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Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Watch Free Holiday Movies at NCG Theaters (2023): Here’s How

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Free holiday movies? Yep, you heard that right. NCG Cinemas has brought back their FREE Holiday Family Film Fest. Your family can load up on holiday cheer for free with three different holiday family movies throughout December 2023, and it won’t cost you a dime! We love free family fun and we know our readers do, too! Happy, happy (free) Christmas family fun!

NCG free holiday film festival

NCG Cinemas 2023 Holiday Film Fest Schedule

13 December days with free Christmas movies at NCG movie theater? If that doesn’t put a little jingle in your step this season, we’re not sure what will. See the following movies free at NCG Cinemas in December 2023! Plus, each movie showing will have the option for a sensory-friendly viewing for 2023.

  • The Grinch (2018): December 8th-10th, 2023 at 10 am
  • ELF: December 15th – 17th, 2023 at 10 am
  • The Polar Express: December 18th – 24th, 2023 at 10 am

NCG Free Christmas movie calendar

  • December 8, 2023, see The Grinch free at 10 am
  • December 9, 2023, see The Grinch free at 10 am
  • December 15, 2023, see Elf free at 10 am
  • December 16, 2023, see Elf free at 10 am
  • December 17, 2023, see Elf free at 10 am
  • December 18, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 19, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 20, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 21, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 22, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 23, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am
  • December 24, 2023, see The Polar Express free at 10 am

Free Christmas Movies Near Me?

Is there an NCG Cinemas with free Christmas movies near me?

In the Upstate, we are lucky to have NCG Cinemas right in Spartanburg, SC. You’ll be able to see NCG’s free Christmas movies at the Spartanburg location on the designated days.

NCG Cinemas Spartanburg
1985 E Main Street, Spartanburg

Not in the South Carolina Upstate? To see if there is an NCG Cinemas near you, head to the NCG Cinemas locations website.

New for 2023: Sensory Friendly Showings

For 2023, with each regular showing of the movie, the theatre will also host a sensory-friendly showing at the same time. When purchasing your tickets, be sure to select the showing you think is best for your child or family.

More Info for NCG Free Holiday Movies

  • Will there be popcorn and snack deals for the holiday film fest?

For 2023, guests can purchase a $5 Kids mini combo, which comes with a drink, popcorn, and a small treat (typically, fruit snacks). One combo per ticket.

  • Do I need tickets for the free movies at NCG Cinemas?

All guests will need a ticket and will reserve an assigned seat when purchasing their tickets online. Tickets sell out quickly, so purchase online.

Regal Cinemas holiday movies in 2023

More Christmas Movies, Cheap!

$5 Holiday Classics at Regal Cinemas


Holiday in Greenville, SC, Celebrate Christmas, Greenville, SC

Find lots more holiday things to do in our HUGE holiday guide to Greenville, SC.

Regal Cinemas Returns Holiday Classics to the Theater for Just $5 in 2023

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Love watching holiday classic movies on the big screen? Good news! You can watch classic holiday movies at Regal Cinemas this year for just $5. It’s all happening starting the weekend of November 26th, 2023 through December 23rd, 2023! Bring the family for a budget-friendly day out with some of your favorite Christmas movies. We have the schedule and all the details!

Regal Cinemas holiday movies in 2023

Regal Cinemas Holiday Classics Return to the Theater

What Christmas movies will be playing in 2023 at Regal Cinemas?

Here’s the Regal Holiday Classics schedule:

November 26th, 2023: Elf
December 2nd and 3rd 2023: The Polar Express
December 3rd, 2023: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 9th, 2023: Elf
December 10th, 2023: The Grinch
December 16th, 2023: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 17th, 2023: The Polar Express
December 23rd, 2023: The Grinch

Tickets to holiday moves at Regal Cinemas are only $5.

Sweeten the Deal: Regal Christmas Concession Deals

What’s a trip to the movies without popcorn and other treats? Good news, you can get a free $10 gift card for concessions when you purchase a $50 Regal gift card. While you can’t use the concession gift card right away, because it’s only valid from January 1st through February 28th, 2024, you can buy your $50 gift card and use it for a gift or even your tickets and snacks now. Then come January you can grab tickets to a new release and enjoy your free popcorn.

