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Mary

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Etsy Item of the Day: Narwhal Holiday Card

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Since I am thoroughly amused by clever puns and word plays, it is no surprise that this narwhal holiday card caught my eye. I really love this artist’s illustration style and her lighthearted designs. Make sure you check out all the other cute card designs in this shop to find the perfect holiday greeting for your loved ones!
Narwhal Holiday Card ~ Etsy Seller: Nightly Doodles

Etsy Seller: Nightly Doodles

IKEA Holiday Events

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IKEA stores all over the world are hosting several events this holiday season that will put you in the Christmas spirit. As you may know, IKEA was founded in Sweden, and therefore, many of their events are inspired by Swedish traditions. The whole family can enjoy a variety of activities, such as julbord, breakfast with Santa, gingerbread house decorating, and more!


The julbord is an all-you-can-eat Swedish feast that includes traditional dishes like herring, smoked salmon, meatballs with lingonberries, and more. To finish off your delicious dinner, you’ll enjoy some sweets and glögg (mulled wine). In order to nosh at this spectacular smörgåsbord, you will need to purchase your ticket(s) in advance, so contact your local store.

Santa will be making public appearances at several IKEA stores this year! Children of all ages can meet Santa and even take a photo with him, so be sure to bring your camera. In some stores, Santa will be in the restaurant, so you and your children can even sit and eat breakfast with him.

Try your hand at piping icing and adorning a gingerbread house with candies at IKEA’s gingerbread decorating contest. If you win the prize for the best decorated house, you can brag to your family and friends!

One of the other events that you may be able to attend is the St. Lucia procession—a Swedish Christmas tradition where Lucia leads a procession of lights as Swedish Christmas carols are sung.

Please note that events vary from store to store, so you’ll want to check your local store for a list of events. Click here to find a store in the USA or here to find an international store.

Atlanta, GA

  • Gingerbread House Decorating Contest:
    Friday, 12 December: 4–8:30pm
  • Julbord:
    Friday, 12 December: 4pm, 5:30pm, 7pm

Birmingham, UK

  • Meet Santa:
    Every weekend until 22 December: 10:30am–4:15pm
  • Julbord & St. Lucia Celebration:
    Thursday, 11 December: 6–8pm

Brooklyn, NY

  • Gingerbread House Decorating Contest:
    Friday, 12 December: 12pm, 2:30pm
    Saturday, 20 December: 12pm, 2:30pm
  • Julbord:
    Friday, 12 December: Contact store for dining times.

Göteborg Bäckebol, Sweden

  • Julbord:
    Every day until Christmas: 12–2pm
  • Meet Santa:
    Sunday, 7 December: 12–3pm
    Sunday, 14 December: 12–3pm
    Sunday, 21 December: 12–3pm
  • St. Lucia Celebration:
    Saturday, 13 December: 2–4pm

Miami, FL

  • Breakfast with Santa:
    Sunday,14 December: 9:30–10:30am
    Sunday, 21 December: 9:30–10:30am
  • Julbord:
    Friday, 12 December: 5pm, 7pm

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Breakfast with Santa:
    Saturday, 13 December: 9:30–11am
    Saturday, 20 December: 9:30–11am
  • Julbord:
    Friday, 12 December: 5:00pm, 7:00pm

Seattle, WA

  • Julbord:
    Thursday, 11 December: 4:30pm, 6:30pm
    Friday, 12 December: 4:30pm, 6:30pm
  • St. Lucia Celebration
    Saturday, 13 December: 9:30am

Again, this is not a complete list of events at IKEA stores. To find events and activities at the store nearest you, check online. Click here to find a store in the USA or here to find an international store.

Give a Goat to Help Those in Need

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One way you can give a meaningful present this holiday season is by giving a symbolic gift to a friend or family member. With Oxfam America Unwrapped, you can purchase a gift in honor of a loved one that will help someone else in need of basic supplies, education, or animals. The present itself is sent to someone else across in the world to help them support their family and community.

