5 Unique Gift Ideas for Christmas

  1. Magazine subscription – I love this one and have used it for my kids before. Its super fun and is like a present every month! I’ve even given a subscription to my mom as a gift before. Did you know that Amazon has discounted magaizine subscription links? You can also get Kindle versions of the magazines as well. I’ve linked some of my favorites below:

2. Subscription boxes with activities – These are super fun, because like activities, it is something exciting every                                  month! Whether you have a little baker, an artist or a scientist, subscription boxes are a great way to keep your kids                            learning for fun!

3. Activities – This is a fun one too, and one we have used before to gift our children special activies like Parkour classes                       for our oldest, and archery for our daughter. Find something they need for that class and use that as an opportunity to                         a) buy it and gift it (I mean, lets face it, you have to buy it anyway. Make it feel more exciting by wrapping it in a box),                           and b) a fun way to let them know they get to do said activity!

                     Ideas – soccer ball and shin guards for soccer classes, ballet bag for ballet                                     classes, special leotard for gymnastics, bow and arrow for archery classes.

4. Keep It Simple – Another way to keep it simple and keep yourself focused is something my mom has done for years.                          Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. Keeps you focused and doesn’t                        let you get out of hand. Make it a theme!! If you have a kind into Harry Potter, add the illustrated version to your                                    bookshelf this Christmas and include these Harry Potter socks, Harry Potter Lego set and find something in the need                         category that might be themed like school supplies, or something like that!

5. A Trip – Sometimes an event or a trip during Christmas, or a gift right after Christmas is a perfect opportunity to teach                         kids about saving, and how to make an exchange. We aren’t going to spend a bunch of money on toys are stuff like                             that. Instead, we are going to spend money on this amazing trip. I have a friend who is going on a Disney Cruise for                            Christmas. Next year I hope to be in Europe right before Christmas so that will be a part of our gift.

Christmas can be such a great time, but can easily fall into being all about THINGS! We have such an amazing opportunity to bring more to our children, and show them how things don’t always have to be the same. Sometimes its about toys and silly things, because there’s a lot of Christmas magic in that. But, sometimes, its about memories and the experiences.

Do you give unique or interesting gifts at Christmas? I’d love to hear about them!


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Visit Christmas Village at the Gaylord National Harbor!

One of the very first things we did to celebrate our first Christmas in Washington, DC was visit “Christmas on the Potomac”. I can’t even remember how we heard about it, but the indoor display with lights and music sounded like something really amazing. Plus, it snowed inside! Can’t beat that now, can you?  The Gaylord is beautiful even when it’s not decorated for Christmas, but truly it is a beautiful thing during the holidays. Things have changed a little bit since that first time we visited. Christmas Villiage is now in a separate area with a carousel and an indoor ice rink. It keeps growing every year! You can still do your favorite things – Gingerbread House/Cooking making and visit Santa. Visit the ICE exhibit (which is Peanuts themed this year, which just makes me so darn happy), then come inside and grab yourself some hot chocolate and warm up! Christmas at the Gaylord is a great way to spend the holiday season and a really fun place to take any family that is visiting from out of town. Kids of all ages will enjoy it! It even got two thumbs up from the 12-year-old, so you know that’s saying something.

Things to do at the Gaylord National

Cirque Dreams Unwrapped 

If you’ve ever seen a Cirque show you know that they are always amazing! This adorable show is Christmas themed and takes place in the atrium in the middle of the hotel. With brightly colored sets and costumes combined with the amazing acrobatics that Cirque is known for, Dreams Unwrapped is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season. You can get seated tickets to one of the two shows, but you are also able to stand and watch it from different locations inside as it their large open atrium area.

Gaylord Hotel’s Christmas Villiage

Now we get to the heart of Gaylord’s Christmas experience. Shopping, Build-a-Bear, Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread House making, carousel, train and ice skating!

It is quite magical inside and they have done a good job with organizing the layout so there is area to move around. Be prepared that the carousel and train are meant for younger children – my seven-year-old was a bit big for those two rides.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed the hot chocolate (two thumbs up from all three), as well as decorating the gingerbread cookies. It was a fun experience and definitely got the Christmas magic going in our house.

And of course, THE main attraction of Gaylord Christmas is ICE! We have been to ICE twice now and its always a super cool experience for the kids. Now I’m not going to give any spoilers, except to say you HAVE to go. This year is Peanuts theme which makes it THE most perfect thing ever. ICE is such a unique and one of a kind experience. Something you should do at least once while living here (for my military readers). Don’t forget to snag that military discount as well!!

