Tag Archives: Holidays

Surviving Holiday Travel

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I am not a fan of traveling during the holidays, especially during the winter holidays. No one can ever really predict what the weather will be like, though during the winter getting snowed in or iced down is a greater possibility for those of us coming from colder areas.

Expedia.com has already reported that holiday travel for the 2015 season is looking busier it was last year, with hotel demands to Europe (where I would want to go if I did go anywhere this holiday season) is high – which increases prices.

And though I prefer my cozy couch, by my warm fireplace, crowded only by my family, there are moments when I long for a trip to Germany’s holiday markets, or to experience Scotland’s Hogmanay.

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Gifts for The Foodie

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Last year I highlighted some great gifts for the travel lover in your life. This time around, I’ve come across some great gift ideas that I think the foodie you love will enjoy too. Of course, this could very well be the same person, which in that case means you have gift ideas galore!

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From Parade to Hot Chocolate: Fall Fun in New York City

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It’s a busy time of the year already here at the Cains. We have one big family trip still up our sleeves this year and I have a few solo trips on my own before hanging my wings, as I do every year, to celebrate the holidays at home with my family.

My kids are all about Halloween and yes, even talking about the Thanksgiving menu already. I know people are finalizing their visits to New York City right about now too, which always gets me excited because it truly is the best time to visit!

I wanted to get a little list of favorites in New York around Thanksgiving to help plan your trip.

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Fun Holiday Sights & Tours in NYC

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The holiday season is in full effect and the streets of New York are as crowded as ever. Personally, I can’t get enough of the energy of the city now – with its festive, happy vibe – though it’s important to note that I make sure to clear my head and place myself in total zen mode before hitting the streets to take it all in.

But, taking it all in can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t exactly know where to start. This is when taking a list can be extremely helpful in not only getting you to the best spots to see in the city, but also to highlight some other things you might have not noticed or known about.

I took a couple of days of playing tourist in the city to check some fun tours and happenings in town.

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Bringing the Family Together in The Kitchen This Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is one of our most celebrated cooking holidays at home. For years my children have associated Thanksgiving as a day when our family enjoys dishes not only from their father’s American culture, but also from their mother’s Latino culture – and it’s a great way to get them excited about where we both come from, even if we aren’t traveling there for the holiday.

One of the ways in which I have been able to get my boys interested in not just feasting, but also in preparing for Thanksgiving, is by explaining to them why each dish is so important to us. So, for example, my husband loves green bean casserole, a dish that he enjoyed growing up and one that I make only around that time of year. Explaining to our sons that this was a dish that their father enjoyed when he was their age not only encouraged them to give it a try, but also to learn to shop for all the ingredients when at the store and help in the prep work in the kitchen.

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Making Memories at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

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No matter what I do throughout the year, I always make time to be home for the holidays and that’s because this time of the New York City is my absolute favorite. Yes, it’s cold, and yes, it’s crowded, but man oh man, is it festive, fun and awesome.

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Happy Holidays!

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We definitely have our holiday favorites when it comes to spreading good cheers here at the NYCityMama household, like this one:

But a part of what brings us joy is the friendship, support, and love we receive from our friends and family. Thank you for the warmth you have given me and my family throughout the year. We hope that it is felt in turn now and always.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the coming New Year – from our family to yours.

Click to play this Smilebox greeting  

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Believe at Macy’s Santaland, NYC

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All week long, all I have wanted to do was wake up Friday morning and surprise my two youngest with a visit to see Santaland in Macy’s Herald Square, an annual holiday tradition for us.

I envisioned my boys jumping up and down for joy, except I didn’t realize that Friday’s Pizza Day in school was such a big deal. So instead, I got this:

Sigh.

Eventually, as the news sunk in, the boys did get more and more excited and by the time we arrived to Macy’s on 34th street they were jumping up and down with anticipation.

I was delighted too, because unlike last year, I got there early enough to beat the crowds. Macy’s Santaland is open from 9am to 9pm on weekdays, and from 8am till 9PM on weekends till December 24th. Crowds are willing to wait outside for this, so it’s really best to get there early. The closer it gets to Christmas (16 days at the time of this post), the larger the crowds and the wait can be an hour or more…and not a lot of fun.

This year however, Macy’s added a bit more details closer to the end of the line featuring animatronics which highlight scenes from the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street. The kids loved this as did the parents because it helped to keep them entertained.

We made our way through many of our favorites, like the holiday tree, skiing penguins, signing snow people and Santa’s sleigh.

