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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Here’s how.

by | December 1st, 2016

Sometimes December feels more like the season to be busy, with the frantic pace of end-of-year work assignments, office parties, shopping, cooking, cleaning for house guests…well, you know the drill. Rather than simply reacting to every demand, consider taking a more proactive stance: What do I want my month to look like? What memories do I want to create? And then plan accordingly. Try subbing a few of these five memorable activities for other less-jolly obligations; there’s even one as close as BackCountry’s own Sundial House.

Here’s to a happy holiday season…on your terms.  

9 News Parade of Lights-Dec. 2 at 8pm & Dec. 3 at 6pm

Downtown Denver- Parade of Lights

This 42-year-old tradition remains the perfect way to kick off Denver’s holiday season. On a two-mile route in downtown Denver, this parade features marching bands, ornate floats, and, of course, special appearances by Major Waddles the Penguin and Santa. Dress warmly, take a thermos of hot cocoa, and stake out your spot along the route, or grab tickets ASAP for the limited grandstand seating in front of the beautifully lit City and County Building. Learn more. 

Hometown Holiday and Tree Lighting-Dec. 2, 4:30pm-7:30pm

If you prefer smaller crowds or just staying closer to home, try on this special Highlands Ranch tradition. Hometown Holiday is an old-fashioned community celebration with caroling, entertainment, food, and a visit from Santa Claus himself. (Naturally, the big guy has a busy schedule these days, so catch him before he leaves at 7:30.) The tree lighting is planned for 5pm. Held at Town Center South. Learn more

Community Menorah Lighting-Dec. 26, 5:30pm

This year, Chanukah, the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, stretches from December 24-January 1. Join your friends and neighbors for the celebratory lighting of the menorah at sunset at the Eastridge Recreation Center. The Menorah will be lit and there will be a special performance by the children of Chabad Hebrew School, latkes and donuts, and Chanukah arts and crafts. It is free and open to the whole family! Learn more.

Denver Zoo Lights-Dec. 2-Jan. 1, 2017, 5:30pm-9pm

Imagine all 70 acres of the Denver Zoo, bright with illuminated animal sculptures that swing through trees, jump across lawns, and hide in bushes. Plus, you’ll enjoy all the holiday carolers, Santa meet-and-greets, and much more at this beloved Denver tradition. Zoo Lights is a memorable way to spend time with family, get a little exercise, and, of course, support the animals. Tip: Go on a “Value Night” for smaller crowds and reduced entry fee. Tickets range from $10-17. Learn more.  

Cookies with Santa-Dec. 10, 9am-1:30pm

Santa's Visit- Reunion CO

True, BackCountry is a bit of a hike from the North Pole, but the lure of cookies and photo ops with star-struck BackCountry kids brings Santa back year after year. Come enjoy time with your neighbors, wear your favorite ugly sweater or other festive attire, and have your kids bring their wishlists. Residents, RSVP through by Monday, December 5th.

Denver Performing Arts Holiday Events-through December

Make attending at least one festive performance a holiday tradition in your family. The DCPA is offering something for everyone this month, from classics to new favorites in the making. Consider a musical performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The soaring majesty of Handel’s Messiah. David Sedaris’s hilariously snarky Santaland Diaries about his stint as a Macy’s elf. Or The Nutcracker, dazzlingly performed by the Colorado Ballet. Ticket prices vary. Learn more.

Parade of Lights- Holiday Happenings

When Christmas is a wrap, where do you put it?

by | December 22nd, 2015

When it comes to the holidays—like so many things in life—the build-up is so much more fun than the take-down. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah at your BackCountry home, chances are there’s some stowing away in your immediate future. Below are a few ideas to help streamline the process and make next year’s holiday set-up even easier. Cue the holiday music and eggnog one last time.

Holiday lights are the nemesis of many otherwise happy revelers. It seems as if they spend their off-season wriggling themselves into nasty knots. The solution? Wrap them neatly around sheets of cardboard before tucking them away. Or around a coffee can, poking the plug into the can through an ‘X’ cut into the plastic top. When it comes to those heavy-duty exterior holiday lights, keep them on a portable hose reel. The wheels and handle make them easy to maneuver around the yard while you decorate.

christmas light storage

Ornaments can be especially fragile (and chock-full of priceless memories), so storage that prevents jostling is crucial. Try an egg carton or apple box for your smaller round ornaments. Slip the larger flat ornaments into your stockings.

Real Christmas trees are (mercifully) tossed, but artificial trees occupy space in your basement all year long. suggests sliding them neatly into sleek, 8” diameter concrete form tubes. So smart.

