10 Favorite spring-themed events in the Hudson Valley

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I have been counting down the weeks to write this blog post! 2 more weeks until “Spring”! . While I really don’t mind the snow at the beginning of the season, by March I am daydreaming of flowers and green grass, heck, I would just be happy with the 10 minutes less time it will take to get out of the house when we can finally pack away these boots and coats! Winter with toddlers is exhausting. But I digress, dreaming of spring today and I am happy to share with you my Top 10 Picks for spring- like events coming up in the Hudson Valley. Think warm thoughts and enjoy ūüôā

1.¬†St. Patrick’s day parades– Okay, not spring per se but it is out doors, floats are involved and it means spring is near! We are really excited to dig through the snow to find a spot at the Dutchess County St. Patrick’s Day parade this Saturday but there are many others throughout the Hudson Valley and this month you might want to check out.

2.¬†Maple Syrup Weekend– Again maple weekendit’s at the top of my list because it doesn’t necessarily¬†have to do with spring exactly but I wanted to share anyway. Other than St. Patrick’s Day parades, another sure- fire way to know spring it coming is the start of Maple Sugar Season. I can smell the pancakes now! One of our favorite farms and a new Sugar Bush to our area is the one at Madava Farm. We are really looking forward to their Maple Weekend March 21-22 & 28-29. The grounds are just gorgeous. Other Maple events can be found on this nifty list:¬†hvparent.com/maple-sugar

IMG_76573. Signs of spring walkР Welcome the start of spring with a stroll through the forest. This family friendly walk with nature expert is a fun way to get outside after a long winter. You are sure to see plenty of wildlife including birds returning home, toads, salamanders and maybe spot a spring bud or 2! The Walk takes place in Saugerties on March 21st.

4.¬†A visit with the Easter Bunny & Hunt-¬†There is no doubt that for many people the highlight event of the spring is Easter. From visits with the Easter bunny to Easter egg hunts throughout our area our calenders fill up fast this month. The Poughkeepsie Galleria is hosting once again the Hannoush Hunt. We did it last year and it was a lot of fun, though I think that parents were into it more than the kids ūüėČ It is essentially a scavenger hunt throughout the mall. There are also crafts and activities for the kids at center count, and the best part.. I will be be there with Hudson Valley Parent so make sure you say hello!

5. Spring Extravaganza- Kids can participate in a egg hunt inside the mall, create an egg theme craft, color a page for the coloring contest and visit with the town of Poughkeepsie police for a Child ID card. The Easter bunny will be there for a visit and photo and new this year, two by two petting zoo will be visiting too!funny bunny

6. Funny Bunnies–¬†Families can learn all about the native eastern cottontail and go on a hunt in search of finding wild rabbits! You can meet live rabbits at the center followed by bunny crafts for the kids!

7. Spring Festival and egg hunt– The Beekman rec. holds a very night spring festival and egg hunt each year. They separate the kids by age in the tennis court and offer a large variety of free activities including photos with the Easter Bunny! Families can enjoy the bounce house, petting zoo, a game of Frisbee golf and many different craft projects.

8. Easter bonnet parade & Egg Hunt– Join in the Easter bonnet parade for kids of all ages. Raffles, guess the jelly bean jar contest, egg hunt and a special appearance from the Easter Bunny!

fishkill farms egg hunt9. Annual Spring Egg-StravaganzaРNot your average egg hunt, Kids can learn about dying eggs with fruits and plants, participate in a spring planting workshop with seeds they can take home and go on a hayride. Of course the star of the event is hunting for eggs. There are special surprises along the way including a visit from Mr. Easter Bunny himself for photos and fun.

10. Easter Egg hunts- Most towns have their own Easter Egg hunts. Hudson Valley Parent is working on a full list of the events as the towns are still releasing information. There are a number on the calender right now and I will add the list when it is available. Walden Egg Hunt, Easter Egg Hunt (Wappingers)

If you are up for a little trip, the Capital District Garden and Flower Show is worth checking out too.

