Holidays – Frugal Novice
Browsing Category

Holidays

Holiday Fun Series: Philadelphia

This is a sponsored post partnered with Quigley Motors. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Have you put up your Christmas tree yet? Strung lights along the rooftop? Hung stockings by the fireplace? Well, whether or not your home is ready for the holidays, you can be ready for lots of holiday fun. I’ve been posting ideas for Christmas activities in various cities, and today I’m sharing must-do events in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – perfect to load up the car with your family and fill your weekend with holiday fun!

• Christmas Village in JFK Plaza (also known as LOVE Park): This is a German-style festival complete with treats and eats, handmade toys and decor, live entertainment and more. The highlight of this event has always been the 27-foot tall lit-up present, and this year there’s also a 65-foot high Christmas ferris wheel, too. 

• Macy’s Christmas light display: The Grand Court has hosted a Christmas Light Show since 1956, so this is a long-time holiday tradition in Philadelphia. Macy’s continues the tradition of sugarplum fairies, dancing snowmen and more with a 100,000-light show narrated by Julie Andrews and accompanied by the famed Wanamaker Organ. Free performances take place every two hours during store hours. Between shows, you can also tour the second floor’s vintage Dickens Village, where intricate animated dolls and sets retell A Christmas Carol — and each free walkthrough ends in a chance to meet and get photos with Santa.

• Holiday Light Show at the Fashion District: If you’re looking for something quick to brighten up a December day, stop by for a 5-minute light show timed to music by the Philly POPS. You won’t want to miss the 45-foot-tall floating tree with giant stainless steel mirror ornaments.

• Christmas Underwater at Adventure Aquarium: There are the most underwater Christmas lights ever at Adventure Aquarium this year, with eight underwater Christmas tree displays, including the world’s smallest and tallest underwater Christmas trees. Visitors get the chance to see Scuba Santa and his “elfish” helpers diving beneath the surface and celebrating the season, as well as thousands of twinkling lights, colorful coral and sea-lightful illuminations that glow daily. This is a unique event fun for families! 

• Holiday Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum: Kids and adults alike will love the miniature winter wonderland complete with a quarter-mile of model-train tracks, seven loops and tunnels, 15 rail lines and model trains that travel past tiny replicas of historic monuments and Philadelphia landmarks showcasing thousands of lights.

Holiday Fun Series: Baltimore, Maryland

This is a sponsored post partnered with Miller’s Cross Pointe Motor Cars. All opinions are honest and are my own.

My last two posts focused on fun down south, but now I’m taking us back to the northeast to see what holiday activities are available in the Baltimore, Maryland area. One great thing about the northeast is how close so many cities are to one another; even if you live in another state like Virginia, getting to Baltimore just takes a quick trip in the car.

• Ice Skating at the Inner Harbor Ice Rink: You’ll feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie when you and your family head over to do a quintessential holiday activity – ice skating! This is a great location to make wonderful family memories.

• Sweet Street and Starlight, Gingerbread Night at the Maryland Science Center: Sweet Street is a giant, Maryland-themed gingerbread village! Each unique house or building was handcrafted at the Maryland Science Center. See how many Baltimore landmarks you can spot for yourself! And the planetarium has gingerbread cookies decorating the sky to show seasonal stars and favorite patterns. Take a look at the night sky with the help of these pastry astronomers.

• A Royal Breakfast & Train Ride (with Elsa, Anna & Kristoff) at B&O Railroad Museum: Attendees will have a royal breakfast buffet (complete with pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, and more) with Elsa, Anna, & Kristoff. There will be indoor carousel rides, model train layouts and an exclusive train ride aboard the B&O Magical Holiday Express with Elsa, Anna & Kristoff – and of course there will be photo opportunities throughout the event.

• Parade of Lighted Boats: Baltimore’s annual Lighted Boat Parade consists of more than 50 festive vessels and benefits the Marine’s “Toys for Tots” annual Christmas campaign. Boats lit up for the holidays will parade through the Inner Harbor and Fells Point, and the parade starts at the Anchorage Marina on Boston St. with carols hosted by a local choir prior to the launch.

