A Long Winter’s Night: Fun Family Ideas For at Home in Vancouver
With plenty of dark winter nights yet ahead, and renewed restrictions for gathering here in BC extended into February, it may feel like “fun” is in short supply. Most youth activities are on hiatus and many community facilities are closed or on limited hours, leaving limited options for entertainment while the rainy season continues. In other words, for the foreseeable future, home is where the heart is – and where the fun is, too.
So, why not bring the “night out” right into your own home? With a bit of creativity and planning, there’s plenty of ways to have a family adventure without leaving the living room – except to get snacks in the kitchen.
Get Into the Game
Most people have few games on hand – Monopoly, Scrabble, maybe Trivial Pursuit. Now’s a great time to expand the games cupboard with some of the popular games that have been filling the shelves at local stores over recent years. From Settlers of Catan to Exploding Kittens, there’s something to suit every age and interest. And if games aren’t your thing, pick up a new puzzle or two and spend the night at the table sorting a few hundred (or a few thousand) pieces.
Related Reading: Best Family Board Games For All Ages
Vancouver is home to world-class gaming stores that supply everything from games for toddlers up to supplies for role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. Some even host regular events – currently virtual, of course – to help teach people new games or to create gaming communities in the local area.
Check out Raincity Games with locations in both Vancouver and at the Quay in New Westminster. This community-minded independent gaming store offers a variety of games for both adults and kids, as well as some crafting and painting materials, miniatures, and much more.
In Vancouver, Games on the Drive offers tabletop games, card games, and much more. Located in the heart of East Vancouver on Commercial Drive, the store offers online ordering. On the far side of the Fraser River, head to Central City Mall for Craving for a Game. A huge inventory of games is available here either in-store or online. And with its location inside the mall, there’s always plenty of parking.
Most families have had plenty of movie nights in the last nine months. But how many of those included authentic movie theatre popcorn, drinks, candy and, yes, even a new feature film? With a little pre-planning, that Netflix night can be elevated into a full-on movie experience – minus the ticket lineup.
Landmark Cinemas, with locations in Surrey, New Westminster, and Vancouver, is offering movie popcorn and treats through DoorDash, Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats or by pick-up at the theatre. Choose a movie on-demand with your cable provider and snuggle in with a bucket of popcorn.
Want even more options? Cineplex Canada is offering special deals for both a Cineplex Store movie rental along with popcorn (including a new family four-pack of take-home popcorn), shareable combos, hot dogs, candy treats and cold drinks. Check out their website for ordering details.
Art for All Ages
Set up a temporary studio at home for some paint night fun. Check out Yaymaker for instructor-led online sessions aimed at various ages – including some for as young as six – with paintings on a variety of themes. Or scroll through YouTube and other online platforms for step-by-step videos that will have your inner Bob Ross coming out in no time.
Need supplies? No problem. There’s plenty of local options around the region. Check out Opus Art in Coquitlam, Langley, downtown Vancouver and Granville Island. In White Rock, the local favourite is The Gallery, which has been offering framing and art supplies in the area for several decades. In East Vancouver, head to DeSerres, which operates locations across Canada including the local one on Grandview. And over on Main Street, check out Urban Source Alternative Art Materials for unique options you may not find anywhere else – including plenty that’s meant specifically for kids.
The Great Outdoors – but Indoors
It’ll be a few more months till the camping season begins but there’s no reason not to have a camping adventure right now. If your space is big enough, put up a pup tent in the living room – and if it’s not, go for the classic blanket fort. (Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, IKEA put out a series of light-hearted instructions on how to make your own blanket fort – complete with visuals – on Instagram a few months back.)
Now, add a few snacks: graham crackers, no-name marshmallows and a bar of chocolate will supply your crew with some basic smores. Or take it up a notch with some specialty products. Goo Candies in Vancouver has been producing handmade marshmallows throughout covid. With flavours like Feeling Chai and Strawberries & Champagne, these are no ordinary marshmallows. Add some chocolate from Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, a long-time local chocolate maker in the heart of Burnaby. The shop offers in-store, online shopping and curbside pickup.
And last but not least: some spooky stories. Check out Great Canadian Ghost Stories by Barbara Smith, published by BC publisher Touchwood Editions, for the teens and adults. For the little ones, a viewing of Casper the Friendly Ghost might work better. Skip the campfire but add flashlights, cozy blankets and pillows and you’re all set for an indoor campout.