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We’re not blowing any minds by saying this time of year can be expensive. Even if you don’t celebrate any gift-giving holidays, you still wind up spending money on going out with all the friends and family that are in town and want to see you, taking an Uber when the weather’s too bad to walk, and killing time in bars and cafes because all the free public spaces like parks are too cold to enjoy. Winter’s just an expensive time to have a social life. If you find yourself stressing over finances as the end of the semester looms, here are some ways to help you enjoy the season without breaking the bank or going full Grinch.
You’ve watched everything on Netflix, but you don’t want to leave the house. What to do? What bored people have done during the winter for centuries: get busy with your hands. Crafternoon might be over for the semester, but that doesn’t mean you can’t host your own little crafting party to stave off the cabin fever. Make snowflakes and paper chains to hang in the trees outside your apartment. Practice your calligraphy and be that dork who sends an actual card in the actual mail to all the important people in your life this December. Make paper mâché or cross-stitched gifts for all your loved ones. Not the crafty sort? Try cutting paper into icicle shapes, writing haikus on them, and threading them with bits of string to make simple ornaments. If you have a tree to decorate, you can hang a bunch of these and make a poetree. Yeah, sorry, I’ll see myself out.
Lightseeing (like sightseeing, but with lights)
Sure, there’s always Zoolights, but there are lots of ways to enjoy whirling, flashing light displays in Calgary that are 100% free. The light shows at Confederation Park and Spruce Meadows are definitely worth a visit this time of year, and if you happen to be downtown, take a walk along Stephen Avenue or around Olympic Plaza to get your festive fix.
Play in the snow
If you love winter sports, this might be your favourite time of year. If you’re not one of those lucky weirdos, though, you know that the expense of renting ski, snowboard and ice skate equipment isn’t worth falling down a billion times. Still, you don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy frolicking in the snow – why not try reclaiming some of the little-kid magic of winter and go for a toboggan down the local hill, or a slide on the nearest ice rink? Borrow some snow pants and an ice cream bucket lid, get your least-judgemental pals together and make next weekend the Calgary ’17 Trash Winter Olympics. You have nothing to lose but your pride, and everyone wins the prize of hot chocolate afterwards.