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10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions

Every year I feel slightly overwhelmed by all of the Holiday events I really don’t want to miss. A few years ago, I sat down and wrote them out on a calendar. And THAT is pretty much where the idea for this blog began! 😉  Now we’ve come full circle and, though there are probably hundreds of holiday events going on around town, today I am sharing 10 things my family loves doing at Christmastime in Columbus!

1. Village Lights

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Hands down, this is my favorite Columbus tradition of the entire year. Wow, did I really just say that? I did. I look forward to this probably more than anything else. I honestly don’t know how much my kids like it, but there are teddy bears and free cookies and hot chocolate, so I haven’t heard any complaints! The streets of German Village are lit with luminaries and restaurants, shops, and even a few private homes along the route are open late with special deals, free goodies and live music! Designated parking areas and shuttles are available.

When: December 3, 2017, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Where: throughout German Village

2. Wildlights

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You have to see Wildlights! The light shows are spectacular and the zoo becomes an (even more) magical place for about 6 weeks leading up to New Year’s Day! The first time we ever attempted to go to Wildlights, there was so much traffic that by the time we got there it was too late for my 1 yr old and we just drove right on by the entrance and back on home! Weekends are very busy, so if you can, I suggest trying a week day evening and arriving before 5:00 PM! If you’re a member, you can also avoid the crowds by catching the Member Preview on November 16th.

When: November 17, 2017 – January 1, 2018 (Wildlights begins at 5:00 PM)
Where: 4850 Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065

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3. Gardens Aglow (Formerly Merry and Bright)

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Gardens Aglow offers special holiday decorations, performances and evening hours at Franklin Park Conservatory. Throughout the season live music and special events are scheduled and the Conservatory is decorated beautifully (that goes without saying)! There are lights throughout inside and outside and it’s breathtaking! From December 1-31 (except for the 24th and 25th) they are open until 9:00 PM. There will be special family-friendly activities happening all through the season!

When: November 11, 2017 – January 3, 2018: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, December: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Where: 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43203

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4. Bicentenial Park

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Throughout the holiday season, the Scioto Mile is awash in light – Christmas lights, that is! What was previously The Grand Illumination will be replaced by WinterFest this year! Taking place on Saturday, December 2, 2017, it will include live performers such as Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons, food trucks like Paddy Wagon and Pitabilities, as well as the opportunity to purchase soup from Milestone 229 in a handmade bowl as part of the Empty Bowls initiative. The park will be full of lights beginning November 17th!

When: November 17, 2017 through Early January 2018
Where: 233 S. Civic Center Dr., Columbus, OH 43215

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5. Columbus Commons and the Lazarus Windows

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When you’re at Bicentennial Park, make plans to walk a few blocks to Columbus Commons where the park will be filled with holiday displays and lights! Just across the street (at the corner of High and Town) in the old Lazarus building, the windows will be filled with scenes from the 12 Days of Christmas!

When: Late November through early January from dusk until to 11:00 PM
Where: 160 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

6. Huntington Holiday Train

Main Library is home to the Huntington Holiday Train and every year this amazing display is set up during the holiday season! This year, the library will begin set up of the train on November 17, 2017 and is usually up through New Years!

When: November 17, 2017 – Early January, 2017
Where: 96 S. Grant Ave. Columbus, OH 43215

7. Holiday Train at Ohio History Center

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If you happen to have kids that like trains, there is a also holiday train set up at the Ohio History Center. Granted, it’s not quite as elaborate as the Huntington Train, but since we’re members at Ohio History Center, this one is still a no-brainer for me and two boys who love trains! We don’t miss it!

When: Late November – Early January
Where: 800 E. 17th. Ave., Columbus OH 43211

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8. Think Outside the Brick

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This exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art isn’t even holiday themed, but it arrives in November and says goodbye in March, so in my mind it’s associated with Christmas! If you have kids on Christmas break, this would be a great reason to take them to the Art Museum! The LEGO replica of Columbus is awesome and we love to visit at this time! There are usually blocks for free building in the Big Idea Gallery, too! Admission is free on Sundays and on Thursday nights you “pay what you want” from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM! See more pictures from our visit here!

When: November 10, 2017 – March 2, 2018
Where: 480 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

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9. Easton

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We always enjoy going to Easton at Christmastime – and not just to do our Christmas shopping! There is a life-sized nativity and a humongous Christmas tree (an all-new, 50 ft tree covered in 28, 680 RGB LED’s arrives in 2017!)! There are carriage rides, live music performances and the lighting ceremony takes place on Friday, November 17, 2017 beginning at 6:00 PM and includes a parade, a fireworks show, a visit from Santa and more!

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When: beginning November 17, 2017
Where: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus, OH 43219

10. State Auto Christmas Corner

Christmas Corner is something we love to do close to Christmas Eve! You can walk through a life-sized nativity following the Christmas story! The Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 5:30 PM. There are choirs scheduled on Friday and Saturday evenings through December 23rd and free hot chocolate (donations accepted!) will be available on those evenings!  There are ample parking lots designated for viewing this display!

