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Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Christmas is a magical time, of course. And what makes it even more sweet is adding a touch of Disney magic to your holidays. Whether it’s in the house decorations, the Christmas tree or even in the kitchen, Disney fan welcome a generous helping of pixie dust in everything they do! Here are my ideas for adding Disney magic to your Christmas.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Disney Details for the Home

Fill the house with Christmas cheer, Disney-style! This personalized Christmas tree skirt has a cute retro look. These clever Holiday Mugs hold milk and have a slot underneath for your cookie! And when it’s time to cuddle up with a favorite movie, this Mickey & Minnie Fleece Throw will keep you cozy.

 

 

Deck the Tree with Disney Ornaments

We’ve been collecting Disney ornaments for the Christmas tree since I was a little girl. It’s fun to pick them up while on vacation as a memento of your trip. Choose an ornament that reminds you of a special time (like the first spin on the Mad Tea Party teacups) or holds a cherished photo from that time you met your first Disney princess. I adore this Fantasyland Castle Ornament, a perfect blend of the parks along with good cheer for the holidays!

Hallmark Teacup for Two Mickey and Minnie Mouse Ornament and Hallmark 2016 Disney Princesses Photo Holder Holiday Ornament

Bake Disney-inspired Holiday Treats

Make anything Mickey shaped or that has Mouse Ears and my kids think it’s fantastic! Here are some simple recipes that can be tweaked just a bit to make them “Disney” including these Mouse Ears Snowman Cookies from Family.com and Mouseketeer Gingerbread Cookies from the Disney Food Blog. It wouldn’t be too difficult to make Rice Krispies treats like this Mickey shaped one I had at the Disneyland Resort. I have more Christmas recipe ideas on this post.

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas      Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Cook up Disney Magic in the Kitchen

This cookbook is very merry and full of Disney fun for the holidays! A Merry Christmas Cookbook is geared for kids to cook under adult supervision with holiday recipes inspired by favorite characters. For more discerning tastes, try the The Ultimate Disney World Cookbook with over 300 recipes from Disney parks restaurants. Serve up those Disney delights (or cookies for Santa!) on these adorable Mickey & Friends Plates from the DisneyStore.

    

Decorate the Yard Top to Bottom

Bright and colorful, these Disney yard decorations let everyone in the neighborhood know your love for the Mouse! We love to walk through our neighborhood and look at the holiday decorations and my kids always love when someone has Disney inspired decor. I want one of these Disney Mickey Mouse Ears LightShow Swirling Multicolor LED Christmas Spotlight Projectors so much! Paired with the Inflatable LED Mickey and Minnie’s Sled Scene, you’ll have a house that all the kids will want to see each night. Hang this cheery winter Disney Parks Holiday flag all winter long!

How do you add Disney magic to your Christmas? Share with me in the comments!

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Celebrating Christmas at Disneyland Resort

The Christmas season is a beautiful time of year and no better place in my opinion, to celebrate it than at Disneyland! From the dazzling holiday decor, spectacular entertainment, special holiday rides and attractions, wow! Christmas at Disneyland is pure magic. And you can still have all the usual Christmas fun, from presents to Santa!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Practical Pre-Vacation Christmas at Disneyland Advice

Planning a visit to Disneyland during the holiday season requires a certain amount of preparation that you might not need other times of the year. Normally you can just “wing it” at Disneyland but during the holidays you’ll definitely need to plan a bit more in regards to full-service dining, FastPasses and viewing shows.

Please read my post on TravelingMom, 11 Tips for Navigating Holiday Crowds at Disneyland. You’ll learn lots of holiday hacks on having the best visit despite the extra crowds.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

The ocean-themed Christmas tree at Paradise Pier inside California Adventure park.

Park and Resort Decor for Christmas at Disneyland

My most favorite part of visiting the Disneyland Resort during Christmas is seeing the detailed decorations that cover every corner! The resort hotels have special decor that’s worth checking out, including themed Christmas trees inside each of the Disneyland Hotel towers.

As you walk from your Disneyland resort hotel through the Downtown Disney District, there are more holiday decorations to get you in the mood.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Retro themed Christmas trees inside the Disneyland Hotel lobby

Inside Disney’s Grand California Hotel & Spa, the lobby is totally decked out for the holidays. On our Christmas at Disneyland vacation last year, we were in awe of the larger-than-life gingerbread replica of the hotel!  You can even purchase a small version right there in the lobby to nibble on yourself.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Christmas at Disneyland Park

Start off the day at Disneyland Park by posing in front of the huge Christmas tree in the Main Street U.S.A. square. Each Land has its own holiday themed decor, from rustic in Frontierland to tropical in Adventureland. Even Toontown gets an appropriate holiday splash of color that’s bright and festive, with lots of large ornaments and over-sized bows!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Christmas comes to Toontown at Disneyland!

My favorite seasonal attraction is it’s a small world Holiday, when the facade is bejeweled with tiny colorful lights and our favorite clock dons a Santa hat! Even the ride inside receives an amazing holiday makeover with songs of the season and an entirely new look that celebrates the holidays in each country represented.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Be sure to return after dark: More than 300,000 lights glitter and every 15-minutes, the façade of the attraction is transformed with advanced 3D-projection technology.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Grab a FASTPASS for Haunted Mansion Holiday which receives new effects every year! It’s a holiday season can’t-miss and you should grab a FASTPASS early in the day. Be sure to look for the gingerbread design inside the ballroom scene. It changes every year (and you can smell the gingerbread!)

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Another Christmas at Disneyland overlay is the transformation of the Jungle Cruise into the Jingle Cruise. Story goes that a shipment of Christmas decorations was mistakenly dropped over the jungle. You just have to see what the animals and natives have done with the plethora of garland, ugly Christmas sweaters, ornaments and fruitcakes!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

At Disney California Adventure Park, the buildings around Buena Vista Street are decorated with 1920s-approprate garland and vintage-style ornaments. “a bug’s land” is decorated with giant Christmas lights and over-sized ornaments. This is a fun area any time of year but even more whimsical with the wildly-large decor!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Festival of Holidays offers flavors of the season at a variety of kiosks in the Park. Southern Home Holidays served up sweet potato pie, Mistletoe Morsels offered Swedish dishes and Treats for Santa had traditional cookies and punch. There is also beer and non-alcoholic drinks. We found the lines to be reasonable mid-day and very crowded in the evening. Get your fill of these appetizer-sized dishes during lunch to maximize your time.

