“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
Preach it! I hope no Grinches here. This is such a magical time of year, even in sunny California. I would always fly back to Dallas for the holidays to feel the chilly air but then I made a lot of kids that cost a lot of money. Hence, a California Christmas! Sometimes we make it to Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear. I have yet to make it to Mammoth. But no matter where we are, being together, snuggling up, watching movies, drinking hot cocoa, checking out holiday light displays – I mean, what could be better? Luckily, snow or no snow, we have so many holiday events to choose from! It was hard, but if you can’t tell already, I focus primarily on South OC. So yes, my blog is completely biased.
- Boat Parades – I’ve been to 3 local boat parades: Dana Point, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. (All the boat parades are free to watch if you find a good spot!) Shockingly, my favorite one was Cruise of Lights in Huntington Beach. It’s more intimate and I really enjoyed seeing all the beautifully decorated homes. Newport Beach’s Christmas Boat Parade comes in second as having the coolest boats/yachts to check out! We did one on a boat (regretted it) and have also wached from the sideline. I think watching from the sideline was most enjoyable. However, I know there are a lot of nice restaurants that offer viewings of it that are probably worth checking out. Last, but not least, is Dana Point’s Parade of Lights. I’m doing something different this year and purchased tickets to the viewing party from the Ocean Institute. I will have to get back to you on whether that was worth it!
- Heritage Hill – Heritage Hill has become a family tradition for Halloween and Christmas. Please note the Candlelight Walk is only held on 3 nights. Those are the nights when they have live entertainment, Santa, carolers, treats for sale, fresh roasted chestnuts and much more! After that the lights stay on display for free.
- Holiday Lights – There are so many wonderful neighborhoods to check out for festive lights. I like waiting for the home decorating contest winners for Nellie Gail and Ladera Ranch. Once those post, we go for a drive. Our favorite house in Nellie Gail is the Gingerbread House and our favorite house in Ladera Ranch is the Candy Cane house only because the kids love getting the candy canes! Neighborhood lights and all the malls are free places to view beautiful displays and light shows. If you are willing to dish out some cash, last year we went to Hikarai – A Festival of Lights at Tanaka Farms. I felt it was kind of expensive for what we saw. This year we are checking out Night of Lights in Costa Mesa. The cost is about the same for either one. This one looks bigger and a lot more flashy stuff that I think the kids will enjoy more.
- Afternoon Tea – To be honest, this USED to be a tradition. We used to attend St. Regis’s Holiday Afternoon Tea buffet. It was incredible! There hasn’t been anything like it since! For a more authentic English tea house vibe, head over to the Tea House on Los Rios ($79 pp) or if you want upscale, there’s the Ritz Carlton that only does this special tea for the holidays. This year it’s $95/pp (prices as of 12/1/21). Honestly, you can make your own afternoon tea party at home and pair it with the next activity on my list!
- The Nutcracker Ballet – Ahhhhh! I really can’t think of Christmas without thinking of the Nutcracket Ballet. I grew up watching Baryshnikov’s version every since I was a little girl. You might still be able to watch it on Amazon Prime. Yes, it’s super dated but damn, he’s got to be the best cavalier I’ve ever seen! I have only seen the ballet live at Segerstrom a few times. I believe it was last year we actually got to see it with Misty Copeland. They also do a shorter children’s version. However, you have to book tickets to that one far in advance because they do sell out quickly. Not only is the ballet so fun for children and adults, the music is simply magical!
I wish you all a safe, happy and HEALTHLY holiday season. I am so glad we can actually go out more but please still be cautious and practice social distancing, good hygiene and follow any mask requiremnts. Happy holidays!