Did I miss any of your favorite events? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 10 creative ways to play with snow & bonus 5 favorite places to go when it snows!

snowman1. Get creative with your snowman! You don’t have to stick to a traditional snowman. Try connecting the balls horizontally to create a caterpillar, bring out the Mr. Potato Head pieces or make your snowman do tricks like this one!

2. My boys and I LOVE making snow ice cream snow ice cream(just mix sugar, milk and vanilla with your clean snow), but are really looking forward to trying these other sweet snow treats! Make Snow Candy, and snow cookies!

3.¬†I am not a fan of the snow so if hubby isn’t home the kids don’t get to go out. They love the snow so we compromise! Fill a bowl, tray or even Tupperware bin with snow and let the kids play inside. We usual add bowls, measuring cups, spoons and even trains or trucks.

frozen bubbles4.¬†Blow frozen bubbles. These look super cool! I haven’t tried them yet, let me know how they turn out if you do.

5. Going on a scavenger hunt in the winter is fun with a little pre- planning.Use a few drops of food coloring in ice cube trays to create some brightly colored ice. Hide them around outside for the kids to hunt in the snow.

ice sun catchers6. These below freezing temperatures this week are good for something! If possible, go on a nature hunt and collect things such as berries, pine needles and leaves, (if not possible, use slices of fruit, herbs or fake flowers). Turn your treasures into beautiful works of art with these amazing Ice sun catchers

7. Make a bird feeder. Don’t forget our feathered friends in the winter. Roll some bird seed in some peanut butter on a toilet paper roll or apple and hang from a tree branch.

8. A friend of mine ice forestposted a photo of her daughter playing in the snow the other day and I thought the idea was so great I asked her if it would be okay to share with you. So, with permission, here is the best Hudson Valley Ice Forest I have ever seen, dinosaurs and all!

9. We have a lot of wildlife in our back yards. Take the kids on a snowy walk (or hike) and see how many animal tracks you can spot! Can’t spot any tracks? Cut some animal feet shapes out of cardboard, tie up with some string and let the kids stomp around and create their own!

snow paint play10. Make snow art. You can simply bring your paints outside and paint the snow, use food coloring and water in spray bottles or eye droppers or bring a little snow inside, drop a few drops of food coloring in, mix and paint on paper: Snow Paint!

And top 5 favorite places to go in the snow in the Hudson Valley.

1. Thomas Bull Memorial Park. The Hudson Valley is filled with plenty of great sledding & tubing spots! At Thomas Bull Memorial Park you can go tubing, sledding, cross country skiing or ice skating! Other great spots listed here.

2. Holiday Mountain in Sullivan County has everything from beginner trails to advanced slopes. Many families enjoy a variety of ski slopes scattered through our area. A great list found here.

3. Trevor Zoo in Millbrook is open all year round. Visit the zoo in the snow this winter to see which animals are active. It is inexpensive to get in and as long as it isn’t bitterly cold out, a great afternoon outdoor outing.

4. Visit the baby goats, sample the delicious cheeses and see what the farm is all about at Edgwick Farm in Cornwall for the very popular winter farm tour! You must make reservations, dates sell out fast.

5. Mohonk Mountain House. As day guests you can enjoy a snowy hike, ice skating, snowshoeing or cross- country skiing. After a fresh snow, Mohonk Mountain is a great place to bring a sled, enjoy a warm meal or stop at the Mohonk Preserve (separate location) for  one of the great programs and events.

10 Valentine’s Day Traditions for Hudson Valley families.

Flowers and chocolate were so last year! With the craze of Pinterest for endless inspiration at our fingertips it is easy to get lost in¬†find many things you and the kids can do together. If you aren’t up for it, you don’t need to be the next Pinterest Queen or Betty Crocker. Valentine’s Day is all about love, family and showing each other how much you care. With the 10 ideas below, you can keep it as simple or get as elaborate as you want. And in the comments, tell us what special Valentine’s Day traditions¬†you have with your family.