Note that gift cards must be purchased in-store for the promotion.

Find a Regal Cinemas Location Near You

Is there a Regal Cinemas with $5 holiday movies near me? Here are all the Regal Cinemas locations.

Regal Cinemas Near Greenville, SC with $5 holiday movies

Regal Cinemas Near Columbia, SC with $5 holiday movies

Regal Cinemas Near Charlotte, NC with $5 holiday movies

25+ Gifts for Teens: Ideas For Impossible To Shop For Teens

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Do you need gifts for teens this year? If you have a teen on your gift list this year, you know that teens are not the easiest to please. They aren’t quite adults, and they are no longer children. This makes gift-giving times extraordinarily difficult if you are trying to be creative. That’s why we set out to discover what teens wish for this holiday season. The result is this list full of teen-approved gift ideas so you’ll know exactly what to gift teens in your life this year!

Gifts for teens


This piece contains Amazon Affiliate links.

What To Buy For A Teenager?

When you think of gift ideas for teens, the first thing that probably pops into your mind is something like a gift card. Let them pick out what they want or need. And that’s all well and good. But, teens like opening presents, too. And what if you want to surprise them with a gift and not a card? What do you buy that a teen will love?

We went straight to the teens and asked for their Christmas wish lists. Then, we offered some suggestions for their approval to round out the list! The result is a teen-approved wish list for gift shopping, with items for a wide variety of budgets.

Gifts Teens Want in 2023

What gifts do teens want in 2023?
Experience-gifts
Music streaming subscriptions and equipment
Gift cards
Gaming systems
Subscription Boxes
Water bottles
Decal stickers
Sports and teams items
Room decor
Board Games for Teens
More gift ideas

Teen-Approved Experience Gifts

Sometimes an experience is a better gift than a “thing.” So, that leaves the question, “What do teens want to go do?” We asked and here’s what they said.

Take them to an Escape Room!

I’m sure at one time or another, we’ve thought about locking our kids up in a room and grabbing some peace while they navigated an escape route. So, a visit to an escape room near you could be the ultimate teen experience gift. These interactive escape rooms will challenge guests with their creative puzzles and talented actors.

In Greenville, SC try Escape Artist Greenville. You can read all about several of our experiences with the different rooms at Escape Artist.

Selfie Museum

A selfie museum, like The Pixel Experience in Greenville, is a unique spot to take selfie photos in a variety of themed rooms and walls. It will have your resident TikTok’r thinking you’re the best gift-giver ever! With 20+ backgrounds to take advantage of, the aspiring Instagram influencer in your family will have months of content to post!

Ax Throwing

We know what you are thinking. Handing an angst-ridden teen a hatchet or an ax and asking them to throw it at something might not be the first thing that comes to mind. It also probably doesn’t sound like the best idea. But trust me when I tell you, they will love it!
Try Blue Ox Hatchet House in Greenville, SC.

Ziplining

Creating memories with your teenager while still being seen in public with you is a great gift to give them. But, sometimes, that needs to be disguised as an extreme activity, and you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone. Zip-lining is the perfect blend of that and safety. Plus, it won’t clutter up their bedroom.

Try The Gorge Zipline. If you feel even more adventurous, you can hop over to their sister site for some water-related adventures. Green River Adventures offers white water rafting, kayak, SUP, waterfall hikes, and rappelling.

Gifts for Music-Loving Teens

This section includes affiliate links.

Teenagers will always love music; this will never change. So giving them away to enjoy it quickly is a great gift that they can appreciate over and over! So here are some teen-approved ways to get those tunes to them.

Spotify Premium
This popular music streaming service provides premium members with ad-free enjoyment of millions of songs. Plans range from $4.99 a month for college students to $14.99 for family plans that include six accounts.

YouTube Music Premium

Ad free music streaming, plus the ability to download your favorites to listen to when you’re offline. The first month is free and then $9.99 per month.