We arrived to Santa pretty quickly, and this year was a pretty big deal because it was the first time ever that my now 6 year old had the courage to actually speak to him and tell him what he wanted and Santa took note. He took him by the hand and they spoke softly to each other. It was such a sweet and adorable moment that my holiday, Santa loving heart nearly burst with joy and my eyes teared up.

My 5 year old was a bit shy and spoke, but without really letting go of my hand. There was no rush, there was no pressure to move it along, and I was so grateful for the attention Santa gave my boys today, I just had to share the experience with you all.

So, if this is your holiday and you are a fan of Santa, I hope you can make your way to Santaland too this year. But keep in mind my tips, they make all the difference, and  make sure to go with plenty of time, patience and happy holiday spirits. Many of the same rules I talked about in my Traveling this Holiday Season post, apply while you navigate the crowds, especially in the magical Santaland.

Enjoy Macy’s Holiday Lane, where you can browse toys and other holiday gifts, as well as rest your feet with some baked goods and beverages.

Make sure to stop by Santa’s Post Office online where you can create a letter on special holiday stationary. Once you have created your letter, stop by any Macy’s letterbox to drop in your special Santa letter. For each letter received Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1,000,000, giving others something to Believe in as well.

Most of all just have fun. Whether young or old, big or small, Macy’s Santaland remains one of our family’s all time holiday favorites and a must-do when visiting NYC.

There is no admission fee to Macy’s Santaland. Photos with Santa can be purchased immediately after your visit with him. Macy’s Herald Square is located at 151 W 34th St New York, NY 10001. Telephone (212) 695-4400.

 

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Celebrate El Dia de los Tres Reyes in Barcelona

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I know who the Three Kings are. Know all about that frankincense and myrrh. But what I didn’t know is that for Spaniards (and other Spanish speaking countries), El Dia de los Tres Reyes is bigger than Christmas. And it’s especially big in Barcelona.

Before the 6th of January, kids and adults write letters to the three wise men asking for what they want, much like we do Santa. There are “helpers” located throughout Barcelona, with whom you can entrust your letter to go to the wise men. We gave our letters to a helper who was on the very boat the wise men would arrive on, a replica of one Columbus sailed.

The afternoon of January 5, the wise men arrive by boat. We happened to be on a mountain when they arrived, so viewed the whole thing! Their boat was surrounded by others who were seeing them into the ports. Boats honked, fireworks went off. It was magical.


Then that evening, there is a parade with the wise men and all their friends. It was a very elaborate parade, with amazing costumes, dancers and props. I told my friend it was less commercial than a parade in the US would be (think floats with logos on them, “Vote Buddy for Mayor” signs, etc). She thought the parade was pretty commercialized because the candy wrappers had logos on them. Interesting difference.

The parade stretches from the port to the mountain, which has got to be several miles. Barcelonans line up early to get a good spot for candy catching, so plan to get there around 4 or 5 and plan to wait.

Afterwards, most Barcelonans eat in a restaurant to continue the revelry, and then visit the Christmas market for hot churros with hot chocolate, which is not a drink but rather a sweet dip for the churros. Spain is a staying-out-late country, so this could go on til 2 am!

That night, the 3 wise men visit the children’s homes, so it’s custom to leave bits of bread in a shoe for them, as well as water. We do the same for the reindeer, minus the shoe. In the morning, if you’ve been good, you have presents waiting you. If not, just like in the US, it’s coal for you! (The parade even had a truckload of carbon to scare the kids into being good) Lucky for my son, he’d been good. Double dipping on the presents this holiday season!

Spaniards also celebrate with un Rosca de Reyes, or King Cake. If you’ve celebrated Mardi Gras, you’re familiar with the concept. Inside the cake is a tiny king. The person who finds it is crowned king or queen. There’s also a fava bean hidden. The finder has to buy next year’s cake. Guess who found the fava??

If you get a chance to visit Barcelona in January, I highly recommend you schedule your visit around January 5 and 6 so you can partake in the merriment. The entire city is even more magical than usual!

Susan Payton is President of Egg Marketing & Public Relations and writes the blog The Marketing Eggspert

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An oldie but goodie…

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Last year I recorded my son singing this song to all the little boys and girls out there. It has become a favorite in our family, both near and far. As we get ready to head out to Macy’s to see Santalandbefore the Big Day next weekend, it seems appropriate that we share the video again, just as a reminder to all the boys and girls, both young and old!

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