By Sue Rodman
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. When I was in elementary school, the age where Christmas magic is at it’s height, two of my brothers were off at college. I still remember the anticipation and excitement on the day they were due home for the holidays. When they arrived, there would be all kinds of commotion and smiles and laughing. Lots of laughing. My mom would have made a bazillion cookies, stored in a certain rectangular tupperware container. To this day, I see that greying piece of plastic and excitedly look for the little green Christmas tree cookies inside.
Now that I have my own family, I want to create memories of the holidays that will make them smile for years to come – and maybe even send them looking into a certain greying container for some special cookies. However, Christmas can also be a bit overwhelming for parents. There is so much to do and not enough hours in the day. To help shepherd you through this crazy time of year, I’ve put together this Guide to the Holidays in Atlanta with Kids. The highlighted words in each section link to a longer post with lists and information you need. Got something to add? Let us know.
Where to Find Santa in Atlanta
Every year there are more and more places to see Santa. This post is a round up for anyone who hasn’t found their spot yet. Malls aren’t the only places to visit with the Jolly Man in Red. Local attractions like Stone Mountain Christmas and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens offer more scenic settings. Our go to place has always been Lenox Square Mall. We generally couple it with a visit to the Macy’s Pink Pig . Riding the Pink Pig is an Atlanta tradition. Whenever we have someone new come for the holidays, no matter how old they are, I make them ride the kitschy Pink Pig. It’s just what you do.
Where to Find an African American Santa in Atlanta:
Over the years, we’ve had a number of readers ask where they can find an African American Santa. If we don’t have your favorite location listed, let us know with a comment on the post. We are always updating and love when readers give us insight into places we don’t know about.
Elf Mischief/Elf Magic Ideas:
Ahh, the elves. I have a love/hate relationship with these little guys that you can read about in my post. You’ll also find some ideas on what you might expect should you invite the elves into your home. I warn you, their antics can be messy. Our elves have TPed the Christmas tree, fished in our toilet, created a zip line in the kitchen… check out the post to see what else they’ve done.
Where to See Holiday Lights in Atlanta:
I’m a colored lights person, the more the better. Thankfully there are lots of places to see lights in Atlanta. One of my favorites is The Atlanta Botanical Gardens Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. Each year they add a little more. This list will tell you where to find the best light displays.
Live Nativities in Atlanta:
This post was started out of desperation. Years ago I wanted to take my kids to a live nativity to show them what the season was really about. I had such a hard time finding a list that I created my own. As you’ll see, this list includes locations throughout Atlanta. I love St. John’s Methodist Church Roman Village, but the one we visit the most is Sardis United Methodist Church. They have a simple performance with carols inside the historic church. Make your plans for this activity soon; many live nativities are early in December. Note we are in the process of updating the dates for 2014, however they should be within a day or two of what is posted here from 2013.
Volunteering with Kids in Atlanta:
Part of the magic of the holiday season is doing good for others. Your local church may have a giving tree for holiday gifts, or service day at your child’s school. This year my older boys and I are volunteering at the Metro Atlanta Project at our church. For those who are looking for more ways to help the less fortunate, this post outlines organizations that offer service projects appropriate for children.
Ice Skating in Atlanta:
I wanted to be an Olympic ice skater when I was little. It didn’t matter that we never lived near an ice rink. I took lessons at Parkaire in Marietta when I was in my twenties, a little late for Olympic gold, but I know if I had started earlier, I would have been great. Now I love to twirl around the many ice rinks in Atlanta. Each one has it’s own personality, so check out our post to find the right one for your family. However, remember, Atlanta Heat + Outdoor Ice don’t always mix, so call ahead to determine the conditions before heading out.
Holiday Gift Guide:
It wouldn’t be the holidays without gifts. I always like to get something different. Instead of the usual toy, why not try an experiential gift. This Field Trips with Sue Guide has a list of everything from attraction memberships and shows, to fun membership clubs that have your kids traveling around the world. We’ll even give you some advice on how to Wrap an Experiential Gift so the recipient has something to open.
Many of the activities in this guide have become holiday traditions for our family. However, we also have some pretty cool traditions that don’t involve tickets or even leaving the house. One of our favorites is the holiday book advent calendar. It’s a fun way to count down the days until Christmas (or the days of Hanukkah) and spend some time reading to your child.
What to do on Thanksgiving Day:
After the big holiday dinner, it can be a long evening starring at relatives. Why not get out and enjoy some of what Atlanta has to offer. In this post, we give you some ideas on what to do ON Thanksgiving Day.
What to do on Christmas Day:
Ditto above only insert Christmas Day. After all, kids can only play with those toys for so long, then you want to get out and have them run around a little bit. Try a hike or maybe even bowling. We’ve got a list of what to do ON Christmas Day in this post.