AirPods
These slight wireless ear-bud-style headphones were super popular with the teens we polled. They work in companion with Apple brand products and can sense when they are in your ears! Prices range from $100-$200 depending on the model you select.

Bluetooth Beanie Hat
I was shocked that the kids I spoke with had never heard of this! These knit beanie hats make a great gift not only for teens but for any age child (or adult). They look like your typical beanie hat, but tucked inside are wireless, Bluetooth headphones. They will work with any Bluetooth-enabled device and are great because there are no wires to damage younger kids! Prices range from $13 to $30.

iTunes Gift Cards
I was surprised to find that my go-to teen gift idea was still trendy in this age range. Not only can they use the funds for music purchases but video games, movies, and more. Card values start at $25.

Jackson B. explained to me why he likes getting these as a gift – “iTunes gift cards because we use phones a lot and we can choose what we want to spend it on”

Apple Products
If you have the budget for it, of the hundred or so teens I spoke to, nearly all of them mentioned some Apple brand devices – iPhones, iPods, Apple watches, Mac Books. It seems you can’t go wrong with a gift from the Apple store.

Concert Tickets
A set of tickets to a concert for their favorite performer might be the perfect gift! Sporting event tickets also make a great gift, and there’s no shortage of sports teams locally to support!

Gift cards

Some of the more popular gift cards mentioned were for the following :

  • Coffee : Starbucks, Little River Coffee, Barista Alley, Bridge Coffee, and other local coffee shops
  • Makeup : Ulta, Sephora
  • Retailers : Target, American Eagle, Apple, Amazon
  • Shoes : Vans, Converse, Nike

Gaming Systems

Hefty price tag alert, but it probably comes as no surprise that gaming systems are popular among the teens also. Teens also said gaming chairs, curved gaming screens, gaming computers, desks, and headsets are also on their wishlists.

Subscription Box Gifts for Teens

Subscription services are a trend that offers everything from cooking to makeup, and teenagers want them! Some of the more popular mentioned were –

Fab Fit Fun
these subscription boxes offer up to $300 worth of items for $54.99 quarterly. Items include room décor, health and beauty items, and more.

Sketch Box
for $25-$35 a month, you will receive art supplies and a piece of art to inspire your creativity.

Escape The Crate
If your teen likes escape room adventures, then this is the perfect gift! For $29.99 bi-monthly, they’ll receive a mystery along with challenges to decipher, tools to help, and exciting objects that serve as rewards as you advance through the puzzle.

Gifts For The Adventure Seeker

The most important item to a hydrated teen is a Hydroflask. They are a brand of insulated bottles, and they start at $30 for an 18oz bottle. Try Simple Modern brand bottles; they are less expensive, look the same, and have more color and accessory options. Plus, if a decal covers up that logo, no one will be the wiser—a 32oz Simple modern starts at $18.99.

Decal Stickers

Speaking of decals, they make a great gift! Check out locally owned shops for local decals, or look on for special interest decals on Etsy.

LadyBluByrd has decals with shoutouts to local places in Upstate, SC, famous characters, coffee, and more! These make an excellent stocking stuffer and are super easy to mail to a loved one.

shop local decals
Photo Credit: LadyBluByrd

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Depending on the teen you are shopping for, a sport-related gift might be perfect. Think about a gift for either a sport they play or a team they love! Think personalized collegiate flags, corn hole set with that same team décor, hoodies, even socks or slippers in their team’s colors.

Depending on the sport your child plays, new equipment is always a great idea. Skateboards and long-boards are still a popular thing, too.

Room Decor

Let teens dress up their space! These are a few room decor items teens asked for:

We are loving these room decor ideas because they are things teens will use all year long, and many of them are very budget-friendly. LED strips, fuzzy pillows, and lava lamps can all be found for under $25.

Teens Like to Eat: Food and Beverage gifts for teens

Growing teens seem to be able to eat and drink non-stop. The food doesn’t stay in the house long, the grocery list is endless, and bugging mom and dad for those special extra items is not always an option, which makes them a pretty perfect gift.

