How to make the most of your Sir John A. MacDonald Day party

Illustration by Lily Li

It creeps up faster every year. On January 11, Canadians everywhere will be coming together to celebrate the most magical holiday of the season: Sir John A. MacDonald Day.

Since its inception in 2002, Sir John A. MacDonald Day has grown into a time of festivities and traditions as cherished as the politician it was dubbed after. Since many of you will find yourselves throwing parties on or around this holiday, we at The Peak have compiled a list of several tips and tricks meant to help you survive this Sir John A. MacDonald festive season — and maybe even start some new family traditions along the way!

The feast

People always think that they have to do all of the holiday cooking the day of, but a lot of the prep work can be done the night before a party. The more you can cross off your list ahead of time, the less you’ll have to worry about when guests come over. If you have the foresight to do so, pickled watermelon rinds just scream Sir John A. MacDonald Day and can be served as either an appetizer before the meal or during dinner as a side dish.

As for the most contentious of holiday dishes, nothing can bring down a Sir JAM Day feast like an overly dry boiled eggplant salad. If it’s done right, this festive dish should be served moist and (if possible) right out of the pot, so the eggplant makes the lettuce wilt from the heat. Try letting the eggplants marinate overnight to really kick up the flavour.

The decor

Is it old-fashioned to think that part of the Sir John  A. MacDonald Day magic comes from the decorations people put up every year? If you’re on a budget but still want to help bring the festive spirit into your home, holiday lava lamps and stacks of gently used Solo cups are relatively inexpensive and can make any room feel like a Sir John A. MacDonald wonderland.

The question I get asked the most: should I buy a real Canadian actor and comedian Colin Mochrie for the living room, or should I get a fake one? Growing up, my father always insisted that it wasn’t Sir John A. MacDonald Day without a real Colin Mochrie, but getting a new one every year can be costly — plus a lot of apartment buildings don’t allow real ones because of the mess they make and the potential fire hazard.

The phrase “fake it until you make it” never sounded so clear when it comes to festive Colin Mochries: if you go with a fake one, your guests will hardly be able to tell the difference underneath all those ornaments and tinsel anyway.

The activities

Okay, so the festive atmosphere has been set and you’ve rocked the feast — now what? It can be difficult finding something to do that’s fun for everyone, regardless of age or religious beliefs.

Thankfully, whether you’re a six-year-old celebrating Sir John A. MacDonald Day or an 89-year-old who practices Trudeau-kuh, there’s one tradition that transcends age and religion during the holiday: singing! The festive season is the perfect excuse to gather around the piano and be merry with some carols, with old classics like “The 12 Days of Parliamentary Debate” and “John A. the Red-Nosed Prime Minister.” Sing, laugh, and be merry!

The message

With all the hustle and bustle of Sir John A. MacDonald Day, it’s easy to forget about what the early-January season is truly about. Aggressive commercialization be damned, this holiday is still about spending time with your loved ones and being thankful for what you have.

So on Sir John A.  MacDonald Eve, when you’re hanging ripped pantyhoses by the water heater for the ghost of Canada’s first prime minister to bring toys and unsalted almonds for children, take the time to remember what’s really important. Happy Sir John A. MacDonald Day, everyone!


  1. Funny stuff but the governments attempt at making something of this is nothing but Harper propaganda, aimed at underscoring MacDonald because he was a so-called conservative. The fact is real Canadians aren’t buying this con scam. Canadians are well aware of who he was. They just aren’t that impressed. The Harper regime itself spent huge taxpayer dollars on a massive poll to ask Canadians who they held up as the most important Canadian icons in anticipation of our 150th birthday. Only one identifiable conservative made the list, MacDonald. Out of the top ten he was way near the bottom in 8th place. Pierre Trudeau topped the list, along with David Suzuki and Terry Fox, Romeo Dalliere, Liberal senator was among the other top choices. Harpo has decided to ignore the people by ignoring the list. Anti-Ontario/anti-Canadian Harper does not represent real Canadians.