Getting out for some adult time this weekend? Check out my last list: 10 Date Night ideas in the Hudson Valley

1. Homemade gifts. Coupon books, love letters or heart shaped gifts loveare usually pretty popular with most parents I know. But great handmade gifts don’t have to be just for mom and dad. With a little creativity you can come up with some great gifts the kids will love. A “certificate” for a mommy and me date night, or a coupon book filled with “get out of chores for a night” or “ice cream for dinner”, etc. coupons or a thoughtful handwritten letter could go a long way too. And don’t forget about the adults. In most cases, a thoughtful handmade gift goes a lot way over a store bought one. HVParent’s Pinterest Page has lots of great ideas too!

2. Decorate.¬†I have a box of saved holiday art work from the kids, mostly Christmas pictures and crafts that I like to hang back up around the holiday. My mom did the same with our art and I love to see how my kids’ art changes over the years. So dig out love notes, those handmade cards from past years and construction paper hearts from the pre-k days and use them to decorate your home for Valentine’s Day.Bacon-Hearts

3.¬†Start the day off with love.¬†Luckily, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year- so no need to get up extra early for¬†this one. We make birthday pancakes for birthdays, snowman pancakes for Christmas and our little Leprechaun friend turns our pancakes green on St. Patrick’s Day so it’s only natural our valentine’s day starts off with pink and red heart shaped pancakes and bacon. You can twist bacon into the shapes of hearts, use (metal) cookie cutters to make eggs or pancakes into fun shapes and even cut your fruit into little bite size hearts! (20 breakfast ideas found¬†here¬†on popsugar.com)

4. Share the love.¬†Chances are you are making or filling out your share of school Valentines anyway, so make a few extra to spread a little love this Valentine’s Day! Have the kids decorate paper hearts to make and take to the local nursing home, or fill out boxed cards to deliver to the local fire house or hospital. The kids will get a kick out of carrying a few for unsuspecting strangers during the day, like a waitress, cashier or neighbor. This¬†sweet gesture will go a long way to spread a little love.

babw5. Family time. A mom- friend posted recently looking for suggestions on ways to spend V-Day with the family. I was surprised how many moms had the same plans this year. Seems like many are heading to Build-a-Bear Workshop to¬†let the kids create their special Valentine’s Day gift. A great idea! If Build-a-Bear isn’t in the budget (they start with stuffed animals at $10) find something you can all enjoy doing together. A fun family outing is a great way to spend the “holiday” together.

Here are a few more ideas:

Family Date Night Spots

Ice Skating

Sledding

Indoor Play Spots

And check HVParent.com for a calendar filled with local fun! 

6.¬†Dinner with your loves.¬†You can stay in and cook, but since we moms like to be spoiled too on Valentine’s Day it might be a good night to hit the town. Nights like these I like to choose an early dinner reservation, get the kids fed, bathed and in bed early enough¬†for some adult alone time ūüėČ

Find a family- friendly restaurant here or here.

7. Dance Party.¬†Any excuse is a good one for a family dance party! After dinner clear the furniture, kick up the music and put on some of your favorite love jams. Don’t forget to save some slow dancing for your¬†significant other!cookie

8. Baking cookies. My kids love to visit the Mid- Hudson Children’s Museum to get their energy out in the winter. They¬†love the new fire truck, and pretending to bake the tallest cakes they can.¬†For the last two years, they have loved to come to the museum near Valentine’s Day to decorate their own heart shaped sugar cookies (event info here). I love that the mess stays outside of my house and we can pack a lunch and make a day¬†of it. But you don’t need to head out to make pink- frosting covered memories with the kids. Whip up a batch of your favorite cookie recipe (this is mine¬†from iheartnaptime.com) and get to work.

notes9. Exchange valentines.¬†I saw this adorable felt envelop last year and was dying to make¬†them for my kids¬†(…of course I never did) but I still love the idea. The blogger who created the one shown here filled out little notes to leave each night for her kids leading up to Valentine’s Day. If you are like me and pin a bunch of things you never do on Pinterest you can always use a decorated shoe box, manila envelope or store bought little mailbox (Michaels sells cute ones!) for each member of the family. Then every night before bed, everyone can write a sentence or 2 for each person to be opened at breakfast! (Image and idea from Blonde Designs Blog).