Soda Stream

A Soda Steam lets you make sodas and sparkling waters at home. While it’s one of the more expensive gifts for teens on this list, it’s definitely unique. And, it’ll let them make any flavors of sparkling beverages they’d like.

Bubble Tea Kit

Let teens make their own bubble tea right at home!

Favorite Snacks or a Snack Box

Do you know their favorite chips, cookies, or ice cream? If not, how about a care package-type box loaded with a huge variety of snacks?

Board Games for Teens

Escape the Room: Murder in the Mafia

ThinkFun’s Escape the Room games are essentially escape rooms in a box. They come cleverly assembled in the box in such a way that you only have to follow a few simple instructions to pop the room up before you’re ready to start looking for clues and playing the game.

Throughout the game the story booklet guides you through each chapter as you solve the clues, and see if you can determine who is the murderer. And if you get stuck you can go online for additional clues and assistance..

ThinkFun Escape the Room titles include:

EXIT Games

Another fun version of an escape room board games are EXIT games. You can spread these materials out and a larger group can work to solve these games. Clues are on cards, in booklets, and hidden in the strangest places. The card and solution wheel systems help you get hints if you’re stuck and also guide you from clue to clue. These games can only be played once as solving them often requires cutting or marking up game pieces, but they are worth it for a fun afternoon with family and friends.

EXIT Games: The Abandoned Cabin

Echoes: Audio Mystery Game

Download a free app and use it to scan the cards and listen to the audio hints. Put them together in the right sequence to unlock each chapter with additional story clues. Finally, use the clues to put the story into the right order. This one is a great family teamwork game. The sounds are a little creepy, and the clues require listening carefully. But don’t worry if you get lost, the app can give you clues if you’re stuck!

Echoes: Audio Mystery Game

More Great Gift Ideas For Teens

  • mini fridges
  • loft beds
  • Beats headphones
  • Hoodies
  • Gloves
  • Fuzzy socks

We hope this helps you navigate the gift-giving season a bit easier.

Needs more gift ideas? Don’t miss our Holiday Gift Guide to Greenville. It includes ideas for experience Gifts, local gifts, ideas for teacher gifts, and much more!

Visit Bryson City, NC for the Holidays

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Are you searching for Bryson City holiday things to do? Most known for the Polar Express, there is so much more than just the train ride to do and explore in this friendly mountain town. Bryson City, NC also has a drive-thru light show, outdoor ice skating, delicious food, and much more! 

Looking for more holiday day trip ideas? Be sure to check out our festive guide!

Bryson City: A Real-Life Christmas Wonderland 

Bryson City is a quaint, peaceful mountain town along the Great Smoky Mountains. Just a quick 3 to 4 hour drive from Columbia, SC, this makes for the perfect weekend getaway. During winter each year, Bryson City transforms into a real-life Christmas wonderland with beautiful decor, twinkling lights, and Christmas magic all around. My family took a quick 1-night trip to the mountains and we spent one of our evenings exploring Bryson City. I left wishing we would have had more time to spend and know we will definitely be returning! 

Tree farms in Bryson City, NC

Things to do in Bryson City, NC for the Holidays

Take a Ride on the Polar Express 

One of the most popular things to do in Bryson City over the holidays is the Polar Express Train Ride! My family recently got to experience this magical event and both of my kids (ages 4 and 1) absolutely loved it. Be sure to check out the Kidding Around Pplar Express review for more tips and info! 

Bryson City Polar Express

Explore the Smoky Mountain Train Museum 

The train museum sits right next to the railroad tracks and is a great place to pass the time while waiting to board a train ride! Inside the museum, there is a huge display of model trains that are so fascinating to watch! My son loved pointing out all of the detailed features he saw. With a train ticket, entrance into the museum is free! 

Along with the model train display, the museum also offers a large gift shop area with plenty of trinkets and souvenirs. 

