Winter Fest 2016: Check Out So Cal’s Ultimate Winter Experience!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post about Winter Fest 2016 on behalf of Gigasavvy. All opinions are my own.

Here in So Cal, we don’t really get a whole lot of winter. It gets cold (those of you reading anywhere east of us are probably laughing about our idea of “cold”) and occasionally we’ll even have to put on boots or tennis shoes instead of just wearing flip flops. So to say my kids haven’t really ever experienced winter is an understatement. That’s why I’m looking forward to taking them to Winter Fest 2016 at the the OC Fair & Event Center!

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My kids have never even been in real snow. A few years back, it did snow here in our town but it barely even covered the ground and was gone by the end of the day.

At Winter Fest 2016, they blow snow in daily and there will be enough of it for the kids to make their first snow angels, build a snowman, and even try snow tubing! Best of all, it’s included in the price of admission so you don’t have to pay extra for it!

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There’s even an ice skating ring so they can try out ice skating for the first time!

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There is a ton of attractions at Winter Fest 2016, and while the kids are excited about snow, I’ve got lots of other things I want to check out!

One thing we love to do as a family is look at Christmas lights. We bundle up in the car and drive around looking at all the decorations and lights. At the Festival of Lights, we’ll can stroll through a 2 million light illuminated pathway to explore 10 holiday themed lands. I think I’m most excited about this!

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And don’t judge me, but my kids have never been to a Tree Lighting Ceremony before (I actually haven’t either), so I’m really looking forward to seeing one. Every night at 5:30, you can watch the 30 foot tall Christmas tree light up!

And so much more to do: from the Candy Cane Carnival (Carnival tickets are $1. A pack of 16 tickets is $14 and a pack of 36 is $28. All carnival tickets sold onsite. An unlimited ride wristband is available online for $20,) to festive entertainment, seasonal eateries, to visits with Santa and so much more. Check out this video showing all the fun!

Additional Winter Fest 2016 Information

Kids 3 and under are free. parking is on site and $8 Season passes are also available. Get all the ticket info, dates of operation and hours here. Psst! Purchase your tickets online and use the promo code HOLIDAY to save $5!

Winter Fest 2016 Dates: December 16th thru January 1st

Winter Fest Located at: 88 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Follow Winter Fest on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with all of the holiday fun So Cal style!

Sounds like a blast, right? I have a Family 4 pack of tickets for one lucky So Cal reader! Enter below and good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ways To Get Rid Of Halloween Candy

Pounds and pounds and pounds of Halloween candy. I can’t believe how much candy these kids got! If left to their own devices, they’d probably try to eat all of it. But there’s no way I’m going to let that happen! There are lots of ways to get rid of Halloween candy, from freezing it to donating it to experimenting with it. I’m sharing 10+ ways to get rid of Halloween candy, and the kids won’t even mind giving it up!

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Halloween 2016

Ways To Get Rid Of Halloween Candy

Freeze It

Most candy freezes great! Use frozen candy throughout the year to add to baking, melt into hot chocolate, make milkshakes, ice cream, cookie dough, or to thaw and eat.

Stash It

Keep a small stash of your kids’ faves in your purse to use a bribes when you’re out and about or the kids need something to occupy them.

Bake It

Not sure what to do with those leftover pounds of Halloween candy? I'm sharing more than ten different ways to get rid of Halloween candy (and the kids won't mind!)
Use that candy to make trail mix, gingerbread houses, holiday baked goods, 3 ingredient pretzel cookies, Jolly Rancher Vodka, or even candy shotglasses!

Sell It

Not sure what to do with those leftover pounds of Halloween candy? I'm sharing more than ten different ways to get rid of Halloween candy (and the kids won't mind!)
Have you heard of the Halloween Candy Buyback program? It’s a national program with thousands of participating dentists and orthodontists. You ca use the zip code locator to find a practice near you that will buy back the candy (typically $1 per pound up to 5 pounds) near you.

Donate It

You can also donate the candy, which is what my kids are doing. This year, the program has partnered with Soldiers’ Angels and will be shipping all the candy donated along with toothbrushes so troops abroad can receive goodies in their Soldiers’ Angels care packages.

Not sure what to do with those leftover pounds of Halloween candy? I'm sharing more than ten different ways to get rid of Halloween candy (and the kids won't mind!)

Operation Gratitude also accepts candy donations!

Make It

Not sure what to do with those leftover pounds of Halloween candy? I'm sharing more than ten different ways to get rid of Halloween candy (and the kids won't mind!)

Use the candy to make homemade advent calendars or even candy bracelets.

Hit It

Know a child with an upcoming birthday or hosting a holiday party? Use the candy in a pinata! You can even make your own pinata.

Hide It

Dig out all the chocolate and enjoy it with coffee or wine (for you, not the kids!)

Take It

Take it with you to upcoming holiday get togethers, with you to work, or send it to work with Dad.

Create It

Not sure what to do with those leftover pounds of Halloween candy? I'm sharing more than ten different ways to get rid of Halloween candy (and the kids won't mind!)
Make a holiday card using the candy (Dear Grandma, Here is a kiss (put a Hershey’s Kiss where the word “kiss” would normally go.) Get creative and have fun!

