• CCES Sept 2023
  • GFS Level Up ad
  • Five Oaks Academy 2023
  • Prisma Health Fall 2023
  • YMCA Sept 2023
  • SCCT Charlotte's Web 2023
  • International Ballet Fall 2023

Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Get Ready to Be Terrified at Madworld Haunted Attraction in Greenville, SC

Posted on |

Ready for a scare-your-pants-off kind of haunted attraction? We visited Madworld Haunted Attraction in Greenville, SC and had a terrifyingly fun time. Thanks to Madworld for inviting us to experience their terrifying attraction so we could scare our readers in this review.

Love haunted houses, insane asylums, terrifying clowns, and all things Halloween? Then you’ll want to visit one of the country’s scariest haunted attractions at Madworld Haunted Attraction right here in Greenville, SC.

We’ll tell you all about how this place started, the terrifying things you’ll encounter, how scary Madworld really is, and how to experience this best of the Halloween season at Madworld.

About Madworld Haunted Attraction

Madworld is owned and run by two brothers, Joe and Tim Thompson, and 2023 is their 13th season of the haunted attraction. They’ve always loved horror and all things scary so producing and creating Madworld was a natural fit for both of them.

The haunted attraction has won accolades nationwide and is ranked as one of the scariest attractions in South Carolina. This is a pretty serious haunted attraction which Joe and Tim have built with the guest experience in mind. There are about 200 actors on any given night looking to terrify guests with their very real-looking getups and acting skills that have been honed for this place and their goal to give guests a memorable – and nightmare-worthy – experience.

We got a peek at some of the behind-the-scenes magic and the amount of work that goes into the makeup and costumes of each character is stunning. There are silicon masks, rows of makeup chairs, prosthetics, weapons that look real. The team is serious about the appearance of each character and makes sure to make them look as real as possible. Actors have to go through rounds of auditions to work at Madworld.

But that’s not all. Madworld has a quality control manager whose job is basically go through the entire park several times a night and make sure every character is acting their part to a tee. If not, well, I don’t even want to know. The guy who does this is very serious about his job.

All the Details about the Haunted Trail

The biggest part of Madworld is their nearly half-mile haunted trail through a zombie factory and into a world of all kinds of things that scare us humans.

Joe and Tim told us that they wanted to hit on a variety of things and scenarios that scare people as to make sure they are able to hit all phobias. That is quite obvious once you start walking through the haunted trail, which seemingly never ends.

The zombie factory starts off your tour after your photo is snapped by the Madworld staff to remember you by. OK, well, not really. You can purchase it afterwards at the customer service desk. Each group is ushered in separately so there may be a bit of a wait (get the Fast Pass – you’ll save a lot of time). There are green glowing lights and you feel like you’re in a prison. Loud noises are all around you and the actors try to reach for you from their jail cell. It’s awesome.

Once you get instructions about not running through any of the attractions from the creepy host, you’ll enter into the official part of the haunted trail. There are 13 sets/haunted houses and once you leave one, you’ll walk outside and enter into the next one. There are characters everywhere that either will jump out at you or show up in the shadows or just act completely terrifying.

After the zombie factory, I can’t even remember what is next because there are so many. I’ll tell you the things that stood out to me in the various places.

First, this wasn’t even me but Bethany and her husband were behind me and passed a writhing girl on the floor, who they thought was me. You can imagine their terror. Thankfully, I was just ahead of them getting scared out of my mind by an exorcist-type girl on a moving bed who was crawling towards me.

The clown house obviously involved a lot of clowns. But it also involved a lot of flashing lights, strobes, and creepy laughs. This is one the warnings they give you when you buy your tickets.

The pirate house was my favorite because the characters were entirely convincing but also because they had a part where it seemed that you were going to fall into water where a giant gator was going to eat you. Towards the end of the pirate house, you have to walk through a room where you can’t see the floor – so cool.

The insane asylum was just that: insane. Lots of patients screaming to let them out plus a room full of old toilets that had me convinced this was a real insane asylum. It was intense.

One part that was outdoors had a crazed guy lighting up propane with actors with chainsaws hacking up people. One bloody person was dragged in front of me by a dude with a chainsaw and I’m still not sure if it was a real person or not.

A witch nearly scared me to death when she popped out of her shack. And I really didn’t want to walk through the house with the label of “bless this house” on the door. No, thanks. But I did and it was haunting.

From the time we entered the zombie factory to when we exited the haunted trail was about 25-30 minutes. It felt longer. There is a lot of blood, gore, and screaming at Madworld.