Cars Land is amazing during the holidays with auto filter garlands, white-wall tire wreaths and a Christmas tree decked out in shiny hubcaps! Be sure have your picture taken with the “snowcar” complete with top hat and pylon nose!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

!Viva Navidad!

Several times a day The Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, Panchito  and José Carioca host a dance party and Latin celebration. I’d suggest watching during the day time hours when it’s still light enough to see clearly. We arrived after dark and the area was poorly lit so it was hard to see the action.

Send Your Holiday Presents & Gifts Ahead of Your Trip

Save space in your luggage by having gifts sent ahead to your hotel. Pre-order presents on Amazon and have them sent to you so they’re waiting at the hotel! Just make sure the address includes the word “Guest” on the front and the date of your arrival at the resort hotel. You’ll be able to pick up your boxes at mail services upon arrival.

While staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, you can also have packages delivered back to your hotel so you don’t have to tote them around the parks all day.

If you have family that will be at Disneyland and you want to send them a special something, contact Disney Floral & Gifts to order stockings stuffed with Disney goodies, delicious treats, or even a full “in-room celebration” with a bounty of gifts and delights. It’s a great way to show the kids that Santa didn’t forget them, even when they’re away from home!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Christmas at Disneyland Entertainment & Shows

Be sure to check out the beautiful Disney California Adventure Park World of Color – Season of Light! This nighttime water show features classic Disney movie moments and holiday favorites.

The ever popular “A Christmas Fantasy” parade will return to Disneyland, with 100+ performers in the parade including Mickey,  Minnie and a special guest from the North Pole…Santa Claus!

Stay in the parks until dark and be rewarded with entertainment that lights up the night! Believe…In Holiday Magic, the fireworks spectacular will include more than 80,000 twinkling lights illuminating Sleeping Beauty Castle and a magical snowfall as well!

Paint the Night parade is expected to return to Disneyland parks over the holiday season. This is a can’t miss!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Meeting Santa and Other Characters

Greet the characters dressed up in their holiday finest on Main Street U.S.A. We always make a point to take pictures with our favorites first thing in the morning because this is a very popular feature during the holidays.

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.

Meeting Santa is a magical part of Christmas and no more so than at Disneyland! This year Santa Claus will be meeting children at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure Park and in Critter Country at Disneyland Park. My son even had the opportunity to sign Santa’s “Nice List” guest book!

Celebrating Christmas at the Disneyland Resort is simply magical! Here are a few tips on maximizing your Christmas at Disneyland vacation.


Save Money on a DISNEYLAND Vacation!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 


Insider tips on celebrating Christmas at Disneyland Resort

Best Times of the Year to Visit Disneyland (and Why)

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

One of the big questions when it comes to planning a Disneyland vacation is WHEN should we go? You not only have to figure out a perfect date between work and school schedules but you want to take weather, holidays and special events into consideration as well! So many things to consider before you visit Disneyland.

Here is my guide to the seasons, with tips on the best times of year to visit Disneyland!

Please note that my post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

When Will We Be Able to Avoid Crowds?

The parks will be packed anytime that kids are out of school, which would be all holidays and breaks. This would include weekends, summer, Christmas vacation, Thanksgiving weekend, Spring Break, Labor Day, President’s Day, and Memorial Day.

There are also random days through the year when you will find it’s busier than normal like Bats Day in early May and Gay Days in late September. I’ve personally been during both of these times and the park is much more crowded than it would be usually during this time of year.

There is also an assumption that Superbowl Sunday is a good time to go but really, I’ve been twice on Superbowl Sunday and it’s just as crowded as any other weekend (probably more so, because everyone else had the same great idea that the park wouldn’t be busy!).

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Dates to Avoid if You Don’t Like Crowds

  • Martin Luther King Jr. weekend
  • Superbowl Sunday
  • President’s Day weekend
  • Spring Break for the local schools
  • Easter weekend
  • Bats Day (aka Goth Day)
  • Memorial Day weekend
  • 4th of July weekend
  • Labor Day weekend
  • Gay Days Disneyland (traditionally late September/early October)
  • Columbus Day weekend
  • Veteran’s Day weekend
  • Thanksgiving break for schools
  • Holiday/Winter break for schools, including Christmas and New Years

For more details on what dates to avoid, check out this post for 2017.

Purchase your discounted Disney Park tickets ahead of your trip from Park Savers!

Park Savers affiliate link

What Does More Crowded Mean?

  • It means waiting…lots and lots of waiting.
  • It means standing in line for 60+ minutes for a ride that you might be able to walk on without ANY line during a non-peak time of year.
  • It means waiting in line for the bathroom.
  • It means waiting in long lines for food.
  • It means that you might be standing to eat once you finally do get your food because there aren’t any tables or chairs left.
  • It means not being able to see the sidewalk in front of you in congested areas of the park.
  • It means being shoulder to shoulder at certain times.
  • It means if you want to watch a parade or attraction you’re going to have to get there very early if you want a seat or even standing room to watch it.

I’ve been during those times and it’s a miserable feeling to stand in line and wait for everything, especially with children.

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Ideal Disneyland conditions…free and clear!

Plan an Off-Peak Vacation

If you hate to wait (and really, who doesn’t?), consider going to the park during off-peak times. The most optimal days of the week to visit the park are in the middle: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Obviously Saturday and Sunday will be the busiest days of the week but Monday and Friday (especially Friday evenings when locals get off work) may be heavy as well.

Planning your Disneyland vacation takes preparation, especially if you’re a newbie. A good research book helps and I highly recommend these for everyone!