If you’re like us and love Christmas goats (such as the Gävlebocken), you might want to purchase a goat in honor of your best friend. The goat goes to someone else who needs it, and you can send your friend a card to let them know about the gift.

Goats are a great gift because they are hardy creatures, as they are drought-resistant and will eat just about anything. This is an important factor for people who live in areas without a lot of grass. Should you decide to give a pair of goats or a tribe of goats, your gift will have long term benefits since the goats can provide milk and offspring.

In addition to the various animal gifts, you can also give gifts of education, skill training, emergency supplies, or even basic necessities, such as soap. There are many other types of gifts to choose from, so check out Oxfam’s website to choose one that appeals to you. Your charitable gift will have a lasting impact on the lives of others.

Christmas Photos for Your Pets

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Photo by Sandra Cobet. License: CC BY 2.0

Have your pets been naughty or nice this year? Now is their chance to whisper in Santa’s ear. Or maybe they’ll just give Santa a big slobbery kiss. ;) In Petco stores nationwide, your furry family members can have their photo taken with Santa. If there isn’t a Petco near you, contact your local humane society or animal shelter. Many humane societies have an event where Santa will take a picture with pets. For more holiday fun, you can get a free digital photo from PetSmart (details below).

So pull out your Christmas sweaters, scarves, hats, or other festive accessories and make plans to attend one of these photo events!

Photos with Santa at Petco

petco-logoOn Saturday, December 6th or 13th, head into your local Petco between 1–4pm to have your pet’s photo taken with Santa. You’ll get a 4" x 6" photo for just $9.95. You’ll be happy to know that 100% of your photo purchase will help homeless animals—now that’s money well spent!

Click here to find a Petco store near you.

Paws for the Camera at PetSmart

PETSMART-logoGet a digital photo of you with your furry friend(s) at PetSmart for free—that’s right, FREE! Now, to be clear, Santa will not be there, but you can still have a nice, festive photo taken. The image will be emailed to you, so you can print as many as you like or even use it for your Christmas cards! This in-store photo event will take place on December 6–7th and 13–14th from 12–4pm.

Click here to find a PetSmart near you.

Other Resources

  • Your local humane society – Contact your local animal shelter to find out if they are having a “photos with Santa” event.
  • Your local shopping mall – Sometimes the Santa photo booth at the mall has designated times when pets are welcome to take photos with Santa.
Mary

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Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies

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Looking for a holiday activity to do with your family and friends? Attend a Christmas tree lighting! Many cities host an annual tree lighting ceremony that is accompanied by several other festive attractions. Check out one (or more) of these events and treat your family to some holiday fun. (Psst… You might even spot Santa while you’re there!)

Rockefeller Center – New York City, New York

Rockefellar Christmas Tree
Photo by Rob Young. License: CC BY 2.0

Watch the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree light up the streets of New York City tomorrow, December 3rd. If you are unable to be there in person, you can watch this momentous occasion on television on NBC.

Fun Facts: The tree is a Norway spruce, stands 85 feet tall, is 90 years old, and weighs 13 tons.

Trafalgar Square – London

Trafalgar Square December 2006. Photo by DAVID ILIFF
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY SA 3.0

The tree will be lit at 6pm on Thursday, December 4th. If you can’t make it to the lighting ceremony, perhaps you can attend the blessing of the crib on December 7th at 5:30pm or enjoy the sound of carolers from December 8th through the 23rd.

Fun Fact: Since 1947, the Trafalgar Square tree has been donated by the city of Oslo, Norway as gesture of gratitude for Britain’s help in World War II.

National Christmas Tree Lighting 2014 – Washington, D.C.

National Christmas Tree Dec. 2009
Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

Watch the National Christmas tree lighting on December 4th. The ceremony will include performances and appearances by Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Patti LaBelle, and more.

Fun Fact: Every year people from each state and territory create ornaments to donate to the “Pathway of Peace” trees, which are a group of smaller trees near the national tree.

