Gallery: Home Depot Canada holiday 2016 showcase

Home Depot Canada Holiday 2016

These gifts will light up your home with style and class.

Home Depot Canada got all holly and jolly last Tuesday night to showcase its 2016 holiday collection at an event in Toronto.

Continuing the theme both Lowe’s Canada and Canadian Tire displayed at their events earlier this year, Home Depot Canada is featuring quality, stylish products that will help make your home look classy and sophisticated as you celebrate with family and friends this holiday season.

RELATED: Canadian Tire’s 2016 holiday preview

Whether you’re looking for new holiday lighting, a special item for the mantel or a white poinsettia, Home Depot Canada has you covered. Check out some photos from the event below and share your thoughts in the comments or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Home Depot Canada Holiday 2016

Items you can place on mantels or shelves are popular this year.

Home Depot Canada Holiday 2016

Holiday-themed cushions are always welcoming!

Home Depot Canada Holiday 2016

I’m a sensing a theme with large decorative gift boxes (these ones don’t light up but still look cool).

Home Depot Canada Holiday 2016

Jars with lights look great on a mantel or as a centrepiece on a dining room table.

Home Depot Canada Holiday 2016

Large ornaments spread around your home offer a unique look.

Home Depot Canada Holiday 2016

Even cute decorations can look classy!

Home Depot Canada Holiday 2016

Sticking to one colour palette helps your tree stand out and will make your guests jealous.

For more decorating ideas from Home Depot Canada, visit homedepot.ca.

Gallery: Canadian Tire’s 2016 holiday preview

Canadian Tire Christmas

Canadian Tire showcased what they have in store this holiday season at an event in Toronto Wednesday night.

Christmas might be five months away, but that didn’t stop Canadian Tire from getting into the spirit at their holiday preview in Toronto Wednesday night.

The event showcased a selection of new products coming to Canadian Tire locations this November, including beautiful accessories, stylish ornaments and items exclusively designed by Elizabeth Olwen.

Check out a few photos from the event below and share your thoughts in the comments or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Canadian Tire Christmas

Everyone needs a pink Christmas tree!

Advent calendar wall

An entire advent calendar wall is the perfect way to countdown to Christmas.

Canadian Tire Christmas

Flashy light-up holiday signs are perfect to place around your house.

Elizabeth Olwen Noel cushion

One of the Elizabeth Olwen designed accessories coming to stores this November.

NOMA holiday string lights

NOMA battery-operated string lights are perfect for setting the holiday mood.

Christmas ornament

A selection of classy and cool ornaments will be available at Canadian Tire this year.

Canadian Tire Christmas

Canadian Tire is also pushing creative ideas with their products this year, such as a tree made out of hanging ornaments.

Canadian Tire Christmas

Another creative idea – mason jars with holiday lights inside. They make for great accent pieces.

Canadian Tire will be releasing their holiday 2016 collection after Remembrance Day.

10 cool facts about the gingerbread house at Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge gingerbread house

The amazing gingerbread house Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls built for 2015.

My family and I recently spent two days at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls to kick off the holiday season (this is a yearly tradition for us). Like every December, the place looked absolutely magical with decorations, lights and a huge gingerbread house in the lobby.

RELATED: 5 reasons to take the family to Great Wolf Lodge this December

The gingerbread house really caught my attention this year as it was noticeably different than the one they had last year (I was looking at photos from our last trip before this one so it really stood out). After a bit of prodding I discovered that the gingerbread house not only changes every year, but it’s made out of real ingredients!

Great Wolf Lodge gingerbread house

A lot of work goes into building the gingerbread house at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls every year.

Here are 10 cool facts about the gingerbread house that the nice folks at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls shared with me.

  1. Baking of the house started three months in advance.
  2. Besides the wooden frame, everything else is edible.
  3. Planning for the annual project starts in August.
  4. There’s a real fireplace inside the gingerbread house.
  5. Six adults can dine comfortably inside.
  6. There was 30 hours of baking and prep before construction of the house began.
  7. Four chefs spent 50 hours to decorate the house.
  8. Four carpenters took 80 hours to build the structure.
  9. 1322 pounds of icing sugar was used to make the gingerbread house!
  10. 132 pounds of flour, 240 eggs, 71 litres of egg whites, 44 pounds of white sugar, 11 pounds of white chocolate and 5 pounds of glitter was also used!!

If you’re visiting Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls this December and want to dine inside the gingerbread house, you can make a reservation for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a fee of $20. Proceeds of the fee go to Ronald McDonald Houses in Hamilton, Toronto and Southwestern Ontario.

My love-hate relationship with the Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf

Is this the face of pure evil or pure joy?

Against my better judgement I brought home an Elf on the Shelf three years ago. I like traditions and I thought it would be fun for the kids. In my head it was something I could see them passing down to their children one day and the idea of it filled me with joy. It was also on sale and I couldn’t resist.

