Keeping the Santa Spirit Real

The magic of Christmas is unique, especially for our little ones. So, we understand that you might want to delay the answer when the time comes that they start asking you ‘is Santa real?’ The magical memories of Santa will stay with them forever, so it’s helpful for parents to know what you can do to keep up the belief and excitement for a little longer. Santa is the perfect way to get the kids excited about the holiday season. Here are some of the ways we keep the Santa magic alive in our house:

 

  1. Catch Santa on video

Set up a camera with your kids on Christmas Eve, then, when they’ve gone to bed, film Dad dressed as Santa delivering gifts. In the morning your kids will be amazed to discover they caught photographic evidence of Santa!

  1. Make sure Santa’s handwriting is different than yours
    A common way kids stop believing is by realizing the handwriting on Santa’s gift tags is the same as yours. Switch up the handwriting on the presents and letters from Santa to keep them wondering.

 

  1. Visit Norad’s Santa Tracker

Norad has been tracking Santa’s journey around the globe on Christmas Eve since 1955, and now its immersive website does so with videos, maps, and a behind-the-scenes peek at Santa’s village.

 

  1. Be enthusiastic about Santa

The moment many kids realized Santa wasn’t real was when parents acted bored when they went to meet Santa at the mall. If Santa were such a fantastic person, wouldn’t everyone be excited to see him?

 

  1. Have Santa give your kids a gift they’d never imagine you’d give them

If a gift from Santa turns out to be school clothes, kids might figure out it was mom and dad doing the gifting. A truly unexpected gift, however, could only have come from Santa.

BONUS: Leave half-eaten carrots outside to be found on Christmas morning

Who else but Santa’s trusty reindeers could have eaten them? Clearly, Santa is legit.


Holiday Cheer in Utah County

The holiday cheer has been kicked up a notch. We are ready to welcome the snow, curl up by the fire, and appreciate our loved ones near and far. Year after year, our Utah County community is full of holiday events and activities for the whole family. Whether your holiday spirit needs a little boost or it’s in full-fledged Ruldoph mode, we highly recommend checking out what our local community has to offer. ‘Tis the season!

 

1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world–so when they crash Sunday school and demand parts in the Christmas pageant, the whole town panics.

 

When: November 30 – December 15, 2018

Cost: Adult – $14, child (ages 3-11) – $12, senior (ages 65+) – $12

Where: SCERA Center for the Arts

 

For more information and tickets, visit the SCERA website.

2. A Christmas Carol

The Orem Hale Center Theatre’s musical version of A Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition for many families in Utah County.  See it performed by one of the best theatre companies in the state.

 

When: November 24 – December 22

Where: Hale Center Theater Orem

For tickets and showtimes, click here.



2. Spanish Fork Festival of Lights

Spanish Fork’s fantastic drive-through light display has been delighting families for more than 25 years! Find it at Canyon View Park each night from Thanksgiving through the New Year.

 

When: November 22 – January 1

Where: Canyon View Park
Cost: $8 per car; $22 per commercial van or any vehicle towing a trailer ($22 per trailer); $30 per bus.

For more information, visit the website.

 

3. Luminaria

This captivating mile-long walk in Lehi’s Ashton Gardens features programmable luminaries including moving pictures of blooming poinsettias, reindeer, and a 40-foot tree at the top of the hill.

 

When: November 19 – January 5

Where: Thanksgiving Point

 

Learn more at the Luminaria website.


Ways To Give Back To The Community

 

The holiday season is always a mad dash. Out of nowhere, your to-do list is inundated with hosting guests, shopping, and helping kids finish the school semester. With cooking, shopping, parties, and fun, it can be easy to overlook that there are people in our community who are far less fortunate or a little down on their luck this holiday season. Whether it’s donating your services or making a small contribution, we encourage everyone to see if they can chip in to help those needing a little extra love. Here are four great organizations we wholeheartedly support.

 

Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. For 30 years, Best Friends has been running the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals and building effective programs all across the country that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes. Join us. Together, we can Save Them All®.

Learn more about the Best Friends Animal Society and how you can help here.

 

The Younique Foundation

The Younique Foundation inspires hope in women who were abused as children or adolescents by hosting them at a retreat, where they are uplifted by each other and learn skills that can help them find individual healing. They educate parents and empower them to protect their children from abuse while leading a public dialogue to bring the epidemic of abuse to light.

Find out what you can do to help here.

