7 Last Minute Family Friendly Holiday Activities

The holidays are pretty much here. The season goes by so fast with parties, events, shopping, etc. It’s hard to experience it together as a family. But it’s not too late to get out there and enjoy some festive activities throughout the city as a family. I rounded out some events that are still happening and some of our own personal favs. Enjoy!

1. NutcrackerРThe Joffrey Ballet is running Nutcracker from now until December 30th. Tickets run from $35 to $100 dollars. You can also find them on Stub Hub here.

2. Chicago Trolley & Double Decker- Holiday Lights Tour- Experience the magic of the holidays with Chicago’s most spectacular light displays at the city’s most popular destinations.

holiday lights tour on Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Tour. Makes a great holiday gift for Chicago Families

Photo Courtesy Chicago Trolley

This tour is great for even Chicagoans that want to enjoy the holiday lights as a family out of the cold. As a bonus, A FREE holiday cupcake from Sprinkles is given to all riders. Tours are running now until December 23rd, 2017. Adult tickets are $29 dollars and Kid’s tickets are $18 dollars (ages 5-15). Reservations are highly recommended due to the popularity of the tour. You can make reservations here.

3. Holiday Market- Randolph Street MarketРThe market is a unique shopping experience for the whole family. There are unique gifts from thrifty to extravaganza. It is December 16-17 from 10am-5pm. This is an indoor market with free parking onsite. They have a $30 dollar family package that includes 2 adults/drinks (wine, beer, champagne) and up to 4 kids plus a kids snack (online special only) You would definitely find a gift for even the pickiest shopper on your list.

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Photo Courtesy Randolph Street Market

4.¬†Caroling at the Cloud Gate-¬† Get ready to sing¬†some holiday classics during Caroling at Cloud Gate. This festive series is part concert, part sing-along at¬†Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean” on Fridays, through December 15 from 6-7pm. Weather permitting.

5. White Christmas at Music Box TheaterРIn its 34th year, this annual tradition brings the family together at the Music Box theater to see Santa Claus, sing along and watch a holiday classic. Santa welcomes the audience and, accompanied by Music Box organist Dennis Scott, leads them in the sing along to the most cherished Christmas carols. The lyrics are projected onto the theater’s screen so no one misses a chance to sing their hearts out. Then, the audience gets to enjoy a Christmas movie classic.

6.¬†Christkindlmarket- Park at Wrigley –¬†We have enjoyed many family friendly activities at the Park at Wrigley since it opened this year like movies, Green City Market, and live music for children. But now it is turned into a winter wonderland perfect for any age. I found this to be a little easier to navigate with little ones compared to the Daley Plaza Market, especially if you have a stroller or with several children. ¬†There is ice skating and rentals are available, lots of food options and unique shopping. Santa does make an appearance on Saturdays (and it is inside!) It runs now until December 31st, with ice skating until February 2018.

Sweet treats at the Park at Wrigley. Makes a great activity to do with the family

Photo Courtesy of Alex @sassyconfetti

7.¬†Santa Suite at Swissotel–¬† One of the best things we did as a family this holiday season was our first Santa visit at the Swissotel. On the 41st floor, in a 5 room Presidential Suite, it is completely transformed into a winter wonderland experience. The space is decorated with twelve Christmas trees, a table set for Santa, and even a station to write letters to the North Pole.

Santa Suite at the Swissotel is a great way to spend the holidays with the family

Writing Letters to the North Pole

They also have different pop up shops, including floral crowns from Crowning Event.

Christine

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A Gift Guide for the Wine Lover

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Luxury Combed Cotton "Bring Me Some Wine" Novelty Socks - Perfect Hostess or Housewarming Gift Idea for Women, Funny Secret Santa, or Unisex White Elephant Gift Idea for a Wine Lover1. These socks are not only perfect for the wine lover, but they make a great hostess or friends grab bag gift. They are under $15 and you can find them here.

2. Do you have that one friend who loves to bring their wine in the tub or shower? It sounds crazy, but these people exist and I know several. Find it here.wine holder makes a great gift this holiday for the tub or bath

3. Wine labels make the perfect hostess gift. I bought some for Thanksgiving and the host loved it. Buy the wine, stick a label on it and your gift is done!

 

 

 

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wine labels make the perfect holiday gift

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3. These durable, shatterproof wine glasses are cute, but a practical gift for those wine lovers that bring their drinks to go. Great for movies in the park or those long stroller walks around the neighborhood. It also comes with a bag to easily transport your wine and glasses. Click here.

