Visiting HGTV’s Santa HQ at the Lakewood Center Mall

This is a sponsored post.

It’s that time of year when our family gets all the Santa photos. We love visiting different Santa’s throughout SoCal. This weekend we headed over to the Lakewood Mall to HGTV’s Santa HQ to check out their great Santa set-up. Last year we went to HGTV’s Santa HQ at the Los Cerritos Mall (you can read about it here) and loved it so much that we wanted to check out the one at the Lakewood Center Mall.

HGTV’s Santa HQ adds a whole new dimension to the traditional family Santa Claus visit by guiding visitors through an immersive, interactive holiday extravaganza that uses of state-of- the-art digital technology. something that kids today love! There are 15 Santa’s HQ in the United States. I already mentioned the two in Southern California, the Los Cerritos Mall and the Lakewood Center Mall. They are basically the same, but the Lakewood locations set-up is a bit bigger and has an extra room.

we started off our visit with a greeting from some of Santa’s elves. they we so sweet and spent extra time playing with the kids. they took them through the Naughty or Nice Meter to see if the boys had been naughty or nice this year. of course they made Santa’s nice list….and even saw their names on Santa’s interactive Christmas list. Are you on Santa’s nice list? My boys only made it to the yellow zone…I wonder what that means?

Next we headed into Santa’s Observatory and got to visit the Elf Academy. It’s a fun photo opp where you can elf yourself.

The is also Santa’s Studio where you can create an elf I.D. card digitally.

In the next room kids can check out the control panel. what kid doesn’t love buttons and gadgets to play with.

We got to have Elf-Ray Vision!  Either by downloading the Elf-Ray Vison app on your phone, or using the iPads located on the wall of the observatory, kids can explore Santa’s Observatory by using the app as special goggles. they got to see secret elf happenings on the walls like presents being shipped and the working gears of the observatory.

Finally, we met the big guy himself….SANTA!!!! we had so much fun getting our photos with Santa. he spent one-on-one time with the boys, and made sure to get a good variety of photos that i could choose from. i loved that he took time to speak to each child individually. also, we got to skip the line because we made a reservation. pretty cool huh! guests can now spend less time waiting in line by making reservation online at Santa HQ from HGTV. you can even pre-pay for your photo package, days or even weeks in advance. you can also opt-in text functionality to send reminders about your Santa photo session reservation.

Here’s how our Santa photo turned out. This is the closest that Dani has gotten to Santa without crying. She just woke up, so I would say it was a success.

Santa gave each kids a coloring book, and when we bought our Santa photo package, they gave us free Panettone…how cool.

The kids and i had such a nice evening at Santa HQ from HGTV. i wasn’t expecting our Santa visit to be so special, but with all these special holiday touches and the elves treating my children with love and care, my kids had night to remember. we will be adding HGTV’s Santa HQ to our holiday traditions each year!

In case you wanted to know just a little more about Santa HQ from HGTV…check out this fun video!

The Orange Empire Railway Museum Train to Santa’s Workshop

Last year our family discovered a magical Christmas adventure! We loved it so much that it will now be a family tradition every year. We took the Train to Santa’s Workshop at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris and what a special evening it was. Beginning at the end of November, you can take one of Orange Empire Railway Museum’s vintage trains and embark on a magical train ride to visit with Santa Claus himself at his North Pole workshop. The evening includes not only a visit with Santa himself, but lots of fun activities including a model train display, cocoa and cookies and chatting with Santa’s elves and Mrs. Claus. The Orange Empire Railway Museum is about a 40 minute drive from Orange County without traffic. I feel the trek is worth it, and if you plan ahead, you can grab a bite to eat before you head to the train station to begin your journey.

Since we’ve only been once, I can only provide you with my one time experience, but I continue to hear great things about the Train to Santa’s Workshop. We took the 7:00pm train because I wanted it to be dark and more of a Polar Express experience. It was not crowded at all, but I heard that the 5:30 train was filled to capacity, so I would expect that would change the experience a bit.