 

Youthlinc

The mission of Youthlinc is to create lifetime humanitarians. Our core programs (Local & International Service Year, Utah Local Service Directory, Young Humanitarian Award, Real Life: Teen Refugee Mentoring, and Global Community Leadership) are based in principles from educational and service learning research: student leadership, hands-on sustained service which creates an emotional bond, mentoring, project-based and cooperative learning.

Find out more about the programs and opportunities here.

 

Tabitha’s Way Local Food Pantry South County

Did you know that over 78,000 people in Utah County live at or below the Federal Poverty Line? 1 in 5 children in Utah County is food insecure. Tabitha’s Way aims to alleviate food insecurity in Utah County and provides food and supplies to an average of 5,000 individuals monthly. To help, you can donate money, host a food drive or volunteer.

Learn more about how Tabitha’s way is helping fight hunger and how you can help.

 


Tips for safe Trick-Or-Treating

For many kids in Utah County, Halloween is just as exciting as Christmas! Children love getting elaborately decked out as their favorite superheroes, creatures or any spooky creation of choice. However, for any parent or guardian, trick-or-treating can be a little nerve-wracking to think about. You want your kids and their friends to stay safe while showing off their ghastly apparel and storming the neighborhood in the dark.

We’ve gathered top tips for you, to make sure everyone stays safe and has a blast this Halloween:

  1. Go during appropriate trick-or-treating hours

Don’t wait to go until it is pitch-black outside. The best time to go is just before dusk. It is still light enough outside that you are able to keep track of your children and see other you are passing/encountering with on the street (and you get first picking of the candy).

  1. Visibility is key

It is always better if you can incorporate lighter colors or reflective tape into your costumes so that they are easier to see in the dark. Another great option is to have them wear glow necklaces and carry glow sticks and/or flashlights.

  1. Never go alone

No one should be out there alone. Kids that are elementary age or younger should be with a parent or guardian at all times, but those who are middle school-aged and want to explore unaccompanied by parents should stay in groups at all time. Make sure everyone knows all important phone numbers and addresses and set the curfew times and route beforehand.

  1. Walking Tips

Be sure that everyone understands simple traffic rules, such as stopping and looking both ways before crossing the street, and staying in a crosswalk if one is available. If you have to cross at a light, make sure you have the proper “walk” signal before you proceed. Double check to make sure dresses or capes don’t drag on the ground. And finally, make sure that everyone is wearing comfy shoes and to double knot any tennis shoes.

  1. Stay on track

Trick-or-treating can span several blocks for multiple hours, so make sure you and your entourage of trick-or-treaters know the route you have planned. Stay in a well-lit neighborhood you’re familiar with. It might be tempting to take a shortcut through an alley or cut through someone’s yard, but that can sometimes pose a danger.

  1. Inspect candy first

Enforce an “inspection rule” before kids dig into their treats. All candy should be wrapped in its original wrapper and should not be tampered with. While it’s at the parent’s’ discretion whether or not to let kids eat homemade treats, make sure those are also wrapped and protected.

  1. Say no!

Even if it’s late and offered, make sure your kids know not to accept rides from anyone they don’t know. Do not accept any kind of candy or bribery and kindly thank them and move on. If you or your kid feels unsafe or uneasy at any time, don’t be afraid to report it or contact your local police.


Best Easter Events in Utah County

How is it already Easter week? You’re going through your to-do list and checking off your holiday menu, guest accommodations and more, but you still haven’t whittled down exactly what you and your family will be doing to enjoy the day. Utah County is abundant with Easter egg hunts and family fun, but which events are the best? We put together a short list of some of our events in our community we highly recommend hitting up this year!

 

Easter Eggstreme – Thanksgiving Point

10-2 – Saturday, April 15th

Thanksgiving Point, Lehi

 

We LOVE Thanksgiving Point—it’s home of Luminaria, summer camps for kids, the Tulip Festival and so much more. Easter is no different when it comes to taking festivities to the max. The Easter Eggstreme is one of our community’s most massive Easter egg hunts with prizes that include small toys, candy, and other goodies. And make sure you’re prepared for photo ops with the Easter Bunny!

 

University Place Easter Extravaganza

1-4 – Saturday, April 15th

University Place, Orem

 

While the Toddler Easter Egg Hunt is sold out (and is notorious for doing so year after year), you can still attend the Easter Extravaganza at University Place. This event is fully equipped with a mini-parade, Cirque-tastic entertainment, cotton candy, and even a petting zoo! If you wish to attend, make sure you register online.