When: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 through Christmas Day when baby Jesus is placed in the manger.
Where: 518 E Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215

I hope that whatever you chose to do, you have a special season with your family!

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ICYMI: Columbus Tip Sheet: November 2017

7 Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day with Your Kids

On Mother’s Day my basic goal is not to be stressed. My kids are pretty young so I don’t desire to go to a fancy brunch where I just end up stressed out because they can’t sit still or won’t listen. I’ve only been at this mom thing for 5 Mother’s Days, but it seems to me that moms fall into two camps: those who just want some time ALONE to get pampered or go shopping or take a nap, and those who want to spend the day doing special things WITH their kids. Well, I’ve got a foot in both camps because I like to have lunch out with my kids and THEN get to take a nap! 😉

If you’re looking for something different to do WITH you kids that doesn’t involve glaring at them over a Belgian waffle because they’re telling potty jokes during brunch, then pick one of these kid-friendly, yet special for Mom, events going on next week!

1. No Child Wet Behind Diaper Drive and Fundraiser at Wolfe Park

The whole family is invited to participate in this event that raises money for families in Franklin County who are in need. Focused on providing diapers to families in our community who need them most, Columbus Birth and Parenting hosts this 5K and 1 mile walk/run plus kiddie dash each year to raise support for the cause. 1 in 3 families must REUSE soiled diapers again and again because they cannot afford to keep their children clean, dry and healthy!

You can feel good about spending your Mother’s Day weekend helping families in need by participating in the race, walk or kiddie dash and your family can enjoy a fun morning filled with food trucks, face painting, fun kid’s activities, flowers for purchase and fabulous raffles.  It’s a Saturday morning out at a park to celebrate Mother’s Day as a family while helping struggling mothers in Columbus at the same time.

I will be participating in the 1 mile run/walk (let’s just admit it: walk. I’ve only run one 5K in my life and it’s not happening again any time soon.) And I would love if you would consider joining this cause on May 13th! No Child Wet Behind is offering my readers $5 off with the code WHATSHOULDWEDOTODAY ! (Cost is $35 without code.) Enter the code at checkout!

Can’t make it on the 13th? You can still help out by donating a pack of diapers at any of these locations:

2. Mother’s Day Build at the Lego Store (Easton)

On May 13th and 14th, VIP members (join here or inquire in the store) can come in with Mom to build a mini tulip for free! Recommended for ages 6-14 and you must register in advance by calling the store (Easton: 614-342-2710).

3. Fit4Mom Columbus North Mother’s Day Celebration

I know a couple of people involved in Fit4Mom and they LOVE it! One of them shared about it on the blog here. It sounds so great and if I had joined a few months ago maybe I would be running the 5K mentioned above instead of the 1 mile walk. 😉 haha. Anyway . . . new moms are always welcome to join and on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 at 9:30 AM, they are having a Mother’s Day Celebration which includes free coffee and donuts (an exercise program with donuts?! how great is that??) AND they will be making a Mother’s Day keepsake craft. See the link for info on how to register!

4. Celebrate Mom Open House at Picassos

On Saturday, May 13, 2017, Picassos is having a Celebrate Mom Open House from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM! Kids can decorate a flower pot for free and Portraits by Laura will be there for mini sessions ($30 for 5 poses and 5 digital images). You can shop for Mother’s Day gifts and check out discounted classes!

5. Celebrate Mom! at Franklin Park Conservatory

The Franklin Park Conservatory would be a beautiful place to spend Mother’s Day Weekend! On Saturday, May 13, 2017 from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM kids can paint a flower pot for Mom and plant a flower in it! It’s also one of the last weekends to see the Fairy Gardens – the last day of the exhibit is May 29, 2017.

6. Mommy and Me Painting Class with Colorful Columbus

On Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 14, 2017) you can paint a picture with your child! The theme is elephants and the cost is $35 which includes supplies for Mom and one child. All skill levels are welcome for this event and you must register in advance!

7. Mother’s Day Brunch at American Girl Columbus (Easton)

Another option for Sunday is the Mother’s Day Brunch at American Girl at Easton! You must register ahead for this event which includes a meal in the restaurant, a flower for your daughter, games, a craft, a spiral notebook and a picture frame! This is recommended for girls ages 8 and up.

One More Thing . . .

Looking for a way to pamper yourself? Join 614Mom for Celebrating You, an event to celebrate Columbus Moms with a lipstick bar, swag bags and more! This is a FREE event for moms but it will also be a location where you can bring a pack of diapers for No Child Wet Behind! 🙂

No matter what you choose to do, I hope you have a happy Mother’s Day and do something YOU enjoy! Next week I will be celebrating my readers with a week of giveaways in honor of Mother’s Day, so make sure to follow me on social media (links below) for all the fun giveaways!

