Christmas in November wraps up this weekend and I wanted to share some tips to help ensure you get the best Christmas in November experience when you go! Check out my more detailed recap of Christmas in November here (including links to recipes) and read on for some more practical Christmas in November tips!
10 Tips for the Best Christmas in November experience
1. Pick the package that works for you
Christmas in November is split into three packages. There’s the opening weekend, mid-week, or final weekend packages you can register for. My preference is the first package – where everything is shiny, new and extra exciting! Since the three packages are offered back to back, it can start feeling like Groundhog Day where everything repeats, and that can be tiring for staff and presenters I’m sure. Of course they all give their best throughout the packages but with the first weekend I feel like everyone feels especially special and excited. Plus if you follow along on social media, and your package isn’t until later, that shine might fade a bit because you’re seeing a lot of what will happen before you arrive. They do switch things up though – certain presenters only come during certain packages but some presenters are there throughout all packages!
I also think the first package makes the most sense for taking days off from work. Middle package I think requires the most days off from work (because why would you go back in on a Friday!) But last package is also nice for that final, weepy goodbye feeling (or going out with a bang) and also you’re more likely to get snow during the middle/last packages for that extra winter wonderland feel!
2. Dress to impress
Christmas in November is a fabulous, festive, pampered getaway in the mountains – you have to dress to impress! I find most people wear a lot of red and it looks stunning set to all the twinkly Christmas decor. People also have lots of shiny, sparkly, or sleek black outfits. Either way, there are lots of opportunities for photos (including photos with Santa!) and feeling like a rockstar (walking the white carpet wouldn’t be the same if you were in sweats or jeans lol).
Don’t get me wrong though – during sessions wear whatever is comfortable (I still tried to wear lots of casual red though) but the evening parties are brought to another level when you’re dressed up!
3. Celebrity chefs are great but don’t forget about the local talent
A big selling feature of Christmas in November is all the incredible celebrity chefs that come to lead sessions but in recent years especially there’s been a big emphasis on bringing in local (Edmonton/Calgary) chefs/restauranteurs/designers to do sessions too and I think you should absolutely make a point to attend sessions from these local talents. There’s something so lovely about getting that intimate time with some of your city’s most talented.
4. Don’t be afraid to talk/take photos with the presenters
With how huge Food Network has become, and how beloved some celebrity chefs are these days, it can be intimidating to ask for a photo or even muster up the courage to talk to one of the Christmas in November presenters – don’t be afraid! Some presenters are definitely more open and inviting about having session participants come up before or after sessions to take photos with them (or get autographs if maybe you’ve got their cook book you want signed), but even the ones who don’t outright offer completely understand and are welcoming of requests for a picture or to answer maybe a burning cooking question or burning how-does-that-work-on-that-TV-show question you might have! Go for it! Mike even found himself hanging out with a lot of chefs after dinner when I went to sleep because they’re just hanging out!
5. Make sure you use your drink tickets before dinner starts
This tip come from Mike. At Christmas in November you get a certain number of drink tickets (though if you ask nicely you should be able to get more ;)) and those drink tickets can be used for the specialty Christmas cocktails. There are three of them (they switch it up each year) but they only get served at certain times. Mike found you should get your drinks before dinner starts each night because sometimes they shut down mid-dinner or after. You can still get free wine at your dinner table though but if you want those Christmas cocktails, watch to make sure they’re not packing up for the evening!
6. Stop and enjoy nature
Christmas in November can get so hectic and be so jam-packed (literally your whole day could be scheduled with something save for an hour here or an hour there), so I encourage you to wake up a bit earlier and just take in where you are. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is surrounded by stunning mountains, lakes, and trees. Take in the wildlife – sometimes deer come right up to your window! Sit on one of the colourful chairs and just pause and take it all in or go for a nature hike. Even sneaking back to your room to sit and look out the window is a nice way to pause and relax too, or sit by the fireplace in the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge lobby and just take in the warmth.
7. Bring your girlfriend, your mom, or your hubby – anyone!
Christmas in November definitively skews towards being a women’s kind of event – over the years it’s become a great event for girls weekends, mom/daughter dates, even bachelorette parties (there were all of this mashups when we went!) But it’s definitely seen an increase in men attendees over the years (this year there was the most men ever!) I don’t look at it as a girly event – it’s a fantastic, all inclusive getaway filled with food and fun, that’s also educational! Anyone can enjoy that – man or woman!
8. Get social – it increases the fun
Christmas in November has gotten pretty social over the years, and something I look forward to is seeing all the photos (including mine) being shared on Twitter an Instagram by attendees on the big screens in the dining room. You notice halfway through that there are a ton of newbies (Twitter egg heads) signing up to post because they want to get in on the social media fun too. Remember to upload a profile picture to your social network before posting too. ;)
9. Get the vegetarian option for some meals
You can start to feel pretty stuffed pretty quick at Christmas in November – especially with all the meat. A nice alternative is to request for the vegetarian option for some of the sit-down meals! That will give your tummy a nice break – less meat sweats (though personally I never did this, several people at our table did!)
10. Enjoy – indulge!
Don’t worry about calories, overeating or overindulging! Christmas in November is a glorious vacation that celebrates all things food. Mike brought his gym bag but LOL it did not get opened and that’s okay. Let the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and Christmas in November team pamper you. Let yourself eat ALL THE FOOD – at the set meals and in the sessions! Make the best memories and get inspired and ready for the holiday season – the most wonderful time of the year!
+ a word about cost
I also wanted to touch on pricing too – when I first look at Christmas in November pricing, I think, yikes, that’s pretty steep ($999 a person). But if you actually think about it – it’s a pretty fantastic deal – given that it includes 3 nights accommodation at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, on top of inclusive meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), plus all of the sessions you attend (that conference/educational value – plus all the free food in the sessions). If you were just booking for a normal resort stay at the Fairmont – no Christmas in November fun included – you’d be looking at almost that $999 price just for accommodations! Heck, if you were booking any weekend getaway somewhere, you’d be racking up the dollars paying for flight, hotel, meals, etc.
Plus there isn’t a whole lot of options for “all inclusive” type of getaways that aren’t situated by a beach – this is a pretty sweet one that really celebrates Alberta food and winters.
So, if you do plan on doing Christmas in November, I hope my tips help prepare + ensure you have the best experience!
Disclaimer: I will always provide my 100% honest opinion on this blog. I was invited to Christmas in November as a guest of Gastropost. This has no impact on opinions stated in this post.