Holiday Fun Series: Abilene, Texas

This is a sponsored post partnered with Star Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Are you ready for some more Christmas celebration ideas? Since Texas is such a huge state, it only makes sense to have another post dedicated to Texan holiday happenings! This time we’re looking at Abilene & the Big Country area, about three hours west of Dallas. This area is an easy one-day road trip from DFW or Austin, so gas up your vehicle and make plans to head to the Abilene area this next weekend! 

• Winter Lightfest: This is a new event to Abilene, and is located in beautiful Centennial Park. You’ll walk along tree-lined paths lit with thousands of twinkling lights and animated displays. Stop in the Christmas village for refreshments and activities, enjoy live music, and take advantage of lots of photo opportunities along the way. 

• Christmas at the Farm: Denton Valley Farms is just a short drive from Abilene and provides a down-home Christmas experience for the whole family. There’s a hay ride through a light display (which organizers say boasts three times the amount of lights they had last year), Santa visiting, food trucks, homemade ice cream, crafts, an opportunity to roast marshmallows and make s’mores, and even a photo opportunity inside a giant snow globe.

• City Sidewalks and Christmas Parade: This marks the 31st year for this event, and the parade sets off a week of holiday cheer and fun events in the downtown area.

Santa Calls Letter Writing Station: Did you know Abilene is the Storybook Capital of America? The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature is one of many arts organizations in town, and they’re hosting a free place to come write letters to Santa that will be sent directly to the North Pole! Make sure you check out the picture book art on exhibit while you’re there, too.

Holiday Fun Series: San Marcos, Texas

This is a sponsored post partnered with San Marcos Chrysler Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Howdy, y’all – are you ready for some Texas celebratin’? Today, in my “Holiday Fun” post series, I’m sharing (or should I say sharin’?) Christmas activities deep in the heart of Texas – San Marcos, Texas, to be exact. It may be 80 degrees some December days, but that doesn’t stop Texans from getting into the Christmas spirit! Hop in your car (or should I say truck? It IS Texas, after all) (linkto: https://www.sanmarcoschryslerdodge.net) and mosey on down to these activities:

• Sights & Sounds of Christmas: This popular annual festival has carnival rides for all ages, a variety of delicious festival food, live performances, and even a visit from Santa Claus. It has a petting zoo, Santa’s Gift Shop, Town of Bethlehem and even a scavenger hunt you can win prizes from by participating!

• Santa’s Ranch: Looking at Christmas lights is a tradition for most people, and this ranch is the ultimate drive-through light experience. You’ll travel a 1-mile country road filled with displays and animations, and you can get some delicious holiday treats like homemade hot chocolate and kettle corn.

• The Grand Ol’ Christmas Show is a live, one-of-a-kind musical variety show bringing all-time favorite Christmas classics and original sketch comedy antics to theaters across Texas. An original by The Grand Ol’ Production Company, produced by Will Hearn, featuring globally-acclaimed “Texas Piano Man” Robert Ellis and Americana standout Blue Water Highway as well as a cast of the best artists and entertainers in Texas.

• Christmas wine glass painting: This is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s something I never would have thought of, but it looks like a blast! Attendees will get to paint two wine glasses that are presented upside down as various cute Christmas characters like a gingerbread man, snowman, penguin and more.

Holiday Fun Series: West Virginia

This is a sponsored post partnered with Miller’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Hello! I’m continuing my series of “Holiday Fun” posts today, this time with must-do activities in Martinsburg, West Virginia. It never fails to surprise me just how many awesome things there are to take part in at this time of year, even in smaller cities like Martinsburg – it is so fun, and there’s something for everyone. Load up your car with family and friends, and don’t miss out on these events sure to get you in the holiday spirit:

• Doors to Christmas: Main Street Martinsburg is hosting “Doors to Christmas” with 25 beautifully-decorated wreaths shown adorning antique doors in the public library downtown. At the end of the display, there will be a live auction where you can bid on your favorite wreath so it can adorn your door for the holidays.

• Colonial Christmas at the Adam Stephen House: Visit this historic home and see the past come to life! Docents and volunteers act out scenes of what life would have been like during Christmas in the 1700’s. There’s also a Christmas Shop in the Triple Brick Museum.

• Christmas Parade: You don’t have to be in New York City to herald Santa’s arrival – there’s a great old-fashioned parade winding its way through downtown Martinsburg – this is sure to be a charming, family-friendly evening.