Ghost Mini Golf & Carnival Games

While Madworld is probably most well-known for their intensely scary haunted trail, they have a lot of other things to do while you’re there that won’t involve straining your vocal chords.

They have an entire mini golf course, several different carnival games, and my favorite – ax throwing. None of these things are terrifying so if your kids want to go someplace “scary” but you know they aren’t ready for the full experience, you can take them here to do ghost mini golf and throw some balls at clowns. Then they can tell their friends they went to Madworld.

Tasty Treats at Madworld + Gift Shop

Being scared works up an appetite. Good thing Madworld can help out with that.

There are some tasty food vendors at Madworld that sell mini donuts, cheeseburgers, funnel cakes, muffins, fries, and even coffee and frappes.

These are located inside the park. You can sit around the bonfire and eat and calm your heart rate after going through the haunted trail.

As for the gift shop, you’ll want to go here before heading home. They have some really cool stuff like skeleton wine goblets, terrifying hoodies, ghost soap dishes, and candles. They partnered with Travelers Rest-based artisan chocolate shop, Lumineux Chocolate, to create special Madworld chocolate bars. We tried these and oh my gosh, they are amazing.

Best Ages for Madworld

If you think I’m going to give you an age range for kids who will enjoy this, sorry to disappoint but it’s not happening. As an adult, I was scared. I know several adults who would also be terrified of Madworld but who want to go and scream their heads off. Other friends are scared just looking at my photos of Madworld.

I know my own kids, currently ages 12 and 9, and they would never sleep after going to Madworld. But other kids, including another 12-year-old and a teenager who came with us, absolutely loved this place and no doubt will want to go back. When we went, there was a little girl, probably around 7, who was first in line with her mom.

So what age is good for this haunted attraction? It totally depends on your kid.

Joe did tell us that when little kids come in, the actors don’t act as scary towards them. So, instead of quietly coming up behind them and waiting for them to turn around and be scared out of their mind, the characters will approach them from the front and give them a high five.

Tips on Enjoying Madworld

Here are a few things we found to be helpful when heading to Madworld Haunted Attraction.

  • The actors are not allowed to intentionally touch guests. They are allowed to get very close though and sometimes I brushed up against their costumes.
  • Wear sturdy and closed toed shoes. Sometimes you can’t see the floor in the haunted trail and there is part of it where the floor moves so you want sturdy shoes.
  • Plan to spend some time there. There are a lot of things to enjoy at Madworld besides the haunted trail so plan to spend the evening hanging out, getting scared, and playing carnival games, eating, or chilling at the bonfire.
  • Sign your waiver and have the proof you signed it on your phone at the entrance. That’s the only thing you need to enter Madworld and you’ll be checked for it.
  • If you’re able, get the Fast Pass. It will save you time on the haunted trail since you jump to the head of the line.
  • You can buy a no-scare medallion as part of your ticket package if you want to go but don’t want to be screaming all night. When kids wear these medallions, it repels monsters.
  • Do not wear your Halloween costumes. No costumes are allowed.
  • There are a lot of strobe and flashing lights and fog. If you have a condition where these things aggravate it, then it is not recommended you go. Pregnant women are also cautioned against doing the haunted trail.

Overall Review of Madworld

This type of attraction is typically not at the top of my Halloween excursions but readers, this is what I do for you. That said, Madworld was really, really fun. It’s obvious how much work went into creating a top-notch experience for guests who come looking to be scared and have a great night with their friends, family, or date (this would make a great date night).

The characters are very good at their work and everyone we saw throughout the haunted trail was on point for their particular scare tactic. We never saw any actor break character, which I imagine is very difficult to do for hours each night.

I’d certainly consider putting Madworld on my fall bucket list after this trip.

Operating Hours & Tickets

You can purchase your tickets online or at the gate. They have several different packages whether you want the full experience of the haunted trail and all the carnival games or just a couple things to do. You can also purchase a season pass if you’re that kind of crazy. General admission tickets are $40/adult and $35/kids 10 and under. Ticket packages go up from there.

They are open weekends starting September 8, 2023 through November 4, 2023. They are also open Halloween and a few other days before the last weekend of October. The times vary so check the schedule before you go.

Madworld will open in light rain but if it’s raining heavily, they will need to close. Follow Madworld on Facebook for the most up-to-date announcements.

Haunted houses and spooky things to do in Greenville, SC

Looking for more haunts?
See our Guide to Haunted Attractions in the Upstate!

