Holiday Traditions: Oh The Places You'll Go...

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As a child, the Christmas season was magical for me.  My parents always had us doing something that was centered around family and traditions.   From going downtown to see Santa at Marshall Fields (now Macy’s), to walking down State Street to see the Christmas Windows, buying roasted chestnuts and hot cocoa or making Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve, my childhood is full of treasured memories.   Now that I have a family of my own, I’ve passed down those same traditions and added a few of my own.  These are a few of my family’s favorite holiday traditions.

 Christmas Around The World

Each year my kids and I head to the Museum of Science and Industry for their annual Christmas Trees around the world exhibit.   The exhibit features over 50 trees and displays to represent holiday traditions and cultures around the world.  The center of the museum also has a four-story, floor to dome Grand Tree that we love to take a photo around each year.  I love collecting ornaments (I spoke about that in my last post) and looking at the different ornaments on each tree is both educational and fascinating.   Armenia, Bosnia, Finland, Italy, Greece, Japan, Africa, Mexico, and more are beautifully decorated and allow my kids to learn what other cultures and countries celebrate the holiday season. You can also purchase ornaments at the Museums’ gift shop from these countries as well.   The exhibit runs thru January 7, 2018. (

 Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic

Another family favorite with my children is Brookfield Zoo’s holiday magic.  It’s the largest and longest running lights festival in the Chicagoland area.  With over one million lights, a laser light show, a Train Display, carolers and more there is plenty to do both indoors and outdoors with the family.  You can even take the kids to see Santa.    It’s outdoors so we always have to dress warmly and will usually pick up hot cocoa for the kids or a Kahlua and coffee for the adults while we take in the many exhibits including a 41 foot talking tree and the favorite, polar light show.   In addition to the beautiful trees and lights, you can enjoy a magic show, ice sculpture exhibits and plenty of time to visit the many animals at the zoo!  Admission is $20 adults/$15 kids but you can usually find a deal on Groupon that’s awesome for families! ( )

Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier

Winter Wonderfest is held each year at Navy Pier.  It’s Chicago’s biggest indoor playground and my children look forward to it every year.   Winter Wonderfest has over 170,000 square feet of carnival rides, giant slides and an indoor skating rink that provides an entire day of fun for the entire family.  The area is a literal winter wonderland that’s beautifully decorated with holiday displays, ornate Christmas trees and immediately puts you in the Christmas spirit from the moment you enter.   This is an event for all ages with a special section for your little ones to rock climbing and rides for older kids and adults.  It’s an indoor winter carnival with cookie decorating demonstrations, arts & crafts and plenty of food.  Winter Wonderfest runs through January 7, 2018. ( )

Each of these traditions are special moments that I share with my children but they also make really cute date spots for you and your sweetie or even a fun night out with your girlfriends. Brookfield Zoo has an adult only night with cocktails!   The Holiday season is so much more than buying gifts and running errands. It’s about spending time with the ones you love and creating memories that last a lifetime. 

What are some of your favorite things to do or places to go during the holiday season?  Do you have things you do every year as part of your family’s traditions? Share them with me!

As always, Take care of yourselves and one another

D. Sanders