I also made the entire family wear matching pajamas. Since I had never been, I read on their website that they recommended wearing pajamas. However, most only children wear wearing them. BUT…I wouldn’t worry about that. WEAR YOUR PAJAMAS. It totally made the night, and everyone kept coming up to us saying we looked so festive and that they wished they would have worn theirs too. So I highly recommend. I asked my kids…including my teenager if they would wear their pajamas again this year, and they all said absolutely. It was so much fun.

The cool thing about this train ride, is that it takes place in a vintage train. A fully working train! You are sitting inside…not outside getting cold. It takes you on a 20 minute ride to visit Santa where you can watch out the windows, or talk to the conductor. 

One of Santa’s elves came through and talked to the kids and gave everyone a candy cane. It was great. Other elves led the passengers in Christmas songs, holiday trivia games and storytelling. 

As the train arrived at Santa’s Workshop, you could see Santa waving at the kids as the train arrived. The kids were so excited! We didn’t know what to expect, but we were very impressed! The entire workshop was dressed up for Christmas, and we couldn’t wait to board off the train to check it out.

We got to get our photos with Santa. You need to bring your own camera. Santa also gives each kids a stuffed toy.

Then we explored the workshop and took lots of photos with the kids. 

After you visit Santa, kids can do Christmas crafts or chat with Mrs. Claus and the elves. There are also lots of photo opps.

There are also train tables to enjoy (check out my older boys playing with the younger ones…LOVE IT), and also Thomas the Train ride ons for the littlest kids. Everyone loves trains.

When everyone had finished visiting Santa and enjoying his workshop, we boarded the train to go back to the train station. Santa waved goodbye to everyone. 

We then took the train back to the Pinacate Station. We were sad to leave…but more fun was coming up.

At the Pinacate Station boarding area, there is a huge model train display to enjoy and also vendors selling Christmas crafts and presents. If you decide to take the 7:00pm train, you may want to visit this area before you head over to see Santa. It closed pretty quickly when we got back, and we probably would have enjoyed visiting a bit longer.

If you wrote a letter to Santa, make sure to put it in Santa’s mailbox!

You can even get a cup of cocoa and a cookie to enjoy while you look at the trains. This is all included in your admission ticket.

It was the perfect way to end the night and keep ourselves warm and cuddly. 

The Train to Santa’s Workshop at the Orange Empire Railway Museum was great. There was a magical feeling in the air throughout the entire night. And my family had the best time. It truly left us with a festive Christmas spirit and fun memories we will never forget. Can’t wait to go again this year!

Make sure to get your tickets soon. Not sure if they will sell out, but you don’t want to miss your chance.

Cute Non-candy Easter Basket Ideas from Yoobi

hippy, hoppity, Easter’s on its way! so that means their are Easter baskets to fill. need some non-candy Easter basket ideas? check out these adorable non-candy Easter basket ideas from Yoobi. one of my favorite places to find the best and most colorful school, home and office supplies. and did you know Yoobi’s motto? YOU BUY, YOOBI GIVES.  every Yoobi item you purchase helps provide essential school supplies to classrooms in need across the U.S. i have seen first hand all the great work Yoobi does for our local schools….we just love them for all that they do for our community.

here are some of the fun items that will be filling my kid’s Easter baskets….although, i must say that these items are fun anytime of the year. there are spring stamp sets, sidewalk chalks in the shape of ice cream, sidewalk paints and the cutest little bunny bag i’ve seen. it even has a pom pom tail on the back! of course, the washable popsicle sidewalk chalks are my absolute favorite. (i wonder why?!!!).  you can buy these fun spring items directly online, at a Yoobi storefront or at your local Target stores!

Which one is your favorite?

What are you filling your Easter baskets with?

