Tag - holiday tips

Family Friendly Holidays in Charlotte

Having lived in Charlotte for 10 years, our family has been able to create memorable holiday traditions. We also love that new activities and creative events that are popping up each year. Here are some of our favorites that we wanted to share with you!

 

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Holidays at the Garden

This destination is one of our favorite must-visit locations during the holidays {and other times of the year too}. If you are looking for a family tradition, Holidays at the Garden is an event where you’ll be able to make memories for years to come.

Children will look forward to filling out their passport when they complete fun holiday-themed games located around the garden and parents will love the beauty of the lights and spending time around a fire with their family.

With light features changing each year everyone in your family is bound to find a favorite, or two. While the stunning lights may be what brings you to Daniel Stowe this time of year, the live music, fairy village, and ambiance of roasting s’mores over the fire will keep you coming back year after year.

There are several food and snack options there are including food trucks, beverage bars, and of course it wouldn’t be the holidays without some amazingly sweet goodies. This year Sproutycakes Bakery greeted us again with a huge array of Christmas yumminess.

{Check them out: Sproutycakes Facebook and tell them we sent you, you can thank us later.}

While you will definitely want to bundle up, DSBG has done a great job of creating warm spaces for your family whether it’s the roaring fire pits, or the warmth and beauty of the Orchid Conservatory.

Additional activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, visit with Mrs. Claus, and Capture the Magic with Santa. *Some pre-registrations and payments required, please check the website for details.

To check out more details or purchase tickets online at a discounted rate for Holidays at the Garden at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens head HERE.

 

Carowinds

WinterFest

WinterFest is an all-new immersive holiday entertainment tradition, opening select evenings through December 30th.

WinterFest transforms the park into a winter wonderland adorned with more that five million holiday lights, a beautiful 70-foot Christmas tree and festive décor displayed throughout the park.

These words and picture alone do not do the park justice, they really went all out and several park goers outside of our party were in awe.

We loved how the park was divided into different themed areas from Charlie Brown’s™ Christmas Town to Jingle Bell Boardwalk, the ever-so-sweet Candy Cane Lane, and who can forget Celebration Plaza where it all kicks off.

WinterFest activities include a nightly tree lighting, live holiday shows and strolling performers, up to 16 family rides, a special holiday menu, a live nativity and 38-animal petting zoo, falling snow, and so much more!

Additional activities include taking a picture with Santa at St. Nick’s Pics*, decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus*, creating take-home keepsakes at Sally Brown’s Christmas Crafts, , skating on Snowflake Lake* and horse-drawn carriage rides*. *The activities listed may require advance ticket purchase or ticket purchase on-site.

The PEANUTS™ gang, and wonderful winter characters are all decked out in Holiday Spirit {except for Scrooge} and the joy is pretty contagious. With the help of some cheerful elves, Miss C and other excited children, wrote a letter to Santa at the North Pole Post Office.

 

Our family loved the singing and dancing featured in Charlie Brown’s™ Christmas Spectacular, and it was a great way to warm up the entire group, not to mention a fun way to get into the holiday spirit. All through the park is festive, live entertainment both indoors and outdoors.

If you’re anything like our coaster-loving family, you’ll want to take advantage of some extra ride time this season. With up to 16 rides, including Afterburn there’s sure to be a ride for family members of every age and thrill level.

Carowinds’ hasn’t forgotten the holiday treats. There are 20 new menu items just for WinterFest, including Turducken burgers, gourmet mac and cheese, gingerbread-eggnog and chocolate-peppermint funnel cakes, and homemade hot chocolate. {Buy your souvenir mug and get free refills on your day of purchase and $1 refills for return visits.}

Who would have thought, shoppers can browse for gifts at WinterFest too. My favorite section are the booths by local vendors at Artisan Alley. If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, or ugly sweaters, the park has those too!

**Don’t forget, guests can visit WinterFest once for free when they purchase a 2018 gold or platinum season pass.

Otherwise, grab your advance-purchase tickets, and check out all the details at carowinds.com.

