The holiday season doesn’t have to be filled with crowds, hustle and bustle. If you’re ready to reclaim your December with a more relaxed approach to shopping, entertaining and connecting with family and friends, all it takes is a quick detour to Niagara. A day or two of casual touring in and around St. Catharines and the Niagara Benchlands and you’ll be all set for a fun holiday focused on the things that really matter.
Here are seven of our favourite tips and tricks for tapping into some of the things Niagara does best to take the hassle out of your holidays.
Hassle-Free Holiday Hint #1
Go Straight To The Source For Holiday Wine, Beer and Beverages
Whether you’re buying bottles for gifts or stocking your own bar for holiday entertaining, sipping and socializing with the friendly, talented staff at Niagara’s many wineries, craft breweries, and distilleries makes shopping fun!
Local favourites include:
- Henry of Pelham
- Hernder Estate Wines at Harvest Barn
- 13th Street Winery
- Merchant Ale House
- Bench Brewing
- Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers
- Red Stone Winery
Hassle-free Holiday Hint #2
Skip The Busy Shopping Malls
There’s a better way to spend your weekend than circling the parking lot looking for a spot and fighting shopping mall crowds. Strolling an actual street and stopping in at the shops that strike your fancy is a breath of fresh air. You’ll also meet friendly retailers with a fantastic assortment of gifting options that you just won’t find at the same-old shopping mall stores. Best bets for holiday street shopping in Niagara include:
- Downtown St. Catharines, where you’ll find awesome stocking stuffers and fun presents for everyone on your list at shops like Garden City Essentials, Ruby Red Beautiful, Mindbomb Records, Pocket Change, and Someday Books.
- Jordan Village, where designer boutiques and galleries sell everything from designer hats and clothing to luxury bath and body products.
Hassle-Free Holiday Hint #3
Keep Some Extra Host & Hostess Gifts On Hand
Whether it’s a few beautifully wrapped bottles (see hint #1), decadent truffles from Chocolates Etc., gourmet treats from shops like Bushel and Peck, Cherry Lane, and Grand Oak Culinary Market, or a cute ornament for the tree from The Watering Can, having a selection of wrapped and ready-to-give gifts on hand will save you from a last-minute dash to the store.
Cheekbone Beauty, an Indigenous-owned beauty brand that calls St. Catharines home, has lovely cruelty-free beauty products available for online purchase that any hostess will adore receiving as well.
Hassle-Free Holiday Hint #4
Take Your Family Holiday Dinner On The Road
If large family dinners have been on hiatus for the last few years for your crew, why not try something new instead of returning to the old way of doing things? Niagara’s an excellent destination for a family meal together. Inn On The Twenty is offering a Christmas dinner on December 24, 25, and 26, a Christmas brunch on December 25th and a New Year’s Eve dinner. Red Stone Winery is hosting a Traditional Christmas dinner on December 1st.
Other excellent options for a hassle-free group meal leading up to the big day include:
- Wellington Court
- Mark Picone Culinary Studio
- The Twisted Pig
- Vineland Estates
- Honsberger Estate Winery
Hassle-Free Holiday Hint #6
Borrow A Holiday Baker
If spending an afternoon baking isn’t fun for you, take your holiday baking chores on the road. A few quick stops in and around St. Catharines and the Niagara Benchlands, and you’ll have a trunk full of goodies ready to fill your freezer and wow your guests. Best local bakery bets for holiday goodies include:
- Con Gusto Artisan Bakery
- Sugar & Butter Baking Co.
- Itty Bitty Pie Co.
- The Keto Crumb
- De La Terre
- 13th Street Bakery
- Niagara Food Company
- Budapest Bakeshop
- Beamsville Bakery
- The Old Post Bakery
- RPM Bakehouse
- Tay’s Treats
- Grand Oak Culinary Market
Hassle-Free Holiday Hint #7
End The Year With A New Year’s Eve Escape
The reward of a quiet day or two away may be just what you need to get over the holiday hustle finish line. And December 31st just happens to be the last day that leisure stays are eligible for the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit. Take advantage of the savings with a night away. Excellent options include:
- Inn On The Twenty
- Jordan House
- Stone Mill Inn
- Inn the Orchard
- Beacon Harbourside Resort
- Holiday Inn and Suites St. Catharines
- Best Western St. Catharines Hotel and Conference Centre
- Hampton Inn St. Catharines
- Capri Inn St. Catharines
- Canada’s Best Value Inn St. Catharines
- Comfort Inn St. Catharines