Here are the links, since many of you asked:
Yoobi Egg Stamp Set
Yoobi 8 Piece Stamp Set
Yoobi Bunny Zip Pouch
Yoobi Washable Popsicle Sidewalk Chalk
Yoobi Sidewalk Chalk Roller Paint
Yoobi Washable Ice Cream Sidewalk Chalk

Christmas CHEER Checklist

it’s December 1st!!!! the beginning of my favorite month of the year. i love the colors, the decorations, the sights, the smells and feeling of the season. i love it so much that i started decorating the house two weeks ago. to celebrate my favorite month of the year, i partnered with 1-800-flowers.com, to bring you my Christmas CHEER Checklist!!!!

i thought it would be a fun to create a Christmas CHEER Checklist in case you needed some ideas on how to get into the holiday spirit. these are the traditions i do with my family each year. i love them all so much.

Number 1 on my list is – add a fresh holiday arrangement to my home. i LOVE fresh flowers, they always make me happy and even help me de-stress. something that is very prevalent during the holidays. 1-800-flowers.com sent a beautiful fresh floral arrangement in colors of the season. it arrived at my doorstep arranged perfectly and even more beautiful than i was expecting from a delivery service.  the Natural Elegance by Southern Living arrangement by 1-800-flowers.com put a gigantic smile on my face. isn’t it beautiful?!!!!


i am so happy with the flower arrangement, that i plan to have a few more delivered throughout the month. i’m also going to have one delivered for my Christmas Dinner tablescape. with a few candles, some pinecones, pretty plates and napkins, my table will be ready to go with the flower arrangement as my centerpiece.

the rest of the Christmas CHEER Checklist is just as great – especially for helping to plan out the holiday month. each item will help you  add a special feeling of Christmas CHEER. sit down on December 1st, plan your calendar out, and gather the items that you need to make your home full of Christmas Cheer.  i can tell this year is going to be an extra special one….the yummy scents are already wafting through the air, and we have a new little one to share our joy with. hope that you enjoy the upcoming season as much a we will.

Click here for a the FREE Printable Christmas CHEER Checklist.

and Happy December!!!! hope theses ideas get you in the holiday mood.

{Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. 1-800-flowers.com sent me this beautiful arrangement at no cost. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }

Easy and Fun Tips for Halloween Fun

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Energizer.Halloween is one of our favorite times of year. i actually think that each year gets more and more exciting. the parties get better, the costumes get better, and the treats get better.  Halloween is a super exciting time for all – filled with mini monsters, spooky snacks and creative carvings. but little ghouls and goblins running around the neighborhood after dark can give some parents a scare. so i have partnered with Energizer® to show some great ways to help you light up the night, so you can focus less on the fright and more on the fun. PLUS…i am also sharing some fun Halloween party ideas, so be sure to read the entire post!

i have also shared all of these tips on FACEBOOK LIVE, so you can head over to my Facebook Page to watch me in action!

Energizer has a great selection of LED Lights that i used in lots of fun ways to light up our Halloween. the best thing about using LED lights is that they are safe and won’t catch on fire. gone are the days of lighting up a pumpkin with a candle.

first of all, how about setting up this fun Glowing Drink Station for you little ghouls and goblins.

How to Make a Glowing Drink Station

you will need clear jars or pitchers to hold the drinks. the ones i used were bought at a craft store, but they can be find at many local chain stores.  you can color water, juice or soda with food coloring. you will also need a clear pie dish or short bowl to place underneath each drink container. i recommend using pie dishes because they make the most stable bases. i found them at my local chain store for under five dollars each.

when you set up your Glowing Drink Station, you will want to place all your decorations on the table and decide on placement before you fill up the drinks. when it’s party time, fill up your drinks and get ready to GLOW!

place either an Energizer® LED Magnet Light or an Energizer® HD Vision headlight underneath each of the clear pie dishes or bowls. i actually prefer using the Energizer headlights because they are a little brighter, but both work great to light up the punch.

now, place your drink container on top. get ready for a fun spooky glow. you could even add dry ice for more fun! just imagine how great these look in a darkened room.

did you see the spiderweb frame behind the drinks! believe it or not, it’s really easy and inexpensive to create. all you need is yarn and a frame. any size will work.

