Summer! The season we wait for all winter long, yet it only lasts two short months in Calgary (sometimes even less than that!). As Calgarians and Canadians, we need to take full advantage of every sun-filled, great-weather moment. Here are some dates and reasons to really pump up your summer celebrations. Let’s break them down in chronological order.
First up, Neighbour Day. Did you know that in Calgary, June 15 is Neighbour Day? I know that Neighbour Day has already passed, but it doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to your neighbours any time this summer and have a little get-together. This is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours. And if you are lucky enough to know your neighbours already, this is a wonderful opportunity to grow those relationships. A pot luck party is a logical choice because one person isn’t stuck with all of the planning and food preparation. You can choose to hold the pot luck at one neighbour’s house (the neighbour with the biggest backyard) or you can make it a progressive lunch/dinner as you move through the neighbourhood and have a variety of foods at each of your neighbour’s respective backyard. In a world dominated by the use of cell phones, which can result in less one-on-one, face-to-face interaction, getting to know your neighbours in person can only be a positive thing - and it is a great feeling knowing that you have support from others in your neighbourhood.
I think most people (in Calgary, at least) think summer officially kicks off on the first long weekend of summer, July 1, so why not celebrate! Create an annual family golf tournament or a car rally, great for any age group. It can be a full-on golf game or mini-golf, depending on the age of your children. A car rally could take family and friends to all of the fun summer places like outdoor pools, ice cream shops, parks, or tennis courts. Trophies could be made and sought after each year. Laughs are guaranteed, and friendly competition will create moments to reminisce about for years to come!
As part of July long weekend, Canadians, of course, celebrate Canada Day. In my opinion, it is the one holiday we should all partake in because we are so blessed to live in this amazing country! If big Canada Day events around the city aren’t your family’s thing, how about a day dedicated to all things Canadian? Start your day with a Canadian breakfast: Canadian bacon and maple syrup, then take the family on a drive to one of Alberta’s historical sites like the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller or Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site near Fort Macleod. Of course, don’t forget to stop at Timmies on your way out of the city to pick up Canada’s favorite selection of donuts and perhaps a ‘Double Double’ or two, too, for the road. Then enjoy dinner out with the family at a local Canadian restaurant or head on home for a good ‘ol backyard BBQ to round out the day.
Up next, the Calgary Stampede! Whether you love it or not, you can still incorporate some good times with loved ones in July. Hold your own Stampede breakfast, BBQ, or barn dance. Or why not host a party with anything but country music and BBQ beef on a bun, like maybe disco and pizza, or rock & roll and a lobster boil!
Heritage Day, the long weekend in August, is your next opportunity to celebrate, and this is a great one to dive into the wonderfully diverse province we live in. This annual stat holiday is to recognize and celebrate the varied cultural heritage of Albertans, so throw a theme party for family and/or friends! Choose one culture, or several, and create a menu that highlights a few traditional items that best represent that culture. If you choose to celebrate one culture, Mexican, for example, you could set up a taco bar with a variety of toppings, hang a piñata in the backyard for the kids, and play mariachi music. Or, if you choose to highlight several cultures, make it a pot luck and assign one culture to each person coming to your pot luck so there is a variety of foods for everyone to try. With a little bit of research, you can find some traditional games or dances that you can play or perform at the potluck, too. If the weather is in your favor, check out local cultural centres or bring your pot luck to a local park. If the weather isn’t cooperating, why not check out a foreign film or maybe a grocery store dedicated to a different country and purchase some new items to try. A day learning about another culture can be informative and fun and broadens your family’s horizons (all wins, in my mind).
Finally, for Labour Day in September (its origins are based in the labour union movement), I say celebrate the beautiful summer you just had! Do all of the iconic summery things like create a baked potato bar, have a BBQ, play a game or two of horse shoes, hold three-legged races, roast marshmallows, or head to a lake, outdoor pool, or waterslide. I say keep the party going in September while the weather is still warm because this time of year naturally lends itself to social gatherings and lots of activities. But later in the Fall and winter, we tend to hibernate, given the deep freeze temperatures outside. I get it, the cold weather makes us all want to to stay indoors but staying connected to friends and family year-round is always worth the effort, not only for beating the winter blues but for creating those oh so priceless memories!
Make the most of your summer, everyone!
Tanya is the Head Curator at Menagerie Parties & Cakes, handcrafting boutique party experiences through custom décor, engaging activities, and show-stopping sweets for people living full, productive lives wanting to celebrate life to its fullest. It’s a Party in a Box! For more information, visit menagerieyyc.ca and follow her on Facebook and Instagram @menagerieyyc.
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