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017 and Birnbaum’s 2017 Disneyland Resort: The Official Guide
   

I’ve found these are good times to visit:

The first weeks in January – though you might experience some rain & cold weather.

Twice we went during the early part of the year and did experience some heavy rain. Navigating through the park, pushing a stroller and carrying an umbrella (which conveniently turned itself inside-out mid-gust!) wasn’t the easiest thing to do and we stuck to inside amusements like the show in the Golden Horseshoe and the Enchanted Tiki Room.

I wouldn’t recommend that first-timers visit this time of year at the risk of having your entire vacation rained out. (See the next section for more information about weather).

Then again, you might not have any rain at all and have a very warm visit, as we did on one very hot January visit!

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Late April to Mid-May– just after Spring Break is over and before kids are out for summer. Springtime at Disneyland and the flowers are in bloom. You might have a few light spring showers.

September – just after Labor Day but before Gay Days (late September). You’ll have to take the kids out of school but weather is warm and lines are short. It’s a great time to go if you like to take breaks at the pool for swimming.

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Mid-October through November – ending before Thanksgiving. And the park is all dressed up for fall, it’s just beautiful!

The weather is still usually warm (and sometimes VERY hot). Consider avoiding days on which Mickey’s Halloween Party takes place because the parks will be more crowded. If you choose to attend Mickey’s Halloween Party, don’t use a Park ticket that day because you’ll be able to access the Parks early with your special event hard ticket.

If you’re going to have the kids dress in costume, keep the warm weather in mind!

Late-November through first two weeks of December – the few weeks just after Thanksgiving.

Fortunately my son’s birthday falls during this time and I’ve taken him there a few times. The park is decorated for the winter holidays, there are special activities, shows and parades and the crowds are still thin enough.

Keep in mind that Disneyland often schedules revamps and maintenance during slow seasons or off-peak times. You can find that information on the Disneyland Daily Calendar Park hours might also be shorter, so check the calendar for the days you’ll be in the park.

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

When Will the Weather Be the Best?

Fortunately, Disneyland is in Southern California and weather is generally pretty nice year-round. There are times of the year however when you can expect it to be quite hot (July through September). And there are times when it might rain (December through March). There are times when it will be very overcast and cloudy for most of the day (usually May and June). But an overcast day never hurt anyone and you’ll be at Disneyland, so who cares about a little May-Gray or June-Gloom?!

And the rest of the year is usually in the mid-70s so you’ll be comfy in shorts!

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Cold Weather

If you are going during cold weather, dress in layers. Don’t be shy about bringing that hat and those gloves. Wear socks and not flip-flops!

I had the pleasure of sitting on the cold concrete one icy winter day to watch a parade at the Park…brrr!! It was at that time I thought about how nice a blanket would have been to sit on!

If the weather warms up and you find yourself overdressed, you can always stuff everything into a rented locker and fetch it later if you need it again (you get in/out privileges for the day). Pack a poncho if rain is in the forecast as it’s much easier than dealing with an umbrella.

Planning to visit Disneyland? Find out when you'll best be able to avoid crowds, what dates to skip completely and what to expect of the weather!

Warm Weather

I would recommend similar advice for warm weather as well, layers are best. Evenings can still be cool in the summer, so bringing a light jacket or sweatshirt will be necessary or risk having to buy one at a premium price at the park when you get chilly! Believe me, I have many souvenir jackets from the park because of this very reason.

And it’s always smart to bring an extra set of clothes and socks anyway because you never know when you might get wet (or soaked!)

So what is your favorite time of year to visit Disneyland? Share your reasons in the comments!

 

 

Disney-Themed Stocking Stuffers That Don’t Break the Bank

Disney-Themed Stocking Stuffers That Don't Break the Bank

You’ve carefully budgeted your Christmas shopping and then you remember…you didn’t buy anything for the STOCKINGS! Or is that just me? Depending on how well you “stuff the stocking”, this could be a very expensive endeavor! Here are some last-minute practical and inexpensive stocking stuffers that won’t compromise your budget.

I’m a practical gal, I’ll admit it. I tend to gravitate towards stocking stuffer items that my kids already need. A new toothbrush, crayons, winter gloves, bubble bath and yes, even a package of undies make it in to the stocking.

Keep reading for my practical but still fun stocking stuffer ideas and a list of tips at the bottom of this post.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links


 Cozy Up

‘Tis the season to keep warm and these gifts will keep them toasty and stylish. A warm scarf, hat, gloves, slippers or socks are always welcome, especially if they feature a favorite character. Socks in a stocking? Kids will get a kick out of that!

from left to right,  BB-8 Knit hat (Disney Store), Doc McStuffins Kids Lambie Slippers, Star Wars Socks (both from Amazon)

 


 Art Supplies

Always a family favorite in our house. A fresh box of crayons or markers and a coloring book rolled up into the stocking is always a hit. Older kids might like a personalized pen.

from left to right, Disney’s Frozen Magic Ink Pictures Activity Book (Amazon), Walt Disney World personalized pen (from Disney Store), Disney Pixar Cars 12 Jumbo Crayons (Amazon)


Bathroom Fun

My little one  is obsessed with the Disney Magic Timer app that encourages longer brushing. He already has Star Wars mouthwash, Cars toothpaste and an Avengers toothbrush. I was able to find this Frozen-themed set for his stocking that I know he will love. And what’s better to balance out holiday sweets than oral hygiene products! *wink*

from left to right, Star Wars Oral Hygiene Set, Disney Frozen Oral-B Crest and Pro-Health Junior Toothpaste, Doc McStuffins 3pc Bright Smile Oral Hygiene Set (all from Amazon)

Get ’em clean with fun bath time goodies like bubble bath, soap and scrubbers. My older kids like something a little more “grown up” in a more sophisticated scent like the Disney H2O products.

from left to right, Disney Princess Bubble Bath (Amazon), Sea Salt & Marine Spa Collection (DisneyStore) and Bubble Bath Set Disney Pixar Cars (Amazon)

        


Stock Up for the Year

Make practical things a gift. Kids just want to see their favorite character and they are things that you would normally buy through the year anyway!