Smoky Mountain Train Museum

Smoky Mountain Rail

Go Outdoor Ice Skating

Outdoor ice skating is such a fun, classic winter activity! Unfortunately, on the evening we were there, the ice rink was not open, but now that I know it’s there we will be sure to plan accordingly for future visits. Along with ice skating, there is also a food truck and full-time bar. For $20 per person you will get 1 hour of skating time, skate rentals (smallest size is youth size 9), and 1 hot chocolate! Hours are as follows:

  • Thursdays and Fridays from 4 pm to 8 pm beginning November 17th, 2023
  • Saturdays and Sundays from 1 pm to 8 pm beginning November 19th, 2023

The Yard Ice Skating

Bryson City shops

Visit the Local Shops 

With so many locally-owned shops and businesses to choose from, picking a favorite would be hard! We popped into a few and really enjoyed all of the Christmas shops. We purchased an ornament from Uncle Bunky’s Christmas Cottage where they also had tons of holiday decor, small toys, sweet treats, etc. Loose Moose is another great gift store with lots of unique items to choose from. 

Madison’s on Main and Humanite Boutique are both great options for trendy women’s clothing! There are also several antique stores around that are always fun to browse through – you never know what you might find! 

Enjoy a Tasty Sweet Treat 

If you’re anything like me, the sweet tooth is at an all-time high throughout the holidays. The good news is, Bryson City has so many opportunities for delicious treats! After our ride on the Polar Express we stopped into the Heavenly Fudge Depot and let me just say, it lived up to its name! The peanut butter fudge from here was divine. They also had several festive sweet treats for kids – chocolate “believe” tickets and trains, cookies, bite-sized sweets, and more! 

The Chocolate Shoppe, Soda Pop’s Ice Cream, and Pop-N-Jacks Gourmet Popcorn are also great options to cure the sweet tooth! The popcorn from Pop-N-Jacks can even be brought onto the Polar Express with you and smells so good. I’m a little upset we didn’t stop in and give them a try, too! 

Take Festive Pictures 

Still need a family pic for this year’s Christmas card? There are tons of great holiday photo-ops everywhere you look in Bryson City! From the large, lit-up Christmas tree in the middle of the plaza to stationary train carts, a tractor, and more, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for family photos. 

Get Your Live Christmas Tree 

While there are no Christmas tree farms in Bryson City, there are several to choose from nearby. During our trip, we chose to get our tree at Smoky Mountain Tree Farm. They had a large variety of trees to choose from and even some that you could cut down yourself. The big red barn and beautiful Smoky Mountain scenery made for great pictures as well! 

There are two other tree farms within a few minutes of Smoky Mountain Tree Farm: Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm and Mehaffey Tree Farm. Boyd Mountain Farm has several log cabins available for families to stay in as well as stocked fishing ponds, 4 miles of hiking trails, biking, and more!  

Christmas Tree Farm

Have you ever been to Bryson City during the holidays? What is your favorite thing to do?

10+ Ways To Celebrate Christmas In Asheville, NC

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If you are planning a festive day trip, then Christmas in Asheville, NC will check off all the boxes on your itinerary! Asheville, North Carolina offers a variety of things to do for the holidays, from Christmas lights to gingerbread houses, parades, and more!

We’ve got a list of kid-friendly holiday events to do in Asheville, NC, and all the details you’ll need to plan your visit.

Christmas activities in Asheville, North Carolina

Christmas in Asheville, NC

I never need much of a reason to visit Asheville. I love the view of the mountains in the background while walking around downtown. There is always live music by musicians busking outside and all the shops welcome you with a smile. There are a variety of different restaurants and historical landmarks to visit within walking distance or just a small drive away. Plus, with the gorgeous backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, maybe you’re family will get a magical snowy adventure while you celebrate the holiday season in Asheville.

Watch A Holiday Parade To Kickoff The Season

Get in the holiday spirit by watching a Holiday Parade. Everyone gathers together to welcome the beginning of the holiday season.

The Asheville Holiday Parade
November 18th, 2023 | 11 AM to 12:30 PM, with streets closing and traffic beginning around 7 AM
Downtown Asheville will have a variety of streets closed for this event, but come early and you can snag a spot along the one-mile route. There will be over 100 entries to enjoy as they travel down the main part of town. The parade starts at Biltmore Avenue and travels up, ending at South French Broad Avenue. There will be photos with Santa at the Restoration Hotel from 2 pm to 4 pm following the parade.