Tampa’s Tree Lighting Ceremony – Tampa, Florida

If you’re near Tampa, be sure to attend the tree lighting ceremony on Friday, December 5th at 6pm. The event is free to attend, and there will be musical performances, a movie in the park, a Christmas market, and even ice skating!

Mayor’s Holiday Celebration – Houston, Texas

Photo Credit: Donna Carson, houstontx.gov

The folks of Houston, Texas are kicking off the holiday season with fun festivities on Friday, December 5th. There will be music, fireworks, free photos with Santa, and the illumination of the city’s Christmas tree.

The Queen Mary – Long Beach, California

On December 3rd at 8pm, you can watch the 21st annual lighting of the Christmas tree at The Queen Mary—a floating hotel in Long Beach. There will be plenty of other festive activities for the family, such as ice skating, a magic show, performances by a local choir and accomplished figure skaters, and more!

National Gallery of Canada – Ottawa, Ontario

Photo by Aaron Bihari. License: CC BY SA 2.0

Attend the tree lighting at the National Gallery of Canada on Thursday, December 4th at 7pm. Enjoy free admission to the lighting ceremony, and take the whole family!

Fun Fact: The tree came from Quebec and is 30 years old.

Mary

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Cyber Monday Deals

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There are just 24 days until Christmas, so take advantage of these Cyber Monday deals for your holiday shopping. Some of these deals end tonight, while others extend throughout the week. You won’t need to brave the cold weather to get these deals—they are just a click away!

December is finally here! Send a festive arrangement to a loved one to celebrate the holiday season. Get free shipping/no service charge on select products at 1800flowers.com! Use promo code HLDYSHP at checkout. (Offer valid from 11/28 12:01AM EST to 12/01 11:59PM EST.)
Amazon has great deals every day this week, so you can keep saving long after Cyber Monday is over. Shop Amazon Cyber Monday deals week.
Looking for unique, one of a kind gifts? Check out CafePress’ 24-hour Cyber Monday sale! Get 30% off everything with code CYBERSAV. (Coupon code is valid today only.)
Get a head start on your holiday gifts—send some yummy treats! Think it’s too early to send a Christmas gift? Think again! You can order now and select a future delivery date upon checkout. Get $15 off $50 purchase at Cheryls.com. Use coupon code CYBERSAVE. (Offer valid 12/1/14 12.01am–11.59pm EST.)
Find some cute clothes for the kiddos on your holiday list. Save 50% off everything! (Offer valid 12/1 only.)
Not only does HearthSong have lots of amazing toys for you to discover, but they have also many award-winning toys that kids will love. Get 15% off $50+ with $15 Reward Card at HearthSong.com! Use code: LSHSCMON14.
Juice Beauty offers an extensive line of organic skin care and cosmetic products. This award-winning company has products for both men and women, so take advantage of their Cyber Monday sale. Get an exclusive gift box that includes up to $133 worth of free skincare and makeup when you spend $75–125, plus free shipping. (Valid 11/30 and 12/1.)
You can find clothes for the whole family, home decor, and more at Kohl’s! Don’t forget to check out their pretty Christmas ornaments and decorations. The best part? You can save 20% off sitewide with code CYBERTAKE20, plus get free shipping on $25—no code needed! (Valid 11/29–12/3.)
If you or some family members need to stock up on contact lenses, check out Vision Direct. Take 30% off your First Vision Direct Contact Lens order with code THANKS30. (Valid 11/26–12/2.)
Find toys, electronics, and gifts for the whole family at Walmart. New specials added daily during Cyber Week at Walmart.com!

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our full disclosure here.

Etsy Item of the Day: Frozen Memory Arm Warmers

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These sky blue arm warmers are made from a super soft cotton knit fabric, which means they are lightweight and breathable, perfect for many seasons. The print on the fabric reminds me of Elsa’s icy blue dress from the movie Frozen. If you have loved ones who are Frozen fans, this might be an excellent gift for them!
Frozen Memory Arm Warmers ~ Etsy Seller: Zen and Coffee

Etsy Seller: Zen and Coffee
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