The best part about celebrating the 12 dates of Christmas is that they can be completed anywhere in the great state of Michigan. The ideas I present to you in this guide can be tailored to any city. There is no obligation to complete all 12, but your Christmas spirit will be roaring if you do.
Santa Claus’ Arrival
Even if you don’t believe in the big guy (c’mon now), the arrival of Santa Claus often coincides with many other great events. Town Christmas tree lighting’s, carolers, and sleigh rides with free hot chocolate are Santa’s frequent companions. What could possibly be more adorable than sipping hot chocolate and watching children shriek in delight at the arrival of a large man dressed in red?
And by shopping, I mean wine tasting. Michigan is well-known for its fabulous wines and everyone wants some for Christmas. Wine tasting is exceptionally delightful in the winter, as the tasting rooms are far less crowded. Wineries are currently offering holiday discounts and the tasting rooms are festively decorated. Personally, I like to sample gifts before I give them to make sure they hold up. Sampling local, festive wines with your partner is a great way to spend a blustery Saturday afternoon date.
A Christmas Performance
This time of the year, you are completely surrounded by musicals, plays, and other Christmas themed performances. Some are put on by local schools, while others are put on by cities that have professional and amateur groups. There are religious, funny, classic, and unique performances available all throughout the state of Michigan. Check out your city’s local events calendar to see what is playing near you.
A Christmas Themed Race
Most places in Michigan have a spirited ‘Jingle Bell Run’ or other holiday themed event that takes place shortly before the 25th. In my experiences, these races are usually not timed and costumes are highly encouraged. Grab your significant other, put on some warm socks and trudge through the falling snow together. The post-race party will be lively with Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, and winter camaraderie. Check out this list of holiday races taking place in Michigan this December.
This is a more traditional Christmas activities, but you can’t go wrong with a classic ice skating rink. Places like Detroit and Grand Rapids have large, fully decorated rinks with refreshments available. Smaller cities have intimate, cozy, outdoor skating rinks created for locals. Big, small, who cares? The ice is equally slippery and the photos will be priceless.
Beer and Hymns
Yep. Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City hosts a ‘Beers and Hymns’ event every December. They partner with a local church to come in and lead a group of folks in traditional Christmas songs while they casually sip on some craft brews. You know who else combines the holidays with beer? Upper Hand Brewery, New Holland Brewing, Dark Horse Brewing Company, and many more.
Seasonal Cocktail Sampling
While we’re on the subject of great beverages, it is worth mentioning that there is nothing I love more than themes. Themed cocktails are in abundance this time of year, and I dare you to find one better than a peppermint eggnog martini, a Christmas cosmo, Bell’s Christmas Ale, or my favorite, the Glogg Winter Drink – mulled wine served warm. Map out a walking tour with your partner to some of your favorite local establishments, I guarantee they have something seasonal ready for you.
Christmas Tree Shopping
If you are a fan of Christmas, I am going to make a bold assumption and say you love a good Christmas tree as well. I wholeheartedly advise romping out in the middle of nowhere and cutting your own. I don’t mean go full-on ‘Christmas Vacation’, but be as adventurous as you dare. Many Christmas tree farms have options to cut your own or have it cut by someone who knows how to use a saw. You can’t beat that fresh-cut smell and you must watch a classic Christmas film while decorating your tree. I insist.
I loathe cooking and I am awful at it. Ask my husband and he will lie to you. I have been known to start making cookies, get bored, and throw away the dough halfway through. However, there is something completely different about holiday baking. Beautifully decorated sugar cookies, heartily seasoned Chex Mix, and my family’s ancient recipes make me feel a little more enthusiastic. Plus, if you make it a date activity, you can make your partner do all the work while you slowly poison yourself with the cookie dough.
Christmas Themed Dinner
Have I mentioned that I like themes? Restaurants all across our fabulous state have been embracing local and fresh fare for years. They do not back down in the slightest during the Christmas season. Black Star Farms in Leelanau County is hosting a ‘chestnut dinner’ which will be as decadent as their wine. Other Michigan restaurants participating in similar events can be found here.
As Michigan natives, we all know about the hikes and views available to us. As the tourists and crowds die out during the winter months, it is time to revisit these hikes. You never know if the snow will be here or not in December, but that’s part of the adventure. Have some snowshoes handy or just bundle up. The unique thing about Michigan is that the trails look vastly different depending on the season, so if you haven’t seen your favorite route in the early days of winter, I highly advise it.
A lot of cities in Michigan offer large light shows presented in a convenient location to drive or walk through. If your city doesn’t offer this, I love viewing Christmas lights the old-fashioned way; cruising around independently and leisurely creeping around people’s homes to see their decorations. I don’t advise actually going onto someone else’s property as they may not be as jolly as their lights, however, the view from the street is just as nice.
Is there anything spectacular that I missed? Which one sounds like a Christmas date that you would go on?