One thing I look forward to in the winter months is the snow! In my younger days I had lots of fun building snowmen, making snow angels, and sledding down hills. While I still do enjoy these activities, nowadays I prefer to admire amazing ice sculptures and snow creations made by skilled snow artists. There are many ice sculpture competitions held throughout the world, but the largest one is in Harbin, China.
In this icy metropolis you will see stunning sculptures and amazing buildings built from blocks of ice. Colorful lights are used throughout the festival, illuminating the frozen monuments which creates a spectacular sight!
The festival also includes other activities such as skiing, a lantern show, and swimming in the frigid Songua River. If you prefer a less intense activity, take a ride down the giant ice slide! Weeeeeee!
I love baking (and eating! ) sweet treats and cookies, so when I saw the cookie cutters at The Buttercup House on Etsy, I stopped in my tracks. They have all kinds of neat cookie cutters, such as holiday shapes, states, alphabets, animals, and more!
If you are planning a themed party anytime soon, you will likely find a cookie cutter to fit your theme. Peruse their collection to find the right one for you or buy a few for your friend who loves to bake. I really like this polar bear, but I also really like this gnome!
A fun activity the whole family will enjoy is a ride through a holiday light show. Many cities put on an annual holiday light show with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights. A drive through holiday experience is a perfect way to enjoy the beautiful lights without leaving the comfort of your warm car. Here are a few light shows that you can attend this year—even after Christmas day!
The Dancing Lights of Christmas – Nashville, TN
This is the 5th year that the festive folks at Jellystone Park have put on this fabulous light display. As you drive through this amazing light show, you can jam out to Christmas tunes on your radio and watch the lights dance to the music.
This sweet light display extends through 2 miles of wooded trails just minutes away from Hersheypark. Make sure you check out their website for hours of operation and directions.
Hershey Sweet Lights
100 W. Hersheypark Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
Open until January 1, 2015
Lanier Islands Christmas
Take a rolling stroll through Lanier Islands to enjoy the twinkling Christmas light display. At the end of the tour, you can visit the Holiday Village where you can see a live nativity scene, visit with Santa, and even skate around The Polar Rink.
7000 Lanier Islands Parkway
Buford, GA 30518
Open until December 31, 2014
The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort
The light show at Oglebay Resort is one of the largest light shows in the US. Spanning over 6 miles and 300 acres, this is one holiday show you don’t want to miss. If you can’t make it this year, perhaps you can plan a family trip in 2015.
465 Lodge Drive
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003
Open until January 4, 2015
Lights Under Louisville – Louisville, KY
This spectacular light show has over 2 million lights that cover 17 miles of passageways… underground! Drive your own vehicle into the Louisville Mega Cavern to view this one-of-a-kind light show and create a memorable Christmas experience for your family.
Teehee! This little starfish ornament is so funny! If Santa were a starfish, this is what he would look like—sporting red swim trunks, shades, and his signature red hat. He is holding a fishing rod in one hand, but if fishing isn’t your style, you can get a starfish Santa with skis, a golf club, a volleyball, or holding nothing at all. This would make a nice gift for anyone who loves the beach or collects cute Santa ornaments.
In 6 short days, Santa will be making his big trip around the globe. He will visit homes in many countries, delivering gifts to children. As you know, many different languages exist, and therefore Santa has a multitude of names besides Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, and Ol’ Saint Nick.
Give yourself a quick, fun foreign language lesson with the infographic below. Practice saying “Merry Christmas” in a different language and say “Fröhliche Weihnachten” or “Joyeux Noël” to your loved ones!
Today is Free Shipping Day! With Christmas just one week away, now is the time to finish up your holiday shopping. Take advantage of the FREE shipping deals while they last. When you place your order today, many retailers guarantee that your goods will be delivered by Christmas.
You can find almost anything imaginable on CafePress from customized clothing to home decor. You can also find some beautiful Christmas cards at a great price—50 cards for $19.50 plus free shipping! Offer valid until 12/31.
Anyone who is crafty would love to receive a Cricut this Christmas! If someone you know already has a Cricut, then perhaps they would like a new cartridge for new projects or a replacement blade. Whatever you decide to purchase, you can get free shipping in December with code FREESHIPDEC.
For gag gifts and lots of silly puns, check out the fun gifts made by Fred & Friends on Amazon. Many of the gifts are Amazon Prime eligible, so you can get FREE two-day shipping if you have a Prime membership.
Give a unique handmade gift to your loved ones this Christmas when you purchase a present from Gifts With Humanity. All items are hand-crafted by artisans across the world, so you know you’re giving something that is truly unique. Plus, when you spend $50, your order will be shipped for free! (Domestic US only.)
Say “Merry Christmas” the Italian way by using this “Buon Natale” stamp on your Christmas cards, envelopes, or gift wrap. Baking biscotti or Italian cookies for your loved ones? You could use this beautiful stamp to create gift tags to go along with your homemade goodies.
After travelling to London, New York City and the Blue Ridge Mountains this year, Raymond and I thought it would be interesting to visit another city where we could soak up a lot of history. Raymond was particularly interested in checking out old ruins and historic buildings, so we decided to make our way down to Rome, Italy!
It was incredibly hot while we were in Rome—possibly even hotter than when we went to South Korea last year. Let me tell you, when you live at the North Pole, you aren’t used to heat and humidity! In between purveying the sites, Raymond and I ducked into the shade and made sure to drink plenty of water.
For our first stop, Raymond and I visited the Pantheon, which was built nearly 2,000 years ago. Used as a Roman Catholic church since the 7th century, the Pantheon is beautiful and incredibly well-preserved.
Raymond in the hot sun outside the Pantheon
Admiring the coffered concrete dome and oculus inside the Pantheon
Tempted to hop into the water of the Fontana del Pantheon to cool off in Piazza della Rotonda
Next we decided to stop for some lunch. As you may remember, Raymond and I are both vegetarians, and thankfully there is a plethora of vegetarian Italian dishes. Some days we couldn’t decide… Pasta? Pizza? Salad? Gelato? All of the above?
About to chow down on a caprese salad. Yum!
Raymond and I could eat Italian cuisine all day, but we had other sights to see, so we ventured forth in the Roman sun. We came across a large building that turned out to be Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. Built in the early 1900s, this monument was erected in honour of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy.
In front of Altare della Patria, also known as Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
With the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the background
From Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, we passed the Roman Forum on our way to the Colosseum. Raymond was fascinated by the ruins, as some of them date back nearly 3,000 years!
Enjoying a visual history lesson
A trip to Rome would be incomplete without a visit to the Colosseum. Completed almost 2,000 years ago, the Colosseum is the largest amplitheatre in the world. Raymond and I both loved the Colosseum in its beautiful ruined state.
Excited to check out the Colosseum
Some estimates say the Colosseum could hold between 50,000–80,000 spectators—yowza!
Raymond and I had a blast in Italy, taking in the historical sites and tasty cuisine. Where else do you think Raymond went this year? Stay tuned to find out!
The stockings in this Etsy shop are so pretty, and each design is full of details that you may not notice at first glance. Take these his & hers stockings, for example. The stockings are quite lovely, but upon a closer look you will see mistletoe hanging from the stag’s antler. How cute and clever! These stockings would be a sweet gift for any couple—new or seasoned.