Madworld Haunted Attraction
147 Country Manor Road, Piedmont, SC 
Madworld on Facebook

Christmas and New Year’s Magic at Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm

Posted on |

If you’ve been a Kidding Around reader for any length of time, you’ve likely seen some of our coverage of Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm in Fountain Inn, SC. While the farm is open year-round with varying hours, you don’t want to miss Yuletide Unicorn & Night Lights Festival. With Christmas celebrations leading up to New Year’s Day, you and your child are bound to make memories together during a visit to Hidden Pastures. 

Be sure to read our entire review of Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm.

Yuletide Unicorn & Night Lights Festival

After all of the rain we’ve had lately, we were ready to get out of the house at the first break of sunshine (despite the bite of cold air). We bundled up ourselves and our daughter and made our way to Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm. Owner Kate greeted us with smiles and gave us a rundown of the history and what to expect once we walked through the entrance barn doors. As soon as we were done talking with Kate, our daughter took off. 

Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm at Christmas
Unicorn Farm Entrance & Gift Shop

My favorite part of the entire visit? The free-range animals that roam the grounds. Everywhere you turn, there’s either a friendly goat, eager chicken, adorable calf, or magical unicorn ready to greet you (and likely waiting for some snacks to gently eat out of your hand).

Christmas time at Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm in Fountain Inn SC
Feeding the Goats at the Unicorn Farm

There are plenty of outdoor toys for your child to enjoy. There are see-saws, rocking horses, bouncing horses, a tiny toddler playhouse, slides, swings, and a giant inflatable bounce house with a slide. 

But the best part about this time of year? The Christmas decorations, Santa, hot chocolate, live music (select days only), Christmas lights, and a night-time Christmas moving showing with a firepit. If our daughter was a bit older, we definitely would have visited at night. Since she’s a bit young, we made a daytime visit, but look forward to visiting in the evening when she’s a little older.

And if you need something to do on New Year’s Eve, the Unicorn Farm will be showing a special movie, will keep their Christmas lights on, and have a food truck available). (CANCELED Due to rain)

Animals at Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm
Yuletide Unicorn & Night Lights Festival

Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm Yuletide Unicorn & Night Lights Festival with Santa Details

Unicorn Farm Location:
245 Little Virginia Road
Fountain Inn

Visit Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm

Hours of Operation:

  • December 19-23, 2022: open every day 11 am – 9 pm (no Santa visits)
  • December 24-25, 2022: Closed
  • December 26-30, 2022: open every day 11 am – 9 pm (no Santa visits)
  • CLOSED 12/31 Due to RAIN
  • January 1, 2023: Open 11 am – 9 pm (no Santa visits)


  • Adults 18+ – $12
  • Kids 3-17 years old – $14
  • Babies 2 & under – Free
  • *Cash and cards accepted

Planning your trip to Hidden Pastures? Tell us about it!

Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm
Unicorns at Hidden Pastures Unicorn Farm in Fountain Inn, SC

Experience Christmas Magic at the Greenville Zoo’s Holiday Lights Show

Posted on |

Holidays at the Zoo at the Greenville Zoo in Greenville, SC has thousands of lights, holiday music, and lots of surprises that are pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face this Christmas season.

Only in it’s second year, Holidays at the Zoo at the Greenville Zoo is already a must-see in Greenville for families and anyone looking to experience a bit of Christmas magic this holiday season. I tried it out and absolutely loved it for its amazing lights, relaxed and festive atmosphere, and great Christmas music.

About Holidays at the Zoo

This is only the second year for the big light display at the Greenville Zoo so if you haven’t heard about it yet, let us introduce you to this awesome show of Christmas lights.

The lights are strewn throughout the entire zoo, right from the entrance gate all along the paved paths. There are two huge light tunnels which are fantastic. One of them, the one nearest the farm animals and sponsored by the Little Gym, is synchronized to music. I’ll be the first to tell you that yes, I was a hundred percent dancing through this tunnel to the music. It was so much fun and my kids thought it was hilarious. I don’t know why they didn’t join me.

I did get to talk to the guy who is responsible for the programming of the lights and a lot of the setup. He confirmed my suspicion that this display was no easy job to create. I really think the Greenville Zoo did a fantastic job with this display.

Santa and (Some) Sleeping Animals

The lights continue on throughout the zoo once you enter and stroll past the reptile house, which is open if you’d like to stop in to see the creepy crawlers, and up to the concession area where you can buy hot chocolate or popcorn and browse the zoo shop. They have really cute stuffed animals, ornaments, and other gifts.

