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Friday, December 23, 2016

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Cramming the Christmas Season into Two Days

Elliott Peter checking out the displays at Krohn Conservatory
Hey, you.  Procrastinator.  Yes, you!  I’m not sure if you knew this or not but today is Christmas Eve. Have you even done anything Christmasy yet?  No?  Have you trimmed a single tree?  Fa-ed a single La?  Have you gone a-wassailing? Even once?  No? I am not sure how this year crept up on you; if only they had given some warning that Christmas is coming such as toy commercials or store decorations.  Maybe they even could have started these warnings in August!  What?  They did?

Well, no excuses and it’s time to buckle down now.  If you need to cram your Christmas into two days, these four quick, close, relatively cheap, and super-Christmas ideas can do just that.  These four family-fun activities are like a Kale-Avocado-Brussel Sprout-Acai Berry Smoothie Super-food for Christmas.  A quick shot of them will turn your youngest into Cindy Lou Who and you into the Mom who Saved Christmas!

Coney Island Park:

What’s a Mom-on-the-Go’s absolute favorite thing?  The drive-thru! No lugging around pumpkin seats, bundling up children, or trying to figure out strollers. So, what better way to cram Christmas than to enjoy it from the inside of your warm car!  To that end, Coney Island has created a new family tradition.

In its first year, the Coney Island Christmas Nights of Lights Christmas Light Show is a family event that features a 2-mile car ride through Christmas displays and light shows. From their website, “visitors of all ages will be awed by the larger than life trees, glowing snowflakes, dancing candy canes and fantastic tunnels of lights! In the warmth of your own car, you can sing along to the sounds of the season synchronized to each holiday display.” The show begins nightly at dusk and runs through 10 p.m. Christmas Nights of Lights will be open every night including holidays until January 1st and admission is just $6 per person (free for three and under).

The Campbell County YMCA. This is an advertisement. 

Fort Thomas mom, Shelly Bean, went with her family and gave a pro-tip, “Get there early to avoid waiting for hours.”  The lines of cars do get very long and the wait can be brutal.  In fact, Winton Woods has been doing this similar concept for years and after going once and watching a giant tree sloth wave as he walked past my car (which felt like it was going in reverse), I vowed never to do the Winton Woods experience again.  However, feedback from Coney Island has been quite positive and as long as you arrive early, it should be a great way to have your children seeing spots from all the Christmas joy!

 Coney Island Night of Lights Provided by Shelly Bean
Krohn Conservatory:

Little known fact- The Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park is actually open year-round and has truly amazing displays and shows.  However, Christmas is when they really go all out with decorated trees, incredible train displays, and a live nativity scene outside on the front lawn.  My husband has been going to Krohn Conservatory every year his entire life on Christmas Eve until a few years ago when they began to close earlier during that day.  We now go earlier in the season but regardless, it is truly a “whimsical Wonderland” with “the traditional garden railway display (…) decorated (…) with new floral accents made from colorful gourds, seed pods, and other natural elements used in the botanical buildings and bridges. Additionally, a brand new ‘Enchanted Forest & Whimsical Creatures’ exhibit will be on display in the Fern House. Botanical creatures, fantasy and whimsical buildings situated among three different train tracks in the central bed of the room will delight children of all ages.”- from the website.

The Christmas display will stay until January 8th and Krohn is open from 10-7:30 (closes at 5 on Christmas Eve but reopens 10-2 Christmas Day). The price is $7 for adults and $4 for children with ages 4 and under free.  Additionally, there is a $1 off coupon on their website.

Local Mom Erika Peter and her family enjoy this annual tradition: “Our family loves to come here every year.”  So, there you have it!

Cincinnati Zoo:

After 34 years, the Cincinnati Zoo continues to razzle and dazzle with their annual PNC Festival of Lights! However, if you’re not into hordes of people moving through a crowded area like Wal-Mart on Black Friday, then perhaps this is a tradition better left for after Christmas.  I would give you my pro-tip but the weather report doesn’t look like it will do any favors- I pick the coldest day or a rainy day and then bundle up my kids; we practically have the light display to ourselves!  However, with relatively warm and dry weather these two days before Christmas, you’ll have to either wait or make 100,000 new friends.
Mr Elf in the Reptile Building at the Cincinnati Zoo
This display features more than a million lights, an Anna and Elsa Frozen Wonderland, and a light show synched to music on the lake.  The zoo is open Sunday to Thursday from 5-9pm and Friday & Saturday from 5-10pm. Additionally, the zoo is open all-day on Christmas Eve but closed Christmas day. You can save money and time by buying tickets online at their website. The train, although it costs additional and usually has a wait, is worth the experience to see the lake light show up close and also be sure to find Elf on the Shelf in the Reptile House. Also, in the building behind the train display, Santa will be there for photos.

Fountain Square:

If you’re up for a more active Christmas activity, check out the outdoor ice skating rink at Fountain Square in Downtown Cincinnati.  In the shadows of one of the largest Christmas Trees in the area, this outdoor skating rink has a very seasonally appropriate feeling to it.  The rink is actually open through President’s Day every year so if you simply cannot muster the energy to celebrate all of this Christmas in the next two days, save this for later!  The rink is open Monday to Sunday from 9am to 11pm and the cost is $6.00 for admission and $4.00 for skate rental. Skates are rented first-come, first-serve and come in Youth sizes 8-4, women’s or men’s 5-13.
Kevin Duke and daughter Finley enjoying Fountain Square
So get up, get out, and start to celebrate Christmas.  If you try really hard, you could skate from 9-11 this morning, then visit Krohn from 11-1.   Grab a quick lunch then head over to the Zoo.  Visit the Festival of Lights from 5-7 then drive to Coney Island.  During the three hour wait in the car, mobile order all of your Christmas gifts with overnight delivery (good luck getting them) and call it a Christmas in less than 24 hours.  See, who needs to plan ahead?

Happy Holidays to all and enjoy making lasting and last-minute family memories!

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