 

These are shatterproof wine glasses and make a great gift this holiday season

4. Who doesn’t love a good pun and wine? These wine glasses are great for those on your list with a little sense of humor. Dishwasher safe with a chip resistant edge, they make a great gift. Click¬†here.¬†

wine glasses that make a great gift this holiday season. They are funny and dishwasher safe

5. I am being a little selfish here because I just ordered this for myself. It makes the perfect housewarming gift for any wine lover. It holds the wine bottles, glasses AND the corks. It is available in “WINE” or “HOME”. Click¬†here.

wine holder that holds bottles, glasses, and corks. Makes the perfect housewarming gift

 

 

 

The Gift Guide for every CHICAGO FAMILY on Your List

A gift guide for the Chicago family to experience together.

Sometimes the best gifts I have ever gotten are the experiences you have together. Personally, I would rather have a gift that creates memories as family over anything else. That is priceless. So this holiday season, whether you are a friend, grandparent, or mom, I have rounded out a list of experiences families can have together throughout the holidays and into the new year. Give the gift of experience to the Chicago Family on your list.

The BerghoffРIf you have never been to The Berghoff, it is a family owned restaurant with old German favorites like the bavarian pretzel, bratwurst and much more. They are a family operated restaurant, so why not bring in the ones on your list for the holidays and enjoy the iconic restaurant! They have several festive activities throughout the season and have beautiful holiday decor throughout the restaurant. If you would like to read more about some of their menu upgrades and my latest experience, you can find it here. They have gift cards available for purchase to give those families on your list an experience to dine and enjoy any of the activities below.

The Berghoff during the holiday season.

Die Weihnachtsgurke (The Christmas Pickle Ornament)– The Berghoff managers choose a post on their famed Christmas tree to hide a pickle. Children under 12 years of age will be invited to find the pickle. If a child finds it, they’ll receive a complimentary root beer. The special will run all day from now until December 23rd in the Main Dining Room. Valid with purchase only.

Spot the Brat (for the adults)– Similar to the pickle challenge, The Berghoff managers will hide their stuffed toy Brat dressed in Christmas clothing somewhere around the bar. Adults will be invited to find it and the winner receives one complimentary mini brat. Valid Monday-Thursday from now until December 23rd in the bar. Valid with purchase only.

SantaРSanta Claus will be visiting The Berghoff from 1pm-5pm every Saturday until Christmas.

Goldfish Swim School–¬† We have been taking swim lessons at Goldfish for almost a month now and we LOVE it!¬†We look forward to it every weekend. If you would like to read more about our experience, you can find it¬†here.

swimming lessons at Goldfish swim school. They are offering a great holiday package this year.

Many families and kids want to take classes, but either can’t commit to the time, can’t afford it or are wary of trying something new. Giving the gift of a children’s class is a really unique way for family members to gift an experience and skill set that a family might not otherwise try! Goldfish Swim School this season is offering a great value holiday package this season. With 12 locations across the Chicagoland area, Goldfish features year-round swim lessons for children ages four months to age 12 with the benefit of state-of-the-art facilities and a confidence-building curriculum that promotes a love of swimming and water safety. This year, the holiday package includes:

  • 2 months of swim lessons
  • the annual registration fee
  • a¬†gift¬†basket of¬†Goldfish retail items

for $189 (regular price $220). Such a great value that will keep giving in the new year!

Pearachute Kids–¬†There are some hot new kid memberships that will make for a great gift¬†for you and your family to experience. Just think of a gift card or membership that keeps on giving!!

Pearachute makes a great gift for Chicago families to enjoy kids classes throughout the city

With Pearachute, kids can enjoy choices of different classes around Chicagoland that give parents flexibility and options to try new activities! It’s a monthly membership that lets you drop into the best kids’ classes near you. Memberships start at $39 a month and with Pearachute you can buy your kids, nieces or nephews, or grandkids a gift card to put towards a monthly pass. This holiday season, Pearachute is offering a FREE $25 Pearachute gift card with every gift card purchase of $100 or more. There will be a ton of Pearachute-only holiday experiences¬†on the site this season like Polar Express tickets, visits with Santa, Christmas plays and shows, seasonal live theater and Santa breakfasts! You can find more information¬†here.