Santa’s workshop is near there as well where guests are invited to take photos. Santa will be at the Zoo on December 22, 2022. Keep on strolling through the zoo, past the birds (you may see a huge owl like we did!), and around the small play area, which is closed for this special event. But don’t worry because once you round that curve, you’ll see a huge Holidays at the Zoo sign that you can use for pictures and then you get to walk through the big musical light tunnel – my favorite. Tag us in videos where you dance. Please.

We went at 6 pm and most of the animals were already sleeping so you probably won’t see many if you go in the evening. If you go during an earlier slot, you should be able to see the animals. One of our readers said she went a little before 5 pm and got to see the animals and then when it got dark, went through again, without exiting the zoo as your ticket does not include readmission, to see all the lights lit up.

The experience is such fun and absolutely worth it. It’s obvious how much work and effort the Zoo went through to make this an incredible experience for their guests.

Yummy Concessions

I definitely recommend getting a cup of hot chocolate while you’re at Holidays at the Zoo. I love hot chocolate and it’s even tastier on a chilly winter night.

You can also purchase tokens at the concession stand for milk and cookies, which you can eat while sitting at a little fire on some couches or pretty white wicker chairs that are very cozy and picturesque. There’s also a mechanical reindeer and really, who doesn’t love that?

Best Ages for Holidays at the Zoo

My kids are 8 and 11 years old and they loved this light display. I loved it as an adult. The tunnels and lights and music were my favorite and made me feel like a kid again. It was fantastic.

The Greenville Zoo is stroller-friendly and I saw lots of families making use of them while walking throughout the light display so if your kids are smaller, this is a great option to see some holiday lights and have that fun, family experience together.

I’ve always thought that the Greenville Zoo is such a manageable adventure for families with smaller kids and this event is no different. We spent about 45 minutes, maybe a little longer, going through the whole zoo, stopping to take photos and videos, and just to soak it all in. This is such a perfect excursion because it’s local so you aren’t driving far and also because it will easily capture the attention of kids at any age.

Tips on Enjoying Holidays at the Zoo

Here are a few tips to make your experience even more enjoyable at the Greenville Zoo during Holidays at the Zoo:

  • The Zoo is pretty much all outdoors so definitely plan your wardrobe accordingly. Be sure to have hats, gloves, scarves, and a warm jacket, especially when you go at night.
  • I’d recommend going around sunset or later so you can get the whole light show experience.
  • Bathrooms are conveniently located near the concession and shop area right in the middle of the Zoo. It’s always good to know where the bathrooms are!
  • The play areas inside the Zoo are closed during Holidays at the Zoo so just plan for that, especially if you know your kids love to play there.
  • If you have a stroller, you’re welcome to use it. There’s plenty of space to use strollers at the Zoo during this event.
  • Pets are not allowed on Zoo grounds so leave your furry friend home when visiting the light show.
  • Your tickets are one time entry only so you can’t leave and then come back later.

Holidays at the Zoo Dates & Tickets

Tickets to Holidays at the Zoo are $10/adult members and $8/child members; $12/adult non-members and $10/child non-members (online prices). If you choose to purchase tickets at the gate, the cost is $14/adults and $12/kids for non-members. The Zoo is encouraging guests to purchase tickets online to ensure your spot. Plus, it’s cheaper that way!

Holidays at the Zoo is happening at the Greenville Zoo:

  • December 15-23, 2022 from 3-8 pm
  • December 26-30, 2022 from 3-8 pm

The tickets are timed and the last time slot is 7:45 pm but as long as you are in line by 8 pm, you’ll get in.

Want more holiday lights? Check out our big Holiday Lights List for the best displays in our area!

Greenville Zoo
150 Cleveland Park Drive, Greenville

Dan Hamilton’s Greenville, SC Holiday Bucket List

Posted on |

In this article, Top Rated Real Estate Agent and Team Leader Dan Hamilton takes a break from offering Greenville real estate advice to share his must-see Greenville events this holiday season. Keep reading to discover his family’s favorite Greenville traditions!

I have lived in Greenville since I was 5 years old, and Christmas has always been a special time in the city. This year, I’m sharing some of my family’s favorite Greenville holiday events and Christmas traditions that we never miss.

I’m just sharing a few of my favorite events here, but if you’re looking for more ways to spend time with your family this holiday season, check out my team’s holiday guide. Whether you’re looking for a Christmas Tree Farm, a Christmas Parade, or a New Years Eve Party, the Hamilton & Co. Holiday Guide has you covered with over 70 Greenville Holiday Events!


Largest Nativity Scene in South Carolina at Church in Greenville, SC

Posted on |

Did you know South Carolina’s largest nativity scene with life-size figures is right here in Greenville, SC? See the beautifully carved figures at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors through early February. 

