The winter can be a magical time and an excellent opportunity to create unforgettable memories with your family. There are also many ways you can make winter memories with your international students in Vancouver and Thunder Bay. 

Keep reading for inspiration on ways to create winter memories with your family and student this winter season. 

Get outside 

Bundle up and enjoy the great outdoors together. You could go for a walk on a local trail or visit the beach (yes, walking along the beach in winter can be great fun when you have a warm beverage in hand). Getting outdoors is also a great way to get some natural Vitamin D to help boost your immune system.  

Depending on where your international students is from, they may not be used to cold and snowy winters (especially if their home country is closer to the equator or in the southern hemisphere). In some cases, it might be your student’s first time seeing snow! This can create a great new memory for them and for you.

Challenge others to a snowball fight

When the snow finally arrives, enjoy it with a family or neighbourhood snowball fight! Divide into teams and enjoy. Just make sure to only throw them at people who are playing.

You can also build snowmen together or take a sled or toboggan to a local hill for some sledding. If you have an outdoor ice-skating rink near your home, skating in the snow can be magical and create a long-lasting memory for your student. When that first snowfall arrives, get out there and enjoy it together.

Look for “Instagrammable” moments

Sometimes, we appreciate reminders of our life’s most memorable moments. Look for opportunities to take photos for and with your student so they’ll never forget the fun you had this winter season. 

There are often great photo opportunities when you attend local markets and holiday events. Take advantage of them to get individual or group photos to remember the occasion. 

Participate in gift exchanges With your International Students

While the holidays aren’t about gifting, it’s still a fun part of the season for many. You can ask your student if they want to participate in a fun gift exchange game with family and friends. Here are some gifting game ideas:

  • Everyone brings one gift, and they’re used as prizes for winning card or board games.
  • The host family buys several small gifts, and each person rolls dice to decide who gets each.
  • Draw names from a hat and buy a small Secret Santa gift for the name you pick.
  • Pick a theme and everyone contributes one gift for any of the above games.

Enjoy warm beverages and holiday treats

Staying warm is essential during the Canadian winter season. Go to a locally owned cafe for hot chocolate, tea, coffee, and festive baked goodies. Or make them at home and enjoy them together in your pyjamas in front of the fireplace on a Sunday morning. 

Visit a local bakery for hot chocolate bombs, or make them yourself. These are a fun way to make hot chocolate, and they make for a great video as they melt in your warm milk.

Bake together

Baking is a great year-round activity you can do with your international students. Introduce your student to your family’s favourite holiday recipes and make them together. Ask your student if they’re willing to share some of their family favourites to make together. 

It would be a great weekend activity to do a bunch of baking and distribute cookie tins of freshly baked goodies to family, friends, and neighbours!

Holiday movie nights in With Your International Students

There are many classic holiday movies your student may enjoy watching. Choose one night every week in December and watch a holiday-themed movie at home. Pop some popcorn, enjoy a festive beverage, and munch on movie snacks. And don’t forget the warm blankets…and maybe your PJs.

Volunteer together

Choose a local organization or charity with your student and donate your time supporting them. Some potential volunteer opportunities in your community might include:

  • Supporting your local food bank with a donation of nutritious foods or monetary donation.
  • Volunteering for a few hours at a local animal shelter.
  • Visiting a seniors’ home and visiting with the residents.
  • Volunteering for holiday fundraisers for people experiencing homelessness in your community.
  • Adopting a family in need and provide them with holiday gifts and dinners.
  • Donating to toy drives for deserving children and teens.
  • Volunteering to play with kids at a local children’s hospital.

Enjoy local holiday lights, markets, and events

There are lots of local holiday events you can check out with your student. Your local city likely has some free holiday events, while others may have a small entry fee or sell food and goodies. These events often have food, activities, and many Instagrammable moments that your student will love sharing with their family and friends back home.

Give them a holiday memory gift

If you’re planning to get your student a gift for Christmas, a great idea is to print a photo of them enjoying the holidays and set it in a special frame. This keepsake is a personalized gift they will treasure for years. 

How to create lasting memories for your international students 

Ask your international homestay student what they’d like to do this holiday season. They may miss their family at this time of year, and specific activities with your family may make them even more homesick. Follow their lead and provide opportunities to enjoy classic Canadian winter activities with your family if they wish

It is likely also a good time for Facetime or video calls with their family. Seeing their family can help put their heart at ease so they’re more open to enjoying their holidays with your family. 

If you’re looking for more ideas of what to do with your international student this holiday, be sure to join the Harmony Homestay Facebook group (for Harmony Homestay families only). Get ideas and inspire others by sharing all about your winter holiday adventures. 

If you’re not already a host family and want to be, learn more and submit your application today. We accept applications year round.

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