Holiday Fun Series: Richmond, Virginia

This is a sponsored post partnered with Pearson Hyundai. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Y’all, Christmas is basically here. I mean, it’s just a few weeks away, but the season is basically upon us, and that means there are a ton of great holiday activities to participate in. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and I’m sharing a series of posts with tips on all the holiday fun in different areas around the country. First stop? Richmond, Virginia – so all you northeasterners out there, this list is for you! Pull out your calendars, gas up your car, and get ready to plan some holiday cheer:

• Tacky Light Run: This 6K fun run travels along a neighborhood path where the houses are decorated with over-the-top tacky lights – the more, the merrier seems to be the theme! Runners are encouraged to wear their tackiest Christmas gear, and there are opportunities for photos with Santa in the “North Pole” before or after the run. What a great way to get moving, have fun with your family and friends, and, best of all, support a kids’ youth–focused initiative dedicated to motivating thousands of young people across the Richmond region to run, jog, and walk on a regular basis.

• Fan District Association Holiday House Tour: This annual December event takes place in a residential neighborhood developed largely from 1890-1930. The neighborhood prides itself in historic homes built in a variety of architectural styles such as Victorian, Italianate, Richardson Romanesque, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Bungalow, American Arts and Crafts, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial, and Art Deco. There are 9 houses on the tour this year, and there are free trolleys available to transport you to each stop on the map.

• The Nutcracker: Is there anything more quintessentially “Christmas” than going to see the Nutcracker? I think not, and don’t despair because the Nutcracker runs in Richmond for 10 days leading right up near Christmas Eve (the 13-23 this year). Select matinee performances of the Nutcracker also have a (separately ticketed) tea party event afterward.

• Movies at the Byrd: This beautiful, historic theater is hosting a series of holiday movies in December, which means there’s something for pretty much everyone! A Christmas Story, Elf, and even a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation marathon are just a few of the offerings you’ll find on their calendar. 

• GardenFest of Lights: The Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens are lit up and shining brightly with “Magic in the Air” – the theme this year that is inspired by things that fly: dragons, spaceships, fireflies, unicorns, and even flying pigs! This event has been nominated by USA Today as a candidate for one of the 10 Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights.

Oriental Trading Makes Christmas Parties a Hit!

I received items from Oriental Trading to help facilitate my review. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I love being room mom for my son’s class – and part of the fun of being room mom is planning the class Christmas party. I knew immediately that the place to go for all my Christmas party supplies was Oriental Trading Company. For one thing, I’ve used them many times so I’m confident in the quality of their products, but for another, I know they have a huge variety of items available, so I’ll be able to find whatever I’m looking for.

I found super cute plates and napkins (as you can see above). I always feel like those are key in setting a fun party atmosphere for kids, and these really do the trick.

My son’s favorite thing I got was these fun reindeer glasses. They’re so inexpensive that everyone in the class was able to get a pair – they make for great photos!

OrientalTrading_Glasses

I ordered some really awesome looking wood trees for the kids to decorate, but they ended up being out of stock (be sure and order early, since so many people shop at Oriental Trading) so I used some cute pompom balls and green paint to let kids decorate little wood rectangles and make Christmas ornaments.

No matter what kind of party you’re planning, Oriental Trading is definitely the go-to for all your supplies!

ICE! at Gaylord Texan is the Perfect Family Getaway

We received tickets to ICE! to facilitate our review. All opinions are honest and are our own.

We, like most other families, feel like we’re busy all the time – and especially so during the holidays. It seemed, then, like the perfect idea to get away and do something fun for the whole family. The Gaylord Texan is less than three hours away, and we set our sights on going to the ICE! exhibit.

We stayed one night at the Gaylord as part of our trip, and I can’t recommend enough adding this to your itinerary. It was so nice getting back to our room at the end of a busy day and just relax. I’ll tell you more about our room in a bit (spoiler alert: it was amazing), but first let’s talk about the whole reason we went – ICE! The theme this year is Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, a classic theme that was nostalgic for the adults and charming for the kids.

If you’ve never been to ICE! before, you should know that there are lines to get in – as with anything that’s immensely popular, there are a lot of people that want to go. We knew this ahead of time and were prepared, which made the waiting much more pleasant. Our solution? We bought a huge bag of popcorn and a big bag of cotton candy for the 5 kids to share. This worked great! You might also want to bring along a book for each child (something Christmas-themed would be perfect) to read while you’re waiting.