from left to right, Band-Aid Disney-Pixar Inside Out, Disney-Pixar Nemo SPF50 Sunscreen Stick, Bonnie Bell Disney Mickey Mouse Lip Balm


Vacation Goodies

Think ahead to what your kids will need things for vacations, like sunglasses, a sun hat or a t-shirt. Roll ’em up and stuff it in the stocking!

from left to right,  Elsa Costume Tee (Disney Store), R2-D2 Sunglasses and Minnie Mouse Toddler Girls Pink Bucket Hat
(both from Amazon)


A Little Something Just for Fun

Don’t forget at least one fun little thing that your kids will enjoy through the year. Little ones might enjoy a little stuffy and older girls would love a classy make-up set in a Disney-theme. And don’t forget the Force in the form of a cool new Lightsaber!

from left to right, Minnie Mouse Hair Ties, Marvel Universal “Tsum Tsum” (both from Disney Store)

from left to right, ELF Jasmine Face Makeup Set, Maxx Action Galactic Series Photon Sabers (both from Amazon)


 Something Sweet

I bought these mini candy canes for my kids last Christmas and they were just the perfect size to toss a few of each flavor into each stocking. And how cute is that Olaf Hot Cocoa set?! My kids don’t have candy or sweets very often so receiving a special treat in their stockings is always welcome (we even let them indulge right after breakfast!) It is Christmas, after all!

from left to right, Disney’s Mini Candy Canes, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, Mickey Mouse Special Edition, Wilton Disney Frozen Olaf Cocoa Trimming Kit and Arctic White Hot Cocoa Bundle

      


Stocking Stuffer Tips –

1. What’s your stocking budget? Those little things really add up so make sure you have a cost in mind before buying and don’t go overboard on the cost.

2. Keep size in mind. Take the size of your stockings into consideration. If a gift is too big for the stocking, wrap it up and set it next to the stocking or on the mantle.

3. How many items should you get? Keep the number of stocking stuffers between 3-5 (depending upon the size).

4. Don’t buy junk or just “things” to fill the stocking. Stick to what you know will be used and well-loved.  I want things that will actually be enjoyed so it’s worth spending a little more rather than just filling stockings with bottom-of-the-toy-box items from the dollar store.


 What are your favorite stocking stuffers? Share in the comments…and have a Merry Christmas!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links

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Meaningful Holiday Traditions – Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

The best things in life are free…that’s what they say anyway! When it comes to holiday traditions however, I fully believe this. Traditions aren’t intended to be fancy or over-the-top: Traditions inspire, spur creativity and create lasting memories. Keeping up traditions doesn’t have to cost you anything extra so don’t worry if your budget is already over-taxed.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

For children, something only has to be done once to make it “tradition” (ie: “We always have waffles on Christmas”, only because you served them last year!) Ask your children what traditions are their favorite. My parents and grandparents were very big on Christmas traditions and it made the holidays extra special. Each family member painted a winter scene on their front windows using tempera paints. Christmas Eve night was spent at church, holding candles and singing songs. Santa’s gift was always assembled and unwrapped under the twinkling tree. Christmas Day our entire (very large!) family got together for lunch and to open presents in our wild gift exchange…it was an all-day event! It’s a tradition we hold today. Those are incredible memories that I hope I can create in our own way for my children.


Here are a few ways you can incorporate traditions into your holidays this year:

FOOD

Do you have a traditional food that gets prepared each holiday? In my husband’s family, his aunts get together and make tamales that we can enjoy in the new year. For our family luncheon, my aunt brings an ambrosia salad (a sweet treat with marshmallows and canned fruit). It was something that my grandmother used to prepare and my aunt carries the tradition.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Last year I made this Christmas Cranberry Cake, which was a hit!

A friend of mine started a cookie decorating party several years ago for her nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She makes the sugar and gingerbread cookies, I make the royal icing and we all gather for dinner and decorating. Everyone enjoys it, young and old alike. I recommend using squeeze bottles for the icing (which makes decorating and clean up so much easier).

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

As a child, my mom always prepared a Bisquick coffee cake to eat on Christmas morning. Many times I’ve prepared an overnight French Toast that I can make the night before and pop in the oven while we unwrap gifts. If you don’t have a traditional food think about what your family favorite is and serve it over the holiday week. Or find a new favorite in a holiday-themed cookbook, like this one, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


MUSIC

Certain holiday songs can take me back to a place and time in my childhood and I’m sure there are songs that do the same for you. The Little Drummer Boy for me is sitting next to my dad in the church choir and hearing his deep bass pah-rump-a-pum-pumming out the beat of the drum. Hearing Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You puts me back to the 90s while out Christmas shopping with my brother. Whether it be Josh Groban’s Noel album, Mannheim Steamroller’s acoustic A Fresh Aire Christmas or The Chipmunks Christmas Don’t Be Late, these songs put us in the holiday mood.

For me it’s not Christmas until I’ve heard Whitney Houston sing Do You Hear What I Hear. Goosebumps every time! Think about your favorite seasonal music and play it at home or in the car. Sing the lyrics, teach your kids and let the music put you in the Christmas spirit!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

At my son’s school Christmas Concert


VOLUNTEER

Volunteering your time to a cause is beneficial not only to the other person but to your spirit as well. With the extra events going on in communities this time of year, extra volunteers are always welcome. Check in with local shelters, soup kitchens and churches to find out how you can pitch in. With three young children, my time is limited and finding someone to watch our children so we can donate our time to a cause can be a challenge. Find out if there are volunteer opportunities for your children to participate in as well. My husband and son have gone out with our church to deliver sandwiches to the homeless and it was an eye-opening experience that he’s never forgotten. If your time is limited, consider donating your gently used clothing and toys to a local thrift store or shelter.