10. Surround yourself with love.¬†Whether you choose to stay home, go out, craft or just relax, remember to surround yourself with love this Valentine’s Day. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get the best gifts, make the best crafts or turn our breakfast into the best heart shaped bacon our kids have ever seen. While it’s sometimes fun to go over the top, it isn’t necessary. A simple “I love you” from the heart can mean more than heart shaped pancakes and fancy gifts. Keep it in perspective, don’t stress over details and above all else surround yourself with love, after all that’s what it’s really about.

Does your family have any special Valentine’s Day traditions? Share in the comments!

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 places HV families should visit this winter.

Top 10 places for Hudson Valley families to visit in the winter time

IMG_69891. One of the best ways to tackle the long winter months is to get outside and embrace it. There are a number of fabulous Ski and sledding places right in our backyards that make for some great family fun this winter. Some of my top picks are the Mohonk Mountain House, where you can spend some time on the slopes and enjoy a good meal. If skiing isn’t your thing grab a spa treatment while the kids play outside too. ¬†Thunder Ridge¬†is another favorite. With a cozy lodge to grab a cup of hot cocoa or bowl of soup between runs down¬†the mountain and even babysitting services on site, the whole family can enjoy the day there!

Click here for more favorite ski spots

2. If you are looking for a short drive getaway this winter you might want to check out the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. This gigantic indoor water park has fun and play for all ages from thrill- seeking water slides to a little ones play area and more. Outside the water park the little ones can get a mani- pedi at the kids spa or battle a dragon at the arcade.

3. Rocking Horse Ranch¬†is a great mini- vacation spot and so rocking horse ranchclose to home. An indoor water park, skiing, tubing, ice skating, horse drawn carriage rides, children’s programs and so much more all found right here in the Hudson Valley.

4. The many beautiful state parks are sometimes one of the most overlooked gems of our area. Throughout the winter months, families can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including sledding, snow shoeing and cross country skiing at many locations. Fahnestock has a wonderful winter park, as does Minnewaska State Park.

Click here for more favorite sledding spots

5. Visit one of the many festivals and events throughout the Hudson Valley this winter. Saturday January 10th is the Rail Trail’s Winterfest. A chili cook- off, food and drink, kids activities, wagon rides, bonfire and more. Another Winterfest in Wurstboro on January 31st, Festival of Frost in Beacon on January 24th and the New Paltz Winter Carnival on February 7th are some of my top festival picks for this winter.

legoland map6. Spend an afternoon at Legoland Discovery Center. This place truly looks amazing! Okay, I guess it helps if your kiddo is into Legos but still great for most kids and ages! A great big climb on play area, a 4D movie, race cars, themed building areas, laser training and so much more.

7. Ask most Hudson Valley Parents and they will tell you one of their favorite day trips any time of year is to the Stepping Stones Museum &/or the Norwalk Aquarium in CT. Both places can fill most of your day separately, but they are close enough to each other you could always squeeze both adventures into a family- fun winter day!

8. Experience nature through one of the many programs Hudson Highlands Nature Museum has to offer this winter. Using the museums collection of live animals, the beautiful trails and natural habitats throughout the grounds, families are treated to a true hands- on educational experience. Check the calendar for special programs and events.

bear mountian ice skating9. Strap on a pair of skates and enjoy ice skating among the beauty of the mountains and nature at  Bear Mountain. You can take a stroll along the lake, kids will love the indoor carousel and small zoo. Then warm up with a cup of cocoa or a bite to eat inside the lodge before heading home.

Click here for more top ice skating rinks

10. There are no better places throughout the Hudson Valley to get out of the cold winter than stepping into one of the many local libraries! Take your child to the library day on February 7th is a great opportunity to get the kids involved in some of the great library programs, family activities or simply looking through a book together. Check the events¬†calender on HVparent’s website for special library events near you.

Have a wonderful winter!