Swap It

This is the cutest thing ever! A friend mentioned this little guy, the Sugar Goblin, who loves tricks and treats!

From the Facebook page: “Parents organize Sugar Goblin tricks, such as hanging pictures upside down on the wall, making faces on plates out of breakfast food or staging a tea party with stuffed animals. Parents have fun dreaming up fun tricks and children enjoy anticipating and seeing them. In exchange for The Sugar Goblin’s tricks, children volunteer to give up some of the candy they collect on Halloween to help feed the sugar goblin village. As a show of appreciation, parents leave behind a gift for the children, on behalf of a sugar goblin, in exchange for the candy.”

Experiment With It

One of Ethan’s friends told him about Candy Experiments, and I’ve already ordered it. The kids can get rid of candy and learn some fun science at the same time! They can test candy for secret ingredients, peel the skin off candy corn, spread candy dyes into rainbows, or pour rainbow layers of colored water. The kids will learn how to turn candy into crystals, sink marshmallows, float taffy, and even make your own lightning!

Save It

Save that candy to use in Christmas stockings or holiday treat bags.

Trash It

Trash it a little at a time, or all at once.

Not sure what to do with those leftover pounds of Halloween candy? I'm sharing more than ten different ways to get rid of Halloween candy (and the kids won't mind!)

How do you get rid of Halloween candy?

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Mommy of a Monster and Twins is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Holiday Popcorn (AKA Christmas Crack!)

Looking for a yummy holiday popcorn recipe? This popcorn is loaded with YUM like M&Ms, pretzels and more. It's so addicting we call it Christmas Crack!

We do a lot of holiday gatherings this time of year, and even though we are always cooking and feeding the masses, the kids are always “hungry.” I can make this popcorn in about 10 minutes, and kids and adults alike love it. Beware! This holiday popcorn (we also call it Christmas Crack…others call it white trash popcorn) is addicting. Make a double batch because it goes quick!

Holiday Popcorn (AKA Christmas Crack!)

Christmas Crack!
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Ingredients

  • 1 bag of buttered microwave popcorn
  • 2 cups dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups rice chex cereal
  • 2 cups of pretzels
  • 1 package of vanilla flavored Candiquik (you can find it on the bakery aisle of the grocery store)
  • M&Ms or any other candy you want to throw in there
  • 18 Ghirardelli Melting Wafers (or a bar of melted chocolate)
  • Sprinkles or colored sugar if you want to get really festive

Instructions

  1. Pop the popcorn as directed on the package.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the nuts, cereal, pretzels, candy, and popcorn.
  3. Prepare the Candiquik as directed on the package. Pour the melted candy coating on top of the other ingredients and mix until all of the pieces have the candy coating on them.
  4. Transfer to a piece of wax paper.
  5. Melt the chocolate as directed on the package. Drizzle over the top of the popcorn mixture.
  6. Shake sprinkles over the top of the popcorn.
  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Break apart and serve.
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Looking for a yummy holiday popcorn recipe? This popcorn is loaded with YUM like M&Ms, pretzels and more. It's so addicting we call it Christmas Crack!

The great thing about this holiday popcorn recipe is that it’s versatile. Leave the nuts out or add your favorites. Use Reese’s Pieces instead of M&Ms. Use different cereal. Add in other things that your family loves. The sky’s the limit!

This is a favorite holiday recipe, but I have lots others too! Like these Champagne Jello Shots, these Amaretto Truffles, and my Perfectly Imperfect Peppermint Truffles.

I’ve also got lots of other tips and tricks for keeping Santa alive and making your holidays easy to get through! Here are some of my favorites:

The Elf On The Shelf Warning Note All Parents Need

ABC Family’s 25 Days Of Christmas 2015

How To Make Candy Cane Vodka

Silly Christmas Decorations: The Story Of The Christmas Pickle

5 Holiday Cleaning Tips (For When You Don’t Have Time To Clean)

The Sparkle Box: A Must Read Christmas Story For Your Family

Tracking Santa: 5 Ways To Get In Touch With Santa Claus

How To Get A Letter From Santa Postmarked From The North Pole!

You can also check out my All Things Christmas and Elf on the Shelf Ideas boards on Pinterest.

Holiday Cocktails Ideas: Champagne Jello Shots

The holidays here, and these holiday cocktail ideas will add some cheer to your next holiday party! Includes champagne jello shots, crockpot sangria & more.

The holidays are here, and while it’s still 80 degrees in So Cal, we are all decorated for Christmas and I’m planning my menus for our big holiday dinner and Christmas morning brunch. One of my favorite things to plan are new holiday cocktail recipes, and I’ve got some good ones to share!

Holiday Cocktail Ideas

The holidays here, and these holiday cocktail ideas will add some cheer to your next holiday party! Includes champagne jello shots, crockpot sangria & more.