PHOTOS

Capture the moment in time with a snapshot of your child in front of the Christmas tree with their favorite gift of the year.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


GET OUTSIDE

Enjoy an outdoor activity with your family that is appropriate for the season. We have never celebrated a “White Christmas” before so we make do with warmer temps and a hike in our neighborhood park. If you have snow, get out in it with the kids for a sledding competition, snowball fight or snowman building contest. Make it your tradition on one of the holiday nights to take a drive and see the Christmas lights. We have a neighborhood nearby with fantastic Christmas displays and lights and we make it a point to drive though it several times during the season and to walk through it at least once. Load up with cocoa and treats to snack on as you walk!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Christmas in San Diego – A morning hike at Mission Trails


PAMPER YOURSELF

No need to spend a ton at the salon this season when you can enjoy a relaxing “Spa-day” at home. The holidays can really take it out of you! Doesn’t a warm foot soak sound lovely? Do it up at home and you can rest in your pjs while you polish your toes or read a magazine while wearing a homemade facial mask. Pretty up with creative hair-dos for a holiday party. I bought some Jamberry nails this season and have loved how long they last (2 weeks on my hands and 4 weeks on my toes!) I have Midnight Celebration (the first image on the left) on my hands right now and think they are so fun & festive. Pampering might not fall under the free catagory, but staying home is certainly cheaper than going to a salon. Perhaps pampering yourself might also just be as simple as curling up in bed with a favorite book to recharge your holiday batteries. Make it your new tradition to take a break during the busy season and take care of yourself!


UNWRAPPED

For at least ten years there was a gift box shaped like a toy shop that was passed through our family. It was a delight to receive that box, no matter what was inside because it was tradition. Finally the box fell apart and had to be tossed out but it is a fun tradition to start in your family. Find a quirky gift bag or box and keep it around the family, gifting someone new each year.

I was shocked when a friend told me their Christmas morning of gift exhanging was traditionally over in less than 10-minutes: apparantly it was a frenzy of unwrapping, paper flying and “thank yous” thrown around the room. Our family tradition has always been to open gifts one person at a time and for the others to watch what they receive. That way the giver has the joy of seeing the recipient view their present for the first time. Our kids know that we take turns in our home too and the youngest child gets to choose the first gift. Some families have a Pickle Ornament on their tree and the first person to spot the pickle gets to choose their first gift to open. We all have pickle ornaments in our family too but that’s because our surname is Dill!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


ORNAMENTS

9 years ago I started collecting these Hallmark ornaments in the Beauty of Birds series. I missed the first year! This was the offering in 2014, isn’t she pretty?

Image from Hallmark.com

I have all of my collection on a small white tree and traditionally have the tree set up on my dining room buffet. Collecting ornaments throughout the years is a beautiful tradition. I have ornaments on my tree that my grandmother gave me as a child. I adore pulling out my beloved ornaments year after year.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

The handmade ornaments that my children have made over the years are a delight. A paper crayon drawing of an angel that my littlest made in Sunday school is my current tree topper.  Many Disney fan collect ornaments at the Parks as a memento of their dream vacations. If you have it in your budget, it’s a nice tradition to take the kids out and let them choose an ornament at the store each year. These would be ornaments you would send off with them when they are grown and have their own home! (from left to right, Tigger, Disney Parks Light Up EarsSorcerer’s Apprentice – images from Disney Store)

   


RELIGIOUS SERVICES

When I recently asked my older children what their favorite part of the Christmas season is they both answered the same: Church. We attend church every Sunday and they also attend a life group Bible study once a week. Church is a part of their lives on a regular basis already but I was still intrigued to hear that attending services is their favorite Christmas tradition. During the holidays people in general are more open to attending church service. If you don’t already have a “home church”, consider accepting the invitation of a friend to attend. And if you already regularly attend, reach out to friends and invite them to come with you to service.


This post contains affiliate links

What are the favorite holiday traditions in your family? Please share them below in the comments! 

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Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park – The Happiest Place on Earth Just Got Merrier!

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

With the addition of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land, Disney California Adventure Park has experienced a rejuvenation of sorts during the holidays. Gone is the beachy-keen themed Christmas of old (and Santa in a surf-inspired shirt…really, I have pictures!) and the decor has instead taken on a sophisticated and elaborate theming that we’ve come to expect from the Happiest Place on Earth!


Here are the holiday highlights for Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park –

Towering over Carthay Circle is a fantastic 60-foot Christmas tree. The buildings around Buena Vista Street are decorated with 1920s-approprate garland and vintage-style ornaments. There is a tree-lighting ceremony each night at 5 pm.

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

Our last Christmas-time visit included a chat with Santa at Elias & Co. (the main department store along Buena Vista Street). As you can see, my daughter was having none of it!

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

“a bug’s land” is decorated with giant Christmas lights and over-sized ornaments. This is a fun area any time of year but even more whimsical with the wildly-large decor!

What is Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park like?

Just outside the entrance to Cars Land, take your photo with a whimsical “snowcar”. Draped over Route 66 are garlands made of auto filters and snowflakes made from wrenches. Each of the shops and restaurants along the route feature holiday décor that reflects the personality of the “Cars” character who lives there. Don’t you love the Christmas tree, glowing with the shine of new hub-caps?! Look, even Stanley has the holiday spirit and is wearing a Santa hat!

Disney California Adventure Park - Christmas

Get Frozen for the holidays! Warm up your singing voices at For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration then play in Olaf’s Snow Fest , a winter-appropriate wonderland (Snow Fest is only open through Jan 6th, 2016). You can go sledding on real snow, enjoy special treats & meet Olaf.

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

I’ve yet to experience the new  “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” at Paradise Gardens. The Disney website describes this as a daily celebration inspired by the warmth and joyous spirit of Latino culture and holiday traditions, with festive music and dancing, vibrant colors, delicious food, Disney character appearances and the lively “Disney Viva Navidad! Street Party.” Sounds like a fantastic time to me!

“Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” will conclude with a five-day celebration of the traditional Three Kings Day, Jan. 2 through 6, 2015.

