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.

 


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.

 


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!