Archive for the ‘Great for kids’ Category

Spread a little Yuletide Cheer

December 11, 2014
Mom making her purchases at The Christmas Mouse

Mom making her purchases at The Christmas Mouse

There’s this thing I do now during the holidays that I learned from my mom. I guarantee it will really make you feel Christmas-y.

Buy some small treat — you know like a Russell Stover mini box of chocolates, or a Godiva Bar. You don’t have to spend more than a couple of dollars, if that. And it doesn’t have to be candy — it can be like a $5 gift card for McDonalds or Starbucks or something. Even a candy cane or an extra Christmas card would do.

Just keep ’em stashed in your purse, or on you.

Then when you go out this time of year, like say to a restaurant, you leave that token along with the tip for the waiter. Or if you are Christmas shopping, you give it to the person who rings you up, even at the grocery store. At the drive-thru. For your pharmacist. For your bus driver.

Anywhere where people are nice to you or you think they could use a lift. The more random and anonymous, the more fun it seems to be.  You know, like your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing.

By the way, if you have kids, this is something you want your kids to “catch” you doing from time to time. Generosity is learned and modeling is the best way to do it. And what better way to be generous, in any way you can, than during the holidays?

This isn’t to replace the conventional tipping you would do during the holidays, like for your barber or hairdresser, dog walker, babysitter, etc. This is a little extra you give to people who would not expect it.

Let me tell you: people act like you gave them a million dollars! You want see a tired person grin, just try it.

They’re so surprised and pleased, and they really appreciate it — all you have to do is give it to him or her with a quick and warm thank you, and of course, Merry Christmas. Strangers have hugged me!

It is so much fun and it will make you feel like Santa Claus!


Christmas Movies and Shows on TV: 2014 Schedule

November 19, 2014

Break out the popcorn…holiday television season is here!

Thanks to Den of Geek for creating this indispensable list of upcoming holiday specials.  With this list, you’ll never need to worry about missing out on all the fun programming in November and December.

Thanksgiving-themed programs start tonight — check it out.

Christmas Movies and Shows on TV: 2014 Schedule.

Start December with the Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar

December 1, 2013

snowglobeToday is the first day of December and the first Sunday in Advent. What more appropriate way to celebrate the season every day than with an advent calendar for December?  Here’s one you can download online and place right on your computer desktop: the Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar.

For the second year in a row, I have been gifted by my dear friends and PRofessional Solutions, LLC clients, Kate and Melanie, with a Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar.

They are $4.00 each (or less if you order more and gift them to friends).  I can’t describe sufficiently how much fun they are. There are puzzles and games to play, and little scenes that develop as each day progresses. The application appears as a snow globe that dwells on your desktop. Animal friends visit throughout the scenes (dogs and cats).

You have your choice this year of two themes: the Alpine Village, a reprise from last year, or the new Edwardian version (think: Downton Abbey).

3362001 3345141The site describes the new theme like this:

Our new Edwardian period Advent Calendar will transport you to a grand English country house as the staff make the elaborate preparations for Christmas. You can even help with the decorations yourself, while every day there’s a delightful little animated story to watch, or a fun new game to play. Explore the magnificent house and gardens, settle down in the Library to read fascinating facts about the period, and enjoy our gorgeous artwork, beautifully observed animation, and atmospheric Christmas music.

It’s an official Cool Yule pick — you just have to get one of these! Let me know which one you select this year!

Mark your calendar for these DC-area holiday events

November 13, 2013

IMG_1271 All events listed are free, unless otherwise noted.  There are plenty of other holiday offerings, but I thought I would list just the free or affordable ones here. 

I will update the list and I appreciate submissions and recommendations.  For updates, check the left side bar of the Cool Yule Blog.