The Gaylord does a wonderful job of decorating the areas so that it feels magical and fun. In one waiting area, you’re surrounded by what looks like various machines for toy making. In another, there’s a giant rotating ice mountain and mist floating down with snowflakes shining on it.

waiting-gaylord

Once you get very close to entering the exhibit, everyone receives a thick blue parka to wear. Another tip is to bring along your own gloves, hats, and scarves – this helps keep everyone warmer! The kids looked adorable in their parkas.

bluecoats-gaylord

Brian and his mom looked pretty cute, too!

michelle-brian-gaylord

Once we got into the exhibit area I was really pleased with how easy it was to see each exhibit. It didn’t seem crowded at all, and we were able to go through at our own pace without feeling rushed. We could stop and look at all the details, and could take as many photos as we wanted – and trust me, there are so many things to take photos of! The attention to every aspect of the experience is beyond what you’d even expect. It was utterly impressive, and we were all wowed by the artists’ work.

clauses-gaylord-ice

ice-dungeon-gaylord

clauses-ice-gaylord

icetunnel-gaylord

family-ice-gaylord

Check out the beautiful nativity, too:

nativity-ice-gaylord

At the end of the exhibit there is a whole room filled with ice slides the whole family can go down – the kids thought this was a lot of fun and wanted to go down several times!

iceslide

If you want to check on tickets or get more info on ICE! click here – it’s running through January 1!

Once we left the exhibit we went and got hot chocolate – the perfect treat to warm up with after being SO cold! Afterward we went over to the adjacent area, which had all sorts of activities to choose from. We got to meet some characters:

character-meetup-gaylord

We also did the snow tubing, which was a hit with everyone. We got to go down the slopes 12 times, and the lines moved pretty quickly for this attraction. Living in Texas our chances for tubing down a snowy hill are pretty slim, so this was especially fun for all of us!

j-tubing-gaylord

c-tubing-gaylord

There are so many activities to choose from! We already decided we want to go back next year and try out some of the other options, like cookies & milk with Mrs. Claus, an elf scavenger hunt, and throwing real snowballs!

santas-snowballs-gaylord

We really enjoyed walking around the vast atrium of the Gaylord and looking at all the different decorations. It is absolutely beautiful, and we had fun taking photos at various settings.

reindeerpic-c-gaylord

large-gift-gaylord

kids-wreath-gaylord

kids-fountain-gaylord

wine-trees-gaylord

traintracks-gaylord

gingerbreadhouse-gaylord

kids-sign-gaylord

We did photos with Santa, too!

santapic-gaylord

I’ve got to talk about our room a bit, too, because it was honestly a huge highlight of the trip for the kids too. We walked into the suite and all three of them said “Wow!!!” – I decided to do a little video tour so you can see for yourself what a perfect setup this is for families:

j-roomview-gaylord

e-roomwindow-gaylord

The kids loved the view outside our room and spent a ton of time hanging out on the balcony, looking at lights and watching people walk by. This was our view at night – so pretty, isn’t it?

nightview-snowflakes-gaylord

This was an absolutely wonderful getaway for our family – the kids loved it and didn’t want to leave! They shared their favorite parts of our stay:

We can’t wait to go back and stay at the Gaylord again – they have fun things all throughout the year so we’ll be looking for opportunities to go and have another wonderful weekend getaway!

Hallmark Holiday Traditions Continue!

We received ornaments to facilitate our review. All opinions are honest and are our own. 

Traditions are incredibly important to me when it comes to the holidays, and I’ve loved it as Brian and I have figured out what we’d like to do with our children each year. Hallmark Keepsake ornaments are a big part of our Christmas tradition, which I wrote about in 2014 – and last year, too! Each year the kids pick out an ornament that represents their interest for the year – and Brian and I pick one out, too. The plan is that when the kids are grown and have their own Christmas tree they’ll be able to take all their ornaments from over the years.

Here are the ornaments we picked out for 2017:

bb8-ornament

J picked BB-8. He loves Star Wars, and was a big fan of The Force Awakens when we went to see it last year. The attention to detail on this ornament is amazing – it looks so good!