Christmas is centered around nativity scenes and for good reason, right? The birth of Christ is why Christmas is celebrated around the world and while there are many beautiful nativity scenes, the one at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors is incredibly unique because the figures in the nativity are all life-sized and carved by an expert woodworker in Germany. 

Nativity with Christmas Trees

The Great Nativity 

The Great Nativity was revealed last year after parishioners at Prince of Peace raised money through private donations to commission the pieces, which were carved by Johanne Albl of ALBL Oberammergau, who has been in the business of woodworking and sacred art in Germany since 1556.

There are 13 figures in total: the shepherd, Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the camel, ox, donkey, three wise men, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, an angel, and a sheep.

The three wise men, also life-size, didn’t show up on time last year but they made it for this year’s nativity and are currently situated in the back of the spacious church, making their way to the nativity scene. 

The biggest sculpture in the Great Nativity is the camel, weighing in at 1,600 pounds, which is actually more than most camels weigh in real life. You can’t climb on the camel (I asked). 

About the Artist 

Johanne Albl of ALBL Oberammergau carved the Great Nativity from polychrome Lindenwood. The set is the largest ever commissioned in the family’s history. They are also one of the world’s leading firms for sacred art and architecture. 

Angel Mary and Joseph

The Albl family has been woodcarvers in Germany since the mid-1500s. They are currently in their 14th generation of artists and grew from a small village in the Bavarian Alps. 

How to See the Great Nativity 

The Great Nativity at Prince of Peace can be seen in the church anytime between 7 am and 7 pm every day, and will be up between Sunday, December 4, 2022 until February 2, 2023, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.  

“Christmas is a busy time for everyone and if you want a moment of peace in the craziness of the holiday season, come to the biggest nativity in South Carolina so that we can all be reminded of the innocence of a child during this beautiful season of joy and peace,” said Father Christopher Smith, pastor at Prince of Peace Catholic Church.

Wise Men

Visitors are asked to be respectful when viewing the nativity since the church is a place of worship. The public is welcome at any time to visit, and is warmly invited to a candlelight celebration of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve or any of the Masses held at the Church

For more in-depth knowledge of Prince of Peace, the public are welcome to join Church Tours, which will happen on Thursday, December 15th and Saturday, December 17th at 7 pm with Deacon Michael Thompson. All are encouraged to attend.

Prince of Peace Catholic Church
1209 Brush Creek Road, Taylors

Looking for more? See Live Nativities Near Greenville, SC

31+ Educational Gifts for Kids: Put a New Skill Under the Christmas Tree

Posted on |

Do you want to give an educational gift this year, giving something more than just amusement? Kids can learn loads when they are having fun, which makes educational gifts a double whammy, powerhouse, gift-giving option.

Give them the gift of fine motor skills, colors and shapes, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, creativity, imagination, an inquisitive mind, and a break from screen time. Puzzles, science kits, games, learning toys, books, and building toys can do all that and more.

Ok. You’ve decided to give an educational gift, but now you need some ideas? No problem. We polled our readers and asked about their favorite gifts that encouraged learning something new. Then, we added a few of our own ideas. The result? This list of top-notch educational gift ideas.

Educational gifts for kids

This list contains Amazon affiliate links.

Educational Gift Ideas

When it comes to gift-giving, you’re going to see your kids receive a ton of toys. Some of the best gifts, though, are educational. These gifts and toys engage your child for longer periods of time, encourage imaginative play and critical thinking, and may even inspire a lifelong passion. My favorite educational gifts for kids are ones that store easily, encourage independent play, and can be enjoyed for a long period of time (bonus points: they don’t require batteries, haha).

We polled our readers and asked for their favorite educational gifts for kids, and have rounded up their answers for you below.


I’ve seen these everywhere, and to be honest, the most I see them, the more interested I am in getting one for our daughter. These are essentially audio players for kids 3+ that play stories, music, and other educational things. The biggest draw to them is that they are screen-free and easy for little ones to play with. You buy the starter kit, and then you can buy as many extra “Tonies” as you’d like. Each Tonie character plays different things. Kidding Around readers highly recommended this.


I had never heard of this before a couple of our readers recommended it. But after learning more about it, I’m now wanting to tell all my mama friends about it. You buy a starter kit that includes the Osmo Base that attaches to an iPad or Fire Tablet. There are various puzzle pieces, drawing pads, and games you can buy to accompany each kit. And everything is educational and fun for kids.

