As a little girl, and a Colorado native, some of my favorite holiday traditions and memories were made inside of the city limits of Boulder. I still vividly remember the holiday parties my family’s business would throw each year inside of the historic walls of the beautiful event rooms of CU’s University Memorial Center. The bright lights from the nearby Boulder Star combined with the twinkling and glittery Christmas decorations that adorned the entire building always took my breath away. And every year, looking out through the frosty glass windows during those joy-filled parties, I wished on that Boulder Star. And every year, my wish came true.
My family usually followed up those Christmas parties with some good ol’ fashioned family time in the UMC’s basement bowling alley, which is still operational today. As an adult, my holiday traditions have morphed a little, but still involve family and are still made in the city that I call home. My younger sister and I volunteer our time for a night wrapping gifts to benefit the Boulder County Aids Project, followed by a craft beer at a local taproom, then a trip up to the Boulder Star, where we hike to the middle, find a good spot to sit, and look down at the city in a new light, silently giving thanks out into the cold winter air.
This year, we asked some Boulder residents, business owners, and community figures to share their favorite holiday traditions with us.
Enjoy, and happy holidays!
“During the holidays, I love bundling up, plugging in some holiday music, filling my travel mug with hot chocolate or Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland, and setting off on a drive to nowhere throughout Boulder in search of creative and festive Christmas light displays. It’s a night I look forward to all year long. You never know if the next Griswold-caliber house is around the next corner or what exactly you’re going to stumble upon. Cruise around the Mapleton area or head up to Dakota Ridge for spots that have housed a bounty of lights and decorations in years past.”
-Lisa Grove | YourBoulder.com Contributor & Freelance Writer
“Hiking Mount Sanitas. My daughter likes being able to summit a mountain, and we can get to the top of Sanitas much faster than any other local peak. It feels good to be sitting in front of a giant plate of food on Christmas Day and knowing you earned it!”
-Alli Fronzaglia | YourBoulder.com Contributor
“Every winter that I’ve lived in Boulder, my husband and I always head downtown on a day off together and stop by Dish Gourmet (my favorite place to grab a sandwich in the entire world) for a lunch date. We always follow lunch up by wandering through downtown before stopping into Cured’s wine shop for a festive bottle of vino to take home. And of course, wintertime means spending time in front of a fireplace. This is our first holiday season we’ll spend in our new home that’s equipped with a real wood fireplace. Talk about perfection.”
-Elizabeth O’Connell | Publisher at Elevation Outdoors Magazine
“One of my holiday traditions is picking up a bottle of Killer Penguin Barley Win from the Boulder Beer Co. It’s one of the most diffcult bottles to open because it’s covered in wax, but it’s always worth it.”
-Megan Bucholz | Founding Foodie at Local Table Tours
“Before and after kid, it’s been the same tradition for me. My husband Tim and I both like to get an awesome morning hike/run before the relax-feast begins. Before kid, we always went together. After kid, we trade off. Hikes of xmas past, present and future include: Hall Ranch (in multiple feet of snow!), Walker Ranch, Sanitas, Bear Mountain, Mesa Trail, and more.”
-Nicole DeBoom | Founder & CEO of Skirt Sports
“My wife and I take our daughter Cassidy sledding at Scott Carpenter Park on Christmas every year, followed by some time on the park’s swing set.”
-Eric Holinger | Owner of Rollin’ Bones BBQ
“This will be my 17th Christmas in Boulder. My holiday tradition is a Christmas morning trail run on my SoBo neighborhood trails—no matter what the weather. Lots of neighbors walk their dogs on these trails, so even if it’s snowy, it tends to be hard-packed snow. The one exception is if the temperature is 60 degrees or higher, in which case, I go for a road bike ride. Just because. This has happened once so far.”
-Jayme Moye | Adventure Journalist (jaymemoye.com)
“I’m lucky to have grown up in Boulder and be surrounded by many great holiday memories. Hiking to the Star with my family in the mid 90’s, ice skating at the original rink next to the West End Tavern, sledding at Scott Carpenter and sitting on Santa’s lap in the old Crossroads Mall. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year in Boulder, and when it snows, it’s absolutely perfect. My two brothers and sister could hardly wait for Christmas break. It meant freedom from homework, cozy mornings cuddled in blankets watching our favorite movies (Mickey’s Christmas Carol and Charlie Brown), hot chocolate with marshmallows, building snow forts until our fingers froze and the arrival of our Nana and Popi. We didn’t get to see our grandparents very often, and we awaited their arrival with as much anticipation as Santa himself.
The two weeks surrounding christmas were absolute magic. Mom would blast Christmas carols on the stereo, my older sister Sara would dress up the boys as Santa (complete with cotton ball beards and red pajamas) and we’d decorate our tree with loads of homemade ornaments. Having our grandparents in town meant big home-cooked meals and even sugar cereal, Lucky Charms were my favorite. Our little house was crammed with people and overflowing with love, I can’t think of a happier time. I was a true believer in Santa, which made it almost impossible to sleep on Christmas Eve. To this day I still get just as excited, and even though I don’t wait up for Old Saint Nick, I certainly believe in his spirit of giving and spreading joy.
My most vivid childhood memory was waking up super early, sneaking quietly into the living room and seeing brand new bikes under the sparkly tree. I couldn’t believe my eyes, my first bike! Mom didn’t have a lot of money in those days, but she always found a way to load the tree with gifts. Each kid had their own pile of presents, with matching wrapping paper and a stocking full of necessities like tooth paste and chapstick. I’m not sure when I finally realized that Santa was actually mom, but that didn’t take away from the magic of Christmas, if anything, it added to it.”
-Ryan Van Duzer | Adventure Filmmaker/TV Host/Motivational Speaker/Cycling Advocate (duzertv.com)
“Our family tradition since Munchie (my son Adrian) was three years old (he’s five now!), is to go to the Hotel Boulderado in the early evening soon after they get their huge Christmas tree, usually the first week of December, get hot chocolates (spiked for the grown ups, lots of whipped cream for Munchie!) from the Corner Bar, sit around the tree marveling at all 24 feet of it. Then we walk to somewhere on the mall (used be Paper Doll, now is Peppercorn,) and get a special Christmas ornament.”
-Kuvy Ax | Owner of ROOT PR