Top 10 ways to celebrate Hanukkah: Hudson Valley

menorahDecember is my favorite time of year and the month of sparkling lights. From Christmas decorations to the Hanukkah menorah candles the spirit of the season is evident no matter what you celebrate. The lights of the season become a symbol of hope. Many families are gathering the next 8 days with songs, prayer, good food, games and candle lighting. Here is a round up of some of the best ways to celebrate Hanukkah with family and friends throughout the Hudson Valley.

Tell us in the comments: How are you celebrating?

1. Many communities are gathering this week with songs, latkes, games, lighting the menorah and more. Join neighbors and friends for the fun festivities, most events are open to everyone.There are many Hanukkah¬†celebrations on the calendar. If you don’t see one near your check your town or library websites too:

12/16- Goshen, Greenwood Lake & Millbrook

12/17- Wappingers Falls

12/18- New Windsor, Wappingers, Hyde Park

12/19- Poughkeepsie

12/20- Kingston

12/21- Poughkeepsie & Walkway over the Hudsonice menorah

2. Visit the 6′ ice menorah sculpture at the Galleria at Crystal Run on Sunday when the County Legislator and Mayor join the community to light the ice sculpture in a unique fire and ice celebration. The¬†Fire & Ice Chanukkah Orange Celebration¬†is open to everyone and fun for the entire family! Play games, make crafts, partake in activities for the kids. Satisfy your hunger at a potato latke bar with all the fixings, an ice slush stand and more!

GLOW CHANUKKAH GLOW3. Experience the tallest menorah in the Hudson Valley! Each night the candles are lit at the civic center plaza in Poughkeepsie. All are welcome to enjoy the celebration and enjoy songs, hot latkes, doughnuts, hot cider and chocolate gelt!

4. A unique Hanukkah festival for the entire family! Visit the Poughkeepsie Galleria on Sunday 12/21 for Glow Chanukkah Glow. Experience the menorah lights glowing in the dark with crafts, activities for the kids and performances. Enjoy an electric light up comedy and juggling show, live music and dancing, hot latkes, dreidel games andpaper plate menorah more!

5. Create with the kids! From homemade menorahs to dreidel spin art, the internet is filled with ideas the kids can make to celebrate. I love this easy paper plate menorah idea from pleasantestthing.com

6.¬†Hanukkah is a time to celebrate the symbolic meaning of the victory of light over darkness. Yes, we light candles on the Menorah for 8 days to celebrate this enormous victory but¬†you can get a little creative here too. Pack the family into the car and take a look at the beautiful light displays throughout the Hudson Valley. While decorating homes and trees with lights is more of a Christmas tradition here in America it dates all the way back to Thomas Edison’s and one of his many publicity stunts and is used throughout many parts of the world for different types of festivals. However, not only does the twinkle of the Christmas light date back to Thomas Edison’s era but before him miniature candles were used to light up Christmas trees and even before that in the dark cold winters of the 12th century people were recorded as the first to light a burning yule log as a symbol of the sun’s promise to return (Source).

Top 5 Light Displays in the Hudson Valley

7.¬†Give and support. Hanukkah is a celebration of religious freedom. The 8 days of Hanukkah remember a time when people stood up to “bullies” and fought for that they wanted and believed in, they fought for themselves. A great way to celebrate is to give back. You can support Israel and Israelis through The Good People Fund, an organization that provides resources on charities in Israel. You don’t have to give money to support Israel, have your kids send cards and pictures to soldiers, or start a pen pal with another child there. I know this is stretching it a bit here, but you can take¬†the idea of fighting for freedoms closer to home and more relevent to today’s culture by showing your support to organizations like Stomp Out Bullying¬†which raise awareness of bullying prevention.

8.¬†Celebrate your own history and culture. Hanukkah is a holiday that Accordion-Bookshows the importance of history. You don’t need to celebrate Hanukkah or be Jewish. Talk to relatives, do a little digging and create a family tree, family history album or just talk to your kids about your heritage and culture. I love these interview questions for Grandparents found on The House of Hendrix Blog or these Family Timeline Accordian Books from Imagination Soup the kids can make.¬†The holiday time no matter what you celebrate is a wonderful time for taking a little look back into history with our kids.