Billy Graham Library

Christmas at the Library

If you’re looking for a faith-based Christmas tradition Billy Graham Library is rich with history. Parking and admission are FREE. The library is known for it’s year-round Journey of Faith that creatively tells the journey of Billy Graham {this may be a feature you want to save if you have pre-school aged children}. During the holidays the library comes alive –literally– with a delightful live nativity.

Enjoy the sleigh bells jingling while you take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the library grounds {for an additional fee}, or make your reservations for Christmas Dinner and enjoy time with your loved ones.

We loved hearing the different carolers and musical groups that were featured while drinking a hot cup of cocoa. We haven’t been this year, but in previous years the only thing that was a little let down was the food selection and taste. You may want to consider dining out before or after your visit.

Find out more details about your upcoming visit to Christmas at the Library.

Founders Hall – Uptown Charlotte

Leonard Bearstein Orchestra


The Leonard Bearstein Orchestra is located in uptown Charlotte at Founders Hall in the Bank of America Building. This is a fun event to attend, especially if you have little ones. This full animatronic orchestra perform from on the hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. With the exception of Christmas Day.

Founders Hall also has some restaurants, places to grab a quick bite or coffee, and shops if you are planning on making the visit a longer trip.

**Occasionally, a regularly scheduled performance may not take place due to a special event in the hall. As a parent it’s always good to have a back up plan just in case. I always recommend 7th Street Market, ImaginOn, and the Light Rail.

Head here to view the schedule: Bearstein Orchestra

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Speedway Christmas

Speedway Christmas is definitely one of the must-visits if you haven’t been or if you are new to the area. Surprising to me, I’ve found that people either love the experience or don’t. My family personally really enjoys this Charlotte Holiday event, but if you have anyone who doesn’t like being in the car for an extended period of time they may not enjoy this selection as much. {We haven’t used it but have heard that the fast pass to skip the line is worth the additional fee.} There are several days and times that the speedway is less busy and lines are shorter.

We like to go on a day we feel will be less busy, but also one that still has the Christmas Village experience. In the past the village has had an opportunity to visit Santa, purchase Holiday gifts from local vendors, and enjoy yummy food and treats.

In a previous year we’ve enjoyed the nativity/Bethlehem experience and our girls always love the petting zoo filled with a variety of adorable animals. Often times there will be additional activities for an extra charge like carnival and horse rides.

Get your tickets and more information here: Speedway Christmas

 

While this is a pretty long list of some of our family favorites, we have others and know that you do too. Please comment and let us know your favorite local areas to spend the holidays with your family. Also tell us if you agree or disagree, we want to hear from you!!

Thank you to Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens and Carowinds for hosting us this holiday season!!

Fun and Easy Valentine’s Ideas for Kids

Valentine’s Day is a great holiday to celebrate with kids. My girls love languages are gifts, words of affirmation, physical touch, and quality time, so basically they cover 4 out of 5 of the love languages. If you haven’t heard about love languages check out my blog post on Exploring Love Languages.

 

Because they have different love languages we do a few things both leading up to Valentine’s Day and on the day itself. Here are just a couple new and old traditions that we partake in to celebrate.

Valentine’s Day Countdown – Make a paper chain, calendar countdown, or think of something creative to count your way down to Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter what day you start but here are some ideas of what you and your family can do to count your way down to the 14th.

  • Hug someone in your family
  • Read John 3:16
  • Make a craft with hearts
  • Say one reason you love each member of your family
  • Help cook a family meal or treat in the shape of a heart
  • Look at pictures from past V-days
  • Help someone in need
  • Spend time with another family
  • Invite someone to church
  • Color pictures for extended family members
  • Write a letter to a missionary or military family
  • Make Valentine’s Day cards
  • Decorate your home with words of kindness


Valentine’s Day Tree

We found this Valentine’s Day Tree in the dollar section at Target. It was made for the classroom, but I find a lot of great items that we can use at home are teaching tools or made for school. I love how easy it is to love with words of affirmation and kindness using this simple decoration.

 

There’s also something similar on Amazon*, and of course you could make your own as well:

 

Now that I’ve shared a couple of things we do in our home, I would love to hear your ideas for Valentine’s Day. Share how you celebrate by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

Advent Ideas for the Whole Family

I know Advent has already started! I can’t believe it’s December already, not only because it was 70+ degrees here in North Carolina, but also because I don’t feel like it’s time for the end of this year. {Tell me I’m not the only one in this boat.}

In lieu of Advent, one of the most awesomest times of year that we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus and show even more love and kindness to those around us, our family likes to honor advent and count down the days until Christmas with a paper chain filled with fun activities and thoughtful acts as well.