Holiday Events

Friday, November 1 – 30

Holiday Mail for Heroes from The Red Cross. Tysons Corner Mall, Level 2 (outside of Bloomingdale’s and American Girl). Send a holiday card to service members, veterans and military families Located on level 2 outside of Bloomingdale’s and American Girl. Hours:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday 2-6PM
  • Tuesday, Thursday 10AM-2PM
  • Saturday, Sunday 11AM-5PM
  • Black Friday 11/29 9AM-3PM

Friday, November 15

  • 5:30 – 10 p.m. Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA. Through January 5th. More than 500,000 LED lights and displays transform the gardens into a winter wonderland, including a flowing stream of softly glowing lights, two-story animated fountain, and Gingerbread Village. $8 kids; $13 adults.

Thursday, November 21

Friday, November 22

  • 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. Busch Gardens Christmas Town in Williamsburg, VA opens this evening, and is open weekends and select weeks through December 31st, tickets are $30.

Saturday, November 23

Monday, November 25

  • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Cathedral Creche Exhibition: What Child Is This? National Cathedral, Washington, DC. The annual exhibition of nativity scenes from around the world runs through January 12, 2014. Located in the crypt (lower level), just outside Bethlehem Chapel.

Tuesday, November 26

  • 8 p.m. CBS. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is on TV tonight.

Thursday, November 28, Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Hanukkah!

Friday, November 29, Black Friday

Saturday, November 30, Small Business Saturday

Sunday, December 1, First Day of Advent

Monday, December 2

Wednesday, December 4

  • 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. ASL-Signing Santa, Fair Oaks Mall. American Sign Language Signing Santa and Mrs. Claus, welcoming children who are deaf and hard of hearing to the interactive Ice Palace experience.

Friday, December 6, St. Nicholas Day

Saturday, December 7, Pearl Harbor Day

  • 10 a.m. Decorating with Fresh Greens and Flowers, Merrifield Garden Center, Fair Oaks. Learn how to use fresh cut pine, holly, cedar, boxwood, magnolia and other plants to fill your home with the fragrance and beauty of the season. Learn how to combine these greens with fresh flowers and complementary accents in holiday centerpieces, garlands and wreaths.
  • 10 a.m. Create a Holiday Theme, Merrifield Garden Center, Gainesville. Learn how to create holiday displays with a unifying theme throughout your home, from an inviting entryway and elegant tabletop to your Christmas tree and gift wrapping.
  • 12 Noon Fairfax Festival of Lights and Carols, with tree lighting ceremony 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. Live holiday music, hot cider, s’mores by the Yule log, caroling and lighting of the Christmas tree in the winter wonderland on the grounds of the Kitty Pozer Garden. Animated lights run through January 5, 2014.
  • 4 p.m. Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-Long Wolf Trap National Park – The Filene Center 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA. This annual musical celebration hosts a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. Bring a candle and join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.” There will also be a “Jing-A-Long” during the singing of “Jingle Bells,” so remember to bring a candle, a bell, and a new, unwrapped toy!
  • 7 p.m. Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, Old Town Alexandria, VA (waterfront).

Sunday, December 8, Second Day of Advent

Wednesday, December 12, Poinsettia Day

Friday, December 14

  • 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tysons Corner Center German Christmas Market. Also Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. In partnership with the German Embassy and the city of Dresden, Tysons Corner Center offers a unique outdoor artisan holiday market, German fare, and entertainment.

Saturday, December 14

  • 10:30 a.m. Christmas Story film for children 8 and up (2007, set in Lapland), East Building Concourse, Auditorium, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Cool Yule Tip: Today is the USPS recommended deadline for mailing holiday packages by standard post.

Sunday, December 15, Third Day of Advent

  • 11:30 a.m. Christmas Story film for children 8 and up (2007, set in Lapland), East Building Concourse, Auditorium, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Claude Moore Wassail, Claude Moore Colonial Farm 6310 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA. Gather in the Farm’s orchard to wassail the trees with singing, dancing and chants to ensure a “howling crop.” Enjoy hot spiced cider, sugar cakes, a bonfire and 18th century games. Weather permitting – call ahead (703) 442-7557.
  • 5 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. Christmas in the Time of Jane Austen, Sully Plantation, Chantilly. See how Virginians celebrated the holidays while we were still an English colony. Learn dance steps, play a game of chance and take home a recipe for a great cake. House tour is 45 min. outside festivities available till 8 p.m. This event has a $10 fee.