 

Cedar Hills Teen Candy Hunt

8:30-10:00 p.m. Saturday, April 15th

Cedar Hills Recreation Center, Cedar Hills

 

For your older kids, the Cedar Hills Teen Candy Hunt is a gem in our community that is geared towards youth ages 11-15. Make sure to have them gather their friends and bring a flashlight for a fun-filled night hunting for candy and other prizes that takes place on the golf course (weather permitting). After the hunt, there is an afterparty that runs until 10 p.m.

 

Operation Easter Egg Drop at the Outlets at Traverse Mountain

11:00 a.m. – Saturday, April 15th

Traverse Mountain, Lehi

 

This is a whole new spin on Easter egg hunting. Watch over 20,000 Easter eggs the sky as the Easter Bunny take the reigns operating a helicopter. Families with children ages 2-12 are invited to participate in this free event, which will also feature story time with Mother Goose, photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, and delicious spring cooking demonstrations. Attendees are also invited to visit the center’s 52 stores to find amazing deals on the latest spring fashions and hunt for one of the 100 golden eggs, filled with gift cards and other exciting prizes!

 


Where to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Utah County

It seems like every January we get to kick our feet up and relax after a turbulent holiday season. Fast forward a few short weeks and Valentine’s Day is knocking on the door. Don’t panic—Utah County is abundant with events to spend the romantic holiday with your loved one. We could write a novel, but we’ve narrowed it down to this short list.

 

Valentine’s Day Dinner at Thanksgiving Point

Doesn’t an evening with exceptional music, a divine meal, and dancing sound like a picture perfect night with your sweetheart? Valentine’s Day at Thanksgiving Point is a memorable affair year after year. You can enjoy festivities over the weekend on February 11th or the actual holiday on February 14th.

 

Valentine’s Day Tastings – Love at Taste

Taste is one of Provo’s finest establishments carrying artisan chocolates, oils, vinegars, and more. Their Friday night tastings have become one of the hottest events in Utah County. Taste is holding a special Valentine’s Day tasting at 7:00 p.m. on February 14th. Eat a light dinner then come celebrate each other over a stacked tasting fully equipped with chocolate, cheese, and more.

 

Love is in the Air – A Valentine’s Day Concert

Sometimes you just want to be serenaded. If sultry vocals are your thing, you can go to the Driehaus Museum to enjoy jazz vocalist, Rose Colella, singing amorous standards, tongue-in-cheek tunes about love gone awry, and more. The concert also includes cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres. The performance goes from 6:30 to 8:30 on February 14th. Doors also open one hour prior for guests wishing to visit the museum.

 

Valentine’s Masquerade Ball at Provo City Library

If you’re looking to write a new chapter in your love story, the Valentine’s Masquerade Ball at Provo City Library is the perfect place to be. For $30 a person, the night includes dinner catered by Marvellous Catering, live music and dancing performing by CB Jazz, and a rose for every lady. If you can’t escape to celebrate Valentine’s festivities during the week, this is the event for you as it takes place on Saturday, February 11th with dinner starting promptly at 6:00 p.m.

 


Utah County Holiday Cheer

We’re seven days into December, and for most, the holiday cheer has been kicked up a notch. Lots of us are ready to welcome the snow, curl up by the fire, and appreciate our loved ones near and far. Year after year our Utah County community is chock full of holiday events and activities for the whole family. Whether your holiday spirit needs a little boost or it’s in full-fledged mode, we highly recommend checking out what our local community has to offer. ‘Tis the season!

1.) The Happy Elf

There’s no way this musical won’t become a new classic. Scored by Harry Connick Jr., The Happy Elf is centered around Eubie the Elf who is on a musical mission to bring Christmas cheer to Bluesville, a town on Santa’s naughty list. You can catch the show at 7:30 on Wednesday-Saturday at SCERA and tickets are only $10 for children (3-11) and seniors and $12 for adults and older kids. Hurry, though—this show only runs through December 17th!

For more information and tickets, visit the SCERA website.

2.) The North Pole at Seven Peaks

Now in its second year, The North Pole at Seven Peaks Water Park has become a Utah County holiday tradition. Holiday activities for the whole family include sledding down waterslides, riding trains through the festive landscape, cruising through the North Pole on bumper boats and so much more. This is a perfect evening or weekend activity that is reasonably priced (only $10 for the general public) and you have until December 23rd to enjoy the festivities.