Hot Dots

Hot Dots is another great interactive and educational toy for kids. Kids simply take the “pen” and tap the dots throughout the books to help learn to read and get ready for school. Hot Dots come with different subjects, themes, and ages.

Magna Tiles

Time to work those fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination! Magna Tiles are an ever-popular toy for kids. The translucent tiles are magnetic, allowing you to build 2D or 3D shapes. They come in a variety of shapes and spark hours of imaginative play for children. I’ve also known a dad or two to play with these to see how big a structure they can build.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Picasso Tiles are also very popular.

Kiwi Box Subscription

A Kiwi Box Subscription is an educational gift that keeps giving. Each month, your child receives a box in the mail with a new project appropriate to their age and interest. When you fill out the subscription form online, you’ll answer a few questions so the perfect box is delivered each time. There are subscription boxes for ages 0-12+

Coding Robot like the Elenco Teach Tech

One of our readers highly recommends a coding robot like the Elenco Teach Tech. These toys help teach kids how to program, code, problem-solve, and use critical thinking skills. This particular robot is recommended for ages 3+.

Learning Wrap-Ups

When one of our readers recommended Learning Wrap-Ups, I was immediately swept back to my childhood. I would consider these a classic toy and definitely an educational one. You simply wrap the string from the problem on the left to the answer on the right and self-check yourself on the back. Learning Wrap-Ups come with different topics, including math, pre-algebra, science, and vocabulary.

More Educational Gift Ideas We Love


Magazine Subscriptions: The gift that keeps on giving

Once a month or every other month, another installment of your educational gift arrives bringing fun and learning long after the holiday decor has been boxed up and put away.

Strategic Board Games

Work out your strategy and think ahead to win these games. Really get that brain working, growing, and thinking hard, and of course, have fun, too! Our readers suggest these strategic board games:

More Educational Games

Love board games? See our HUGE list of family favorite board games for all ages. Here are a couple of our favorite educational games from that list.


Zingo is one of ThinkFun’s most popular and bestselling games, and is the winner of an Oppenheim Gold Award and Parents’ Choice Gold Award, among others. It’s a fun pre-reading game for ages 4 and up. There are versions for learning sight words, numbers, and using letters to make words. Like all of ThinkFun’s games, Zingo is built to develop critical thinking skills. Playing will improve language skills through fun and fast-paced play.

Zingo Sight Words
Zingo Numbers

Zingo numbers bingo

Gravity Maze

We played this with kids ages 8, 9, and 11 years old and they all loved it. I tried it also as an adult and it’s fantastic because it’s one of those games where you have to focus on the puzzle and nothing else. Gravity Maze is especially great for kids who like to play by themselves, for kids who love problem-solving, and for kids who are probably future engineers.

Gravity Maze 

Gravity Maze game


Gifts that Teach Science

If you have a science-loving kid, we have some tried and true classic ideas to share from personal experience! These teach things about real world, the natural world, physics, and lots more!

  • Marble runs: Try this simple wooden set called Blocks and Marbles for older elementary children. It’s a long-time favorite.
  • Magnifying glass, or pocket microscope
  • Backyard explorer set
  • Chemistry sets with test tubes and stoppers
  • Rock and fossil sets
  • Science kits and experiment kits
  • Telescope
  • Binoculars

More Gifts With Educational Value

Educational Experience Gifts

Children’s Museum Membership

A membership to The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is a WONDERFUL gift idea! I’m a big supporter of gifting experiential gifts to loved ones, and an even bigger supporter if it’s providing educational value. And TCMU is one of the best local places that offers constant and steadfast education and fun to kids of all ages in the Upstate.

If you’re looking for experiential gifts you can give to loved ones this year, be sure to read our list of experience gifts.

Don’t live in Upstate, SC? Educational experience gifts are everywhere. Look for local options this these for educational experiences you can give as a gift near you.

  • Local museums
  • Zoos
  • Nature Parks
  • Aquariums
  • Theaters
  • Science centers
  • Sports venues

What other educational gifts do you love giving kids?