9.¬†One of my favorite things about the Hanukkah celebrations is the food! For me a wonderful potato latke this time of the year truly hits the spot. Whip up a batch for dinner tonight! If cooking isn’t quite your thing you might have to do a little searching for a true Kosher Deli or good potato Latke in the area but it isn’t impossible. New City Kosher Deli & Restaurant¬†¬†looks to be one of the few remaining in our area but with high ratings and great reviews it just might be worth the drive to Rockland County this week. If you are up for a cooking treat, here is a delicious Potato Latke recipe from FoodandWine.com.latkes

  1. 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  2. Sea salt
  3. 2 pounds baking potatoes
  4. 1 large onion, finely diced
  5. 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  6. 1 cup matzo meal
  7. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  8. Vegetable oil, for frying
  9. Applesauce, cr√®me fra√ģche, smoked salmon, salmon roe and dill sprigs, for serving
  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the Yukon Gold potatoes with cool water, season generously with salt and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and immediately pass the potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl.
  2. Working quickly, peel and grate the baking potatoes on the large holes of a box grater into a medium bowl. Press with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Add half of the grated potatoes to the riced potatoes.
  3. Transfer the remaining grated potatoes to the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion and pulse until the potatoes and onions are very finely chopped. Transfer to a fine-mesh sieve and press with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the potato-onion mixture to the large bowl. Stir in the eggs, matzo meal, white pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt.
  4. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil until shimmering. Working in 3 batches, spoon 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the oil for each latke; press slightly to flatten. Fry over moderate heat, turning once, until the latkes are golden and crisp on both sides, about 7 minutes. Drain the latkes on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve with applesauce, cr√®me fra√ģche, smoked salmon, salmon roe and dill.

10.¬†Spend time together. Whether you go out and celebrate, give gifts or cook, the true spirit of the season is about celebrating with your loved ones and making memories together. Don’t let the commercialization of the season let¬†you loose sight of the the most important thing we can give our children this month, our time and love.

A very Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating tonight. May the festival of lights bring you much joy, compassion, hope and love.

Top 10 things to do this holiday season in the Hudson Valley

hurds

1. Cut down your Christmas tree.¬†It’s easy to make a day or afternoon out of finding the perfect tree, cutting it down and enjoying a cup of hot cocoa at one of the many great local tree farms. Many of the tree farms in addition to a selection of pine trees, offer an array of family fun activities from sleigh rides to campfires!

Check out our list of Christmas tree farms in the Hudson Valley

We are looking forward to our trip to Hurd’s Family Farm this weekend to cut down our tree, take a ride on the cow train and roast a s’more around the campfire! Along with Able’s Trees¬†(Verbank) and Manza’s Family Farm (Montgomery), Hurd’s Family Farm (Modena) is one of¬†Hudson Valley Parents top three tree farm picks!¬†

santa

2. Take a picture with Santa! There is something about a child climbing up onto the lap of Santa to talk about Christmas wishes that brings me right into teh nostalgic feeling of a classic Christmas movie. Visiting Santa is always right at the top of our December bucket list. This year some local displays have even transformed with to include virtual experience filled with interactive displays, body scanner naughty or nice lists and DIY sleigh designs! Malls, stores, restaurants and even tree farms in the Hudson Valley are all offering photos and visits with Santa.

Top 10 places to get your photos taken with Santa

Share your photos with us! Santa photo gallery.

3. Go on a Christmas Lights drive.¬†Make it a special family date night. After dinner, bundle the kids in their pajamas, pack up some hot cocoa and cookies and pile into the car for a drive. There are probably many beautifully decorated erdajthomes right in your town but if you are up for a bit of an adventure¬†you might want to add some of the local hot spots to your route.¬†My favorite is ERDAJT’s holiday light display located at 8 Patrick ¬†Drive in Lagrangeville. They hold 2 Guinness Book of¬†¬†World Records for most Christmas lights on a home and collect donations throughout the season for awesome local charities! Last year they raised $33,809!¬†www.erdajt.com

 

For more great Christmas light displays check out: Top 5 Light Displays in the Hudson Valley.