Friday, December 20

  • Cool Yule Tip: Today is the USPS recommended deadline for mailing holiday greeting cards

Saturday, December 21, First Day of Winter

  • Cool Yule Tip: Today is the USPS recommended deadline for mailing Priority Mail packages.

Sunday, December 22, Fourth Day of Advent

Tuesday, December 24, Christmas Eve

Wednesday, December 25, Merry Christmas!

  • National museums are closed today but Mount Vernon and the U.S. Botanic Garden are open.
  • 4 p.m. Vespers Service, National Cathedral
  • 5:15 p.m. Organ Recital, National Cathedral
  • 6 p.m. All-Star Christmas Day Jazz Jam concert, Kennedy Center

Thursday, December 26, Kwanzaa begins, Boxing Day

Tuesday, December 31, New Year’s Eve

Wednesday, January 1, Happy New Year!

Monday, January 6, Epiphany

  • Cool Yule Tip: You can buy authentic “King Cakes” at La Madeleine Bakery

Recurring Events

National Cathedral Creche Exhibit, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. through January 12.

Season’s Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Gardens, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on these dates: November 28 – January 5.

Zoo Lights at the National Zoo, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m, Nov 29 – January 1. Not open December 24, 25, or 31. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland. Lit animal silhouettes, musical light displays, and a new garden scene light sculpture.

Gallery Talk at The National Gallery of Art: The Christmas Story in Art 1 p.m. on these dates: December 6, 9, 11, 13, 17, 18, 21, 22 (50 minutes) West Building Main Floor, Rotunda

Visit with the Real Santa Claus at Merrifield Garden Center, Merrifield, VA 12-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and 5 p.m.-8 p.m. on these dates: November 24-December 23, closed Mondays. Don’t miss the “press conference,” songs, an stories at the beginning of each session.

Millenium Stage Concerts at the Kennedy Center, 6 p.m. nightly. The holiday concerts are free but tend to be crowded. The good news is you can also watch them for free, live, online on the Kennedy Center website.

The Willard Hotel nightly choral concerts, 5:30 p.m.- 7 p.m. through December.

Pageant of Peace on The Ellipse: nightly musical performances, December 6 – January 1. Weeknight performances are 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. and weekend performances take place from 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The National Tree and state trees may be viewed until 11 p.m.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean (full episode)

December 23, 2012

While Christmas shopping, Mr Bean purchases a bulky string of tree lights before making a shambles of a department store toy section. He later manages to acquire a free turkey and Christmas tree, and attempts to conduct a Salvation Army band. Finally, during Christmas dinner, Bean has quite a surprise in store for his long-suffering girlfriend.

The first episode of the original Mr Bean series starring Rowan Atkinson was first broadcast on 1st January 1990. Since then Mr Bean has become known all over the world. Created by Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis and Robin Driscoll, there were only 14 episode of the live action series ever made

A video look at the White House Chrismas decorations — with Bo!

December 17, 2012

Bo makes a final inspection of the 2012 White House Christmas decorations before 90,000 visitors come through the doors of the People’s House this holiday season. Find out more about the 2012 White House Holiday celebrations, including the special tributes to troops, veterans and military families at

Start your December off with a jingle with these holiday events today in the DC area

December 1, 2012

3874256_sHappy December!  There are a LOT of exciting holiday events going on today!

