Fall is unquestionably one of the busiest times of the year. The kids are back at school and have extracurricular activities after a summer of unplugging. Businesses are scrambling to meet their Q4 and year-end targets. We are heading into the busiest shipping season of the year. And calendars start to slowly fill up with holiday plans.

The best way to stay on top of things during these busy times is to plan ahead and be prepared. And so, we’re pleased to provide you with the ultimate fall planning guide for busy Calgarians.

Thanksgiving Planning Done Right

Canadian Thanksgiving is a relatively young holiday, having only been declared a national holiday in 1957. This year it falls on October 11, 2021.

Canadian Thanksgiving is definitely a more scaled down version than that of our neighbours to the south, what with their parades, football games, four-day weekend, and of course, Black Friday (more on that later). In addition to taking the time to express gratitude for all that one has (especially important during these trying times when so many have suffered), Canadian Thanksgiving is pretty much all about the food. So, let’s explore some options for getting that turkey (or tofurky) in your belly.

Cooking from scratch

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? And doing the cooking yourself? Expect to spend hours in the kitchen from start to finish. The staples of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner include:

  • Roast turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Buns and butter
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Creamed corn
  • Carrots
  • Green bean casserole
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Pecan pie

Looking to deviate a bit from the standard Thanksgiving fare? Here Global Calgary reporters share some of their favourite Thanksgiving recipes, including slow cooker mushrooms, cheesy scalloped potatoes, tomato aspic, stovetop chocolate cake, and peanut butter and banana pancakes.

Ordering in

Even if you are the host with the most or the hostest with the mostest this year, it doesn’t mean you are necessarily relegated to kitchen duty. Ordering in for Thanksgiving dinner is a perfectly acceptable (and delicious) option, and several Calgary restaurants are on deck to help you out.

  • Hawthorn Dining Room (at the Palliser Hotel) has two turkey-to-go options available (one that serves eight and one that serves fifteen), with the option to add on a bottle of Chandon Brut Classic (yes please!)
  • Sunterra Market has you covered with a variety of Thanksgiving meal kits (including some alternatives to the standard turkey options like turducken, porchetta, and stuffed pork loin)
  • The Westin’s Reserve a Bird menu includes a 15 lb turkey (intended to feed 10 to 12 people) and a 22 lb bird (for 20 – 22 people) along with some mighty tasty sounding sides
  • Order a pick-up dinner from One18 Empire for you and your crew, which includes a delightful sounding sticky toffee pudding for dessert

Eating out

Or, you could simply bypass the hosting altogether, and simply grab your Thanksgiving dinner a la carte.

  • THE Restaurant, at the Carriage House, has four seating times available on Sunday as well as Monday. Meal includes a kids’ option for the ‘little turkeys’
  • Heritage Park can always be counted on for a lovely Thanksgiving meal, which typically marks the end of their standard season
  • The Calgary Zoo has their fall harvest dinner running again this year, in support of wildlife conservation initiatives

Making it a Halloween to Remember

Halloween this year falls on a Sunday. You know what that means, don’t you? A whole weekend during which you can be dressing up and partaking in Halloween activities! Here are a few ways to get out and celebrate Halloween 2021 in Calgary:

  • Screamfest – kicking off on October 8th and running every weekend through to Halloween weekend, Screamfest is a scary mish mash of all those things that go bump in the night. Calgary’s largest Halloween event, this year’s activities include a Clown Town haunted house (shudder), a coffin ride, axe throwing, and carnival games
  • Pumpkins After Dark – taking place at Canada Olympic Park, Pumpkins After Dark is coming to Calgary for the first time this year, and features over 6,000 hand-carved pumpkins and displays, guaranteed to deliver jack o’ lantern carving inspiration
  • Harvest Pumpkin Fest – orange gourds with a side of barnyard animals! Butterfield Acres’ Harvest Pumpkin Fest kicks off on October 2nd, and promises to be a family-friendly, costume-wearing, pumpkin-picking great time!