Shop the Greenville Christmas Market at the Grand Bohemian Lodge

Posted on |

Have you visited the Greenville Christmas Market at the Grand Bohemian Lodge in Downtown Greenville, SC? Beautifully decorated with a merging of a southern Christmas with a micro version of a traditional European Christmas market, this open-air market is certain to spark holiday joy. The holiday market hosts a dozen local vendors, live music, serves holiday-themed food and beverages, and even offers the opportunity for your little one to visit with Santa to give him that very special list. You can explore the Greenville Christmas Market in Downtown Greenville on select dates from November 25th, 2022 until January 1st, 2023.

christmas market greenville
The Greenville Christmas Market

The Greenville Christmas Market at the Grand Bohemian Lodge

Located in the heart of Downtown Greenville at Falls Park, the Grand Bohemian Lodge Greenville is hosting the first Greenville Christmas Market from November 25th, 2022 through January 1st, 2023. You know you are close when you smell the gorgeous Christmas tree near the exit of Liberty Bridge. Located outside on the lawn in front of the hotel, the market is open rain or shine. The market features local vendors, offering the perfect Christmas gifts, decor, and maybe even something special for yourself. Local vendors include:

  • Cook’s Station
  • Savannah Bee Company
  • Lumineux Chocolate
  • Greenville Goods
  • Bridge City Coffee
  • Charleston Candle CO.
  • Hollowed Earth Pottery
  • Oren Moon
  • Grand Bohemian Art Gallery
  • Sawyer Naturals
  • Grand Bohemian Treats

Along with all the wonderful shopping opportunities, guests can enjoy the decorations that adorn the already impressive architecture of the hotel. Vendors serve holiday-inspired food and beverages that complement the Christmas decor, making the market more of a holiday experience rather than a shopping venture. Be sure to check out the live music offered throughout the month, with musicians providing entertainment for guests as they shop. The Greenville Christmas Market is even open on Christmas Eve, in case you need to pick up a few special gifts before Christmas Day.

Shopping at the Greenville Christmas market
The Greenville Christmas Market

Meet and Greet with Santa

There is no better place to meet Santa than at a gorgeous ski lodge while sipping hot chocolate and relaxing under the mesmerizing lights of the Christmas decorations. The Grand Bohemian Lodge offers just that, but a little closer to home than European mountains. Santa will be meeting children on select dates throughout the month. Parents can snap the perfect photo to capture that special memory with the big man before doing some shopping. Don’t forget your camera during your visit, there are many holiday photo opportunities, especially in front of the brilliantly decorated Christmas tree on the market lawn.

Santa will be at the lodge on November 25-26, December 2-3, December 9-10, December 16-17, and December 19-24. The hours vary, with most dates having a meet and greet with Santa from 1 pm – 3 pm or 6 pm- 8 pm. Be sure to check the times before heading to the market so you do not miss him!

Greenville Christmas Market scenes
The Greenville Christmas Market

Other Holiday Happenings in Downtown Greenville

After checking out the market, there are a lot of other Downtown holiday happenings to enjoy! You can walk on over to Ice on Main, located at the Courtyard Marriott near the Peace Center. There is also the wonder-filled Festival of Trees found in Embassy Suites, Courtyard Marriott, and The Hyatt Regency Greenville which features festive trees decorated by dozens of organizations throughout Greenville County. While you are walking down Main Street, be sure to look for all of the delightful window wonderland displays. You can even vote for your favorite holiday display. You will also find dozens of free holiday things to do in Greenville, making the season a little more merry and bright!

When You Can Visit the Greenville Christmas Market

The Greenville Christmas Market at the Grand Bohemian Lodge will run from November 25th, 2022 to January 1st, 2023 on select dates from Thursday through Sunday each week. The market is open on Christmas Eve. Hours are 12 pm to 8 pm Thursday through Saturday and 12 pm to 5 pm on Sunday. The week of Christmas, the market is open Sunday, December 18th, 2022 through Saturday, December 24th, 2022.

Greenville Christmas Market
Grand Bohemian Lodge Greenville
44 East Camperdown Way
Greenville, SC

Fire Truck Santa going to 73+ Neighborhoods in the Upstate, SC

Posted on | No Comments

Did you know that Greenville & Spartanburg’s fire departments have an honorary team member who lives in the North Pole? It’s true, and Santa is visiting neighborhoods around the Upstate by firetruck while he checks his naughty list one last time.

He’s really busy this time of year, so the most efficient way to get a last peek at all of the good boys and girls of the Upstate is to hitch a ride with first responders and zip through neighborhoods. Reindeer magic only works at night, in case you were wondering, so this is the best way!

We have the inside track on other places you can find Santa hanging out this Christmas season!
Where to Find Santa in Greenville this Christmas Season


Parents: You Don’t Need to do All the Christmas Things

Posted on |

The Christmas season is supposed to be all about joy, peace, and a fleeting holiday spirit that seems to be gone quicker than a wispy trail of smoke once the dishes are done after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s all of a sudden a whirlwind of school holiday parties, making a list of gifts and going all out to fulfill that list, trying to create magic at home with an elf just because everyone else is seemingly doing it, taking a holiday overnight trip, and trying to see all the Christmas lights and displays because your family will be deprived if they don’t do that. 