Blo, Blow Dry Bar– Treat yourself and your little lady this holiday to a fun hair and makeup experience at the newest dry bar to hit the Chicago scene. I have had a blow out here a few times and it’s one of the best I have had in the city.

Blo out and Blow Dry on Southport Corridor makes a great holiday gift for moms and daughters

Blo, Blow Dry Bar, with its first Chicagoland location in the Southport Corridor, offers hair and makeup (blow and style, no cuts or color) and full makeup application with Glo Minerals products. Blow outs start at $35 on Mon-Wed and $45 after that. You can also book by appointment Blo for your holiday party, kids’ party and more! You can check out the holiday hair menu¬†here.¬†Gift cards are available for purchase.

Chicago Trolley & Double Decker- Holiday Lights Tour- Experience the magic of the holidays with Chicago’s most spectacular light displays at the city’s most popular destinations.

holiday lights tour on Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Tour. Makes a great holiday gift for Chicago Families

This tour is great for even Chicagoans that want to enjoy the holiday lights as a family out of the cold. As a bonus, A FREE holiday cupcake from Sprinkles is given to all riders. Tours are running now until December 23rd, 2017. Adult tickets are $29 dollars and Kid’s tickets are $18 dollars (ages 5-15). Reservations are highly recommended due to the popularity of the tour. You can make reservations¬†here.

Enjoy this season with your family and friends because that’s what it’s truly about.

Until next time…

Christine

The Gift Guide for Every CHICAGO FOODIE on Your List

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holiday gift guide, chicago brand, social sparking wine. gift, wine, holidays1. Social Sparking WineРThis sparkling sake is a local Chicago company and makes the perfect gift for all your holiday parties. Especially for any foodie hostess. Buy a case, stick a bow on it, and your gift is done! You can get 15% off using the code socialchristine when you purchase them online here. If you stock up for the season and spend $49 dollars, shipping is free!

2. State of Illinois cutting board B00FDN70CUmakes a cute gift to either use in the kitchen or for display. They are usually really expensive, but I found this one on Amazon Prime for $15.99. You can find it here.

3. Chicago Pizza ToursРIf your foodie friend likes to get out and explore, Chicago Pizza Tours is great way to experience the city and the best pizza around town. They offer different types of tours great even for your out of town guests. Use the code holiday2017 and you get 15% off any ticket or even gift certificates (the gift certificate still has the same full value) Book here.

4.B0153GD6EC  This Chicago flag apron makes a great gift for men and women that love two things: Chicago and food. Available on Amazon Prime for $28.99. You can find it here.

5.¬†¬†Bumble and Bustle-¬†¬†Who doesn’t love a cute coffee mug right? These mugs make the perfect gift (I own two!) and there are a lots of options to choose from. Best part is the owner is right here in Chicago. You can get 10% off using the discount code GOODLIFE10.

Holiday gift guide, Chicago mugs from a local chicago company

6. Old Town Olive Oil РDid you know most olive oils in stores are actually filled with canola oil? I learned that a few months ago after a visit to old town olive oil make a great gift, local chicago company, gift guideOld Town Oil.  You can sample lots of different kinds (my favorite is Tuscan Herb) and they bottle it right in front of you. They have sampler boxes with 2-4 bottles that make the perfect gift for every foodie and chef in your life.

7.¬†Chicago Food Planet–¬† Offering various tours around the city, taste the diverse food and drink of Chicago as a neighborhood food expert offers a local’s perspective of the city. It’s really quite an experience to eat and drink at the best places around the city. From now until the end of the year, you can book a private group tour for 15% discount. A great options for family and friends outings of 8+ people looking for a private¬†food¬†& beverage experience.¬† Private tours can be booked directly at 312-932-932 ext. 5.

8. For any Chicago pizza lover, this shirt is perfect. And who doesn’t love pizza? Available Chicago pizza lover shirt for women, chicago pizza, gift guideon Amazon Prime for $11.50. You can find it¬†here.

9.¬†Chicago Wine Candle–¬† This local candle company has¬†been¬†working up with local bars and cafes around the Chicago land area to receive used wine bottles. They have unique scents likeCocktails champagne, bourbon (personal favorite), sangria and wine. They also started candle making classes. You can find more information¬†here.

10. Saving the best for last. Every true Chicagoan knows how we eat our hot dogs. You can find it
here.
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Easy Holiday Appetizer

Easy recipe appetizer for honey goat cheese and prosciutto recipe topped with Sunsweet Dates.

