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Gather: The 2021 Holiday Guide

Many people are spending the 2021 holidays with loved ones for the first time since the pandemic began. Instead of a traditional gift guide full of products, we're sharing intimate stories of family gatherings, recipes, DIY projects, and ways to enjoy one another's company. We hope you love it!

By: The Outbound + Save to a List

Outdoor gear and ancestral connections

Late fall and winter are great times to get outdoors. If you don't have all the gear you need (or you want to try something different), try renting it! Stephanie wrote Eddie Bauer rental review: A weekend trip about her experience using the companies new rental program. She borrowed clothes, a tent, chairs, and more for an inexpensive local family outing! 

When we unite with loved ones for the holidays, we always head outside. Have you ever thought about Why we gather outdoorsFrancis shared tales of a gathering with outdoor equity advocates, pandemic safety procedures, and Indigenous traditions involving outside get-togethers.

When you go outside, do you consider how past generations interacted with the land? Samara talked about Connecting with the land as an ancestor during a trip to a farm. She learned about local ecosystems and why we are never alone in the outdoors.

Sliced oranges dehydrating on a parchment paper-lined oven tray.
Photo by Rasa Kasparaviciene.

Indoor activities and traditions

Are you hanging out with people you haven't seen in ages? Try an activity! Stephanie explains how to make salt dough ornaments and dehydrated orange slices for decoration in Indoor winter activities to enjoy with loved ones

These inexpensive, all-ages activities are perfect for the whole family. Plus, you can't spend every moment of your holidays outdoors! Cozy up by the fire with a project and your favorite people (and pets)!

Need a little break from the festivities? Check out Beyond the Scope, our short film about Anna Le, an aquatic ecologist and environmental educator working in Yellowstone National Park. Le shares her experience teaching people about local wolves, bison, and bears, and sharing her love of the natural world with park visitors. 

Like us, she believes in the importance of getting #EveryoneOutside. We wrote up a Q & A with Le and film director Chelsea Jolly for a deeper look into the making of the film.

Spring rolls and sauce on a camping table.
Photo by Paulina Dao.

Recipes for home and the road

Have you been dreaming up recipes for months, adjusting spices and flavors to fit your family's taste buds? Or, maybe you're like us and haven't even thought about whether to cook a bird or a tofurkey creation! 

Noël has you covered with Festive cocktails and mocktails for your holiday gathering. Learn how to mull and infuse your favorite spirits and create all-ages and sober-friendly bevvies to add extra joy to your holiday meals.

Heading onto a trail to get away from it all or gather with dirtbag buds? Try these 3 Recipes to elevate your camp food gamePaulina will teach you how to make customizable spring rolls, dress up ramen, and bake bodacious cookies everyone will love. 

Remember The smells of Grandma’s house? Angie shared her experience going from no holidays to childhood holiday dreams at her Gran's house! There's nothing quite as nostalgic as the smells of special family recipes created by those who are no longer with us. Creating those traditional holiday foods is a way to honor loved ones who have passed and carry on their legacies.

Person in a puffy jacket and hat wearing a backpack and looking up at towering trees.
Photo from film by Kyle Kotajarvi.

Mental health and the outdoors

The holidays can be a struggle for everyone. They are often a reminder of times and people who are no longer with us. But, they also bring joy and excitement. It's important to pay attention to your mental health during this season. Hatie wrote 5 Tips to get into yoga this holiday season for people who want to start a yoga practice or get back into yoga after a break.

Filmmaker Kyle was struggling with the pandemic. He realized he wasn't alone in being drawn to the outdoors as a safe place to breathe and process. Watch his film Inhale / Exhale to see how people from many walks of life found escape and gained perspective outside during 2020-2021.

Three people in front of a lit-up Christmas tree while holding a shiba inu dog.
Photo by cottonbro.

Gathering with dogs

When the pandemic started, people realized they'd have a lot of time on their hands - most of it at home. Many decided to foster or adopt dogs to bring them joy and companionship (and get them outdoors!). 

If you can reunite with loved ones this winter, it may be the first time your pup is meeting friends and family. Check out Hatie's handy How-to guide for holiday gatherings with dogs to help you and your pup stay comfortable and cozy amidst the holiday chaos.

Photo by Austin Niell.

Traveling with loved ones

Need a vacation to get away from it all? Sarah shared 7 Destinations to gather with friends and family this winter. She recommends going places like Grand Rapids, Michigan if you want to play in the snow and hang out in a cozy cabin. Or, ditch the crowds and don your cowboy boots in Nashville, Tennessee! Take a road trip to enjoy the journey or ride a train to reach your destination in an unusual way! Spice up your lodging by staying in a yurt, a glamping tent, or a rustic cabin. The location is just the setting, spending time with loved ones is the important part!

The Outbound Collective wishes you and yours a warm, safe holiday season full of adventures near and far (and plenty of rest, too). 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


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