We haven’t even defrosted the turkey yet and the holiday calendar is already booking up! Here are some fun things to do to kick off the holiday celebrations.
Children’s Christmas Train, Dec. 1: I am announcing this early because this is by far my favorite holiday tradition and it sells out fast! I recommend buying tickets online as soon as you finish reading this article. Presented by the Arkansas Missouri Railroad, tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 4-12. Plan on arriving a little early to enjoy the Winter Wonderland activities. There are typically bounce houses set up as well as pony rides, carnival games, hot chocolate and snacks. Santa and Ms. Claus ride the train with the kids and elves keep the riders entertained with Christmas carols. Be sure to wear plenty of layers and extra socks — you spend a good bit of time waiting outside and its always colder than it seems when you leave the house.
Lights of the Ozarks Parade, Nov. 17: Another holiday favorite, the lighting of the square is a must see. Get there early, bundle up and maybe even bring a blanket or two to watch the parade and the lighting of the square. Each year, city Parks and Rec employees spend more than 2,000 hours stringing up 450,000 Christmas lights and it is truly a sight to behold. While you are there, be sure to buy some hot chocolate from Jammin’ Java, sample some cupcakes from Bliss Cupcakes and maybe even grab dinner at one of the many local restaurants around the square.
Silent Auction benefiting Spay Arkansas, Nov. 27: Knock out your Christmas shopping, sip some wine and support a great cause! I always leave the auction with lots of treasures that I scored for great prices. As a matter of fact, I won a purse last year for $20 that I still get daily compliments on. The auction items include artwork, crafts, home decor, gift certificates, miscellaneous items, baked goods and jewelry. The time is 1-4 p.m. at Arsaga’s Espresso Cafe at 1852 N. Crossover Road, Fayetteville.
Alternative Gift Market, Dec. 2: I shopped the alternative gift market for the first time last year and was completely blown away! St. Paul’s Episcopal Church hosts this event every year as an alternative to the usual giving of store-bought items at Christmas. The AGM offers a variety of ‘gifts’ that are tax-deductible and support local and global nonprofit groups. For example, a $10 donation will buy a bag of food for Seven Hills Homeless Shelter or $20 to Community Meals will feed 25 people. With your donation, you receive a card with details of the gift. The cards can then be given to friends and relatives informing them of the alternative gift given in their honor. The best part is that there is a kid’s shopping list, too! Some items are priced $1-$5 and allow children to shop and buy ‘gifts’ for a good cause in honor of their family and friends. This is the best way I have found to shop in the true meaning of the holiday.