Décor, like wreaths, ribbons, and candles, needs a little creative TLC. While you can purchase specialty wreath boxes at places like the Container Storeyou can tackle that one for free. Slip the wreath over the neck of a coat hanger, then cover with a plastic dry cleaning bag to prevent a year’s worth of dust build-up. The same is true for larger items, such as a menorah or those awkwardly sized lawn reindeer—just save the dry cleaning bags or garment bags from your new suits and dresses.

Keep your big fancy bows from getting crimped by plumping out the loops with cardboard tubes wrapped in paper towels. You can use more of those paper towel tubes for storing slim candles or knee-high stockings for their larger counterparts.

Post-holiday sales can be a great opportunity to stock up on half-price gift wrap and bags. But where to keep them all—preferably uncrushed? One simple idea is to stash your gift wrap rolls in a nice-looking trash bin like this one. Or store them behind a wire closet shelf installed sideways behind a door jamb. Try hanging your gift bags from hooks on a tension rod in some out-of-the-way nook. This will keep them pristine and easy to choose from.

christmas wrapping storage tips

And if you want to take wrapping organization to a whole new, Martha Stewart-like level, watch her short video on how to create a “wrap and ship station.” It’s just as wonderfully persnickety as you imagine.

Lastly, some overall tips from Real Simple magazine. Label and color-code your boxes—think blue lids for Hanukkah and orange for Halloween. Have an “open first” label for the boxed essentials you need to kick off each holiday. Consider keeping a detailed content list for each box on your computer. And give yourself permission to toss or give away those items that never make it out of the box, year after year. After all, less stuff to put away means more time for more important things. Like eggnog. And sharing it with the people you love.

Surviving the Holidays 101

by | December 14th, 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Right? Right??? That’s what we all hope for, but sometimes the reality of gift-giving, shopping, entertaining, traveling, and hyper-inflated expectations can lead to major stress. And feeling stressed can, well, add to the stress of what’s supposed to be such a joyful time.

Sometimes all we need is a little attitude adjustment. For BackCountry residents, serenity is as close as the Sundial House, where all can indulge in some healthy me-time. Work out solo in the fitness room, or take advantage of small group or individual training (email or call Kim at 303-909-7977 for details). Or, perhaps a deep tissue massage is in order, in one of the Sundial House treatment rooms. (For appointments, contact Jodi Holmes at 303-908-2717 or Karen Hanna at 303-523-9781.)

massages at BackCountryCO

We also invite you to call upon the collective wisdom of the Shea Homes Surviving the Holidays Pinterest board. Here are some highlights:

Let’s start with a few general ideas for calming. These 10 ways to instantly de-stress will remind you to chill in your spare moments by perhaps sipping a mug of green tea for its theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation. Or by lighting a lavender candle before bedtime, which is proven to aid in drowsiness.

And speaking of sleep, consider stretching before you turn out the light. Here are some specific stretch techniquesincluding 10 yoga poses you can do in bed, plus some hip-opening stretches perfect for those of us who sit in an office all day.

Being sick during the holidays is the worst. So ward off trouble with these five tips for staying healthy, including drinking lots of water to counteract all the dehydrating schnapps and spiked eggnog. Also, try scheduling your workout before your parties (after putting in all that hard work, you’ll be less inclined to overindulge.)

The holidays can be stressful financially, too. Counteract all the spending with these suggestions for cutting costs. Taking advantage of seasonal sales at the grocery store is just one example.

holiday entertaining roast chicken

Entertaining can bring its own set of challenges, from planning guest lists and menus to making sure you have enough stemware. These dinner party tips include the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Perfect Roast Chicken along with suggestions for wine glasses, party games, and more. And should your guests stay for the weekend, here are eight ideas for keeping everyone happy.

With all the activities and busyness, kids can pick up on the stressful vibe. Slow down and try meditating with your kids with these step-by-step instructions for getting zen. If your children tend to get frazzled by the sensory overload of the season, check out these coping mechanisms. And finally, if you’re traveling with little ones, you’re entitled to call in for reinforcements. These tips for traveling on airplanes with kids suggest 20 travel activities and a bag of surprises to keep them engaged, as well as bringing along a pair of pajamas to induce sleepiness.

The family that plays together…

by | December 3rd, 2015

It’s true. Nothing brings a family closer than an impromptu pillow fight, game of hide-and-seek, or a side-splitting round of Apples to Apples. Happily, December holidays give us more time for the blissfully nonproductive, unrushed moments that we all crave. Whether your family’s traditions tend toward baking cookies or shredding moguls together, we’d like to suggest a few more fun activities, ranging from downtown to right here in BackCountry.

