While this year’s holiday activities may not include little ones sitting on Santa’s lap or gathering in Esther Short Park with hundreds of people, creative efforts by our local businesses and organizations have revealed new ways to experience the season’s greatest gifts. Find these safe holiday events on the calendar through the rest of the year for all to enjoy—from your couch, socially distanced, or with your quarantine crew!

LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE

With the sun vanishing early and darkness settling in, find these light displays for a fun evening activity to put you in the holiday spirit. Stroll or drive by Esther Short Park to see the Community Tree aglow with thousands of colorful bulbs. Lit up until the New Year, this year’s unique tree brings new traditions. An annual favorite, the Christmas Ships are scheduled to set sail several times, with three more excursions planned along the Vancouver Waterfront (weather permitting). Bundle up and find a restaurant or winery patio to watch from, or get a front-row seat on the Grant Street Pier—mind your distance and masks! For the first time, the Washougal MX Park is putting on a drive-thru light experience for quality time with the family. Tune into 88.1 FM on your tour of the 150-acre area dotted with displays.

SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP

Believe BoutiqueThe holiday season is the one time a year you don’t need an excuse to shop, right? The outdoor Fall Farmers Market hosts regional vendors for two more Saturdays—find fresh produce, tasty treats, and handmade trinkets. Search for even more locally-crafted items at the Night Market Vancouver’s indoor storefront, NMV Pop Local. From hot sauce and hemp-infused honey, to PNW photography prints and eco-friendly robo-figures, you are sure to cross someone off your list.

Check out our Shopping Pass before you head out: Sign up, unlock discounts, and make check-ins to win prizes. If you find yourself at the Vancouver Mall, don’t miss the walk-through A Christmas Story experience, culminating in a socially-distanced photo-op with masked Santa. Calling all husbands, boyfriends, brothers, and dads! Three downtown Camas shops are hosting a men’s shopping night, complete with complimentary gift wrap and refreshments. Have your ladies stop in at Lily Atelier, Arktana, and Juxtaposition beforehand to fill out a wish list. Send the kids on a bingo hunt for special woodland creatures while you shop.

AT-HOME PERFORMANCES

Put a twist on your regularly-scheduled holiday events by cozying up on the couch with a mug of hot cocoa, and enjoying live performances from the comforts of your home. This weekend, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presents “holiday pops” straight from the virtual concert hall. Additionally, through the airwaves, catch the re-imagined radio story of “A Christmas Carol” on Dec. 24, and Ridgefield High School is producing a “It’s a Wonderful Life” radio play. Get dressed up for an evening with Clara dancing through your TV screen. The Northwest Performing Arts Alliance was able to film a performance of The Nutcracker just before studios were shut down, ready for download and to watch from your living room.

WINE & DINE

Holiday Brew PassportFrom holiday dinners and to-go tea parties, to Santa deliveries and Reindeer Balls brews—restaurants, wineries, and breweries are getting creative to get you well fed with quality craft beverages to boot. Go on the SW Washington Holiday Wine Tour to collect stamps and earn prizes, all while sipping local wine to pair with Christmas Eve dinner. If suds are more your style, pick up our Holiday Brew Passport at participating breweries to try special seasonals or classic flagships. Take home a custom koozie with three stamps, and enter to win gift card prizes (bring your Brewcouver passport along too for double the stamps!). Cut out the alcohol all together with a Christmas Tea to-go from Pomeroy Farm. Be sure to purchase a “ticket” before taking the scenic drive to pick up your warm beverage and scones.

Every Thursday through Jan. 28 (except Dec. 24), sign up for a five-course Savor the Couve dinner for two from a collaboration of eateries, while giving back to local nonprofits. Other restaurants are also serving up holiday dinners and sides, like Grays and Farrar’s Bistro, and curbside pick-up at Salud is even delivered by Santa with a special treat for the kiddos. Don’t skimp out on dessert! Holiday menus are available at Chandelier Bakery, Simply Sweets, and other sugary spots around the city.

GET OUTSIDE

Work off all those snowman cookies and pecan pies on Jan. 1 for the first fee free day of the year at Washington State Parks. Need some inspiration? Check out local guidebook author Craig Romano’s latest edition “Urban Trails: Vancouver, WA” for lots of ideas of a variety of difficulty levels. Psst…head to our Facebook and Instagram pages for a chance to win a free book!