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Festival of Trees and Lights

Sorry this post is a bit late ūüôĀ We have definitely been busy doing lots of holiday shopping and activities, but I want to make sure to share our fun experience at the Festival of Trees and Lights! You NEED to check it out next year!¬†I do not know why I have never been until this year! This event is FULL of¬†activities, beautiful lights, entertainment, food AND it helps an awesome cause … Blank Children’s Hospital.

According to their website, the Festival of Trees and Lights has brought in 6.5 million dollars to help support programs such as child life, and other unique programs and projects to help children who are in need. Another great thing about this event, it is all volunteer based. Every aspect is put on by volunteers and donations from local businesses and individuals.

It’s a wonderful feeling, to walk in and know that everything you look at and do is provided by volunteers.

There were so many trees decorated in different themes! Monte’s favorite tree was the one that they had decorated in Disney characters for their silent auction.

Inside where the trees were lined up, there was also a stage where about every hour, performers would perform. Local groups of singers, dancers, etc. You could also purchase snacks such as hot dogs, popcorn, sandwiches and more. There was even a special bakery section!

We headed back out where all of the kids activities were held! Each activity was one ticket, which you could purchase when you purchased your admission ticket to see the lights. They even had a special deal to purchase 22 tickets for $20.

You could ride the train … Monte did all by himself!

Decorate cookies and decorate ornaments

Play with legos!

There was also face painting available, a toss game, and more!

Not only was there activities for the kiddos, lights, entertainment, and food BUT there was also a place to do a little holiday shopping! There was a shop available to purchase gift items and Scholastic Books was also available to purchase books.

You can definitely make a day out of this fun holiday event. There is so much to do and it helps such a wonderful cause! We will be making this a yearly tradition for sure!

Have you attended the Festival of Trees and Lights before? What is your favorite thing to see and/or do?

Places to visit Santa

It’s that time of year! Santa is going to be one busy guy this holiday season. There are several events and places to meet and see Santa. I have only listed a few popular events and places, but make sure to check out my calendar on the right hand side for a complete list!

1. Brunch with Santa at Center Grove РNovember 30 РDecember 22: Every Saturday & Sunday 

Eat breakfast, do crafts, and visit with Santa & Rudolph! There will also be a coloring contest! Saturdays 9 am Р12 pm and Sundays 11 am Р2 pm. Cost $7.95 per adult and $5.95 per child. Check out the Center Grove flyer for more details!

2. Santa Express РNovember 29 & 30, December 3-7, and December 10-14 

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad¬†¬†is offering the Santa Express again this year! A¬†perfect¬†event for your little ones. You will travel to the “North Pole” while singing Christmas carols, have hot chocolate and a cookie, meet Santa and receive a silver bell! Tickets are on sale! Make sure to reserve your ticket soon, because they will go fast. Check out the website for times and prices.

3.Santa at Jordan Creek Mall РNovember 22nd РDecember 24th 

Visit Santa at Jordan Creek Mall and get pictures done! No specific times are listed. Check out the Jordan Creek Towncenter site for more information!

4. Santa at Valley West Mall РNovember 15th РDecember 24th 

Visit Santa at Valley West Mall, ride the train, and take pictures! Monday thru Saturday 10 am Р8 pm; Sunday 11 am Р5pm; and  Christmas Eve 10 am РNoon. For more information check out the Valley West Mall website.

5. Santa at Merle Hay Mall РNovember 16th РDecember 24th 

Visit Santa at Merle Hay Mall. There are no hours listed, hours may vary. For more information check out the Merle Hay Mall website.

6. Santa at Southridge Mall РDecember 3rd РDecember 24th 

Visit Santa at Southridge Mall! Hours are not listed, hours may vary. Please check the Southridge Mall website for more information!

7. Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops – Now thru December 24th¬†

Get a¬†FREE¬†4×6 studio with Santa, lots of kids activities and crafts! Games, trains, coloring, wildlife carousel, and¬†SO MUCH MORE!¬†For more information check out the Bass Pro Shops website¬†for more information!

8. Pajama Party with Santa – November 26th, December 3, 10, and 17th at 6 pm

Bring your children to Jordan Creek Towncenter, in the photo area. They can bring a blanket and/or a stuffed toy. You can also take a picture with Santa! Bring a toy donation for Toys for Tots, and you can also donate $3 and received a personalized letter from Santa! For more information check out the Jordan Creek Town Center website.

9. Windsor Polar Express Movie Night РFriday, December 6th at 6:30 pm 

Located at the Windsor Heights Community Center in Colby Park, bring the family to see the classic holiday movie Polar Express! There will also be several activities and toy train on display. There will also be hot chocolate, popcorn, and hot dogs. $3 per person or $10 per family. Visit the Windsor Heights website for more information!

10. Windsor Wonderland Breakfast with Santa РSaturday, December 7th 8:30 am Р12:00 pm 

Located at the Windsor Heights Community Center in Colby Park, bring the whole family for a pancake breakfast, music, and a child/pet photo with Santa (for FREE)! $6 per ticket which includes the Santa picture and pancake breakfast. For more information visit the Windsor Heights website.

11. Santa at Blank Park Zoo РSaturday, December 7th & Saturday, December 14th 

This event is for the whole family! Take a picture with Santa and his reindeer, write a letter to the North Pole, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, and explore the zoo! For more information visit the Blank Park Zoo website for detail and scheduled events.

12. Holidays in Johnston РSaturday, December 7th 2:30 pm Р4:30 pm  

There will be a gingerbread making contest, crafts, cookie decorating, entertainment, food and more! Santa will make an appearance on a fire truck! For more information and registration for for the Gingerbread House Making contest check out the Johnston Patch website!

13. Breakfast at the North Pole: Reiman Gardens РSaturday, December 14th 

There are two sittings available one at 9 am and 11 am. This event is for the whole family where you will enjoy a healthy breakfast in the Winter Wonderland, activity station, and carolers. You must register! For more information, prices, and to register check out the Reiman Garden’s website.

14. Brunch with Santa: Urbandale РSaturday, December 14th 

Bring your kiddos, camera, and wish list! Join Santa for donuts, juice, holiday crafts, cookie decorating, and so much more! $10 per child. For more information and to register check out the Urbandale event page!






East Village Holiday Promenade & First Snow!

Yesterday it snowed our first “big” snow! Meaning snow stuck on the ground and is still on the ground!

I am so happy it did snow, because now I feel a little bit more comfortable listening to Christmas music and doing holiday festivities ūüôā

Monte was ready for the big snow!

Even though we may not be completely finished with our 2013 Fall Bucket List, we did cross the first thing off our 2013 Holiday Bucket List¬†last night … the East Village Promenade. It was a bit chilly, but it was a fun evening to get us in the spirit!

The East Village was decked out in lights all the way down the street. Monte thought those were awesome!

Our first stop was the State Historical Building where Santa, a DJ, and a chili supper was being held for Toys for Tots. I was not sure how well Monte would respond to Santa this year. Last year, he was a little young and I don’t think he really understood what was going on. This year, he smiled at him, but as soon as we got him on Santa’s lap, he was not a fan.

He did give Santa a high-five and “pounded it” with him. I’m glad it was not such a horrific experience!

After visiting with Santa, we headed to dinner at Quinton’s! Oh my goodness, if you have not been there, it is defiantly one place to check out! It’s a sports bar, but the various burgers and sandwiches they offer … are amazing!

While we were waiting for our food, chatting and some were playing foosball … a group of carolers came in!