It only took about 20 minutes before I started thinking that bringing this Elf home was the WORST MISTAKE I EVER MADE!

For starters, my wife is not into the whole “someone is watching you” aspect of the Elf (Santa is bad enough in her eyes) and she instantly gave me grief. She’s not crazy like the conspiracy theorists who believe the Elf is preparing children for a “Big Brother” society, but she really, really did not want this Elf in our house, on our shelf or anywhere near our children.

RELATED: 25 Christmas songs that probably won’t annoy you

Then there was the whole incident with my youngest being scared of the Elf. He was only two when the Elf first appeared and he thought it was going to kill him in his sleep. Needless to say, this caused me more grief mixed with endless nights of sleeping with him so the Elf wouldn’t get him. It also took away an entire room of hiding places as the Elf could never, ever go into his room again.

The nice idea of starting a new tradition was destroyed real quick.

I had a plan to make the Elf disappear one night. “Sorry kids, he was caught in a horrible storm and his sleigh crashed. He won’t be visiting us again.” But I decided that it might be a bit dramatic (and possibly scar them for life) so I persevered.

My older son, who was five at the time, thought it was nice that the Elf visited our house. He came up with the name Coco for him. He really believed that every night Coco went back to the North Pole to give Santa a report on what they did. I kept the charade up and I moved Coco to a new place around the house every night. It was exhausting but kind of fun..

Then I stayed at a friend’s house after a Christmas party one night and Coco didn’t move. Major chaos! “Coco’s dead, daddy!” I swear they cried more over the thought of the toy Elf being dead than they did when our actual cat died. The lies I had to tell ate at me for days. They bought it and Coco continued his nightly move around the house again.

Three years later and it’s the eve of Coco’s return. I believe my oldest caught on to the scam last year but still pretends to be into it for his brother’s sake (or he might just really want to believe – he’s only eight!) My youngest is no longer scared and has prepared treats for Coco’s arrival. In the morning both kids will wake up and quietly walk around the entire house looking to see where Coco is hiding. When they find him, they’ll laugh and run to tell my wife and I where he is. Then they’ll spend the day coming up with stories about what he did all year and they’ll try to figure out where he’ll be sitting the next day.

This is why I’m now okay having the Elf on the Shelf in my home. And it has become a tradition for us no matter how silly it is. Even my wife isn’t that against him, which is a Christmas miracle! I just better never forget to move him again.

Share your thoughts on the Elf on the Shelf in the comments below.

5 reasons to take the family to Great Wolf Lodge this December

Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls

Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls goes all out in December with decorations, twinkle lights and a life-size gingerbread house in the lobby!

Best known for its indoor water park, Great Wolf Lodge is a full resort that features unique kid-friendly rooms, an arcade, a bowling alley, restaurants, a gift shop, a spa (kids are welcome) and the interactive adventure game MagiQuest (which is a small investment to get started but a lot of fun to play).

December is such a great time of year to visit Great Wolf Lodge that it’s become part of my family’s yearly tradition to take a trip to the Niagara Falls location early in the month before the craziness of the holidays kicks into full gear (it’s always a nice surprise for the kids, too).

Here’s my five reasons why you should take your family on a December pilgrimage to Great Wolf Lodge.

It’s very magical

As soon as you arrive at Great Wolf Lodge during the month of December you’ll know you’re somewhere special. Along with the beautiful outdoor display, the entire lobby is decked out with twinkle lights and decorations. There’s even a life-size gingerbread house you can dine inside of! I was absolutely mesmerized by it all the first time we visited and my kids go nuts for it every year.

It snows inside!

If the decorations, life-size gingerbread house and twinkle lights aren’t magical enough, watching it snow inside the lobby a few times a day is sure to put a smile on your face (don’t worry, it’s fake and pretty and not cold).

Santa visits daily

There are many characters at Great Wolf Lodge that walk around greeting and entertaining guests. Santa joins the fun in December. Being able to see your kids light up when the jolly fellow appears is a nice bonus to an already special time (getting a photo with your kids wearing bathing suits as they pose with Santa is a fun keepsake as well).

You can stay inside a fully decorated suite

One of the new features Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls has this year are fully decorated Winter Wonderland Suites available to stay in. These rooms come with lights, garland and even a decorated tree all setup inside! You also get a “howl-i-day” throw to keep along with a copy of the Great Wolf Lodge book, Unique as a Snowflake. Oh, and your kids get milk and cookies delivered before bed by a Great Wolf Lodge character. Pretty cool.

You’ll feel warmer

Spending the day inside a climate-controlled 84 degree water park going down slides and splashing around in pools, hot tubs and a lazy river will make you forget the frigid temperatures outside. Just be warned that when you do have to go outside you might be in for a bit of a shock (word of advice – grab a coffee at the cafe before you head out).

