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! 

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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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Recipe Image

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.

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!

Make A Phone Call To Santa (It’s How I Get My Kids To Listen To Me)

I told you yesterday that our Elf on the Shelf Fred already issued his first Behavior Warning to the kids. It didn’t go well (lots of whining and denial) but that’s good because it does the job of getting them to be nice instead of naughty. But sometimes they need more than a warning. Sometimes they need to hear the Big Guy himself tell them to stop being naughty. That’s when I make a phone call to Santa.

When the kids are really bad, I make a phone call to Santa. Find out who I'm calling and what I say so that they know they're really talking to the Big Guy!

How To Make A Phone Call To Santa

Yes, it’s sneaky but it really works. My brother Scott has been “Santa” for the last 5 years or so. If one (or all!) of the kids have been really bad, I tell them I’m going to call Santa, and I call my brother Scott.

If he answers, I say “Santa! Do you see what the kids are doing right now? Can you believe they are doing (I say whatever they are doing so that he knows)? Can you please talk to (name) and tell him to stop right now or he’ll lose his gift from you?”

If he doesn’t answer, I leave a voicemail telling Santa what they did and to check in with Fred the Elf to confirm I’m telling the truth.

Or when they’re being really bad, I text Santa and tell him what’s going on and have him call me! That really shocks the kids!

Sometimes Santa just isn’t available. In those cases, we have a backup: Mrs. Claus. I’ll do the same thing to one of my sisters and they tell the kids that Santa’s busy right now, and asked her to call instead.

My brother plays the part well! They have no idea that it’s him and they are always surprised by the personal things that he throws in like “Ethan! I’m very disappointed and I’m going to tell your mom that you can’t play Minecraft for the rest of the day.” or “I bet you haven’t fed your fish today have you?” (because the kid never feeds his fish). Or “Lila! I can’t wait to see you soon and see your missing front teeth!”

So now you know how to make a phone call to Santa that the kids will really pay attention to! Just pick a male friend/family member/neighbor who is willing to play along.

Who will your Santa or Mrs. Claus be?

The Elf On The Shelf Warning Note All Parents Need

Why I LOVE using this Elf on the Shelf Warning Note

Four years ago, I made the unfortunate mistake of purchasing an Elf on the Shelf and introducing it to the kids the day after Thanksgiving. Every year since, our elf Fred joins us for the holiday season on the day after Thanksgiving. On Night #2, I forgot to move him. By this morning, Day 4, the kids have already forgotten that they have to be good. So I printed out my first Elf on the Shelf warning note of the season.

An Elf on the Shelf warning note is perfect to use on days when just having the Elf there watching isn't enough! Contains other Elf on the Shelf ideas, too.

This Elf of the Shelf warning note is probably the most useful thing I’ve ever stumbled across on Pinterest…works wonders! When they see the note (and if they’re really bad Fred is missing too) there’s usually crying involved, begging and pleading, and on occasion, good behavior for days on end!

You can learn more about the history of this Elf on the Shelf warning note and how to print out your own notes here. What I usually do is just save a copy of the note and then open it in PicMonkey so I can “write” the note in different writing than my own since Ethan would recognize it immediately.

You’ll find a ton of other Elf on the Shelf  ideas to keep your Elf busy this year, on my Pinterest board Elf on the Shelf on Pinterest…it’s one of my most visited boards during the holidays. I’ve also got Christmas recipes, ideas, decor, books (including this year’s schedule for ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas!) and more here on my blog as well as on my All Things Christmas Pinterest board.

Like the Elf on the Shelf warning note, another thing that works well for us when the kids are being bad is a call to Santa. I’ll be explaining that one tomorrow!