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At the start of every month, we offer you a short list of pleasant activities to consider, some focussed on afternoon tea, some not.

Herewith five suggestions for December 2013.

Nothing says winter in the Northern Hemisphere better than the wind – the cold, blustery wind, the harbinger of storms and snows and bundling up and enjoying it all. We love winter – yes it’s hard to believe but there are activities that can only be enjoyed after the weather turns. Like skating on a frozen pond, or skiing cross country or hot mulled wine, hot chocolate (with floating marshmallows of course!) or a pot of tea and scones and a roaring fireside.

So before settling in front of the fire, here are five activities to consider.

1. Organize an outdoor skating party for young and old. Bring out the old boom box and skate to some lilting melodies then switch over to more frisky music in the interest of keeping warm.  After a respectable time on the pond, adjourn to a fireplace and refreshments.

2. Organize a carolling party. Gather friends, print out a couple of carol sheets, choose a charity to donate any money your may receive and go door-to-door in your neighbourhood. Delight your neighbours then adjourn to the nearest fireplace and refreshments. If you live in or near Toronto, consider carolling at the historic Distillery District on Sunday, 15 December at 5:00 p.m. The merchants will lead the World Carolling Challenge and attempt to set a record and raise funds for the Daily Bread Food Bank.

3. Skip the tree and decorations this year. Decorate your home with an abundance live plants and candles.

4 lit candles

4. Host a Wassail party, a tradition that involves singing and drinking apple cider to the health of apple trees in the hopes that they might better thrive. Wassailing is big in the cider-producing English counties of Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Kent, Sussex, Essex and Suffolk. The beverage is a hot mulled <a title=”Punch (drink)” cider made with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Modern recipes begin with a base of wine, fruit juice, or mulled ale, sometimes with brandy or sherry added. Apples slices are often floated to the mix. Toast apple farmers worldwide. 

5. December is the beginning of winter festivals. So bundle up and enjoy the Winter! The Niagara Falls Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls, Ontario runs until 31 January.

Niagara Falls trees lit

 Niagara Falls lit upThis festival boasts 125 animated light displays over a 5 kilometre route.

Join the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire and celebrate the shortest day of the year on 21 December.

Winter Solice at Stonehenge