Christmas time can always be so crazy with lots of presents to buy and family to visit. Brock and I have been working on minimizing the chaos, but lets be honest no matter what there will always be a little. The last couple of year we have limited the amount of gifts we give so that we obviously spend less and have realized that our girls really do not need too much and probably have too many things already. We like having family experiences instead of gifts so that the kids hopefully remember a fun childhood and not necessarily one filled with things. But of course we can’t forget to include in this the fun we have decorating our house for the Holidays.
Our first event to start off the holiday season was the Mayor tree lighting in Burbank. this is a really cute event that they put on each year and my parents and sisters family normally come with us and we walk to it as there is not much parking and they block off the streets for this. They have a few local children groups perform and they normally have Minnie and Mickey mouse help turn on the tree plus Santa always makes an appearance.
We also try to make it to Disneyland during the holiday season for the fabulous lights and huge tree that they always have displayed and well you all know we love us some Disney.
A new thing we did this year was a Candy Cane Hunt in Pasadena. This was a very cute event and the girls had a great time making reindeer food, writing letters to santa and of course hunting for candy canes. We came home with so many candy canes (can’t complain i used them to make peppermint bark) Hopefully they do this again next year.
We also do the cookie decorating at Discovery Cube in Los Angeles. This is a really cute childrens museum that changes out their theme depending on the time of year.
The next event we went to was the Zoo Lights at the LA Zoo. This we have done the last couple of years and we love it. This time it was actually pretty cold and we were bundled up and I brought hot cocoa and cookies. Our zoo pass does not get us into this event for free, but we do get discounted tickets and we went with Brock’s family which was nice (a little chaotic with so many people) If you have not been to this I think it is worth the cost and it takes a couple of hours to walk thru all of the different light sections (they only decorate sections of the zoo and the entire zoo is not open to wonder thru) Another thing is they add and change the light displays each year so it is not exactly the same (not that any of us could remember the differences lol)
We also go to the Toluca Lake Stroll each year which is another free event that is pretty fun. This is simply walking up and down Riverside Dr and visiting all the shops and restaurants that have food samples and drinks. There are so many samples it is enough to be dinner and of course there is a lot of hot cocoa. We also got to take pictures with Santa (we used this as there time to visit Santa as i did not take them another time) and the Grinch this year.
Another Christmas tradition I have started with the girls is having a few of their friends over for cookie baking and decorating. The girls love this and the other kids too. Yes my house is a mess after but that is ok they are making memories and having fun and as I always say anything can be cleaned (thank goodness I do this the day before the house cleaner comes) I usually make the cookie dough and have it rolled out so that the kids can cut them out. Then while the cookies are baking because it can take a awhile with all of the cookies they all go play and I set up the table to frost and decorate the cookies then once they are done I give them hot cocoa and they eat a few cookies and take the rest home with them. This really is a lot of fun and some how I squeeze in the extra kids around the table and in our small house.
We also spend a lot of time at the zoo during december because it is actually not a thousand degrees out and we go when it is not raining. The zoo is only about 10 minutes from our house which makes it a wonderful outing for the family or to meet up with friends.
This year we went to a new event at Santa Anita Park. They setup a Winterfest with bounce houses/slides and train rides and ice skating with lots of food vendors. This actually turned out to be better than I thought it would be. We bought the all inclusive pass for the girls so that they had unlimited slide time and Brock took them ice skating. Obviously I just took pictures since I was pregnant, but the girls were so excited to finally go ice skating. They are still pretty wobbly but maybe by next winter they will figure it out. When entering this event they gave out cookies and hot cocoa to everyone plus we ate a few items from the food vendors as well. The girls also got to do the petting zoo section because someone was leaving the park and had not used their ticket so it ended up being a fun surprise for the girls. If they have this event again I am sure we will be back. https://theoddmarket.com/winterfest/
A family tradition with my family is going to a neighborhood in Santa Clarita that is known for their spectacular lights and every house on the street decorates over the top. This year we had dinner at my sisters house and then headed over to walk the light filled street of Wakefield. Again we took hot cocoa and cookies (can you tell we love this treat in the cold)
Another thing we have done the last few years is the Holiday light train at Griffith park which we have done with Brock’s family. http://www.griffithparktrainrides.com/content/holiday-light-festival-train-ride This is another thing that is totally worth the price. The girls love going on this train ride during the day and especially love when it is decorated for the holidays and we get to see all the lights at night.
My parents each year do a cookie baking and decorating day with the grandkids at their house they have been doing this for years and even though several of the grandkids have moved out of state they still host this each year for the three that still live here. The girls always have a great time getting to bake, we love our desserts. This is also a great thing to do with the kids that does not cost much but is hours of entertainment (and hours of clean up)
Well for Christmas Eve this year we were at Brock’s brothers and sister-in-laws house. They have a caroling truck that drives right past their house and this year it came early enough that we stayed for the fun. We usually try to get home at a decent hour on Christmas eve so that we get enough rest for the full day of Christmas.
Well Christmas morning at our house I like to make cinnamon rolls from scratch and we open gifts. The girls get a gift or two from Santa and then we only give them a couple of gifts and stockings that way they do not get overwhelmed with so many things they can’t remember what they got. After gifts and breakfast we get ready for the day and head over to Brock’s family first where we eat brunch and open gifts. Then we head over to my parents house for gifts and dinner. This year we spent the night there since we left the next day for our road trip (which will be my next blog)