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Special holiday food items include sourdough bread in holiday shapes at Boudin’s and homemade turkey pot pie soup in a sourdough bread bowl at Pacific Wharf Café. Elf Mickey premium popcorn buckets and drink steins are available in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

Paradise Pier has a lovely seaside Christmas theme and Donald was greeting guests last time in his snowflake-sprinkled winter attire. I adore this tree, studded with sea-inspired ornaments and a spiralling shell tree-topper!

Christmas at Disney California Adventure Park

After its successful 2013 debut, “World of Color − Winter Dreams” returns with several “Frozen” songs in the show. The holiday version of the popular “World of Color” show features classic winter scenes from such beloved Disney and Disney●Pixar films as “Bambi,” “Toy Story” and, of course, “Frozen.” For Christmas 2015, World of Color – Winter Dreams will be shown before World of Color – Celebrate!, so you can actually watch both shows in the same evening!

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)


Have you ever visited Disney California Adventure Park during the Christmas season? Which area would you like to most visit? Share in the comments below!

I recommend purchasing tickets from Park Savers ahead of your trip. Save a few dollars off the price as well as time at the gates.

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8 Budget-Friendly Ways to Make it Through the Holidays

8 Budget Friendly Ways to make it through the Holidays -Helpful Tips!

With autumn here and winter fast approaching, we move into the festive “holiday season”! For some though, this time of year is also wallet-draining, stress-inducing and all-around nerve-wracking!

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some tips to make it though the holidays with your budget (and nerves) still intact.


Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

HAVE A PLAN

Before the holidays even begin, sit down and outline your thoughts and expectations for each upcoming event. Let your thoughts run free and jot them down; having a calender with you may help. It’s not set in stone but it’s at least a rough outline of what the next few months may hold.

Questions you might ask yourself:

  • What parties will you be attending?
  • What parties will you be hosting?
  • Are you making or buying costumes and/or gifts for the family this year?
  • Are you going to be traveling?
  • What school events are coming up that will require money?
  • Are there special outfits that you’ll need to buy for upcoming events/pictures?
  • What are your New Year’s Eve plans?

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

DEVELOP A HOLIDAY BUDGET

Break down the holidays and roughly plan out how much you’ll be spending on each event. After all, the extra holiday expenses have to come from somewhere…and you should not be running up your credit cards or spending money you don’t have!

  • How much will you be spending on Halloween costumes and candy?
  • Is your biggest Thanksgiving expense in preparing the big meal or in travel costs?
  • In regards to Christmas or Hanukkah gifts, come up with an amount that you plan to spend on each person. Keep track and stick with it!

Spend where it most makes sense to you and your family and shift around your budget as needed. It’s easy to get carried away with the holiday spirit and overspend. This is one time of the year where you may need to put a hold on your credit card use to resist overspending and use cash only instead.


Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

MAKE YOUR LISTS

About six months before Christmas, I start taking notes for gift ideas. I keep a spreadsheet of past gifts and take note of what was a “success” and what was a “flop”. I use that history to make my gift list for the year. I write down what I have for ideas (private Pinterest boards are good for this too) and then mark what I’ve actually purchased. This is also where I note the price so I’m keeping within my budget.

  • If you are hosting a party or a big dinner, make a list of the foods you’ll be preparing including all the ingredients. Work those costs into your holiday budget.
  • Make a gift list for each family and friend you plan on purchasing for. Keep that list updated as you buy so you avoid overspending.

Keep track of what you are buying. It’s very easy to overbuy if you are shopping early and stashing the gifts away. My mom was notorious for finding a gift she’d misplaced and giving it to us in March!


Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

TRIM YOUR LISTS

Now’s the time to review your list and pare it down. Even if you feel like you’re already being frugal, see where you can cut back.  Do you feel that you overbuy when it comes to your kids or are the things you buy even getting used or played with? Gifts should be thoughtful and not just “filler” under the tree.

  • Can’t afford to hand out candy this year? Do like we do and take the kids out trick-or-treating throughout the neighborhoods so you aren’t home to answer your door.
  • For the big Thanksgiving meal don’t take it upon yourself to provide the entire spread. Contact your guests at least a few weeks in advance to request they bring a dish large enough to share.
  • Think before you purchase Christmas gifts. Is that stocking stuffer going to end up at the bottom of the toy box by December 26th? Are the things on your list meaningful and purposeful for the recipient? If not, take them off the list.
  • Instead of buying a gift for every single person in the office bring in a special treat on December 1st to kick off the Christmas season instead.

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

STOCK UP & USE COUPONS

In November you’ll start to see the fronts of the grocery stores stocked with “holiday essentials” like pumpkin pie filling, canned cranberries, stuffing mix, etc. And the mailers will come pouring in with coupons for those exact same items as well. Now’s your chance to stock up and save! If you know you’ll be using these items before the end of the year then by all means, buy them at the best price you can.

This is also the perfect time to pick up a few extra items to donate to your local food pantry or soup kitchen.


PICK AND CHOOSE

The invitations are rolling in and it’s not uncommon to have every single weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas booked with holiday events.  Choose your favorite events and respectfully decline the others. You certainly don’t have to feel obligated to attend them all, especially if there is an expense tied to each event.

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

TAKE THE FOCUS OFF “STUFF”

If your holidays are more stress-inducing than joyous and you can’t for the life of you even remember what you bought your kids for Christmas last year, it might be time to get back to the basics of the holidays and take the focus off the stuff.

Meditate on what each holiday means to you and your family and make that “thing” your seasonal motto. Creating traditions and memories are the heart of a holiday!

  • I know a family that doesn’t celebrate Halloween but instead uses that day to take their family on a local hike through their mountains. It’s their family tradition and something they all look forward to each October 31st.
  • If it’s most important to you that your family be together on Thanksgiving Day then it really won’t matter if your table settings coordinate.
  • Capture the meaning of the season and ask your family what their favorite part of the Christmas season is. I asked my kids what their favorite part of the holidays is and the answers were surprising. My daughter said, “Going to church” and my son said “All the good food”. Neither of them said “presents”. For me, I love lighting a fire and curling up in a blanket to talk with my family. Only the Christmas tree is lit and there is a magical feeling in the air. To me, that is the epitome of the holidays. Find your holiday “sweet spot” and make sure to hit it each year!

