How to Kick Off Christmas with Santa HQ

“This is a sponsored blog; while the views expressed here
were genuinely mine, consideration was paid to me by Macerich/HGTV’s Santa
HQ.”






We live for traditions in our house and one of our favorites during the holidays is visiting Santa at HGTV's Santa HQ inside Fashion Fair Mall.  We've been going for several years and so the girls start asking for it as soon as Christmas starts sneaking into our house and around town.   It's usually our first holiday activity so it kicks off the season.

What makes Santa HQ so special is you don't just wait in line and visit with Santa for a minute but you have a full interactive experience before meeting the big guy!  There are four stops prior to Santa, each offering a new bit of fun.

The first stop is probably our favorite; the Naughty or Nice Meter.  Each child inputs their name with the help of an elf and then stands on an interactive board to see where they fall this year.  After the meter makes its determination the child's name appears on the appropriate list.  I think Santa is very forgiving because all three of my little animals made the Nice List. Seriously, Santa, even Jack?!?!

The second stop is inside the first room and is the Magic Mirror which turns you into an elf where you can choose an elf and an outfit and then send yourself a photo.  Also inside this room is where you can make your own Elf-ID which you can also send to yourself.

In the next room you can use an iPad for Elf-Ray vision and catch an elf along the ceiling and walls.  Santa's Sleigh Command Center is also available for you little elves to play and navigate.

The last stop before the grand finale is a professional photo opp with a backdrop and props.  Of course they save the best part for last and you get to climb into Santa's sleigh and chat with the main guy himself.   You know sometimes Santa is having a good day and other times a bad day but Santa was PHENOMENAL with our little ones.  He was beyond patient, kind, friendly and warm.  Our kids had the best experience not only telling Santa about their wishlist but reading about the elves and even the Christmas classic, Twas the Night Before Christmas.   Santa even helped Madi to read on her own.






Spend less time in line and purchase a FAST PASS which will allow you to pick a 30 minute window on a specific date.  You prepay for your picture package and skip the line when you arrive.  You can also opt-in for text reminders.  Also during your visit you may consider bringing a new toy for HGTV's Help Through the Holidays Giving Drive.  For more information and special event dates check HERE.

We absolutely love Santa HQ and give it two thumbs up.  It keeps us coming back year after year and would love to hear what you think about the experience!  Merry Christmas!

How to Create a Birthday Breakfast Tradition


Since Emily was very young I've thrown a small birthday breakfast to celebrate the day and it's become such a fun tradition.  It's very simple but makes the girls so happy and feel very special.  I almost always use our Re-Play tableware to add the pop of color to our kids table but sometimes I use paper goods.  In the past I've done a donut cake but this year I did a pink pancake tower with chocolate drizzle on top.

How to Throw a Bright Rainbow Roller Skating Party


Emily paints a rainbow wherever she goes!  She lights up any room and she finds the silver lining to any cloud.  I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate her 8th birthday than with a Rainbow Roller Skating Party.  She is now of the age where roller skating is doable and would be fun for her and her friends so we picked United Skates Clovis for her party.

How to Create a Perfect Smile with Thurman Orthodontics


When Kevin was growing up braces weren't in his family's budget even though he had very crooked teeth.  As a young adult he did get veneers on his top teeth to help with the appearance of his smile but his teeth always bothered him despite the slight fix.  We've been talking about Invisalign for years and recently we finally pulled the trigger.  We decided to visit Thurman Orthodontics to explore options.

Adorable Halloween Costume Ideas


When Emily was the only child dressing her up for Halloween was fun but everything went to another level when I could coordinate sisters and then last year with Jack we made it a family affair.  So for several years I've loved planning costumes and to be honest with you I frequently coordinate their costumes with Emily's birthday parties since her birthday is one week after Halloween.  This way I'm killing two birds with one stone.

My kids are still at an age where I can "gently sway" them into costumes that I like or approve.  I start planting seeds and so far I've been very lucky and they've gone with my ideas.  I fear my days are numbered but I'm hanging on as long as I can.  Now that we have 2 girls and 1 boy it makes it a tad harder to come up with sibling costumes.  But, last year was our first year of doing so and we went as the Incredibles because it was just so natural as a family of five and we had our own Jack Jack.  I can't wait to share this years costumes but in the meantime here is what I've put together over the years.

How to Make Simple Pudding Pops




If you know me or if you've followed me for awhile you know that I am all about simple.  Yes I love to be creative, to decorate and set up fun activities but at the end of the day I'm only tackling simple tasks.  I'm not sure if that's a little lazy or survival but it's the truth of this mom life.  We love to make homemade popsicles but I like using ingredients that are on hand and recipes that aren't tedious.  This pudding pop recipe couldn't get any easier; it took us less than five minutes from start to freezer.

Ingredients:
Directions:

Stir pudding mix and milk as per instructions on box.  Once soft set pour into popsicle molds and place in freezer.  After one hour place sticks into each popsicle and let freeze overnight.  Run warm water over mold for 60 seconds and then pull popsicles out of mold.  Enjoy!


These are the simplest of simple, a great way to include my girls in an activity and so delicious to enjoy together.