A couple months after we visited NYC, Raymond and I went out of town again to celebrate another birthday. This time we went to the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville, NC for my best friend’s birthday. All of us enjoyed relaxing while surrounded by nature, as it’s very peaceful in the mountains. While there, Raymond pointed out that the crisp mountain air was almost as refreshing as the air at the North Pole.
Enjoying the sunshine and blue skies
Taking a big whiff of the fresh mountain air
Raymond loved the gorgeous sunsets from atop the mountain
One happy reindeer
Where else do you think Raymond went this year? Stay tuned to find out!
Experience the wonder and excitement of Christmas when you board the Polar Express! The whole family can participate in this magical holiday activity at select train stations across America.
Children are encouraged to dress in their pajamas just like the kids in the book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Aboard the train, you’ll hear a reading of that famous book as you enjoy yummy cookies and cups of hot cocoa. You’ll also get to see Santa—who will give each child a special souvenir, a silver bell.
The round-trip ride to the North Pole generally lasts around 60–120 minutes, but varies by train line. See a list of participating railroad stations below. For a comprehensive list of Polar Express train rides, click here. Don’t wait too long to get your tickets, as they sell out quickly.
The vintage train cars of this railway are festooned with holiday decorations, providing a nice backdrop for memorable pictures. As you snuggle into your seat, make sure you have your ticket in hand because the conductor will be coming by to punch your ticket. Oh, and one other thing—don’t be alarmed if you see the Hobo, as he has been known to appear from time to time.
Saratoga Springs Railway Station
26 Station Lane
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
You can find holiday outfits for cats and dogs at many a store, but it’s not so easy to find Christmas costumes for pet rodents. At La Marmota Café, you can find lots of dress up clothes for your hamster, guinea pig, or chinchilla! I’m especially partial to this little elf costume.
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!
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.
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.
Whether you are from New York City or simply love the five boroughs, this NYC tree skirt would make a fun addition to your Christmas tree. Made with 100% cotton, the skirt’s bright design features Big Apple icons, such as the Statue of Liberty, taxi cabs, and the Empire State Building.
Over the past few years, Raymond and I have had a lot of fun travelling together during the elfy downtime. We’ve been all over the world to places like San Francisco, South Korea, and Brussels. And lucky for us, we were able to travel together again this year.
This past winter I was heading down to New York City for the birthday of one of my best friends, and I invited Raymond along since you know it’s simply not a birthday party without Raymond there!
Raymond had never visited the Big Apple before, but he loved it, especially all the different modes of transportation that we took. Plus, it was rather cold while we were there, so Raymond felt right at home.
Excited for his first ride on the New York City Subway
Emerging from the subway station
Going for a brisk walk on the High Line
Enjoying the view from above the busy streets
Raymond hailed a cab like a pro
Raymond telling the cab driver where he wanted to go
Where else in the world do you think Raymond went this year? Stayed tuned to find out!
Just look at how adorable this French Bulldog is in her Christmas tree pullover sweater! Made from plush fleece and adorned with a cheery tree, this pullover will put any pup in a festive mood. And you will feel your own warm fuzzies, as all profits from your purchase will go to helping dogs in need.
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.