Click here for detailed information and hours.

3.) A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has become a timeless nostalgic performance passed down through generations. For many families, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without it. The Hale Center Theater is known for outstanding productions year-round. Make sure to scoop up tickets before the last show on December 23rd.

For tickets and show times, check out the HCTO website.

4.) Luminaria

The name “Luminaria” itself is intriguing, but what is it? According to its description, “Imagine all the light displays you’ve seen before. Now, imagine something entirely different and you’re on the right track.” This captivating mile-long walk in Lehi’s Ashton Gardens features programmable luminaries including moving pictures of blooming poinsettias, reindeer, and a 40-foot tree at the top of the hill. There are also beautiful holiday touches such as fire pits, hot chocolate, a gift boutique, and even cinnamon-scented mulch.

Learn more at the Luminaria website.

5.) Spanish Fork Festival of Lights

For lots of families, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without driving around and scoping out festive lights. Lucky for Utah County, we have one of the best displays in the nation with the Spanish Fork Festival of Lights. This isn’t any drive through the neighborhood. The display includes 150 raindrops, a candy cane factory, ballerinas, an American flag, a bear fishing, and so much more. We highly encourage you to take the online tour and then get out there to see it for yourself.

For more information, visit the website.


Ways to Give Back to the Utah County Community

The holiday season is always a mad dash. Out of nowhere, your to-do list is inundated with hosting guests, shopping, and helping kids finish the semester. With cooking, shopping, parties, and fun, it can be easy to overlook that there are people in our Utah County community who are far less fortunate or a little down on their luck this holiday season. Whether it’s donating your services or making a small contribution, we encourage everyone to see if they can chip in to help those needing a little extra love. Here are four great organizations we wholeheartedly support.

United Way of Utah County

The United Way is rooted in the belief that we are all people. We all benefit when a child succeeds in school, when someone finds a job that will help them provide for their family, or when more people are able to access quality, affordable healthcare. Anyone and everyone can lend a hand. If you’re an art teacher, you can volunteer to teach family art classes. If you want to serve meals to the Utah County community, there are several opportunities to do so. You can even donate cleaning supplies, office supplies, or food depending on the need.

Learn more about the United Way of Utah County and volunteer opportunities here.

Intermountain Foundation – Utah Valley Hospital

The Intermountain Foundation at Utah Valley Hospital provides support for a variety of programs focused on improving patient care and community health. From hosting special events to raise funds to supporting capital campaigns to improve the overall quality of the hospital, they are a Utah County community staple. To pitch in, you can donate money to your local intermountain community hospital, include memorial-gift opportunities in a loved one’s obituary or find out if your employer offers matching gifts to not-for-profit organizations.

For more information, visit their website.

Tabitha’s Way Local Food Pantry South County

Did you know that over 78,000 people in Utah County live at or below the Federal Poverty Line? 1 in 5 children in Utah County are food insecure. Tabitha’s Way aims to alleviate food insecurity in Utah County and provides food and supplies to an average of 5,000 individuals monthly. To help, you can donate money, host a food drive or volunteer.

Learn more about how Tabitha’s way is helping fight hunger and how you can help.

Utah Community Action

Utah Community Action helps low-income families achieve self-sufficiency through six core programs. These programs range from Adult Education to Nutrition to Housing Case Management and Beyond. Last year, 89,120 individuals were served by UCA, 254 houses were improved through weatherization services, and 2,191 individuals obtained health care services for themselves or a family member. While most volunteers are placed in the Community Food Centers due to demand, there are several opportunities to help out in each program.

Find out more about the programs and opportunities here.

Volunteering in Utah County isn’t limited to this list. We encourage everyone to take a few minutes to explore how you can give back to your local community this holiday season. If there’s an organization you’re passionate about, feel free to respond and let us know!


Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

Time flies by. Thanksgiving is over a week away. Many revel in this celebrated holiday to enjoy the company of their families and close friends. However, for some, it can also get the nerves to a record high, especially if you’re hosting the annual feast. Whether it’s your first rodeo or you’re a pro, we can all take a little time out to brush up on some tips that will help your Thanksgiving feast run smoothly (and ensure that you won’t rip your hair out).

1.) Make a Schedule and Abide By It

It may sound a little ridiculous, but make a schedule of the day’s flow and stick to it. Yes, you should even schedule when you’re going to wake up and take a shower because the day IS that jam-packed. Give yourself ample time to primp and prepare before guests arrive. Figure out when drinks and appetizers will be served and schedule when various dishes make their rotation in the oven. Allow some flex time just in case things veer off course and run a little behind.