9News Parade of Lights-Dec. 4 at 8pm and Dec. 5 at 6pm
Scrooge himself couldn’t resist cheering on the festive floats at Denver’s most classic holiday tradition. In its 41st year, the Parade of Lights winds its way through two miles of Downtown Denver streets, starting at the City & County Building. This free holiday spectacular features marching bands, ornate floats, and a special appearance by Major Waddles the Penguin and Santa himself. Stake out your own spot or reserve limited grandstand seating for $16-19 here or call 866-461-6556. Learn more.

parade of lights

Hanukkah Begins-Sunday, Dec. 6 (sundown)
The large, active Jewish community in the metro area is bursting with ideas for celebrating the eight days of Hanukkah. Bring your family to a yummy Latke Taste-Off at Temple Micah on Dec. 5. The wondrous Festival of Lights (this year in Boulder), presented by the Colorado Hebrew Chorale, is on Dec. 6. And a heartwarming community Menorah Lighting is coming up on Dec. 9.

Cookies with Santa-Dec. 12, 9am-1pm
Holiday headliners are coming to the Sundial House: Santa, Mrs. Claus, and an elfin sidekick too. At this annual tradition exclusive to BackCountry residents, children can share cookies and Christmas wishes with these holiday celebs. Don’t forget your letters for Santa, wish lists, and cameras. Cookies and refreshments will be provided by Royal Crest Dairy. To minimize wait time, residents whose last names begin with A-L are welcome from 9am-11am, while those with a last name beginning with M-Z should plan to come from 11am-1pm. RSVP by Friday, Dec. 4th at

santa and cookies

A Christmas Story, The Musical-Dec. 16-27
If you already know about the leg lamp, frozen flagpole, and “you’ll shoot your eye out!” from the 1983 movie, you’re sure to enjoy the musical version, direct from Broadway. Nominated for three 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the play is set in 1940s Indiana, where a bespectacled boy named Ralphie has a big imagination and one desperate wish for Christmas: an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle. At the Buell Theatre. Ages 4+. Tickets start at $25.

A Night in Vienna-Dec. 31
After all that family time, how about a New Year’s Eve for just the two of you? Sit back and enjoy a Viennese-style concert of polkas, waltzes, and marches performed by the Colorado Symphony at Boettcher Concert Hall. Afterwards, stroll hand in hand down to the 16th Street Mall for fireworks and still be home to BackCountry long before the clock strikes midnight. Tickets from $29-$89.


Set the stage (and table) for Thanksgiving

by | November 11th, 2015

For many, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. Free from the pressure of gift-giving, it is simply a joyful gathering of friends and family. Great food and conversation, and maybe a college football game to aid the digestion. Priceless.

rustic fall tablescape

Because Thanksgiving is such a lovely, all-day indoor affair, why not add to the ambiance with fall-inspired home décor? We invite you to peruse the BackCountry Autumn Pinterest board  to get ideas for a festive table and beyond. To kickstart your creativity, we’re sharing some of our favorite ways to prep for the big day.

First stop is a pin that’s all about gratitude. After all, nothing sets a more positive tone for a Thanksgiving dinner than guests expressing gratitude. Clever ways to inspire sharing include kraft paper placemats with an “I am thankful for…” writing prompt that your guests can complete. Another idea is a big pumpkin spray-painted white on which all can write their messages of gratitude. Or, have your guests jot down what they are grateful for on small slips of paper, which you then roll up and bake in crescent rolls. Like a fortune cookie, everyone can open one up and guess who wrote it.

Thankful for

Maybe you love the idea of creating a showstopper centerpiece, but the only time you venture into a craft store is to buy poster board for your kid’s science project. Find help with this pinwhere you’ll see several beautiful arrangements using only small pumpkins, leaves, and succulents you may already have around the house. Natural, pretty, and no crafty gene required.

If you do know your way around a can of spray paint, try this all-gold tablescape. Just spray paint real and/or fake pumpkins, pinecones, and Christmas garland. Add gold votive candles and you’re done. Or nestle candles in a glass container  filled with popcorn kernels or other seasonal goodies.

all gold tablescape

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try turning pumpkins and gourds into elegant serving dishes. Topped with silver serving pieces, pale gray and green pumpkins add interesting height and color to your buffet. And why limit the charming conversation pieces to your table? On your porch, you could welcome guests with pumpkins etched with your house numbersOr floating mini-pumpkin votives on a table in your foyer. Just insert tea lights into small pumpkins and float them in a charming rustic container with leaves and sprigs of herbs.

Enjoy exploring our Pinterest boards. With thousands of acres of open space as its backdrop, BackCountry can be a wonderful place to host a Thanksgiving dinner—and then walk it off on miles and miles of trails

Foodies, this month’s for you.

by | March 5th, 2015

If there’s one thing everyone can rally around, it’s a good meal. Sure, preferences will vary, but that’s the beauty of this month’s bounty of culinary events, ranging from swanky Broadmoor cuisine to St. Patty’s Day comfort food. Bon appétit, BackCountry!