Take Time to Remember on November 11th

Over 2,300,000 Canadians have served to protect Canada during times of war and conflict. And over 118,000 made the ultimate sacrifice. On November 11th its important to take the time to remember and honour these sacrifices. Here are a few ways to do so.

Field of Crosses

The Field of Crosses is made up of over 3,500 white crosses that are erected along Memorial Drive in tribute to every soldier from Southern Alberta who has died during active duty serving our country. From November 1 to November 10th every year, sunrise and sunset ceremonies are held every day, followed by a Remembrance Day ceremony on the 11th.

The Military Museums

Calgary’s Military Museum is the second largest Military Museum in the country. The Military Museum is dedicated to preserving the memories and traditions of the countless Canadians who proudly served their country through numerous wars and conflicts by their selfless dedication, commitment, and courage. Every year a Remembrance Day ceremony is held on November 11th.

CP Rail Remembrance Day

In 2019, CP Rail unveiled five specially painted locomotives in tribute to Remembrance Day and Veterans Day in the United States. As a leading employer of veterans, they now hold a Remembrance Day service every year.

Taking the Stress Out of Christmas

Many families spent Christmas 2020 apart due to COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions, so it could be easy to go overboard in the planning this year. But a harried and stress-filled Christmas isn’t a fun one. For anyone. Here is how to stress less and enjoy more this holiday season.

Make time to help others

Unfortunately, the Christmas season isn’t magical for everyone. Consider ways that you can help spread the joy to the less fortunate this season. There is no shortage of ways to give back, and carving out time to do some volunteering is a great family activity and a way to be reminded of your blessings. The Magic of Christmas, Calgary Food Bank, The Mustard Seed, Operation Christmas Child, and the Calgary Drop-in Centre are just a handful of the organizations who would be grateful for your support this holiday season.

Support local this Black Friday

The economic impacts from COVID-19 have been widely felt in Calgary, as we have witnessed stores and restaurants across the city shut their doors for good. For those businesses who have persevered, a robust Christmas season could be the difference between staying open and contributing to our greater economy, or joining the ranks of those companies who have shut down permanently. Plan to support local as much as possible this holiday season. Look for the sign above to identify locally owned businesses, or check out this list of 350 local organizations.

Get active, winter-style

One of the best ways to combat stress? Breaking a sweat. Fortunately, there are a ton of ways to do just that this season:

  • Skiing or snowboarding – hit up Winsport, or for something more challenging, Nakiska, Norquay, Sunshine, and Lake Louise are all within a couple of hours of driving distance
  • Ice skating – the stuff of Christmas movies! Bowness Park Lagoon, Olympic Plaza, the University of Calgary Olympic Oval, and The Pond in Canmore are all great places to lace up and go
  • Tobogganing – grab your sled, throw on a helmet, and hit up one of Calgary’s 22 sanctioned tobogganing hills
  • Snowshoeing – snowshoeing can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour. Wow! Plus it’s fun, to boot (er, shoe?) Explore Magazine shares 10 great local trails

Schedule in time for fun

There is so much to see and do in Calgary during the Christmas season. Don’t try to see and do it all, that will just add to your stress-load. But definitely carve out time for a couple of experiences that will enhance the season. Here are some tried-and-true to consider:

  • The Spruce Meadows International Christmas Market – running this year November 26-28 and December 3-5
  • A Christmas Carol – this year’s version, courtesy of Theatre Calgary, will feature a three-person cast production
  • All I Want for Christmas – Lunchbox Theatre returns to live productions this December with this comedy full of slapstick humour and heart
  • Build the ultimate gingerbread house – at Cakeify Studio, learn from their team of baked goods decorating experts and skip the clean-up

And one final tip: simply embrace the season. Cleaning and organizing your home is the perfect way to start the season on the right foot. Autumn decorations – including leaves, fall-themed wreaths, and pumpkins – provide a cozy atmosphere in the house. Break out the blankets, warm sweaters, and scarves, and revel in the coziness.

Best wishes for a wonderful, and stress-free, fall. If a move or home sale is in the cards for you this fall, reach out and discover how real estate agent Richard Fleming can make it as seamless, and lucrative, as possible.