How to Make a Spiderweb Frame

first, tape lengths of yarn to the backside of the frame in a wagon wheel pattern. 5-6 pieces will do.

then using more yarn, tie the end in a knot at the center of the web.

next, starting from the center in a clockwise pattern, wrap the yarn around each strand. you will want to go over each strand first, then under and around again. then onto the next.

continue wrapping until the web is finished. you will want to adjust it as you go to make sure it’s even and spiral.

you can place a spider onto the web if you’d like. it makes a great backdrop for your glowing drink station, or hang it over the mantle. now to finish decorating your drink station. use Halloween decorations of different heights, a flag banner or a lighted Jack-o-Latern also makes a nice touch. make sure to  keep it simple. less is more!

Making Your Carved Pumpkin Last Longer

here’s a Tip for Making Your Carved Pumpkin Last Longer. after you carve your pumpkin, fill the sink up with water. add 2-3 tablespoons of bleach to the water. then, submerge your pumpkin. make sure to wash all of the debris and seeds out of it. then, completely dry your pumpkin. this with get rid of any bacteria on it, and help it to last a little longer before it starts to rot.

once your jack-o-lantern is all dry, it’s time to light him up! like i mentioned before, you don’t want to risk a fire by using a candle in your jack-o-lantern (especially here in Southern California). use the Energizer® LED Magnet Light in lieu of a candle to keep your jack-o-lantern radiant. it’s simple, just turn on the light and set it inside!

now the drink station is complete!

time to head outside!

have you been to a trunk-or-treat? they are becoming very popular nowadays. instead of going door-to-door to trick or treating, you go car-to-car. people also decorate there cars for Halloween. its called Trunk or Treat.

Trunk or Treat Frankenstein Idea

by using a red, green and black tablecloth, you can easily decorate your car as Frankenstein for Trunk or Treat. simply line the inside with the read tablecloth. then tape the green tablecloth over the opening. cut the mouth of Frankenstein open to reveal the red. using cardstock, cut out eyes, teeth, bolts for the ears, and a scar for his face.tape those on, and use the black tablecloth to create the hair. be creative! anything goes.


 

Tips for Safe Trick or Treating

no matter what the costume is, it is really important to make sure the kids can be seen by cars and other people when they are trick or treating. you don’t want to worry about your kids’ safety after dark. Energizer® knows how important this is, so they have suggested a few ideas. a headlight wrapped around the wrists gives the perfect glow.

these Energizer® 2-in-1 Personal Light are hands-free and can illuminate after-dark activities (and keep little goblins from tripping!).

you can wear them as a necklace or use them as a flashlight wand.

i also like these Energizer® LED Magnet Lights.  they easily clip onto costumes with magnetic force. no worrying about pins or hooks. its a great idea to place one on the front AND back of your child’s costume.

you can also pair any of these lights up with a handheld flashlight or lantern. there can never be enough light during the dark hours of Halloween.

remember that spider web frame?!!!!  you can also use the same concept to make a giant spiderweb on your front entrance. just use extra thick yarn which is available at the craft store and strong duct tape. you can let the neighbors know you’re in the spirit by adding a festive glow to your entrance Energizer® Weatheready® 360º LED Area Light. i LOVE how this turned out.

finally, if you are looking for another fun and EASY way to decorate your home and add some Halloween glow, how about hanging some jack-o-lantern break buckets in the trees.

Glowing Hanging Jack-o-lanterns

using fishing line or yarn, tie the jack-o-lanterns to tree branches or anything else around the house. when it is dark, place your choice of one of the Energizer LED lights into each of them, and you will have flying glowing pumpkins! i love this trick because it is inexpensive and still looks super cool.

i hope you enjoyed these Halloween tips! i had a lot of fun sharing them with you. don’t forget to head over to my Facebook Page to watch them LIVE. have a fun a safe Halloween, please let Energizer light your way to a fun and safe Halloween night!

{This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}