It’s that time of year when ice rinks are popping up all around. We’ve hand-picked a few popular ones to highlight today that are located in large cities. As one might expect, most of these pop-up rinks charge admission, but some lucky souls can get in for free! So round up your troupe, gather your friends, or grab your honey’s hand and head to over to pop-up ice rink near you for some festive fun.
In midtown Atlanta, the ice rink at Park Tavern is a go-to spot for a gliding-good time. The rink is fully enclosed and temperature regulated, so it’s heated—or air-conditioned if Atlanta’s experiencing warm winter weather. While skating, you can enjoy music that plays over the speakers, and when you need to rest your feet, have a seat at a table and gulp down some hot chocolate. The last day to skate is February 15, 2016, so get your tickets today. They are available to purchase here.
Well, this is something I’ve never heard of before—skating on a roof! Yup, that’s right, at a Whole Foods store in Austin, Texas you can skate on the top of a building! Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? If you live within driving distance of Austin, head on over to the Plaza and take your turn spinning around this rooftop rink.
Know this before you go: Friday nights and weekends are always open to the public, but weekdays may be booked for a private event. To confirm that a weekday is open to the public, call Guest Services at this store.
In the heart of San Francisco, you can find a pop-up rink in Union Square. One unique feature about this rink is that they have a mobile app, so tech-savvy skaters can jump in the “virtual queue” instead of waiting in line. I’m sure you’ll enjoy spending that time scouting out some hot chocolate in the square!
While the rink is open now until January 18, 2016, you may want to go ahead and buy your tickets online as certain times are already sold out.
Skating at Skyline Park is free—yippee! And, renting a pair of skates is only $2, or free if you’re a student (just show your MY Denver Card). With rates like this, it’s the perfect opportunity to come out again and again all winter long. Since the rink is open until February 15, 2016, there’s no rush to cram in your skate sessions before Christmas.
The Winter Village at Bryant Park is the only rink in New York that offers free admission! Since there’s no fee, it’s an inexpensive way to entertain all your relatives who are visiting. Or if you work nearby, you can pop over for a quick twirl on the ice during your lunch break! With the rink being open until March 6, 2016 you’ve got plenty of time schedule a slippin’ good time!
For our British friends, plan on visiting the ice rink at Canary Wharf. It is home to London’s only skate path and can proudly say it’s one of the city’s largest rinks. The trees surrounding the area are beautifully lit with fairy lights which add to the magical holiday feel. If you’d rather watch the icy action from the sidelines, you can make yourself comfy on the viewing terrace. The rink is open until February 27, 2016.
Isn’t this copper lantern gorgeous? So festive and cozy, it would be a wonderful gift for someone who loves luminaries. I really like how the curly swirls perfectly complement the holly as it envelops the phrase “‘Tis the season to be jolly.”
Take a moment to imagine your life without clean water. The thought is kind of hard to wrap your mind around, isn’t it? Well, for many folks, it’s a reality, as 663 million people on this planet [1 in 11!] do not have access to clean, safe water. But charity: water hopes to change that for the better.
On a mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, charity: water has already funded more than 16,000 water projects in 24 countries since being founded in 2006! Water projects such as hand-dug and drilled wells, rainwater catchments, water purification systems, and more have brought clean water to 5.2 million people.
When charity: water helps folks gain easy access to clean drinking water, many wonderful things happen in their community: health improves, medical expenses lower, equality is increased, girls get more time in school, and women are given the chance to grow food or earn income. How incredible is that? As charity: water’s slogan says, water changes everything.
If you would like to get involved with this admirable organization, there are several ways to do so.
Give in Honour of a Loved One
For a more unique gift this Christmas, honour a loved one by making a donation to charity: water in their name. The recipient will receive a lovely card explaining your gift and charity: water’s mission. It’s a great present for the person who already has everything!
Purchase charity: water Goodies as Gifts
If you still have more Christmas shopping to do, consider purchasing some of the goodies from charity: water’s store to give to your family and friends. The profits from your purchase help fund charity: water’s operating costs and helps them grow, plus they offer some fun items! Here are a few of my favourites:
If you’re in the New York City area, you can volunteer to hand-write thank you notes, help out at special events, and more.
charity: water follows a 100% model, meaning that 100% of public donations funds clean water projects. They depend on private donors, foundations, and sponsors to cover salaries and other operating costs, so all of your donation will go directly to a water project! Click here to give a donation to support clean water around the world.
Cover your gifts with colorful nebulas and twinkling stars so that you can give presents that are out of this world! I have one elfy friend in mind who I know would love to receive a gift in this galactic gift wrap. The paper comes in a set of 12 sheets, each one measures 13" x 19", which is perfect for wrapping small boxes.
This holiday season, you can see ol’ Saint Nick dive into the deep and swim with the fishies at an aquarium near you. We’ve hand-picked a few locations around North America, but he may be making additional appearances, so contact an aquarium in your area to see if they are expecting Scuba Santa this Yuletide!
Scuba Santa will be visiting west coast folks when he makes a splash at the Kelp Tank Dive Shows at the Birch Aquarium. Not only can you seize the opportunity to see Scuba Santa, but your kids can also make a holiday craft on weekends. Here are the dates and times you can see the jolly old man from December 2, 2015–January 3, 2016: Tuesdays & Thursdays at 12:30pm; Saturdays at 2pm; Sundays at 10:30am. (Closed on December 25th.)
