I just got back from another amazing cabin Christmas in Mount Baker, with five of my closest friends. It’s become our tradition to go down to a Cabin in Mount Baker for Christmas as our surrogate family of six (and Dave the dog!) I never get to go down with the rest of the group on 23rd December because I nearly always have to work Christmas Eve, so I miss out on all of the shopping, and tend to just swan in for the fun stuff (sorry guys!) I like to think that the six of us have it down to a pretty fine art, after a few years of having done this, and this year was testament to that, our Christmas was filled with laughter, cheese, snow and good times! So with that in mind here are my top ten tips on how to have a stress free awesome cabin Christmas with friends.
- Book the cabin early
We always book our cabin pretty early in the summer.We have a few specific needs – pet friendly, sleeps six, not ridiculously expensive – which means that our search is a bit narrow. We’ve gone to the same cabin three times now, and because we like it so much we want to make sure someone doesn’t sneak in and book it first, plus booking early is one less thing to worry about the closer it gets to Christmas and getting some of the payments out the way early is always helpful.
- Plan ahead
My friend James takes charge of the food on Christmas day (thank you!) and I know he plans what our meal will be ahead of time, so that when it comes to the trip to the grocery store, the list is already done meaning the whole mission is streamlined and somewhat stress free! If you’re cooking a meal think about all the little things you’re going to need down to oil, spices and salt and pepper that you might take having to hand for granted.
- Keep it simple
We keep our food pretty simple whilst we are down at the cabin, we have our big Christmas day meal, and then for the rest of the time we pretty much stick to cheese and crackers, leftovers and some other snacky bits. This works for us, you might feel like being a bit fancier, but just remember it all has to be eaten or thrown away.
- Know boarder restrictions
If you’re crossing the boarder, like we do, be aware of restrictions of what can and can’t cross the boarder. We buy all our food and alcohol once we’re in the US so we don’t even have to worry about this. This applies to what you can bring back into Canada too. This year we had quite a bit of left over unopened cheese, so we came home with those.
- Buy food and booze in the US
Like I’ve already said we buy everything we eat and drink once we get down to the States. For a start it’s so much cheaper, we had a bottle of Port that was $6.99 (USD) and I know the other alcohol we get is also a lot cheaper than what we could have got in Canada. Same goes for the food, cheese is cheap and the options plentiful, and we love cheese! Plus there is no worrying about what can and can’t cross the boarder.
- Be prepared
Two years ago I had a tickly cough on my way down to the cabin, by 11pm that night I felt terrible and all I had with me was some cough drops and 8 cold and flu tablets. I had the flu, and I felt horrendous. The cabin is pretty remote, and whilst there is a gas station a few miles away, it’s not just like running around the corner like you would of you were in a city. The moral of the story is be prepared. This year I took a few more medication options just in case any of us didn’t feel 100%.
- Discuss expectations
As I’ve already said the six of us have done this a few times now and we all know how the few days are going to go. If this is your first Christmas with new people I suggest discussing the day before it gets there. You might expect to eat at lunch time whilst everyone else thinks you should eat in the evening. Think about all the little details and traditions that you want to be part of Christmas and make sure you’re all on the same page or willing to compromise so everyone can have an enjoyable Christmas.
- Don’t be greedy
We don’t have a whole turkey because realistically we are not going to even get close to finishing it, we have turkey breasts which are more than enough and save us from having to throw a load of leftovers away. Another reason we don’t have an entire turkey is down to limited room in the oven; if we wanted a whole bird we’d probably have to sacrifice some sides. Think about the details.
- Bring entertainment
We always take ample films and games to keep us entertained.The cabin we stay in does have a few classic games in there but we have our favourites that we take down with us. We also take some of our favourite Christmas films, so that we aren’t stuck watching what’s on television.
- Go offline and relax
Our cabin didn’t have wifi the last few times we went there and we loved that about it. This year the owners had installed wifi, which we only used a few times, to Skype home on Christmas day and to contact me about the road/snow situation for my drive down. Going offline and having no phone signal is part of the beauty of the cabin for me, it’s a chance to switch off from the real world and relax.
Whilst traveling with friends can be amazing, and is definitely one of my favourite things to do there is no doubt that there can occasionally be a few bumps in the road. I hope some of these tips can be applied to traveling with friends, even if it’s not for Christmas but just in general, and to help you have as good of a time as I do when I go away with my friends for our cabin Christmas.