December 26 – Santa’s Last Job

Boxing Day Blowout

There are jokes out there that Boxing Day got its name from people packing up the gifts they got for Christmas, in order to return them to stores for refund or exchange. Same goes for people hastily packing up their holiday ornaments mere hours after their family celebrations. While both are completely untrue, here are some things you could be doing on Dec. 26!

boxing-day

Shopping

Malls and stores are madhouses on this day and I prefer to not have to deal with either. I don’t really think great deals are achieved and the headache of waking up early and dealing with crowds isn’t worth it. The couple times I have previously gone Boxing Day shopping were more hassle than anything else, like the year I bought a new laptop, with very little savings, and in the outlet’s haste, they didn’t even load it up properly and I had to return to the outlet numerous times to drop off and pick up my new computer.

Open House

This year, like last Boxing Day, I have been given the task of playing barkeep for my family and in-laws, as they enjoy the Christmas afterglow with food, treats, and being incredibly lazy. Thankfully, this year, I’ve taken Dec. 27th off from work and can join in the celebrations, instead of having to drive home later in the evening and get ready to return to work the next day. It will be a rocking open house, indeed!

Watch Sports

As I outlined in an earlier post, there’s a lot of sports to be consumed during the holidays. Boxing Day features the kickoff of both the World Junior Hockey Championship and Spengler Cup, as well as test cricket matches and a yacht race in Australia. In the UK, each football league holds a full slate of matches and throughout Africa, prize fights are held, given true meaning to the name ‘Boxing Day’! Apparently, Boxing Day is also a popular day for horse racing in different parts of the world.

polar bear plunge

Polar Bear Swim… yeah, that could be worth watching, too!

Playtime

If you’re not cozied up watching sports, you could pop outside into the fresh air and enjoy some physical activity. There used to be an annual fox hunt in England, but while that has been outlawed, the powers that be can’t ban us from playing sports like hockey, soccer, and football, or participate in winter activities like skiing, snowboarding and ice skating. Make sure to include the young ones and give them an idea of what it’s like to be outdoors for a change.

Be Charitable

Boxing Day could provide the perfect opportunity to pitch in somewhere in your community and help those less fortunate. My donations to this world are this wonderful website and all of its free content, which until I’m paid to operate, will serve as my community service. There are so many other ways for you normal folks to lend a hand, but I’ll leave that decision to you… or you could just send money my way and turn this non-profit into a fully functioning industry!

Drink #360: Santa’s Last Job

Santa's Last Job Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Vodka (I used Devil’s Food)
  • 1 oz Chambord
  • Top with Milk
  • Garnish with Jellybeans

What do you prefer to do with your extra day off for Boxing Day? If it’s enjoying your new gifts while getting drunk off your ass, join the club!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail is perfect for dessert or a nightcap, with Chambord kicking in a bit of berry flavour amongst the Devil’s Food Vodka chocolate taste. Sometimes something as simple as a couple Jellybeans can make a really nice garnish. Simplicity can be a beautiful thing!

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December 17 – The Nutcracker

Winter Wonderland

While the holiday season is meant to inspire quality time with family and friends, it can also be a time of rivalry and hostility… and I’m not just talking about your Christmas dinner! Here are some of the many winter sports traditions that bring a smile to sports fan’s faces each holiday season!

College Bowl Games

It seems like every team gets to play in a Bowl Game, providing there’s a major corporate sponsor able to fund the event. In fact, there are currently 35 games, providing 70 teams a chance to play. Five of these contests are considered part of the Bowl Championship Series, which culminates with the National Championship Game, played between two selected teams in early January. That’s right, “selected” teams… way to earn you way into the biggest game of the season.

viagrabowl

Winter Classic/Heritage Classic

The NHL’s Winter Classic is played at an outdoor stadium each year on New Year’s Day and has become a tradition for the league and fans alike, as they nurse their New Year’s Eve hangovers. While the conditions haven’t produced any classic games, it is a huge event and HBO’s 24/7 series, which follows the two teams playing in their lead up to the big game, has manufactured a number of memorable moments. The Heritage Classic is the Canada-only version of the game and is played later in the year.

NBA Christmas Day Games

Each Christmas Day (since the NBA began operations in 1946) provides hoops fans with a collection of highlight showdowns. Currently, the league offers five Christmas Day match-ups. In recent years, games have included the Miami Heat battling the Los Angeles Lakes, with a mass amount of star power on each side. This season, the two loaded teams will meet again, as well as a number of strong regional tilts, despite some controversy over the league operating on Christmas.

Teddy Bear Toss

It has become a tradition with many junior and minor leagues hockey clubs to host an annual Teddy Bear Toss. People bring a new stuffed toy to the game where the promotion has been planned and when the home team scores their first goal, fans are permitted to litter the ice with the gifts they brought. When all the bears and other animals are collected, they are donated to a local charity to help the less fortunate provide a wonderful Christmas experience to their kids.