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

DIY (OR BUY HANDCRAFTED)

Is there something on the list that you could make yourself? Or at the very least that you could purchase from someone else who made it by hand? Consider supporting small businesses (like those on Etsy), rather than padding pockets of big box stores.

Ideas for handcrafted items –

  • Make or buy handcrafted Halloween costumes or accessories.
  • Consider sewing up your own table runner and coordinating cloth napkins for a special Thanksgiving table setting.
  • Make or buy handmade coordinating pajama pants for the kids to wear on Christmas morning. Hair bows are perfect to stuff in a stocking. Unique handcrafted jewelry is plentiful on Etsy. Appliqued tees are so cute for the kids to wear for holiday parties. Bake your favorite brownies or give a jar of your favorite salad dressing…I promise you, everyone loves a handmade gift!

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GET CREATIVE

Budget extremely tight? Reverting to going the creative route instead of store-bought can be more meaningful all around.

  • No money for Halloween costumes? Simply put an outfit together with items you already own. One of my favorite Halloween costumes was as a gypsy with a long patchwork skirt and layers of my grandmother’s costume jewelry.
  • Bring the outside in for Thanksgiving by decorating with leaves and pine cones instead of store-bought decor.
  • Consider a thoughtful Christmas card with a “coupon” for your services. Perhaps you have a friend who loves your homemade tamales; You could offer an afternoon of cooking classes where you teach her how to make them! Kids in particular love the coupon book idea so this would be a great stocking stuffer for them! Give coupons for a family movie night in the living room, one night of their choosing to stay up 30 minutes later than bedtime, a “spa” day complete with at-home pedicures or even just an extra storybook on a night of their choosing.
  • Skip the grand ballroom on New Year’s Eve and get comfy in your pajamas at home. We love to have an appetizer-only dinner and snack on all the homemade treats that our friends gave us at Christmas. We stay up late and play Scrabble. For little ones you could ring in the New Year of a different time zone and send them off to bed.

With a little preparation, all wallet-hardship and stress-inducing thoughts should be minimized. Here’s to having Happy Holidays!

What ideas do you have for preparing for the holidays? Share them in the comments.

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10 Magical Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday at Disneyland!

Celebrating your birthday at Disneyland is wonderful! Did you know there are some ways to make your special day even more magical! Disney has tons of perfect ways to celebrate your special day. You can spend a little or a lot. From freebies to all-out extravagances, these are my top 10 magical ways to celebrate your birthday at Disneyland.

This post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and purchasing through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Celebrating a birthday at Disneyland is extra magical! Read about freebies and splurges to put your birthday over the top!

Celebrating a Birthday at Disneyland!

My birthday and my brother’s birthday are almost exactly one month apart (plus two years) so when we were young my parents often took us to Disneyland to celebrate. Sometimes the actual trip would land on my birthday which I loved! I’ve taken my son to Disneyland twice on his birthday, once when he was five and again when he turned nine. Both times I requested the free birthday button for him and had a special table-service dinner with him to celebrate.

Here are some of the many fantastic ways to celebrate a birthday at Disneyland (as if being at Disneyland isn’t enough!)

Free Ways to Celebrate

1. Personalized Birthday Button

You can pick one up at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels when you check in or at Guest Services inside the Park. It doesn’t have to be your exact birthday to receive or wear your button. Disney Cast Members won’t ask you for any identification. They’ll only ask for the birthday guest’s name so they can hand write it on the button!

One of the perks of wearing a button is that everyone will tell you “Happy Birthday!” throughout the day from Cast Members, ride operators, bathroom attendants, other guests, everyone! Another perk is that Cast Members will often choose guests who are wearing a birthday buttons. You may have the chance to join in a show, receive a shout out during the parade or even be presented with a special treat after a table-service dinner.

Celebrating a birthday at Disneyland is extra magical! Read about freebies and splurges to put your birthday over the top!

2. Mention the Birthday Everywhere!

I make sure that when Cast Members ask if we are celebrating anything that I mention the birthday. I don’t think I can recall making a dining reservation or a hotel reservation without them asking me that question so it always comes up. But if they don’t ask you, mention it anyway! We’ve been upgraded to a Park view room at the Disneyland Hotel (without the added charge) for mentioning that we were celebrating a birthday.

Several years ago, during the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ lunch on my son’s birthday, the performers acknowledged him by singing his name in their birthday song.

Celebrating a birthday at Disneyland is extra magical! Read about freebies and splurges to put your birthday over the top!

For a Little Extra Dough

3. Celebration Cakes or a Mini Cake Surprise

A Celebration Cake can serve several people, will be personalized with your own message and delivered to one of the select table-service restaurants. A Mini Cake Surprise is sized for one and will be delivered to select table-service restaurants, Character Dining locations and through Disney Hotel Room Service. Guests can special order cakes within three days advance notice by calling (714) 781-DINE.


4. Birthday Cake Hat

This is quite the confection and sure to get your birthday noticed…in case the birthday button pinned to your shirt doesn’t do the trick! I’ve seen this sold at The Mad Hatter shop in Fantasyland.

10 Magical Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday at Disneyland!

Happy Birthday Disneyland Hat, complete with candles!

5. Eat with Characters

Splurge for breakfast, lunch or dinner at one of the many character dining restaurants throughout the Parks or Resort Hotels.

  • Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa – Breakfast only, buffet-style. Meet Chip, Dale and other characters.
  • Plaza Inn at Disneyland Park (park ticket required) – Breakfast only, buffet-style. Minnie & Friends -Breakfast in the Park. You’ll meet Minnie, of course and other favorites.
  • Disney’s PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier Resort Hotel – Breakfast only, buffet-style. At Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends, you’ll meet the famous mouse and the rest of the gang, often including Stitch.
  • Ariel’s Grotto in Disney California Adventure Park (park ticket required) – Princesses greet guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner (but not at the World of Color Dinner Celebration).
  • Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel – Breakfast or dinner, buffet-style. Goofy’s the host so you’ll see him as well as many other character favorites.
Celebrating a birthday at Disneyland is extra magical! Read about freebies and splurges to put your birthday over the top!