2.) Prepare Menu Ahead

This is easy to overlook, but when it comes to menu planning, you cannot go on autopilot mode. Check in with all of your guests to make sure there are no allergies and dietary restrictions and make sure you have dishes available for anyone who needs alternatives to the main menu items. If you have a specific artisan item, reserve it or pick it up now. Local markets often fill up with reservations weeks ahead and seasonal items are in the highest demand of the year. If you cannot secure your first choice, there is still time to plan alternatives. If possible, pick multiple proteins and don’t be afraid to be bold and mix it up.

3.) Prepare As Much As You Can

You’re probably thinking “jeez, another planning item,” but preparation isn’t limited to menu planning. By now, your guest list should be set. Make sure you have an exact head count for both your invites and their guests (if applicable). Pick out the dishes and glassware that will be used for every dish. Also, don’t try to jam all of the food prep into the day itself. See if there are any dishes you can prepare ahead of time to save yourself some stress. Also, if you have guests who will be staying overnight, make sure to prepare their accommodations prior to the day of.

4.) Delegate Tasks

NEVER turn down help. We all know the feeling of wanting to be a good host and take care of everything, but this is a holiday of coming together and having all hands on deck. If someone offers to bring a dish, let them. If there are certain parts of the meal that stress you out, let someone else handle it or ask for advice. Delegating tasks can also be a tremendous help. If someone offers to help and you know they move at lightning speed, let them chop and peel vegetables. If culinary skills aren’t someone’s forte, have them do simple tasks like stir, pick herbs, and clean up. This is a group effort and no one should be in it alone.

5.) Allocate time to RELAX

Perhaps the most crucial (and most often forgotten) tip is making sure you give yourself and everyone in attendance time to relax. Thanksgiving is about enjoying each other’s company, not constantly entertaining. If your family loves football, give yourself some room to watch a game before or after dinner. If you have traditions like playing games, make sure you allow time for that. Like all things in life, nothing is perfect, so if something doesn’t turn out just right or go as expected, relax. Gratitude and joy are the ultimate goals of this holiday and you’re going to do just fine!


How to Prepare the Perfect Guest Room for the Holidays

And just like that, it’s November in Utah County. Before you could even take your Halloween costume off, the holiday season is at your doorstep. The next two months can add some stress if you’re not prepared. The holiday season often means spending time with friends and loved ones. Utah County is an incredible place to be during the season, so if you live here, chances are your home is a prime candidate for holiday festivities. It can be easy to stress out about where guests are going to stay and if your place is even fit for guests. These simple tips will not only get your space primed and ready, but they will take your guest room to the next level to provide a quaint holiday oasis.

*Stock up on necessities

Supply the bathroom with plenty of toilet paper and put clean towels out in an easy-to-see location. Many guests may be traveling light and we know that airports can be a pain when it comes to carrying liquids, so some extra shampoo and toiletries are a nice touch. (Hint: This is the perfect situation to use those hotel samples you’ve nabbed.)

*Consider the space

It’s instinct to want to put a full or queen bed in your guest room, but often times, you may have children or multiple guests staying at your house and it might make more sense to have a couple of twin beds. It also creates versatility and couples staying overnight could push the beds together if they wanted. Not only does this add more central space, but it could double as a space your kids can have sleepovers during the year. Not to mention, air mattresses have come a long way. Even consider ‘indoor camping’ set ups for a fun way to get the little ones eager for lights out.

*Put out water and some snacks

This isn’t only a hospitable gesture, but it will prevent guests from getting lost or clambering through the kitchen if they’re trying to get water in the middle of the night. A carafe of water and some trail mix, granola bars, or pieces of fruit should be perfect. Bonus points: Stocking up on snacks that are unique to Utah County. Visiting your local Harmon’s could be a great start!

*Keep the room stocked with interesting books and activities

During the holidays, families tend to spend a lot of time in enjoying each other’s company. Keeping your guest room stocked with books, magazines, and board games is a great way for your guests to wind down in peace and prevent them from getting cabin fever.

*Create some kind of theme in the room

You don’t have to go crazy with paint or spend boatloads of money on accessories, but a common theme will tie the room together and make guests feel at home. We’ve seen lots of incredible nautical or beach themes to give your guests a true sense of getting away. A guest room is also a great way to hang extra art you might not have space in other parts of your home.