Attend A Tree Lighting Ceremony or Festival In Asheville

The Grove Arcade Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony is the place to be the weekend after Thanksgiving. In addition, the Ingles Giving Tree lighting ceremony is always spectacular! You can also explore the decorated Christmas trees throughout December at the Monte Vista Hotel.

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

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Do you want to give educational Christmas gifts 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, and educational gifts for Christmas

This list contains Amazon affiliate links.

Our Readers’ Top 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 unique educational gifts for kids, and we rounded up their answers for you below.

Tonies

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.

Osmo

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.

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.

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+

More Educational Gift Ideas We Love: Books

Books

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

Family board 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

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

Puzzles

Puzzles are great for any age. Pick puzzles with bright colors and simple shapes for younger kids, and consider more intricate 3-dimensional kits and puzzles for older kids. Puzzles will encourage your child to problem-solve. They also make a great gift that develops fine motor skills.

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 learning fun!

  • Marble runs: Try this simple wooden set called Blocks and Marbles for older elementary children. It’s a long-time favorite with wooden blocks that have holes and grooves for marbles to roll and pass through.
  • Magnifying glass, or pocket microscope
  • Backyard explorer set
  • Chemistry sets with test tubes and stoppers for an older kid
  • Rock and fossil sets
  • Science kits and science experiment kits
  • Telescope
  • Binoculars
Binoculars

More Gifts With Educational Value

  • Crafts
  • Construction sets
  • Building toys: these vary by developmental stage, from things like intricate modeling kits to building blocks, wood blocks, interlocking building toys, stacking towers, and more.
  • Legos
  • Play Kits from Lovevery
  • Letter sets
  • Stationery sets
  • Shape blocks
  • Model kits

Experience Educational 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 and they make a perfect gift. Look for local options like 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?

The Christmas Season: How early is too early?

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The “how early is too early?” Christmas season debate is on. Decorations are going up all around the Upstate. Do you think November decorations are too ambitious? How about Christmas music? What album is Alexa playing on repeat at your house? Here’s Kidding Around Contributor, Taryn, with her take on the early start to the holiday season.

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Downtown Spartanburg, SC: Things to Do This Christmas Season

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Wondering what there is to do for Christmas in Spartanburg, SC? Spartanburg mom Jennifer has a family-friendly Christmas itinerary for Downtown Spartanburg. Read on to discover places to shop, eat, and play in Downtown Spartanburg this holiday season. 

The small-town charm of Spartanburg is best felt at Christmas. Downtown Spartanburg comes to life with twinkling lights and festive Christmas décor. If you are looking for ways to spend your time when the kids are out of school or to entertain out-of-town guests, look no further than a trip downtown.

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Tis the Season of Awesome: Christmas in Hendersonville, NC

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If you’re ready for a little fa la la la boost of holiday spirit, the events celebrating Christmas in Hendersonville, NC should do the trick. The Hendersonville, NC Christmas parade is one of the most festive we’ve been to, and the rest of the town’s holiday events are loaded with fun and cheer.

Our list includes some of the very best Christmas Hendersonville, NC events and our all-time favorites. Most of these events and things to do are actually totally free, so they’ll be easy on your budget. Here’s your guide to celebrating Christmas in Hendersonville, NC.



Christmas: Hendersonville, NC

The Big Events: Christmas, Hendersonville, NC

Hendersonville really turns up the Christmas charm every year. This year, their season is Home for the Holidays and they are loaded up on free, family fun, beautiful downtown decorations, and lots of lights. Christmas is gorgeous up here, and these events are 100% worth the drive for locals and visitors alike.

Hendersonville Christmas Tree Lighting

Hendersonville Courthouse: November 24th, 2023, 5 to 8 pm

Kicking things off, it’s the Christmas Tree Lighting on November 24th, 2023 from 5 to 8 pm. Santa will arrive with Mrs. Claus to light the tree at about 6 pm. Kids will get to visit with Santa for free after he’s lit the tree, and there will also be free carriage rides. Downtown Hendersonville is beautiful at Christmas, and we can’t think of a more festive way to say hello to the Christmas season.

