Happy Holidays & Top Fives from the Spark Team


Can you believe it’s here? It’s finally Christmas Day, and we’ve had an amazing year introducing you to Spark, and bringing inspiration and style directly to your mobile phones, inboxes, and desktops. To celebrate, the Spark team has put together our holiday top fives to share with you. Enjoy!

My top 5 holiday memories
Cindy, Marketing Director, St. Vital Centre

“My top 5 is dedicated to my mom, who loved Christmas and always made it special for our family, and at 85 now suffers from Alzheimer’s.
1. We all had a special ornament to hang on the tree (which was always real). When it came to the tinsel, throwing it was a ‘no-no’; every piece was carefully placed.
2. Mom’s sugar cookies are still my favourite. She made two cookies per child in my and my three brothers’ classrooms, all iced and topped with sprinkles.
3. When wrapping gifts, Mom would hide in the kitchen, admonishing us not to peek. Her corners were tucked in perfectly and gifts were topped with a bow, ornament, or candy.
4. Mom’s favorite cartoon character is Snoopy, so A Charlie Brown Christmas was a hit for many years.
5. As a child, I wasn’t fond of risalamande, a traditional Danish dessert, but I ate it anyway in hopes of getting the one almond in my bowl – and the prize that came with it! Now, it’s a dessert I look forward to having every Christmas.”  

My top 5 favourite accessories for the holiday season
Allana, stylist, F2SE.ca

“Sometimes you just need to do things in the name of fashion in order to make an outfit work. Here are my top 5 impractical accessories we all love to purchase around the holidays:
1. The beautiful and bold patterned scarf that can only be worn inside.
2. Those gorgeous high-heeled boots that look amazing, but don't allow you to walk safely on snow and ice.
3. Those perfectly sparkly earrings that will be worn to every holiday party this year.
4. The tailored, impractical fashion coat that you can only wear one layer of clothing under (it's all about clean lines!).
5. The beautiful toque you bought but will never wear because it will ruin your hairstyles.”

My top 5 holiday baking recipes
Florence, Account Manager, Fusion Advertising

“I’m a huge baker – you’ll almost always find me in the kitchen on Sundays (while watching NFL!). Here are my favourite recipes for the holidays:
1. Everyone needs a good sugar cookie recipe, especially the wife of a grade one teacher! This one is super simple, and perfect for fun shapes and decorations.
2. White Chocolate Topped Gingerbread Cookies: No explanation needed ¬– these suckers are delicious!
3. This New York cheesecake is great paired with a simple berry purée. Be sure to follow the recipe exactly and resist the urge to open that oven door! 
4. Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls do take time, but they’re worth it! Perfect for Christmas Day brunch with the family.
5. These lemon squares are creamier than traditional versions because of the addition of condensed milk, making them – dare I say? – even better!”

My top 5 tips for holiday road-tripping
Kara, Creative Director, Fusion Advertising

“I’ll be making the 8 hour trek to my hometown this Christmas, and in honour of my years of practice, here are my top 5 tips for road-tripping this holiday season:
1. Getting caught up in an audiobook literally makes the time fly by. Purchase them on iTunes or borrow through the public library using an app like Overdrive.
2. Frigid temps can make it difficult to regulate your in-car temperature. Layering is a must – wear a tank or light t-shirt under a zip-up sweater.
3. Pack healthy snacks like homemade popcorn, nuts, and a good old PB&J, so you don’t just end up eating processed junk food for 8 hours straight.
4. If, like me, your musical tastes differ wildly from your partner’s, create a “one for you, one for me” neutral playlist to keep song battles to a minimum.
5. That said, a long drive with another person can be an amazing opportunity to connect. Take advantage of being confined together for hours and talk to each other!”

My top 5 holiday “firsts” in a new home
Melissa, Marketing Coordinator, St. Vital Centre

“I recently bought my first home, making this Christmas a special one – and one filled with a lot of firsts!
1. Part of tackling Christmas was figuring out where – and WHEN – to hang Christmas lights. This year it was -30 in late November... lesson learned.
2. I had to decide on a place to hang stockings without a fireplace. It turns out they look great over the fireplace channel on my TV! 
3. The real vs. artificial Christmas tree debate was bound to happen, and for me it’s REAL all the way.
4. Part of owning my first home meant my first time living with my boyfriend, and adopting a 6-month-old puppy. This called for a first family photo – complete with puppy bowtie.
5. Some firsts are family traditions that stuck now that I’m in my own house: I will still be leaving cookies and milk out for Santa, just because.”

My top 5 songs for December
Rob, Art Director, Fusion Advertising

“I have lots of music favourites that are attached to my memories of this time of year. Here are a few that standout:
1. Horchata by Vampire Weekend –The instrumentals in this song bounce, bubble, and shimmer; its infectious groove feels alive.
2. All of the Lights by Kanye West – This one’s a winter party anthem. It brings back images of driving around town, taking in the city’s colourful serving of winter lights.
3. White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes – This beautiful track is almost self-explanatory – who HASN’T listened to this during the winter months?
4. Luna by Bombay Bicycle Club – Romantic and wistful, this song takes me away from real life, the same way the holidays remove you from your daily grind.
5. Lisztomania by Phoenix  – This one’s straight feel good vibes, alone or dancing with a crew (if it were still played at hipster bars!).”

My top 5 things to do with a 1 year old during the holidays
Lenore, content planner and writer

“With a toddler crawling/running around the house, I've been looking for ways to incorporate some new holiday traditions into our growing little family. Here are a few of my faves:
1. Load your favourite holiday cartoons (I love the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas) on the iPad to watch together.
2. Pick up hot chocolates and tour the city to look at Christmas lights. If the weather cooperates, get out of the car for the best displays…babies LOVE lights!
3. Let them play with empty wrapping paper rolls, ribbon, and tape while you wrap gifts (closely supervised, of course!).
4. Set up the high chair in the kitchen so they can watch and taste-test while you do your holiday baking.
5. Take them skating at The Forks. You skate while they crawl around and discover the magic of ice…bring a sled to pull them around for extra fun!”

Happy Holidays from our families to yours! We can’t wait to see you in 2015 for a fresh year of Spark magic. Merry Christmas, everyone.

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