2300 Expedition Way
La Jolla, California 92037
If you live in North Georgia, consider driving to Atlanta to see Scuba Claus at the Georgia Aquarium. Kids can catch a glimpse of Scuba Claus plunging into the largest aquatic habitat in the world during the 12:00pm and 12:30pm dive shows, Thursday through Sunday from now until Christmas. Hang around for a chance to talk to Scuba Claus on the “dry side” in the Ocean Voyager Theater.
Scuba Santa will be enchanting folks who visit the Newport Aquarium this month. Whether you live in Newport or across the river in Cincinnati, plan a family trip to see Scuba Santa. The undersea festivities include Scuba Santa’s magic bubbles, dancing lights, and cheery holiday music. After Scuba Santa’s swim, children will have a chance to meet him in person and tell the big guy their Christmas wish. Enjoy this magical experience daily from 11am–4pm (except on 12/25).
Scuba Claus will be taking a plunge into the Great Ocean Tank at the South Carolina Aquarium on select dates this month. He’ll be there from 11:00am–3:00pm on December 12–13 and 19–23, so plan a visit to watch him swim with the sea creatures. You might even see whether his belly jiggles like jelly underwater! There will be lots of other fun family activities, too; contact the aquarium for more details.
Scuba Claus is visiting the Vancouver Aquarium every day until December 24th. He’ll be swimming through the Straight of Georgia exhibit, so you might see him swimming with belugas, halibut, sturgeon, or starfish. There’s also a possibility he will plunge into other galleries, so keep your peepers open as you stroll through the aquarium! Scuba Claus will be diving daily now until December 24th. Check the Vancouver Aquarium’s schedule for more information to plan your visit.
Simple and modern, this Christmas wreath would be a cheery addition to your front door. The burlap wreath is embellished with handmade fabric flowers and leaves, plus pussy willow branches, which are my favourite part!
Remember last year when Raymond and I travelled to Savannah, Georgia to visit a friend who was cycling around the Southeastern United States? Well, that friend got married earlier this year, so of course Raymond and I had to attend the nuptials! The wedding took place in rural Michigan, and Raymond and I were excited when we realized that we would pass Bronner’s on our way to the wedding.
Thrilled to find a merry roadside stop in MI
Based in Frankenmuth, Michigan, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is the world’s largest Christmas store, and it is a sight to behold, as it is simply HUGE! Situated on 27 acres, Bronner’s features festive landscaping, enormous decorations, a chapel, and 100,000 Christmas lights—and that’s all before you even walk into the store itself.
Ready to check out ornaments upon ornaments
The salesroom at Bronner’s covers 2.2 acres… that’s 1.7 American football fields of ornaments, nativity sets, Christmas lights, home decor, trees, and more—wow! And Bronner’s has an incredible variety of Christmas ornaments, from snowmen, Santas, and reindeer to ornaments based on occupations & hobbies to ornaments from around the world.
Raymond and I definitely had fun on our festive pit stop, being totally immersed in holiday cheer in the middle of the summer.
Since the store is so large, Raymond and I decided we would meet up here if we got separated.
Trying to memorize all of these for his other travels
Learning about Bronner’s history—it was founded 70 years ago!
Raymond with the founder of Bronner’s
Told you they had some large decorations! Can you spot Raymond?
Hey, I know that reindeer!
Viewing just a small sampling of the ornaments
Raymond’s favourite ornament section
Trying to select an ornament to purchase, but they had so many options!
If you want to visit Bronner’s yourself, they are open 361 days a year:
The heart of any Harry Potter fan will melt a little when they see this sweet ornament. “Always” is hand-stamped onto the metal disc, which is adorned with a doe charm, representing Snape’s Patronus—and his love for Lily. *Sigh*
It all started in 1980 with Chris, a seven-year-old boy with leukemia. His dream was to be a police officer, so family friends and members of the community pulled together to make his dream come true. He received a custom-made officer’s uniform and hat, earned motorcycle officer’s wings, rode in a helicopter, but shortly thereafter, Chris passed. As the story of Chris’ wish spread, it inspired a group of officers, friends, and family to start an organization. Later that year, Make-A-Wish was formed.
Here’s a video that describes Chris’ story more in depth:
Today, Make-A-Wish’s vision is as strong as it was over 30 years ago, and this vision is fueled by the belief that granting wishes of severely ill children fills them with joy and helps them to feel like a normal kid again. But granting wishes is so much more than just making a child happy—the impact of a fulfilled wish has a far-reaching impact! Such positive experiences help kids feel stronger, enabling them to fight their illnesses and face certain medical treatments.
In 2014 alone, Make-A-Wish granted 14,000 wishes, which averages out to one every 38 minutes! While that is certainly a lot of wishes, this covers only about half of all eligible children. Make-A-Wish wants to be able to grant a wish to every eligible child.
Volunteer at Your Local Chapter
As you can imagine, it takes a lot of help to grant wishes to so many children, which is why volunteers and donors are so instrumental in carrying out Make-A-Wish’s mission. If you’re interested in volunteering, consider this: Volunteering takes on many different roles and tasks, so use your strengths and talents to find a volunteering project that suits you. The easiest way to find volunteer opportunities is to check out your local chapter’s website. You can search for a chapter here.
I’ve got a soft spot for swirly typefaces, so, naturally, I love this “Be Merry” door decal. It looks so friendly and welcoming, so it would be a perfect addition to anyone’s front door! Don’t want it on your door? No problem— place it on a wall or window, if you like. As this item is made-to-order, you can choose from 25 colors so you can get the right color to match your home.