Family-Friendly Christmas Events at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

Last weekend, our family headed down to the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel to attend their annual Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting. I was reminded of how beautiful the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel is with its’ ocean views and beautiful interiors. I was also reminded that they host lots of family-friendly activities during the holiday season that are open to the entire community. You don’t even have to be a guest of the hotel. Activities including holiday storytelling, gingerbread house and cookie decorating with our pastry team, and more.

Every year, the Ritz-Carlton hosts a Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting that is so much fun. There’s holiday music performed by a live band and also carolers. here is complimentary holiday cookies and hot chocolate plus guests can bring a new, unwrapped toy for donation to Miracles for Kids or canned goods and non-perishable food items to benefit the Orange County Rescue Mission.

The Tree Lighting was fun and festive and ended with the gorgeous tree being lit up with lights, Santa arriving in an old fashioned Woody car, and falling snow. The kids had a blast running around in the falling snow and enjoyed all the beautiful lights..

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Amazing Gingerbread Display

One of the highlights of the evening was viewing the Ritz-Carlton’s Gingerbread Extravaganza! Each year, the resort’s talented pastry team creates a spectacular 24 ft. by 9 ft. housemade gingerbread extravaganza. Developed by Executive Pastry Chef Sylvain Haage, this year’s gingerbread extravaganza highlights the town and characters of Whoville as a tribute to Dr. Seuss’ classic, How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Chef Haage and his team will spend more than 500 hours creating an incredible confectionary display fashioned out of an array of homemade gingerbread, colorful candy, sweet treats, baked goods, and other delectable confections. This Gingerbread Extravaganza is on public display in the lobby from until January 2, 2020!

Family Friendly Holiday Events at the Ritz-Carlton this season?

Want to Build Your Own Gingerbread House at the Ritz-Carlton? The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel is having a special Gingerbread House and Holiday Cookie Decorating event on Sunday, December 15, 2019 from 2 to 4 p.m. Guests can gather with family and friends to decorate their very own large-scale gingerbread house and holiday cookies. Chef Haage and the pastry team will be on hand to provide tips and tricks for creating a gingerbread showpiece of the season.

Families and kids are invited to celebrate with tales of the holidays and stories of the season with Holiday Storytelling at the Ritz-Carlton. Storytelling is held in the Eco-Adventure Center on Friday and Saturday, December 6, 7, 13, and 14 from 5 to 6 p.m. and complimentary to attend. Guests are encouraged to bring a new children’s book for donation to Miracles for Kids. 

Guests can enjoy the timeless tradition of Afternoon Tea at RAYA. The Holiday Tea will feature an array of tea, savory canapés, and sweet bites in an elegant ocean view setting. It’s available Monday through Thursday, December 2 – December 19, 2019, with seating from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Reserve in advance by calling Resort Services at 949-240-2000. 

Bring your favorite pooch to the Ritz-Carlton’s Yappy Howl-iday Celebration held Sunday, December 15, 2019. This festive gathering of canines and their companions provide furry friends the opportunity to be photographed with the “big dog” himself – Santa Paws. Guests are encouraged to bring unopened canned or dry dog food, treats, or dog toys to support animals in need. The event is complimentary, with cocktails, wine, beer, and a selection of barbecue available for purchase. Proceeds benefit Canine Companions for Independence. 

Christmas Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton

Families and friends can enjoy Christmas dining at RAYA and the resort’s bountiful buffets. The Christmas Day Holiday buffet will be hosted between the hours of 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Celebrate with a four-course Christmas dinner at RAYA from 4 to 9 p.m. 

Take a Holiday Staycation at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

For those seeking luxurious accommodations and unique experiences this holiday season, the resort is offering two overnight packages.

Perfect for a holiday getaway or for hosting out-of-town guests, the oceanfront resort’s Inspirations of the Season Package will have guests relaxing by the Pacific in celebration of the holiday. The package includes overnight accommodations, daily breakfast credit, a surf-inspired ornament, resort fee, and overnight valet parking. Available now through January 31, 2020 with rates starting at $659 per night. 