Thanksgiving Football

The holiday season for sports fans begins with a bang as turkey day football hits the air and allows gents to ignore their families over Thanksgiving, as well as the rest of the year! The NFL provides fans with a smattering of traditional games, featuring the same teams each year. The league has recently added a third contest with rotating opponents. The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, respectively host the first two games each season, with the Green Bay Packers often being included, as well.

World Junior Hockey Championship

For hockey fans, this is the equivalent to March Madness. Watching young athletes that will be the future of their sport, do what they do best. The annual event is huge for Canadians, probably because we place pretty well most years and because it kicks off every Boxing Day (Dec. 26), it’s the perfect thing to have on as you relax with your new gifts. One of my great achievements was covering the 2006 tournament for Hockey Canada, in Vancouver, where the Canadians took home the gold medal!

Winter X Games

We’ll close this list with the most extreme of winter sports activities, the X Games. Comprised of events in snowboarding, skiing, and snowmobile, and held in late January, the X Games provides a bit of a coming together for the counter-culture. The success of the Winter X Games has translated into snowboarding events being added as Olympic competition events and made folks like Shaun White rich and famous!

Drink #351: The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Amaretto
  • 1 oz Crème de Cacao
  • Garnish with Chocolate Shavings

Let’s not forget that every four years, the Winter Olympics roll around. The 2010 event in Vancouver was simply amazing and it was so wonderful to be around all the festivities, as well as working for NBC Universal Sports during the Games. What’s your favourite winter sporting tradition?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’ve seen a couple different versions of this recipe, including one that subs Irish Crème and Kahlua in for Frangelico and Crème de Cacao. Use whichever you prefer. I thought this was a pretty good martini and wasn’t too strong. The Chocolate Shavings were a specific delight to take in with each sip. I used an Aero bar, which I think is one of the best chocolates to grate.

October 4 – Campfire Martini

It Ain’t So Bad

Now that we’ve nestled into the cooler months of the year, it’s nice to bring out a drink like this and reminisce about the summer gone by. Fall and winter aren’t all that bad, though. You just have to find ways to deal with the change. Here are my favourite ways to spend the “indoor” months!:

Get Caught Up on TV

Gone are the days of playing outdoors, but that’s not necessarily a horrible thing. Now we get to snuggle up under warm blankies and watch all the TV we neglected over the summer. Mrs. Sip and I have so many shows, past and present, to get up to speed on. Among them: Sons of Anarchy and Venture Bros. Plus, there’s also all the returning shows that we watch regularly: Walking Dead, Community, Big Bang Theory, Parks and Rec, etc.

Homer Watching TV

Movie Marathon

In a similar vein to our TV habits, movie marathons are much easier to do without the sun enticing you to come outside and play. There were some pretty good flicks that came out over the summer that should be released to homes soon and there’s a lot of stuff to get caught up on from the past that you hear about over time. At least in my own theatre, I can eat all the potato chips I want and can suppress the enjoyment of popcorn.

Vacation to Tropical Locales

I don’t fully understand the need to go on vacation during your own summer. Why would you leave your home when it finally gets to the point where it’s worth living in? I like to save my vacation time for when the weather is garbage (raining buckets or freezing you to the core) and getting the eff out of dodge. Nothing can fend off those winter blues better than leaving winter far behind, in favour of sunny beaches, warm breezes, and poolside bars, if you can throw that in, too!

Tropical Vacation Photos

Winter Sports

From a simple ice skating session to more extraneous activities like skiing, snowboarding, and hockey, there’s much to do in the darker half of the year. I find the winter is a perfect time to mold your body back into shape as the desire to be anywhere other than the gym is lessened. If you’re a weightlifter, as I often purport to be, you’re also not sweating buckets in a stuffy gym, thanks to the cooler temperatures.

Picnic by the Fire

A favourite pastime for Mrs. Sip and I is to grab enough food for a King’s feast, turn up the fireplace, and spend an evening sans electronic distractions and clothing (if I can convince the missus!). Regardless of wardrobe choices, it can provide the perfect romantic setting for catching up with your best friend, sharing a few dozen laughs (I’m a pretty funny guy, after all), and forgetting all about the bitter cold that’s brewing outside!

Drink #277: Campfire Martini

Campfire Martini Drink Recipe

  • Rim glass with Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1.5 oz Smores Vodka (I used Three Olives)
  • Top with Milk
  • Splash of Chocolate Syrup
  • Garnish with a Toasted Marshmallow

What’s your best strategy for fighting off old man winter? I’m always looking to learn new techniques to enhance my all-round godness!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink was delicious. A wonderful dessert martini that Mrs. Sip and myself couldn’t get enough of. The Graham Cracker Crumb rim works out better than most other rims. Creating the Toasted Marshmallow without the availability of a campfire was interesting… I had to use a small candle and hope for the best!