Broadmoor Taste & Savor
-March 5-8
What better place to sample ambrosial delights than The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs’ iconic, five-star resort, framed by the majestic Rockies? At this inaugural Taste & Savor epicurean weekend, you’ll rub elbows with acclaimed chefs and beverage experts from around the country, savor gourmet dishes, world-class wine and craft cocktails, and attend seminars and panel discussions. Two- and three-night packages include events, a gala, and brunch starting at $750 per person. Learn more.

Cooking Class with Chef Leah
-March 10, 6-8pm
Not long ago, local Philippines-born Chef Leah Eveleigh sliced and diced the competition on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. Now this winning chef will be on your team, teaching you to make this Taste of Asia menu: miso soup, shrimp and vegetable tempura, Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, and sticky rice with mango. Best of all, you’ll sit down together and enjoy the delicious fruits of your labors. Feel free to bring your own bottle of wine. $50 per person at the BackCountry Sundial House, 6 – 8pm, Residents only; minimum of 12, maximum of 16. RSVP by March 9 through ActiveNet or at the Sundial House.

Adult St. Patrick’s Day Event
-March 13, 7-10pm
Lucky you, there’s a fun St. Patty’s Day party right in your neighborhood at the Sundial House. Join the gang for Irish-inspired food, drink, and toe-tapping music from Ruby Rakes. Don’t forget to wear green for a session in the photobooth! Menu includes mixed field greens with fresh vegetables and balsamic vinaigrette; chicken breast in Jameson Irish whisky cream sauce; colcannon potatoes; Irish heritage cabbage with Irish bacon, nutmeg, and red wine vinegar; and dinner rolls. $15 per person before March 1. After March 1, $17. RSVP through ActiveNet or at the Sundial House.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
-Mar. 14, 9:30am
This year’s theme, “Emerald Mile,” captures the close ties Colorado maintains with its Irish heritage. After all, Denver’s parade is the largest this side of the Mississippi, attracting more than 350,000 cheering wearers o’ the green. Enjoy the floats, bagpipers, marching bands, dancers, horses and stagecoaches, and more Irish-themed fun with Western flair. Learn more.

Annual Easter Egg Hunt
-March 28, 10am
Sweet surprises lay hidden for this year’s roving band of Easter egg gatherers, but no hunting is required for the doughnuts and other refreshments kindly provided by Royal Crest Dairy. Beyond enjoying all the tasty treats, children can hobnob with the Easter Bunny and Little Bo Peep, and ooh and ahh over a petting zoo full of furry animals such as rabbits, chickens, sheep, goats, donkeys, and a miniature horse. To keep things fun and fair, The Easter Egg Hunt will be broken into three age groups: 3 and under, 4-6, and 7 and up. Children MUST bring their own baskets to collect eggs. RSVP through ActiveNet no later than March 21.

The holidays are here. What’s cooking?

by | December 10th, 2014

Some of us already have it all figured out, a la Martha Stewart, right down to the darling candy cane place cards. For others, desperation is driving us to consider Papa John’s as a viable backup plan. After all, pizza can be red and green, right?

‘Tis the season for cooking, which means it’s a great time to call for reinforcements. Whether cajoling that amazing lemon shortbread recipe out of your grandma, or scouring the web for a new way to serve green beans that doesn’t involve a single can of cream of mushroom soup, let’s kick off the process with some links to good recipe sources.

Our first stop is the BackCountry Facebook page, where we asked for a little holiday favorites help from our friends. One resident responded with a recipe for homemade noodles. (Don’t be intimidated—it’s much easier than you’re thinking.) Simply combine 1 beaten egg, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 tbsp milk. Add 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour (for thicker noodles, add 1/2 tsp baking powder to the flour before mixing). Roll out the dough to desired thickness and let stand for 20 minutes. Cut into strips and drop into hot soup (chicken broth is best) for 10 minutes.

Besides making us hungry, this suggestion led us to collect more tasty ideas on the BackCountry Pinterest page, such as Sweet Noodle Kugel with Cherries, Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Thyme, and Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Mash. Be sure to check those out. And while you’re there, take note of the pin for 23 High-Tech Ways To Make Entertaining Easier. (A big thumbs up for the Bluetooth kitchen thermometer. Dry turkeys no more!)

If Hanukkah is your moment to shine, consider these 29 Miraculous Foods to Make for Hanukkah, ranging from tangy brisket to sautéed cauliflower “steaks” for your veggie-loving guests.

For Christmas-themed recipes, varieties are endless. Just head over to Pinterest and search for Christmas cookies, cocktails, or what have you. But for those who prefer a pre-planned, no-brainer approach, take solace in this link from Better Homes and Gardens for best Christmas dinner menus or this article on the Huffington Post that covers the whole meal, from Persimmon Bruschetta appetizers to Tiramisu Cookies.

Bon appetit!

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