For the avid shopper, the resort has collaborated with South Coast Plaza to present an exclusive Luxury Shopping Experience. The Luxury Shopping Experience includes overnight accommodations; complimentary transportation to South Coast Plaza, admittance to ACCESS, South Coast Plaza’s VIP Hospitality Suite, a South Coast Plaza VIP Passport featuring exclusive offers from more than 100 stores and restaurants, a $100 South Coast Plaza Gift Card Voucher plus a special gift from South Coast Plaza with a $500 purchase. Available now through January 31, 2020 with rates starting at $729 per night. 

When you arrive at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, you feel like you’ve arrive home in luxury and it reminds you of how special the OC is. If you can make it down this holiday season, even if just to get a glimpse of the ocean views and smell the fantastical Gingerbread display, I highly recommend it. Happy Holidays from the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.

The Blue Man Group is Coming to Orange County and Kids Can Go Free!

Have you heard? The BLUE MAN GROUP is coming to Orange County this January 7th through the 12th, 2020! This is a great show for all ages…the perfect outing for the entire family. And guess what? Kids can see the BLUE MAN GROUP for FREE! A special Kids Night on Broadway discount will be offered for two of the performances of the Blue Man Group. On the January 7th and 8th performances, parents can receive a second ticket FREE for children with the purchase of one full-price ticket. How awesome is that. Ticket prices start at just $26, and get this special deal, use code BLUEKID when purchasing.

We love the the Segerstrom Center for the Arts has so many kids friendly shows and also programs to make it easier for families to come see their shows. I often write about on here about how important I feel that children and teens are exposed to the arts. The more different experiences the better so that kids can maybe find something that speaks to them.

If you haven’t heard about the BLUE MAN GROUP, they are a global entertainment phenomenon. Of course they are all blue, and share their talents through music, rhythm, theatrics and movement. The group is known for its award-winning theatrical productions, iconic characters and multiple creative explorations. BLUE MAN GROUP performances are euphoric celebrations of human connection through art, music, comedy and non-verbal communication.

This performance will be under the helm of director Jenny Koons, in her first-time collaboration with BLUE MAN GROUP. The tour will feature everything audiences know and love about BLUE MAN GROUP—signature drumming, colorful moments of creativity and quirky comedy—the men are still blue, but the rest is all new! Including pulsing, original music, custom-made instruments, surprise audience interaction and hilarious absurdity, audiences join the Blue Men in a joyful experience that unites audiences of all ages.

Tips for Seeing the BLUE MAN GROUP at the Segerstrom

Make sure to dress up for the Blue Man Group…because it will make the evening feel more special, and arrive early to enjoy pre-show activities in the Segerstrom Hall lobby beginning at 6:00 p.m. Kids can enjoy coloring stations, crafts, activities, photo opportunities and more!

My children have seen the Blue Man Group a few time already, and that’s what inspired my son to want to play the drums. All of my kids absolutely have loved the shows we’ve seen and couldn’t stop talking about the different acts they saw.

I hope that you and your family will get to experience the BLUE MAN GROUP as it heads to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It will be a performance that they will always remember. For more information and for tickets, visit The BLUE MAN GROUP at the Segerstrom.

Hope to See you there!

Guide to the Amaze Light Festival in Southern California

This week we went to the Amaze Light Festival at SilverLakes sports park in Norco. It’s one of Southern California’s Christmas light festivals that is full of Instagrammable photo opts and millions of twinkling lights to enjoy this holiday season. We had no idea what to expect because this is the first year the Amaze Light Festival has come to Southern California. We were excited to check it out!

Be sure to read to the end for a GIVEAWAY!!!!!

What is the Amaze Light Festival?

The Amaze Light Festival features over 1,500,000 lights that decorate holiday displays…some standing at over 30ft tall! There are teddy bears, presents, ornaments, sleighs and even a 56ft light show tree. Each hour there is an immersive light show where the lights twinkle all over the place…which makes a more magical amazement for those of all ages.

You will want to dress warmly or bring a jacket and a hat. It was a bit breezy and we got a little cold. The great thing is that there are space heaters. So you can warm up at those too. You can also bring your stroller in for small kids. You will want to bring one if your little kids don’t like to walk distances.