Great Wolf Lodge

My son (Bamcat Jr.) excited to be at Great Wolf Lodge during our 2014 visit.

These are just five of the reasons my family and I continue to go back to Great Wolf Lodge every December. You can usually find deals around this time of year as well (keep an eye on their site or sites like RedFlagDeals and RetailMeNot).

For pricing and booking info at Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls, visit greatwolf.com/niagara.

Share your thoughts on why you enjoy going to Great Wolf Lodge in the comments below.

Playlist: 25 Christmas songs that probably won’t annoy you

Christmas lights

There’s only a month until Christmas. Are you ready to be overloaded with bad music?

Now that there is exactly one month until Christmas the anxiety of having to finish your shopping, decorate your house, bake cookies, plan the big family dinner and send out invites and RSVPs to gatherings has probably overtaken your soul. It may have, in fact, made you forget about one very annoying thing that comes this time of year that doesn’t always make you feel like being all cheery and kind to others.

You are about to be bombarded with Christmas music for the next four weeks!

That’s right, you will have to endure the pain of jingles and jangles while driving to the mall, shopping at the mall, thinking about the mall, looking up the mall online, watching TV or doing anything that involves leaving your house or turning on a form of communication.

RELATED: You can now get a Charlie Brown Christmas tree of your very own

The problem is the Christmas music at the mall and on TV is mostly the overplayed popular drivel that is cheap to license and easy to repeat 24/7. The good news is that not all Christmas music is bad and some songs are even worthy of year-round listening (“2000 Miles” by The Pretenders for instance).

To help get you through this tough time I put together a playlist of the 25 least annoying Christmas songs I could find. The songs vary from Brian Setzer’s version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Bob Marley’s cover of “White Christmas” to Death Cab for Cutie’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and James Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto”.

Take a listen to the YouTube playlist below. It may just make your Christmas season brighter and more peaceful.

Full track listing:

  1. “A Marshmallow World” – Dean Martin
  2. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – Brian Setzer Orchestra
  3. “Mele Kalikimaka” – Bing Crosby
  4. “Hey Santa Claus” – The Moonglows
  5. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” – Julian Casablancas
  6. “Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto” – James Brown
  7. “Please Come Home For Christmas” – Bon Jovi
  8. “Blue Christmas” – Elvis Presley
  9. “2000 Miles” – The Pretenders
  10. “Christmastime” – The Smashing Pumpkins
  11. “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues
  12. “Last Christmas” – Wham!
  13. “Jingle Bell Rock” – Daryl Hall & John Oates
  14. “Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy” – Bing Crosby & David Bowie
  15. “White Christmas” – Bob Marley
  16. “Christmas Wrapping” – The Waitresses
  17. “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” – Paul McCartney
  18. “Little Saint Nick” – The Beach Boys
  19. “Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag” – Gary Walker
  20. “Run Rudolph Run” – Chuck Berry
  21. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – Death Cab for Cutie
  22. “Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time)” – Pearl Jam
  23. “Santa Baby” – Eartha Kitt
  24. “The Christmas Song” – She & Him
  25. “Christmas Time Is Here” – A Charlie Brown Christmas

What’s your favourite Christmas song? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

You can now get a Charlie Brown Christmas tree of your very own

Charlie Brown Christmas tree

Want your own Charlie Brown Christmas tree? You can now buy one at Retro Festive.

‘Tis the season to be kitschy!

Along with Christmas Story leg lamps, Christmas Vacation moose mugs and the reindeer knit toque Kevin McAllister (Macauley Culkin) wore in Home Alone, you can now get a Charlie Brown Christmas tree to add to your holiday collection.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the classic TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas, Oakville, Ont.-based online retailer Retro Festive is selling two versions of the sad-looking tree.

For $19.99 you can get an 18” Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which includes a blue Linus blanket and red glass ball ornament. Want something bigger to show you mean business when it comes to Christmas kitsch? For $24.99 you can pick up a 24” tree, which comes with a blue Linus blanket, red glass ball ornament and plays the Peanuts theme song.

Charlie Brown Christmas tree

This sad-looking Charlie Brown Christmas tree can be all yours for the low price of $19.99.

Other Charlie Brown-related Christmas items Retro Festive has available this year include a Snoopy nutcracker, Santa Snoopy Christmas lights, licensed mugs, plates, stockings, decorations and a whole lot more.

Order your Charlie Brown Christmas tree online at retrofestive.ca or pick one up in-person until Dec. 20 at either the Distillery District’s Toronto Christmas Market or the Union Station Holiday Market. You can also shop at the Retro Festive warehouse (1100 Invicta Drive, Unit #1, Oakville, Ont.) until Dec. 24.

BELOW: Watch “the meaning of Christmas” scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas

Will you be buying a Charlie Brown Christmas tree this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.