  • Holiday parade (actually right now) in Manassas and Scottish Walk parade in Old Town Alexandria. Santa flies in to the College Park Aviation Museum at noon and they will have model trains and crafts for kids
  • The National Postal Museum (next door to Union Station) has a free card making workshop today starting at 11 am
  • There is a free Swedish Christmas Bazaar at the Embassy of Sweden and a German Christmas market at the German School in DC
  • Bethesda has their Winter Wonderland festival today and tomorrow (Sunday) and on Sunday there will be ice carving demos in early afternoon.
  • At 4 pm Wolf Trap is having their annual Holiday Sing a Long (also free) but note it is today and not on Sunday like on previous years
  • Tonight at 7 pm there is the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on the Potomac in Old Town Alexandria. That is really fun and pretty to see.

Have you been to Busch Gardens Christmas Town?

December 8, 2011

Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration – Williamsburg Va.

Busch Gardens decks out its park holiday splendor for the annual offering of Christmas Town. Now through December 31, the popular park is illuminated with more than two million twinkling lights.

Check out the shows, holiday treats, Santa’s workshop, live penguins, and the park’s 50-foot tall, light-animated Christmas tree.   Sure, it’s a little over the top, but is it ever fun!  And the lights at night are magical.  Not all of the rides will be operating, but many will be. Don’t miss taking a ride on the train because that is really special.

Now for the shows.  One tactic might be to try and see the shows when the park opens, while it is still light. Because you will want to walk around a lot when it gets dark.

I’m going to give you fair warning about one of the shows: “Rejoice” in Ireland.  It’s singing monks. In sparkly robes. They are good singers and everything but I am going to go out on a limb here and say it is delightfully ludicrous.  I was terribly entertained by it but I had to stifle my amusement because most of the audience apparently thinks this is really moving, emotional stuff.  And it is — but it also has a highly cheesy element to it.  So maybe don’t drink before “Rejoice” if you think sober singing monks walking in formation in silver lame is funny or you might get some hard stares if you collapse into giggles, like I almost did (and I was not under the influence).

Also please note, it gets REALLY dark in the park after dark.  It is easy to lose track of kids so illuminate them if you can: I bought a sparkly Christmas necklace and that did the job.  If (like me) you have a hard time seeing in the dark, just allow yourself plenty of time to navigate out of the park when it’s time to go.  My son had to help me out!

There’s LOTS to eat.  It’s like going to the fair, but in the cold.  There are “sit down” meals but I think it’s more fun to buy from the sidewalk vendors.  We liked the grilled bratwurst in Germany and the wassail in Italy.  The bakery treats were lots of fun to see.

You don’t even need a car. You can take the train from DC or Alexandria to Williamsburg, cross the street to the visitor center, and hop on the free the shuttle bus to Busch Gardens.  It takes you there in minutes.

Admission is $23.99.  Call 800-343-7946 or visit for more information, including a complete operating schedule.

A bunch of really cute pets singing Jingle Bells (video, must watch!)

December 1, 2011

It’s the first day of December!  Just 25 days until Christmas!

To get us in the holiday spirit, let’s get started with some animals singing “Jingle Bells” because how much fun is that?

Wolf Trap’s Free Annual Holiday Sing-A-Long is Sunday, 12/4

November 30, 2011

Highly recommended!

When: Sunday, December 4, 2011 at 4pm (come early to get a good seat and parking spot, gates usually open as early as 2:30 p.m.).  Metro buses will not be running to Wolf Trap for this event.

Where: Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA

Wolf Trap’s Holiday Sing-A-Long, an annual musical celebration featuring “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with a 400-member choir representing vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington D.C. area. One of the most moving parts of the event comes at the end: a candlelight recessional during the last verse of “Silent Night.”

Parking and seating are first come, first served at this free event, which is well-attended Expect crowds, and expect it to take a long while to get out of the parking lot — take the kids to the bathroom before you get in your car!  The gates open early — usually about 2:30 p.m. and refreshments (hot chocolate, cookies) are sold at the concessions.

Dress warmly (hats, mittens, scarves).  This is an outdoor event, and it gets really cold, even in the shelter of the (outdoor) Filene Center.  Also bring any jingle bells you have around the house.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys will be accepted at the park entrance for Toys for Tots.


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