This is for all you parents who are hanging by a thread trying to make this season the most spectacular of all for your kids and just don’t know if you can hang on much longer. To all of you: you don’t need to do all the things. 

Your Christmas tree doesn’t need a giant stack of presents under it. Your kids don’t need the latest toys. You don’t need to stretch yourself so thin trying to cram the most you can into this holiday season. You and your kids are not deprived if you don’t do it all, buy it all, and sacrifice your sanity for an experience, toy, or magical experience that will soon be forgotten. 

Don't do it all at Christmas

You don’t need to do it all

Last year, parents estimated they would spend about $276 on Christmas gifts for each of their kids and a whopping 41% of Americans were willing to go into debt for gift-giving. Meanwhile, the estimated worth of unwanted gifts hovers around $15 billion. Those aren’t small figures, especially in today’s world where many families are struggling with everyday bills. Kids don’t need the latest toy, the most expensive phone, and all the other material things that they’ll forget in a month’s time. Smaller gifts or experience gifts, like memberships to places you and your family go often (hello, SC Parks Pass!) go a long way towards making great memories together all year long. 

I’m not sure why we parents sometimes feel like we need to do all the things during the Christmas season. Maybe social media, maybe endless ads, maybe just talking with friends about all the cool stuff they are doing, or maybe it’s what our parents did with us that we are trying to replicate with our own kids. Whatever the reason, it’s totally fine – more than fine – to back off from the deluge of activities that come with this season. 

You aren’t depriving your kids if you don’t do it all

Your kids will be okay if they aren’t doing everything their friends are doing and it’s a good opportunity for them to learn that not doing everything their friends are doing isn’t something to be ashamed about. We all have our own struggles and priorities and I think it’s good to learn early on that kids don’t need to fit in to have fun. I wish I would have learned that a lot earlier than I did in life. 

I didn’t grow up doing a ton of activities during the Christmas season. Sometimes our family would take a trip together, which was a blast. We would go during Christmas and experience it in another state or town and have fun together exploring a new city and making dinner together in a small kitchen in our hotel room. It was awesome.

We didn’t do parades but we did go drive around looking at Christmas lights in neighborhoods with popcorn that we cooked over the stove and tried not to let explode all over the kitchen. We had fun decorating our Christmas tree together. One year my dad found a tree that legit looked like the poor little tree from Charlie Brown’s Christmas and it turned into the joke that never ended year after year since we couldn’t do worse than that tree. 

I don’t remember the gifts I got or gave. I don’t remember sitting for Santa photos. The memories from the Christmas season that remain are those with my family. I do remember one gift: it was tickets to a New Jersey Nets (a professional basketball team) the day after Christmas or so. I had played basketball with a passion as a tween and teenager and that gift was special. That’s really all I remember in terms of gifts. 

Choosing sanity

Because of those memories and because I have zero desire to drive myself crazy during these weeks leading up to Christmas, I intentionally try to minimize what we do. While I love writing about new activities for Christmas for Kidding Around, aside from those excursions, I try to take these weeks of Advent to spend quality time together with my kids. We go look at Christmas lights, go ice skating, go to live nativities and remember the real reason for this season, take time to volunteer, and read books together on Christmas. And, I intentionally try to not go overboard on gifts for my kids. 

I want to get to Christmas and not be completely worn out or fed up or just plain unhappy. After all, this is indeed a season of joyful expectation. If you’ve got to seriously scale back your calendar to be happier and less stressed, then by all means, do it. You truly don’t need to do it all so your kids can experience the magic of the season. They will remember the special moments with you above all else and that’s what matters.

Your Holiday Table: Here’s Where You Can Find Delicious Food for the Holidays Near Greenville, SC

Posted on | No Comments

Are you looking for something delicious and festive to add to your holiday table this Christmas? In Greenville, Spartanburg and Upstate, SC we have lots and lots of holiday food menus, sides, and treats from Greenville’s amazing food proprietors.

Local restaurants are serving up special dine-in holiday meals, as well as fabulous catered meal deals you can bring home for the holidays. Local bakeries are offering everything from freshly baked pies to cookie and cupcake kits you can bring home for a fun family activity. Local cafes and grocery stores are selling pre-made sides and desserts making your holiday preparations a little easier. Want something a little different? Try a festive charcuterie board or dig into the Mexican tradition of Christmas tamales. We know where you can find all this and more in Greenville!

Your holiday table in Greenville, SC