Plaza Inn is the place to meet Minnie for breakfast!

6. Shop Downtown Disney

Build-a-Bear Workshop is a fun place to make your own stuffed animal. Choose from a huge variety of styles and costumes. You can even create a birth-certificate in the shop so the new furry friend could have the same birthday as the child. Parents can also book a party to take place inside the shop, complete with food & treats and of course, teddy bears!

Celebrating a birthday at Disneyland is extra magical! Read about freebies and splurges to put your birthday over the top!

My son wore his birthday crown from school ALL day on the trip we took to Disneyland around his birthday time.

If You Want to Go All-Out!

7. Gifts, Balloons, Candy and Flowers

Before your trip, place an order with Disney Floral & Gifts to be delivered to your room upon your arrival. Choose from an assortment of gift baskets with different Disney themes, including a Tinker Bell basket, one filled with Mickey-themed cooking devices and another with chocolate assortment…yum! You can even order an “In room celebration” and your Resort room will be decorated for a birthday party! An adult might love to be greeted by a bouquet of roses with a birthday card…Disney Floral & Gifts can supply it all.

I think this would be particularly special for a grandparent or aunt/uncle to send a gift to a child who is celebrating at Disneyland. The gift will be there waiting in their Resort room during their trip, letting the child know that their family was sending birthday wishes from afar.

Even if you can’t make it to the Park this year, but still wish you were there, Disney Floral & Gifts can ship special birthday packages to your home. There are some very fun choices for adults and kids alike.


Celebrating a birthday at Disneyland is extra magical! Read about freebies and splurges to put your birthday over the top!

8. With a Wave of a Wand…

For a complete birthday transformation book an appointment at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique inside Disneyland Park. There are several treatments available depending on how head-to-toe you want the make-over to be! There is even a special Knight Package for young gentlemen.


9. Indulge Your Senses

Adult birthday celebrants would appreciate a relaxing time spent at Mandara Spa inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Get a facial, massage, pedicure or body wrap…there are many items on the spa menu to renew yourself and forget how many candles are on the cake this year!

Celebrating a birthday at Disneyland is extra magical! Read about freebies and splurges to put your birthday over the top!

10. End the Evening with a Bang

Want to make sure you end the evening on a high note? Book a dining package that offers you a special meal as well as a reserved area for one of the nighttime spectaculars. You can receive special FastPasses that give you a specified standing area for World of Color or Fantasmic! by pre-booking online or calling Guest Services at (714) 781-4565.

Celebrating at Disneyland for any occasion is special but there is just something about spending your birthday watching fireworks over Sleeping Beauty Castle that just makes your whole year! Looking for more ways to celebrate your birthday at Disneyland? Check out my post about splurges at Disneyland for kids.

Celebrating a birthday at Disneyland is extra magical! Read about freebies and splurges to put your birthday over the top!

Have you ever celebrated a birthday at a Disney Park? Comment below, I’d love to hear what you did that day to make your special day complete.


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Christmas at Disneyland – Meeting Santa

We’ve had the pleasure of meeting the man in the red suit three different times at Disneyland over the course of the years. Each location was different and each time Santa looked representative of that area.

Meeting Santa at Disneyland {Saving up for Disney}

First was in 2007, at Disney’s California Adventure. Santa was in a laid-back, California vibe… check out that shirt and those cool sunglasses! There was a fun surf set-up in Sunshine Plaza (now gone).

Meeting Santa at Disneyland {Saving up for Disney}

We met up with Santa in 2008 over in Frontierland at Disneyland and he was sporting a nifty curled mustache. They had Santa inside a rustic cabin for his meet and greet.

Meeting Santa at Disneyland {Saving up for Disney}

And my favorite in 2012, Santa was inside Elias & Co. in California Adventure, with a very 1930s retro feel. It was Baby Dillon’s first Santa meeting and he loved the fluff on Santa’s sleeve. Alonna didn’t want to have anything to do with Santa and refused to turn around! Oh well, we look back at this photo and laugh now.

Meeting Santa is one of the highlights of Christmas time at Disneyland! Have you ever met a Santa at a Disney park and was he dressed differently depending upon his placement in the park?

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Christmas at Disneyland – Winter Decor and Extra Sparkle!

From the resort hotels, to Downtown Disney and in both California Adventure and Disneyland Park, Christmas decor abounds!

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

Disney Resort Hotels

On the left, the Disneyland Hotel Fantasy Tower Christmas tree was silver with bright purple, pink and turquoise balls. The tree on the right, in the Frontier Tower, was more rustic and covered with nature-inspired ornaments.

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

Downtown Disney

Passing through Downtown Disney we loved the snowy trees and giant packages scattered throughout.

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

Disney’s California Adventure

The decorations in California Adventure’s entry way were simple and sweet and appropriate for the time they represent.

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

Carsland 

The Carsland decor is absolutely inspired! Auto filter garlands, white-wall tire wreaths and a Christmas tree decked out in shiny hubcaps! And this cutie…a “snowcar” complete with top hat and pylon nose!

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

Disneyland Main Street 

Over at Disneyland, there was a huge tree in the Main Street square dressed up with enormous ornaments, perfect for posing by.

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

New Orlean’s Square

New Orleans Square was decked out top to bottom with amazing Christmas decorations. Garlands and ornaments were literally dripping from every corner!

Of course, the Haunted Mansion got in the spirit with its Haunted Mansion Holiday, inspired by the Nightmare Before Christmas.

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

Toontown

Toontown is naturally bright and festive, with lots of large ornaments and oversized bows!

Beautiful Christmas decor at Disneyland {Saving Up for Disney}

It’s a Small World

Finally, my favorite It’s a Small World Holiday, when the facade is bejeweled with tiny colorful lights and our favorite clock dons a Santa hat!

Disneyland is magical every day, but there is something about going during the holidays that make the season even more special!

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