Spice
2 tbsp Whole Cloves
2 tsp Nutmeg
A few slivers of Orange or Lemon zest
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Rum or Brandy (optional)

Mix all ingredients, except the alcohol if you're using it, into a large pot and heat for 15 minutes on medium. Taste for sweetness. If not sweet enough add brown sugar to taste. If using rum or brandy, add once desired sweetness has been reached and mixture is hot. Serve in mugs with cinnamon stir sticks.

Remember, a cottage Christmas isn't limited to families that have their own private get-away. There are several winter resorts across Canada that will make an outstanding holiday retreat. Trade in your annual beach bash for a colder climate Christmas, or start saving as a family so everyone enjoys the cottage comforts together. Happy holidays!