We had a relaxed and chill night walking around with the kids and enjoying all the different areas of light displays and listening to the Christmas music. What made it really nice, is that all the kids were so good! They were happy just walking around and checking everything out. We especially liked that there were different areas to enjoy – such as writing letters to Santa, ice skating, Christmas inflatables, and shops. There are definitely lots of photos opps like this 100ft walk through light tunnel…

this life-sized light up sleigh…

and this gigantic star ornament!

You can write letters to Santa, which include this really cute printed letter paper. They also provide you with crayons. Once you are done writing the letter, they seal it with a very nice sticker and you can put it in the big red mailbox.

If you get hungry during the Amaze Light Festival or want to get a drink or treat, there are food trucks, food booths and also a bar to purchase food items and drinks at. I saw people eating yummy kettle corn and Christmas goodies.

We thought the 56 foot tree was really awesome and the boys danced to the music. The lights on all of the trees were choreographed to light up with different colors and patterns wo the music!

Of course, one of my kids favorite things to do at the Amaze Light Festival was go on the two gigantic Christmas obstacle courses. They were really cool! Each of them were a different inflatable obstacle course with different slides and Christmas blow ups. They are included with the price of admission, you just need to sign a waiver of liability. All ages can enjoy these, and the is even a smaller one for the toddlers to enjoy.

We actually visited the Christmas inflatable area twice. Once near the beginning of our visit, and once at the end. The kids were having so much fun and it was hilarious watching them run through the obstacles. It was the perfect activity to break up our time looking at lights.

You can also “ice skate” at the Amaze Light Festival, which my kids were really excited about. It’s not on real ice though. It’s a synthetic laminate rink…so it’s called synthetic ice skating. Which is not as easy as regular ice skating. Actually, it was pretty difficult.

However, the kids had fun trying! And we spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure how to skate on the synthetic rink….then they were done. I don’t know…real ice would have been a lot better.

After all that “ice skating” we checked out some more light displays and also visited Santa! You are not allowed to take your own photos with Santa, but you can purchase one for $10. The line was short, so that was a plus!

Amaze Light VIP Experience

When you purchase your tickets, you have the opportunity to upgrade to VIP. With the VIP package you can visit the VIP area to sit and relax in the comfort of a heated tent with a private bar. There are a variety of cocktails to purchase, and exclusive free-play games for your entertainment. They also have cookies, small desserts and fruit for you to eat. You get free to access all of the Amaze Light Festival attractions such as ice skating, and access to the VIP entrance line at main entrance.

We enjoyed the VIP experience, and probably would have more so if it was crowded at the Amaze Light Festival. It just happened to be a pretty chill night, so we could sit and enjoy ourselves anywhere throughout the festival. It was nice that the ice skating was included.

Is the Amaze Light Festival Worth It?

In my opinion YES! If you like Christmas lights and walking around listening to Christmas music, then you will enjoy the Amaze Light Festival. The Christmas Obstacles were a hit, and we took a lot of fun photos. It was a fun family night for us, and we enjoyed the down time. Plus, it put us in the Christmas spirit!

If you don’t like looking at Christmas lights, then the Amaze Light Festival might not be for you.

This is the first year that the Amaze Light Festival has come to Southern California. It’s located in Norco near Eastvale. Just a short drive from Orange County. It’s great for ages, and a fun experience for the whole family, a date night or a holiday party. Hope you get a chance to visit this year!

Amaze Light Festival Giveaway!

Excited for the Amaze Light Festival? I have a FUN giveaway to celebrate! One lucky reader win a 4 pack of tickets to the Amaze Light Festival. Just enter via Rafflecopter below! Giveaway ends December 1, 2019 at 11:59pm. Open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!!! 

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100 Christmas Light Displays in Orange County (Updated 2019)

Newport Landing Holiday Light Cruise Coupon Code

Updated for December 2019

Christmas Lights!!! I just love it when houses AND even neighborhoods go all out decorating their home with twinkly lights and decorations for the holidays. all that work putting up the outdoor lights gives the community the special gift of Christmas magic. Here is a list of over 100 Christmas Light Displays in Orange County that you can visit.