Stay for the day at the National Harbor and visit the Christmas tree, check out the Peeps store, and eat at one of the many restaurants they have there. Rosa Mexicano out in the Harbor and National Pastime, inside the Gaylord, are our two favorites!

Cap it all off with a ride on the National Harbor Giant Wheel! I was actually proud of myself for going on and not freaking out! Heights like that are not my favorite thing in all the world, but the kids loved it!

Do you have a favorite thing to do at National Harbor or place to eat? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for having us Gaylord National!!!! We had such a great time!

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Christmas in Washington, DC – 5 Must-See Sites!

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, second to July 4th! And while we don’t always get a snowy Christmas, there’s a bit of magic in the air. And whether you want to explore the city during the holidays with kids or without, taking in all the sites in can be fun for everyone!

  1. The National Christmas Tree & the White House Christmas Trees

Last year was my first year (out of the six Christmas’ here) that I experienced this really cool display. My friend text me and said, “we’re going into the city for some Christmas bucket list check-off!” So we packed up the kids for a day of fun. Our first stop was this display. There was a tree for every state which was really cool. The kids enjoyed finding tress of the states of family, or where we used to live. I imagine the display was even more beautiful at night, but with the backdrop of the White House you can’t go wrong.

2. A Victorian Christmas at Mount Vernon

This one is probably one of my favorite things to do – it makes a perfect date night, a special tree for visiting family or a fun family night. On this night you get to experience Mount Vernon in a way you only can during the Christmas season. I first heard about this awesome event from my mom who read about it in Victoria Magazine. During this special event there are actors and you are able to see the top floor, which is not opened during the year. The Christmas Camel is present, with carolers and you can grab yourself some wassel.

3. CityCenterDC

CityCenterDC is located near the Washington, DC Convention Center with amazing shops and restaurants. The amazing blogger ladies here in DC first showed me this place. Its the most awesome place to take pictures. Every season the display changes, but the display at Christmas is the best.

4. US Botanical Gardens

We have been to the Botanical Gardens during the summer because its usually on someone’s list who is visiting you. Its a really neat place to visit even if it doesn’t h ave all the amazing decorations for Christmas. Each year there is a new theme. Last year’s was “Roadside Attractions” which was really amazing. Each item uses live or dried plant materials, so its kind of ala Rose Parade. This year’s theme is “All Aboard!” exploring train stations of America.



5. National Harbor

The National Harbor has all sorts of cool things to do during the holiday season, with the Gaylord Hotel having all the coolest things to do! You can even see it snow indoors!! One of the big events is the ICE event, with giant ice sculptures. This year’s theme is Charlie Brown and I can’t wait to go! Visit Mrs. Claus, take pictures with Santa, decorate gingerbread men and see the “Unwrapped” Cirque show! There’s so much to do throughout the whole harbor so make sure to check the daily calendar out.



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Christmas in California

It’s been almost six years since we moved to the Washington, DC area. Six whole years! I feel like time is flying by. But the one thing I missed more than anything was Christmas with my family. So we were blessed and lucky enough to be able to go! We were off to spend two weeks with family and friends. Going home for Christmas was so special. All of the traditions I have been doing with my kids, passing them down to a new generation, I got to do with my mom, dad and sister. The cousins spent time together, giving them the chance to develop relationships that will continue to deepen as they get older. I flew out with the kids first by myself {yup, I did that and I’m officially calling myself a pro now!} and the hubbs joined up a week later. I wanted to share just a little bit of this special time with you all. Stay tuned for some traveling with kids tips and tricks!


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Santa HQ Has Arrived!!

While we typically do not begin our Christmas celebrations until after Thanksgiving, we always make an exception when it comes to man up North. Santa has officially arrived in Northern Virginia, so we went to check out the amazing HGTV Santa HQ in Tyson’s Corner! One of the best parts about Santa HQ is the fact that I can make reservation. And mom’s everywhere rejoiced right?


The Santa HQ people are fantastic as well – helpful, efficient, kind….all things that I look for in an experience that can be a little anxiety-filled and stressful. You want this experience to be fun and as stress-free as possible, and every time we’ve stopped by to visit Santa here its been a great experience. For that, I am truly thankful.

Check your Naughty or Nice status, download the elf app to see the special interactive displays, work on Santa’s sleigh, and check on the elves.

And of course we had to stop and get our picture with Tommy from The Tommy Show!! 
You never know who you might run into here at Santa HQ

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