This recipe for Champagne Jello Squares got two thumbs up from everybody who tried them. All it takes is a great bottle of sparkling wine like Gloria Ferrer, some gelatin, and whipped cream vodka. Convivial, social, elegant, fun — the sparkling wines of Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards are a perfect match for any holidays and are arguably the most social beverage. Exuberant and fruit-forward, their wines are outstanding with holiday cuisine (and it doesn’t hurt that Gloria Ferrer wines have earned over 400 gold medals and 50 90+ scores in the last 5 years!)

Gloria Ferrer’s sparkling Blanc de Noirs is great for holiday cocktail recipe because it’s silky with a hint of sweetness. Add some Pop Rocks when you’re ready to serve and they really make the squares pop!

Holiday Cocktails Ideas: Champagne Jello Shots
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Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, or your favorite sparkling wine
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream flavored vodka
  • 2 packets unflavored gelatin
  • Pop Rocks (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add the sparkling wine to a small pan and stir in the gelatin. Let sit for 1 minute.
  2. Over medium high heat, bring the wine and gelatin to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Continue cooking and stirring constantly until the gelatin is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 13x9 baking dish.
  4. Place in the refrigerator until the gelatin solidifies, about 3 hours.
  5. Cut into squares and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
  6. Add the Pop Rocks for a pop of fun!

Notes

Do not add the Pop Rocks until you are ready to eat the squares! The sugar will melt the gelatin and it turns into a big mess.

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What to do with that leftover sparkling wine? Why not make an Amaretto Mimosa or a Cranberry Mimosa!

The holidays here, and these holiday cocktail ideas will add some cheer to your next holiday party! Includes champagne jello shots, crockpot sangria & more.

Not into mimosas? This One Glass Sangria is a perfect way to use the sparkling wine!

The holidays here, and these holiday cocktail ideas will add some cheer to your next holiday party! Includes champagne jello shots, crockpot sangria & more.

Another holiday cocktail favorite is Sangria. There’s so many holiday variations to try! Since the holidays are all about cinnamon and homey spices, the Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir is the perfect choice. It’s earthy and brambly with hints of black cherry, cedar, and spice and has a smooth mouthfeel and long finish.

The holidays here, and these holiday cocktail ideas will add some cheer to your next holiday party! Includes champagne jello shots, crockpot sangria & more.

It also goes great with a holiday meal. And make sure that when you open your wine, you use my favorite wine opener, the Rabbit Wine Opener which makes opening wine bottles a cinch! You can watch how easy it is to use here.

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Check out this recipe for Crock Pot Cranberry Apple Sangria that we’ll be having at our family holiday party (she’s got lots of other delicious holiday sangria recipes too!)

The holidays here, and these holiday cocktail ideas will add some cheer to your next holiday party! Includes champagne jello shots, crockpot sangria & more.

Wine not your thing? I’ve got more holiday cocktail recipes, too! Here’s a fun one…Candy Cane Vodka. It’s unique and fun and you can add it to warm hot chocolate for a kick. Or add it to my Chocolate Pudding Shots recipe!

The holidays here, and these holiday cocktail ideas will add some cheer to your next holiday party! Includes champagne jello shots, crockpot sangria & more.

And what better way to end an evening than with a cuppa? This Adults Only Coffee has Amaretto, Kahula, and is absolutely delicious!

The holidays here, and these holiday cocktail ideas will add some cheer to your next holiday party! Includes champagne jello shots, crockpot sangria & more.

And if you’re enjoying a night around a campfire or firepit, this Apple Pie Moonshine sounds delicious!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Santa’s North Pole: What It Looks Like

“Mom! I know Santa lives at the North Pole, what does it look like?” Are there houses for the elves like your North Pole village? Are there big buildings where they make all the toys? How does Santa keep track of when we’re bad?”

So many questions! I told Mia that yes, it looks like my Dept. 56 village and that yes, there’s a whole section of the North Pole away from the houses that is full of big buildings where Santa and the elves work.

Of course her next questions were “But what does it look like? Can you Google it?” And so we did! After looking around at some photos, I came across this photo and I think it might be helpful to other parents who get asked what the North Pole looks like.

The North Pole: What It Looks Like

I explained what went on in each building, and how Santa ran the North Pole like a business…that he has to be very organized if he wants to make sure the toys are made in time to be delivered all over the world! She totally bought it.

I hope you find the photo as useful as I did! I’ve got lots of other tips and tricks for keeping Santa alive and making your holidays easy to get through! Here are my Top 10 favorites:

The Elf On The Shelf Warning Note All Parents Need

ABC Family’s 25 Days Of Christmas 2015

Christmas Recipes: A Sweet Treat Round Up

How To Make Candy Cane Vodka

Silly Christmas Decorations: The Story Of The Christmas Pickle

5 Holiday Cleaning Tips (For When You Don’t Have Time To Clean)

The Sparkle Box: A Must Read Christmas Story For Your Family

Tracking Santa: 5 Ways To Get In Touch With Santa Claus

Portable North Pole Products Help Your Child Get Messages From Santa!

How To Get A Letter From Santa Postmarked From The North Pole!