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ICYMI Last Mother’s Day I shared: 10 of My Favorite Parenting Articles

What Should We Do This Weekend? April 28-30, 2017

1. Arbor Day Celebration at Franklin Park Conservatory

When: Friday & Saturday, April 28 & 29, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: 1777 E. Broad St. Columbus, OH 43203
Phone: 614-715-8000

This fun and educational event includes tree climbing for kids AND adults, a scavenger hunt, tree ring counting, and more opportunities to learn about trees and how important they are! While supplies last, those who attend will get a free tree sapling! There will be food trucks on site and a raffle for free tree work from Ahlum & Arbor. Kids can make Tree Cookie Necklaces on Saturday from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

2. Customer Appreciation Weekend at PizzaFire Dublin

When: Friday – Sunday, April 28-30, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM Friday – 9:00 PM Sunday
Location: Perimeter Loop Rd., Dublin, OH 43017
Phone: 614-698-0937

This weekend only all pizzas will be half price with unlimited toppings! (Dublin location only!) The proceeds from the weekend will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Club! There will be a Kids’ Pizza Contest on Saturday from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM and everyone wins something!

3. Fourth Friday in Uptown Westerville

When: Friday, April 28, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Location: Uptown Westerville
Phone: 614-794-0401

Stroll Uptown Westerville as the shops stay open late! Enjoy live music, art, performing art, street vendors and family-friendly activities like bounce houses, a caricature artist, book characters and fire and rescue vehicles! Before hand (5:15 PM -5:45 PM) the Westerville Library will host “4th Friday Stories and Fun” which will feature a storytime!

4. Healthy Kids Day at your local YMCA

When: Saturday April 29, 2017
Time: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Location: your local YMCA

This free event will include active play and educational activities with the goal of improving the health and well-being of families!  Click here to see the times and events specific to each YMCA location around Central Ohio!

5. Meet Z Yang at American Girl – Columbus

When: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: 4040 The Strand E, Columbus, OH 43219
Phone: 877-247-5223

Celebrate the debut of American Girl’s newest contemporary character, a filmmaker from Seattle! There will be a special give way and girls can make their own stop-motion film craft!

6. HOOT Family Film Series at the Gateway Film Center

When: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: 1550 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43201
Phone: 614-545-2255

This event takes place the last Saturday of each month and includes family friendly activities like games, stories, crafts and live music by the Shazzbots! The kid-friendly short films start at 11:00 AM. This month’s theme is Flowers! All movies are rated “G” and admission is free with a suggestion donation of a canned good for The Open Shelter!

7. Discover the Dinosaurs UNLEASHED at Ohio Expo Center

When: Saturday & Sunday, April 29 & 30, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Location: Cardinal Hall, 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43211

This walk-through exhibit offers the chance to be up close with a Stegosaurus, Velociraptor and T-Rex! Kids can dig for fossils, play and bounce and do crafts in the Kids Adventure Zone!

8. 31st Annual Duckling Day at Columbus Metropolitan Library – Whetstone Branch

When: Saturday April 29, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: 3909 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43214

Clintonville Rotary hosts the annual Duckling Day which includes a parade, live ducks, a puppet show and literacy activities with a ducky theme! You can pick up a duck costume packet at the library before the event or duck masks will be available the day of the program!

9. Week of the Young Child Family Day at COSI

When: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Location: 333 West Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-228-2674

COSI is celebrating early childhood with hands-on science activities and visits from community partners who are educating, protecting and nurturing young children! Free with admission or membership!

10. Blacklick Woods Outdoor Adventure

When: Saturday April 29, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: 6975 East Livingston Ave, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
Phone: 614-835-6073 or 614-300-7867

This special event is a collaboration between Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks & ECRN+ (YMCA of Central Ohio) with the goal of getting children and youth of all abilities outdoors to play games, see wildlife and have fun! There will be free tram rides, exploring the nature center, archery, crafts, lawn games, snacks and more! See the link for all the details and to register. The event is free.

11. Fit4Baby Open House at Babies “R” Us

When: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: 1400 Gemini Place Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43240

Fit4Baby is a new prenatal fitness class designed to strengthen your changing body during pregnancy! Visit the open house to meet instructors, learn about the program and see a short demo of what to expect during the classes.

12. MAKEbreak Slime Bar at Michaels Stores

When: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: your local Michaels Store

Customize your own Slime creation at this free event! All supplies are included while they last!

13. Swim to End Cancer at Aqua Tots Swim School

When: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: 4018 Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065

Sign up for a 30 minute swimming lesson for your child and 100% of the proceeds will go to support Pelatonia riders! If you have more than one child, there is a code for a 15% discount for siblings! There will also be a raffle for gift baskets with items from Aqua-Tots, The Little Gym and more!

14. Reading Buddies featuring the 4-H PetPALs! at Columbus Metropolitan Library – Parsons Branch

When: Saturday April 29, 2017
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: 1113 Parsons Ave., Columbus, OH 43206
Phone: 614-645-2275

Kids age 5-11 can meet, greet and listen to a story with dogs trained by 4H PetPALS!

15. Children’s Garden Day: Strawberry Garden Party at Inniswood Gardens

When: Sunday April 30, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: 940 S. Hempstead Rd., Westerville, OH 43081
Phone: 614-508-8111

At this free, family-friendly event you can learn how to grow and harvest strawberries! There will be crafts and ideas for using strawberries at home!

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ICYMI: Two More Fun Libraries for Columbus Kids

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*