Advent Ideas for the Whole Family MommyB

 

Here is our list {in no specific order} of things on our Advent chain.

  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Decorate the house {inside/outside}
  • Donate Food to a local food bank/cause
  • Make homemade presents
  • Wrap presents {with Christmas music and snacks of course}
  • Christmas Craft
  • Invite someone to church
  • Watch Christmas Movie {movie marathon or movie night}
  • Have a holiday playdate
  • Make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing Happy Birthday
  • Send Christmas Cards {kids help address, stuff, stamp}
  • Take gifts to civil servants, doctors, etc.
  • Head to our favorite botanical garden {we love Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens}
  • Visit a {live} nativity {we enjoyed Billy Graham Library’s festivities}
  • Read Christmas stories from the Bible and check out some great books our family likes to read.
  • Write a letter to Jesus {and leave it under your tree or read aloud and share as a family}
  • Go caroling with some friends in nearby neighborhoods or Senior Assisted living communities
  • Drive through your neighborhood or a neighborhood that’s known for it’s lights display
  • Make paper snowflakes and then display them
  • Help your child make or purchase gifts for their classmates {we made play dough one year}
  • Help your child make or purchase gifts for their teachers
  • Send a care package to missionaries, {we’re going to send ours to the Yon family}
  • Celebrate St. Nicholas Day, which just so happens to be my birthday. {Believe it or not the real St. Nicholas focused on giving more than receiving and so this day we plan on doing something kind for others}
  • Have a secret Santa with family or friends but instead of giving gifts write thoughtful notes or draw pictures.
  • Have a neighborhood night in {invite neighbors for yummy food and great fellowship}

Again, those are only a few ideas and the ones we’re using this year, it’s easy to find other ideas online as well.

 

I’d love to hear if you celebrate Advent and how you celebrate it. Also let me know if you decide to use any of these ideas too!!

Matthew 1:21 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

 

Happy December!

Easy Entertaining Tips for the Holidays

Thank you Swiffer Bissell Steamboost for sponsoring this post.

I don’t know about you, but I love celebrating my holidays surrounded by amazing people I love and care about. Whether it’s a family get together or friends coming over for a night in, or even a holiday pajama party with the kiddos, we enjoy opening our home to others.

While I would love to say I’m a Mary {enjoying the conversation and company}, more often than not, I am a Martha {wanting to make sure everything is in it’s place, clean and neat}. The older I get, the more I realize that the people visiting my home don’t care if I dusted my baseboards or the inside of my oven is sparkling. Of course being me, I want my home to be clean and neat, but it doesn’t need to be sparkling.

Easy Entertaining Tips for the Holidays MommyB.jpg

 

Instead of stressing myself out over cleaning my home, I’ve decided that I’m going to take less time cleaning and more time enjoying my company, but I need to come up with some tips to help me be a good hostess, while achieving this goal.

Holiday Entertaining MommyB

Here are some easy entertaining tips for the holidays that I came up with that may help you be a Mary instead of a Martha too.

Bissell Happy Holidays.jpg1. Use cleaning products that will cut my cleaning time and get the job done. 

I recommend the Swiffer Bissell Steamboost, it’s lightweight (so your arms won’t feel like jelly when you are done mopping), easy to put together, and works AMAZINGLY!!! I used this right before a big play date and the floors were sparkling, I could see it removing the gunk from my floors as I used it.

2. Use white dishware and serving dishes. 

Using all white dishware not only allows you to dress up your dishes with ribbon and other table decor without being too much of an eye sore, but it also gives your table a streamline look rather than hodge podge, plus you can use them anytime of year, not just during the holiday they represent.

3. Buy food don’t make it. 

Unless you are hosting a dinner party (and even then you may want to consider some pre-made food items), consider buying snacks and food from the store. Less work and clean-up for you and will limit the amount of tasks on your to-do list before your guests arrive.