December 8th Holds a BIG Holiday Celebration in Hendersonville

Downtown Hendersonville, North Carolina
Old Fashioned Christmas has been postponed to December 8th, 2023 (from December 1st)

What comes to mind when you think of a holiday Christmas small-town celebration? Whatever just popped into your head, it’s probably happening in Hendersonville. There are several simultaneous events and happenings occurring all along Main Street and most of it will be free. From an Old Fashioned Christmas with songs and shopping, to visits with Santa, cookies, cocoa, and carriage rides, you’ll find it all in Downtown Hendersonville.

  • Santa Claus in the Square: Bring your camera and take a free photo with Santa. You’ll also get to enjoy hot cocoa, games, and crafts. You’ll find Santa in front of the courthouse from 5 pm to 8 pm
  • Live holiday performances, carolers, and festive music spread throughout Downtown Hendersonville
  • Holiday Shopping: Tonight the shops are open late, so feel free to wander amongst the twinkling lights and holiday music while you find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list
  • Free Carriage rides: Enjoy an Old Fashioned Christmas favorite and take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage down the beautifully lit and decorated Main Street. Rides begin at Historic Courthouse Plaza

The Hendersonville, NC Christmas Parade Might Be My Favorite Ever

Downtown Hendersonville, NC
December 2nd, 2023, 6 pm

If you are in need of Christmas cheer and you can only go to one event all season, the Downtown Hendersonville Christmas Parade should probably be that one event. Everyone from high school marching bands, to the fire department, the local plumber, and the llama farm come out to celebrate the season together with a giant parade, full of lights, floats, music, and more. You’ll get Christmas spirit thrown at you no matter where you look, in the best possible way. Of course, the parade ends with the final float carrying Santa straight from the North Pole.

See Santa Hendersonville NC

Parent Tips for the Hendersonville, NC Christmas Parade

  1. Check the weather and dress warm if needed. We were pretty chilly last year. Especially if you’re coming from a town in nearby Upstate, SC, don’t forget that it’s colder in Hendersonville.
  2. Arrive early for a good seat along Main Street. Pick up something delicious to eat and enjoy while you’re sitting out along the street waiting for the parade to start. Black Bear Coffee and Mike’s on Main are two good places to grab a bite to eat to go.
  3. Of course you could also bring a picnic dinner and a thermos full of cocoa to enjoy while you wait!
  4. Bring a bag for candy passed out during the parade.

Linda’s Plants and Shrubs

We were visiting Linda’s and saw them setting up their 2023 Christmas Haybale maze! Check back soon for dates and details. In the meantime, you can read all about last year’s holiday maze at Linda’s Plants and Shrubs.

Play space in the Christmas Maze at Linda's

Awesome & Free Things to Do for Christmas: Hendersonville, NC

One of the things I absolutely love about Hendersonville is all the free things to do any time of the year. But at Christmas time, they really take the cake. We’ve already covered the free opportunities to see Santa and carriage rides, but there’s so much more!

December 2nd, 2023 Free pictures with Santa at Ace Hardware. We LOVE free pictures with Santa and this time he’ll be at Carolina Ace Hardware with Paula Roberts Photography for FREE photos, plus cookies, cider and candy canes. Visit Santa between 11 am and 2 pm.

December 2nd and 3rd, 2023, Go skating for free! And that includes the skate rentals. It’s an iceless rink that allows for skating no matter the weather. Find it at 85 Howard Gap Road in Fletcher. The rink will be open from 3 to 6 pm on the 2nd and from 1 to 4 pm on the 3rd. December 2nd will also have a festival event including vendors, live music, and inflatables.

December 16th, 2023, Mountain Fresh Orchards is bringing their Apple Express Train downtown for free Holly Jolly Train Rides down Main Street. In addition to the holiday train rides, the orchard will also have their delicious baked goods available for sale. Hop aboard the train at the Courthouse Square in Downtown Hendersonville.