Aliso Viejo
King Elder Lane
Glenwood Community
43 Woodswallow Lane

Anaheim Hills
Bel Air Neighborhood (Riverview & Santa Ana Canyon Road near Weir Canyon)

306 Barryknoll Street
151 S. Jeanine Way
2118 W. Minerva Avenue
Symphony St.

Balboa Island
327 Sapphire Avenue

515 Cedar Avenue
Birch Street (Kraemer & Birch)
Shadetree Circle (Lambert & Wandering)

Buena Park
8073 Calendula Drive

Codo De Caza
Gooseberry Court

Costa Mesa
3150 Bear Street
467 East 19th Street
Lilac & Santa Ana Avenue
77 Fair Drive (City Hall) – Peanut’s House

5208 Cumberland Drive

Dana Point
Monarch Beach Homes

Fountain Valley
Brookhurst between Heil & Edinger (the tract behind Denny’s
18323 Stanislaus Street (Light Music Show, entire roof decorated)

Woods and Amerige
Mountain View Avenue & Fullerton Creek Road
Sparkle Ball Street, North Yale (500 Block)

Garden Grove
6531, 6541, 5521 Belgrave Avenue
12112 Wutzke Street

Huntington Beach
La Cresta Drive

Ladera Ranch
Bramford Street
10 Hammond Road
Shively Street
Mayville Place
Shelton Court & Sutherland Drive

Laguna Hills
Mawson Drive
25276 Orellano Way
23561 Marsala

Laguna Niguel
Nellie Gail Road
Elder Court
5 Tunis
Hillhurst (off of Crown Valley & Alicia)

Lake Forest
22981 Belquest Drive
Ashbrook Street
Buckwood Street
25982 Dundee Drive
24952 Greenbay Drive
Parkwood Street
Rimrock Street, Peachwood & Tamarisk (Trabuco Canyon & Lake Forest Drive)
Rushford Drive
25141 Steinway Circle
22472 Sunlight Creek Ave
23932 Barton Street

La Palma
Houston Avenue
Tiara Lane

Mission Viejo
23446 Bolivar Street
Bough Avenue (Nightmare Before Christmas House)
27093 Pinario
Via Amistoso Street
21602 Criptana

Newport Beach
El Paseo Street on Lido Peninsula
Harbor Island Drive
Saphire Avenue
See the Balboa Peninsula House Lights or the Watch the Newport Beach Boat Parade from the WATER! – View millions of lights and hundreds of decorated boats from the water on a Holiday Cruise with Newport Landing! Only $20 per person with this Holiday Lights Cruise Special ––> Newport Holiday Cruise Promo Code Coupon

451 N. Citrus Street
1431 North Shaffer Street
Locust & Glassell
Pine Street
2409 E. Monroe ( Griswold style, letters to Santa & Candy Canes)
1907 N. Ridgewood
7633 E. Saddlehill Trail
2532 El Sereno Drive
1767 N. Lindenholz Street
463 N. Emerald Drive

444 Normany  (“Frozen” House)

Rancho Santa Margarita
22 El Corazon
20 El Corzo (Candy Cane Land)
11 Twilight Lane
16 Calle Liberacion

San Clemente
2931 Calle Heraldo
Talega Seaside Neighborhood
Talega Stella Mare Neighborhood

Santa Ana
12872 Loretta Drive
18th & Bristol Street
2002 W. Elder Ave

Trabuco Canyon
Wagon Wheel Neighborhood
23 Kingfisher Court

Red Hill Avenue & Olwyn Drive
2351 Caper Tree Drive off Walnut between Tustin Ranch & Browning
1151 Windsor Lane

Villa Park
9852 Verde Lomas Circle ( Haunted Hallow)

Bolsa Chica & Westminster Boulevard and Northwestern & Bolsa Chica
5755 Westminster Boulevard
6212 Larchwood Drive

Yorba Linda
5474 Berryhill Drive
Buena Vista at Lakeview
East Lake Village (Village Center Drive & Avenida De Las Polmas)
18665 & 18974 Seabiscuit
4712 Via Del Rancho
20630 Vista Del Sol

Just Beyond the OC
Best Christmas Lights in Los Angeles
Best Christmas  Lights in San Diego

( Have any suggestions to add to the list? Is something on the list outdated? Please let us know! )

PLUS…..have you seen this list of 150 Christmas Events in Orange County???

the best orange county christmas light displays

Fun Disney’s Frozen 2 Recipes with Dole

This is a sponsored post. I am an official ambassador for Dole. Dole provided me with compensation for my time. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are mine.