4. Tidy, don’t clean.

Remember that your home is probably going to need a cleaning after your guests arrive as well, so spend your time cleaning counters, floors, and moving clutter rather than focusing on the small details. I also highly suggest, moving extra toys or furniture to the garage or another empty room in your home temporarily to help make your home look more clean.

5. Shower and dress after everything is done.

I’ve gotten ready before cleaning and moving furniture before parties and get togethers before and ended up a sweaty mess, so needless to say I’ve learned my lesson and try to save getting myself ready for the party for very last. I also try to get most things ready the night before so I don’t have a lot of big work to do the day of.

So thanks to my tips and tools of the trade, I go from:

Stressed and Excited Pic MommyB

What are your easy entertaining tips?

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Swiffer Bissell Steamboost. Any opinions about the product are my own, honest thoughts. Yours may vary.

 

 

Holiday Cleaning in a Time Crunch

Thank you Molly Maid for offering your services for this review.

During the holidays we love to have friends and family visit. We enjoy celebrating and know that our home doesn’t need to be spotless to have quality time together, but being the Type-A momma that I am, I do like a clean house.

When approached by Molly Maid of Central Charlotte and Cabarrus County to try out their services, of course I said yes! {Wouldn’t you???} I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a cleaning service. When I nannied the families had regular cleaning services, but being a work-at-home mom, I figured that it would at least save me some of the work and time.

I personally had a bunch of questions about what to do before the cleaning, and the professionals at Molly Maid were super helpful giving me these three tips:

1) Would you like your bed linens changed? If so, strip the bed & leave out a set of clean sheets. We will put the new sheets on and make the bed for you!
2) Pick up, don’t clean up! We don’t expect you to clean your home before we come. However, if you can spend about 10 minutes the night before and just straighten up – toys put away, toiletries on bathroom counters organized, kitchen counters free of excess clutter. We understand that you live in your home, and we do not expect it to look like the front of Better Homes & Gardens!
3) Relax. Your home is going to be cleaned, and you don’t have to lift a finger!

I chose to go with the downstairs cleaning for this review because those are the rooms guests regularly see during the holidays. I intentionally left some things a little messier than I normally would {I was itching to clean it before they came, I contained myself}, and put some blankets and pillows on the floor too. I wanted to see what would really get clean, keep in mind this is a review. (I know it’s hard to tell from the pictures but there were definitely areas to clean!)

Molly Maid Before Collage MommyB.jpg

Here are a few things I was impressed with:

[checklist]

  • Brittany and Debra were on time and very professional
  • They got a lot of cleaning accomplished in the time they had
  • They vacuumed my couch and loveseat {who knew!!!}
  • My microwave glistened {seriously, like never before}

[/checklist]

Things that they could improve:

[badlist]

  • There were a few small areas they didn’t clean well or missed
  • My “thank-you” card smelled strongly of cigarette smoke
  • The one-time cleaning price was a little steep for my budget {although competitive with others in the area}

[/badlist]

Overall, I thought the cleaning was good and if I were to hire a regular service I would definitely consider Molly Maid. I think if you are in a pinch for the holidays and really don’t have the time to clean your home then the one-time cleaning service would be well worth it. I always feel stressed when it comes to cooking, cleaning, and getting organized and if there’s one thing I can cross off my list, and I have the funds to do it, that means more time to finish other things and enjoy a clean home.

Molly Maid After MommyB.jpg

Molly Maid of Central Charlotte and Cabarrus County serves the central and north Charlotte area as well as all of Harrisburg, Concord, Kannapolis, and the entire Lake Norman area. Their Home Service Professionals are licensed, bonded, and insured. They offer 100% Customer Satisfaction and have an A+ rating with the BBB.

If you’re ready to set up cleaning services for the holidays or anytime and are in the Central Charlotte, Cabarrus County area call 704-536-MAID or head to MollyMaid.com for a cleaning estimate. 

**For MommyB Knows Best readers, if you complete a one-time service or set up regular cleaning service with Molly Maid of Central Charlotte/Cabarrus County or South Park and mention you heard about them on MommyBKnowsBest.com you will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card!!

 

 

I received complimentary services in order to perform this review. The thoughts and opinions are mine as always, however yours may vary.