December 22nd, 2023, Christmas Sing Along at The Buzz. The Apple Country String Band will be at The Buzz playing all your favorite Christmas songs and everyone is invited to sing along. If you’ve never visited The Buzz, this sober bar and coffee shop offers unique mocktails and lots of delicious coffee beverages in an alcohol-free environment. They’re on our list of favorite coffee shops in Hendersonville, NC.

November 24th through December 31st, 2023, Visit Marked Tree Vineyards for free holiday lights and decorations. You can hike or drive through the lights at the vineyard for free. You can also enjoy their Wine with Winter Wonder series of live holiday music on Saturday nights. Reservations are recommended for the live music events. Visit the Marked Tree Vineyards website for information closer to December.
623 Deep Gap Road, Flat Rock

All holiday season: Find the Peppermint Bears in Downtown Hendersonville. Visit the Hendersonville Welcome Center to pick up a brochure and then get hunting through Henersonville’s downtown businesses. Once you find at least 12 bears, you can bring your brochure back to the visitors center and drop it in the mailbox to win a prize.

November 24th, 2023- January 7th, 2024: E.L.F’s Holiday Light Show offers a free family holiday light show annually. This year they are taking donations for the Blue Ridge Humane Society. This family has been running these light shows in Hendersonville since 2019 and is bringing new lights and props to the show in 2023.

Worth the Drive: More Christmas Fun Near Hendersonville

Winter Lights – This popular light show at the NC Arboretum in Asheville is a walk-through light experience unlike any other! The show runs from November 17, 2023 – December 31, 2023 nightly from 6 pm – 10:30 pm.

2023 Festival of Trees Greenville, SC: Come see the holiday trees on display from November 17th through December 25th, 2023 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, the Courtyard Greenville Downtown, and the Hampton Inn & Suites River Place.

St. Francis Festival of Trees at the Hyatt

Southernside Brewing Co: Brewery Creates Ultimate Christmas Experience in Greenville, SC

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Southernside Brewing Co. in Greenville, SC has completely changed their brewery this Christmas season into a winter wonderland and is inviting the public to enjoy special events all season. This is Southernside’s second annual “Miracle at Southernside” with floor-to-ceiling decorations, lights, and animatronics. Favorite holiday cocktails return, along with some items to try.

From November 21 – December 31, 2023, Southernside Brewing Co. in Greenville has completely revamped the inside of the brewery to resemble a winter wonderland and Christmas-themed pop-up bar for their Miracle event all throughout the Christmas season.

See Southernside at Christmas for yourself

Here’s a video of last year’s Miracle at Southernside Christmas decor.

There are moving reindeer, snow-covered trees, lollipops, Mr. & Mrs. Clause people, lights strung throughout the entire place, and huge ornaments in the floor-to-ceiling display. Really, you must see this to believe it.

Southernside Brewing Co. says in a press release about the event that “Miracle is sure to get even the grouchiest grinch in the holiday spirit!”

Miracle at Southernside

Miracle kicks off at Southernside Brewing Co. on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 exclusive holiday cocktails and specialty beers like the Christmapolitan, Christmas Crocket, and Rudolph’s Replacement. They also have amazing and delectable hot chocolate.

So. Many. Lights.

GVLtoday got the scoop on just how many lights and other cool things that are a part of Miracle Pop-Up:

  • 40,000: Lights
  • 1,000: Ornaments
  • 1,000: Feet of tinsel and garland
  • 800: Feet of ribbon
  • 750: Square feet of snow
  • 75: Wrapped presents
  • 50: Decorated trees and wreaths
  • 40: Elves
  • 12: Themed cocktails each in a unique glass
  • 10: Nutcrackers
  • 4: Life-sized Santa Clauses

Weekly Happenings

Miracle at Southernside Brewing Co. is also doing daily specials if you can’t make it to one of the bigger events!

Wing Wednesdays: $1 wings

Thursday: $10 burger + pint night

Southernside Brewing Co.
25 Delano Drive Unit D, Greenville
Southernside Brewing Website