After we stuffed ourselves with good beer, sandwiches, and burgers … we headed out to enjoy more lights and do a little window shopping. I have never really shopped in the East Village before and was surprised by all of the unique, local stores! Jett and Monkey’s Dog Shoppe was a fun dog ¬†bakery and supply store. They had a few small dogs, that Monte enjoyed seeing. Raygun where they offer t-shirts, local labels, and vintage merchandise. Sticks! I love all of the unique items available. My dad purchased a basset coffee cup for himself ūüôā

Overall, the East Village Promenade was a hit! It was the perfect way to kick off this 2013 holiday season. I am excited!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Friday evening and has an awesome weekend! Enjoy this snow and some hot cocoa!

DSM Activities & Events 11/21 – 11/27


There are lots of holiday events going on this weekend! Make sure to check everything out, by clicking on the calendar on the right hand side of the page! Have a wonderful weekend!

1. East Village Promenade

When: Friday 5 – 9 pm

Where and What: Come kick off the Holiday season in the East Village! Visit Santa at the Historical building and at Brenton Plaza. There will be caroling, ice skating, holiday lights, lots of restaurants to eat at, free horse drawn hay rack ride, and much more!

2. Winter Market 

When: Friday 11 am – 2 pm & Saturday 9 am – 1 pm

Where and What: Miss the weekly downtown farmers market? You do not want to miss this then! This market will be located at Capital Square and there will be more then 120 vendors to shop from. Wine, jams, honey, turkeys, crafts and much more will be available for purchase. Check out the Downtown Farmers Market for more information and scheduled entertainment!

3. Tour De Lights

When: Family Night – Saturday at 4:30 pm & Fitness Night – Sunday at 4:30 pm

Where and What: This 2-day event is a chance to preview the Jolly Holiday Lights before it is open to the general public! Saturday evening is family night where you can walk, run, bike, or stroll! Sunday evening is fitness night where you can run or ride 1.5 or 3.5 miles from Water Works Park OR a 11 mile round trip route from El Bait Shop! Check out the event page for more information!

4. Jordan Creek Town Center Tree Lighting 

When: Friday 6 pm – 7 pm

What: Bring the whole family to the Jordan Creek Town Center where Santa will arrive, they will light the large tree and sing songs! There will also be a fire works show! Check out the Jordan Creek Town Center Events Page for more information!

5. Elf on the Shelf Pajama Party 

When: Friday at 7 pm

Where and What: If you will be celebrating Santa’s arrival at Jordan Creek Town Center, you need to check out this event also!¬†Do you do the Elf on the Shelf every holiday season? This is the perfect event for your kiddos to get dressed in their pj’s and join others for the Elf on the Shelf story time.¬†There will be activities and refreshments provided!¬†For ages 3-10.¬†FREE¬†for all!!! For more information check out Barnes & Noble website.

6. Ugly Sweater Run 5k 

When: Saturday at 11 am

Where and What: The original Ugly Sweater Run 5k held at Principal Park. You can walk and/or run! Find your ugliest sweater and join thousands of others for this fun race! Enjoy hot chocolate and/or some beers after the run. There will be some fun festivities after the race also! $44 for a solo runner, children ages 8 and under are FREE! Register ahead of time at Ugly Sweater Run.

7. Disney On Ice: Passport to Adventure

When: Wednesday, November 27th – Sunday, December 1st

Where and What: Is your kiddo a fan of the Disney gang? Or are you even a fan of the Disney gang? You have to see everyone at Disney on Ice at the Wells Fargo Arena. This is a fun event for the whole family! To purchase tickets and to see show times check out the Iowa Events Center site.

8. Jolly Holiday Lights 

When: Tuesday, November 26th – Wednesday, December 4th

Where and What: Get a picture with Santa and enjoy a cookie & hot cocoa at Santa’s Wish Shop until December 4th. ¬†A classic Des Moines event, that goes on everyday until the New Year. Grab your family, jump in a car and drive through to check out all the holiday light displays! All proceeds go to benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation!$10 per car load,$20 per limo load,¬†$45 per bus load.