It’s the holiday season and I needed to bring something last minute to a friend’s party. I didn’t have a lot of time and needed to throw something together quickly. This bruschetta has 5 ingredients and was a huge party pleaser. It’s sweet and savory, best of both worlds. You could also top it with pistachios or balsamic for extra flavor and a splash of color. Enjoy! Find the recipe¬†here.

5 things to take your Turkey Day to the next level

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there are a lot of things we need to do. Whether it is cooking, creating the right place setting or finding the perfect hostess gift, Thanksgiving can be overwhelming. I have rounded out some great recipes and fun gift ideas to make your Turkey Day a little more enjoyable with your family and friends.

Beet Bruschetta with Lavender- Vanilla Honey Drizzle

IMG_0156 (1)I don’t know what says more than Thanksgiving than beets. It’s like a must right? So why not take those beets and turn them into something fun that everyone would like?! This recipe is from the Ryanne, the blogger at¬†Pineappple Expression.¬†Her stuff is always amazing and under 40 minutes, it is sure to be a serious crowd pleaser.

Prep and Assembly time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes Prep
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 French baguette loaf of bread
  • 1 (5.02 oz) small package of Boursin Cheese (garlic and herbs flavor is best)
  • 1 medium sized red beet
  • 1 package of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lavender
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • kosher salt

Directions:

  1. First, preheat the oven to 375F.  Peel and slice the beet into 1/4 slices.  Place the slices on a roasting pan and toss with a light drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a few sprigs of thyme.  Roast the beets for 30 minutes, but flip after 15 for a more even cook.  When the beets are done, pull from the oven and let them cool.
  2. While the beets cool, slice the bread as you would for bruschetta.  Coat lightly with olive oil and place in the oven under the broiler for a maximum of 5 minutes.  The slices should still be soft, but have a nice golden color to the tops.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the honey, lavender and vanilla bean (scrape the insides out to produce the black flecks) along with the apple cider vinegar.   I love this combo!!
  4. After the beets have cooled, chop into cubes as evenly as you can.  1/4 inch on each side.  First cut into strips, then rotate the knife as you move through.
  5. To assemble the toasts, use a butter knife to spread a layer of Boursin cheese onto each slice of bread.   Next, crumble on a small mountain of the roasted beets.  Using a spoon, drizzle a little bit of the honey mixture over the tops of each toast.  Sprinkle with some coarse kosher salt or flaky sea salt on top.   For more pizzazz, use the sprigs of thyme to garnish the plate.
  6. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Wine Bottle Labels

Whether you are bringing wine or serving it, these Thanksgiving themed labels would get a good laugh from all your guests at the table. A set of 4 is $8.89 and available on Prime. Perfect for all wine lovers. Find them here.

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Skinny Pumpkin Bars

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Whether a pre-dinner snack or a dessert, these pumpkin bars are delicious.¬† They are not overly pumpkin and the chocolate chips are a great addition. My son devoured three in one day (he’s 20 months) and I am not going to even tell you how many I ate…..

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened (I tried margarine. It doesn‚Äôt taste the same)
  • 2 eggs and 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 (15oz) can All Natural mashed pumpkin (I like Trader Joes and Aldi)
  • ¬ĺ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

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 Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt; set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars; mix until creamy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time; beating and scraping bowl with each addition.
  6. Add egg whites; mix until fluffy.
  7. Add applesauce and pumpkin; mix until all blended together
  8. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix until thick consistency.
  9. Add in mini chocolate chips.
  10. Evenly spread into prepared cookie sheet.
  11. Bake 23-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  12. Cool and enjoy¬†ūüôā

Thanksgiving T-shirt- Turkey, Wine and Feeling Fine

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Ok, I know this technically doesn’t go on the table, but how cute is this t-shirt? And pretty¬†accurate right? Thanksgiving is about turkey, wine and RELAXING. It is available for men and women.

It is $17.99 and available on Prime. You can find it here.

Thanksgiving Party Boxes

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I really like these party boxes for either your adult guests or a nice addition to your kids table. It can be filled with candy from a candy bar, leftovers or desserts to go, it is a cute way for your guests to leave with something special from the day.  For a set of 12, it is $11.04 and available on Prime. You can find them here.

However you are celebrating, I hope you have a blessed day with friends and family, because in the end, that’s all that matters.

Until next time,

Christine