It might look like I am holding just a regular delivery pizza, but what if I told you this is a healthier pizza that I made?!!! Last month, I was able to attend the Dole Fall Blogger Summit and was able to try out some of their new nutritious…and super yummy recipes. I also got to learn more about how Dole and Disney have come together for “Powering the Hero Within” initiative.

The Powering the Hero Within initiative pairs the excitement of Disney characters with Dole produce to help parents encourage no-worry nutrition in their families. It’s all about including and adopting a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, plus, working with its registered dietitian, Dole has created family-friendly recipes themed to Disney movies. How fun is that? And if you’ve ever tried any of Dole’s themed recipes, then you know how yummy and fresh they taste! Whenever I make one of these AH-mazing recipes for my family, my children rave about it.

As you may know, Disney’s Frozen 2 is coming to theaters November 22, so the theme of the Dole Fall Blogger Summit was Disney Frozen 2.

I’ve loved working with Dole for many years and am impressed with the great steps they have taken to make eating healthy easier for families. So I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Dole again, this time sharing that their next set of recipes are Disney Frozen 2-themed!!!

We go to preview a few of the Disney Frozen 2-themed recipes. Check these out…

Make-Ahead Frozen Brr-eakfast Sandwiches

Sven Sleigh-Pulling Power Smoothies

Olaf Carrot Smoothie Bowls

we made our own Dole Snow-flower Pizzas! These pizzas are jam packed with fresh roasted veggies on top of a cauliflower crust. When you are using fresh Dole products, this is what your cooking experience looks like. So healthy, so good, and it taste is so fresh.

And what about dessert? Dole has you covered. Check out the Frozen Banana Split Cups we made. These were so simple and would make a simple treat your kids and friends will love.

All these recipes and more are available on the Dole website. Currently there are 11 Disney Frozen 2 inspired recipes, and 11 more are coming soon. A total of 22. Just in time for the holidays! (hint…they have a holiday twist.)

As I mentioned, Dole also has added Disney’s Frozen 2 to some of their produce. I just recently wrote a post about DOLE® Bananas and Pineapples featuring images of Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven and Kristoff. They are currently available in the produce departments of supermarkets throughout the U.S. and Canada. There are 20 different DOLE® Banana tags as well as a Dole® Pineapple tag featuring Frozen 2. Disney and Dole fans can participate in the DOLE® Banana Sticker Peel and Play Game by downloading the official activity sheet on You can collect the entire blizzard of 20 Disney’s Frozen 2-inspired stickers on DOLE Bananas across North America.

Dole’s specially branded fruit and activity sheet are part of “Empowering the Hero Within, a three-month healthy-lifestyle celebration of Disney’s Frozen 2 which will continue through January 2020.  So be sure to head over to the Dole website and check out the flurry of healthy family fun including exclusive Dole recipes inspired by Disney’s Frozen 2!

And be on the lookout for another fun Dole and Disney Frozen 2 recipe post coming from me! It’s in the works and will feature more Dole recipes and health tips inspired by Disney’s Frozen 2.

Disney Frozen II Prize Giveaway

Excited for Disney Frozen 2? I have a FUN giveaway to celebrate! One lucky reader win a Disney Frozen 2 prize bundle (Retail value of over $200). Just enter via Rafflecopter below! Giveaway ends November 23, 2019. Open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!!! 

*This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Disneyor Dole. The giveaway is solely owned, administered solicited and operated by me.

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More Dole X Disney Recipes!

Want to check out some more Dole Disney inspired recipes? Check out this post I wrote here! 

Yummy Dole Recipes to Celebrate Disney Mickey Mouse’s 90th Anniversary

Fun Disney’s The Lion King Recipes with Dole