C loves cooking and baking, so it was no surprise to us that he picked this Santa’s sleigh ornament:

santasleighornament

It is seriously adorable. The candy canes, the icing details, and the fact that santa’s hat is a piping tip all just add to the charm.

E was entirely predictable with her ornament selection – Elsa all the way!

elsa-ornament

Brian and I went with a classic, and chose the Crayola coloring box. It opens and closes, and again, the attention to detail is incredibly impressive (see the front view above).

crayolaornament-back

Check out all the various ornaments available on the Hallmark site!

Veterans Day Deals From Boston Market, Fogo de Chão, & Ruby Tuesday

Veteran’s Day is a week from today, and it’s the perfect time to thank those you know who have served our country. These men and women work hard and sacrifice time away from their own families to keep us safe, and their actions are definitely worth celebrating.

If you’re looking for a way to thank a veteran, here are three great restaurant deals to take advantage of:

Fogo de Chao Brazillian Steakhouse Restaurant wall sign

Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse

  • All military veterans and active duty personnel with valid military ID will receive 50% off their meal on Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11); up to three additional guests will receive 10% off their meals, as well. (Offer is valid at all U.S. and Puerto Rico Fogo de Chão locations. Beverages, dessert, tax and gratuity not included.)

Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday

  • All veterans, active duty and reserve military service members with valid military ID can enjoy one free appetizer (up to a $10 value) on Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11). (Offer is valid at all Ruby Tuesday locations, excluding those in Guam, Hawaii, Manhattan, airports or outside of the United States.)

Boston Market

Boston Market

  • All active duty or retired military personnel and their families can receive one free brownie or cookie with any purchase on Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11). No ID required.

 

Fill Your Friends’ Halloween with Boo-tiful Fun!

At Home funded this amazing Boo! fun. All opinions are honest and my own.

Thanksgiving and Christmas often get associated with doing nice things for others, but I’ve decided Halloween has gotten unfairly left out. There are plenty of opportunities for random acts of kindness, and this past week we tried out one of my favorite Halloween traditions – “booing” someone!

One of my best friends started a new chapter in her life this summer, and has recently moved into a new home with her two kids. I thought she would be perfect to surprise!

Brian and I went to At Home to stock up on supplies. It was SO much fun looking through all their Halloween items to decide what we wanted to get.

athome-storefront

yard_setup_athome

inflatables

halloween_signs

whiteblack-signs

jack-o-lanterns-aisle

trickortreatsign

cart_athome

We settled on a fun light-up inflatable arch, stake light pathway markers, a jack-o-lantern doormat, two metal signs, a cauldron perfect for holding Halloween candy, and a light-up jack-o-lantern. Once we had everything picked out, we just had to sneak over to my friend’s house and set everything up!

flowerbed

In front of her flower bed we set up two colorful metal signs and the orange stake lights. These bring a great amount of color to the yard and are fun and cheerful!

orangelights

jack-o-lantern_stackedsigns

cauldronsign

On the front porch we placed the doormat, jack-o-lantern and cauldron – a perfect doorstep setting for any trick-or-treaters on Halloween!

frontporch-closeup

I think my favorite thing in the yard, though, is the inflatable arch. It’s so fun with the monster eyes on it, at night it lights up, and it’s a great entrance for trick-or-treaters to walk through as they head up to my friend’s porch.

Continue Reading…

[ad] Two Ingredient Chicken Mummies

This post is written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpookyGoodSnacks #CollectiveBias

It’s October, and that means our kids are all about Halloween. On Saturday we put out all our Halloween decorations, and before long we’ll be picking out pumpkins. I send jokes in my boys’ lunch boxes each school day, and I’ve started bringing out some Halloween-themed gems like What do birds do on Halloween? Trick or tweet! We are imparting Halloween fun (nothing creepy – our kids are young and, well, I’m a wimp) in lots of ways, and I’ve even come up with a spooky good (and quick, and easy) snack/dinner option my kids adore: Chicken Mummies!

chicken-mummies-closeup

Aren’t they SO fun? Before you worry that you’ll try this and end up with a Pinterest fail, let me tell you this. There are just two ingredients to the mummies – or three, if you count the “bloody marinara” dipping sauce. They’re delicious and a great source of protein, too!

First, snag some Tyson® Any’tizers® Chicken Fries. I sent my husband to H-E-B and he found them on the frozen food aisle.

heb-tyson

Continue Reading…