4. Don’t miss A Frosty Fest.¬†Take a stroll down Candy Cane Lane and enjoy the lights, gift shop a frosty festbite to eat and a cup of hot cocoa. Visitors can take a ride on Frosty’s hayride or drive their own car through the wonderful animated light displays complete with live actors and computer animations. Park and take a walk through Glistening Gardens and the Magical Mansion and finally complete your trip with a visit to the North Pole for a photo with Santa! Frosty Fest is located in Ulster Park. www.afrostyfest.com. If you are closer to Dutchess County, you should also visit Kevin McCurdy’s Spirit Festival¬†for a similar experience.

This week Enter to WIN tickets to A Frosty Fest! (12/1- 12/7)

5.¬†Community tree/ menorah¬†lighting celebrations¬†are a must do for sure! A great way to get together with friends and neighbors and enjoy the magic of the season in your own neighborhoods. Some towns have more elaborate celebrations with light parades, music and even fireworks (Poughkeepsie)! Other towns have a nice gathering of Christmas lights and hot chocolate. If your town isn’t listed below check local websites and Facebook pages to see if your town is hosting anything similar.

Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremonies in the Hudson Valley

operation cheer6.¬†Start a new holiday tradition.¬†Last year we baked dozens of cookies, packed them up and brought them to our local firehouse. It was fun to bake together and even more fun to give cookies away making someone else’s day a little brighter. We make cards for Operation Christmas Cheer and pack up the kids for a Christmas Light date night. Starting family traditions are wonderful ways to create memories and re-live special moments each year.

40 ways to start your own family holiday traditions.

7. Celebrate children, art and the light of the winter season at Sinterklaas!¬†The village of Rhinebeck transforms into a magical place of art, theater, music and dance during Sinterklaas on December 6th. Musicians, jugglers, fire walkers, tight rope walkers and a variety of colorful characters wander the streets of the village engaging children with stories and treats. Children are the focus as they become kings and queens for the day! Crafts, shopping, performances and a children’s starlight parade featuring two- story animated puppets carried by over a hundred volunteers is just an idea of what Sinterklaas is all about!¬†www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.comsinterklaas2

8.¬†Enjoy the Outdoors!¬†Just because the weather is getting colder doesn’t mean families need to beIMG_6505 confined to the indoors. From ice skating to sledding to hiking, the Hudson Valley offers so much for families year round. One of our favorite spots in the winter is Bear Mountain State Park where we can enjoy ice skating, a warm up and ride on the carousel and lunch (or Sunday brunch, yumm!) inside the Inn.

Hudson Valley Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks

The best cold- weather hiking spots in the Hudson Valley

9.¬†Take a ride on the Polar Express!¬†Children and families can take a round trip ride to the North Pole aboard the Polar Express Train this month. It’s as if you are stepping right into a scene from the hit Warner Bros. film with music from the motion picture soundtrack, pajama clad passengers and favorite characters from the film coming to life right in front of your eyes! The conductor punches tickets, the chefs serve hot chocolate and families participate in a sing a long and reading of the book along the way. When you arrive at the North Pole Santa himself will board the train and gift each child a special bell to all those who believe.¬†Catskill Mountain Railroad

polar express bell

10. Give back, donate time or gifts. I am finding this year¬†as my boys get older and more into “things” I¬†am scouting out¬†ways to re-direct the idea that Christmas is all about what Santa will bring me onto something a bit more meaningful. Yes, I want my kids to be excited Christmas morning, I want them to experience the magic as I did of opening gifts they “really, really wanted” but I also want them to appreciate those gifts. I feel there should be a better balance in our home of wanting to get but wanting to give too. Last month we chose¬†toys we no longer play with to pass on to the local children’s home.

10 places in the Hudson Valley to donate toys.

We plan to spend an afternoon baking cookies to bring to our local fire department and we have starting making and sending cards, positive notes and artwork for local children battling cancer through fellow blogger The Whatever Mom and her Operation Christmas Cheer initiative. There are so many other ways that your family can give back, from adopting a child/family to purchase gifts for, packing up shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child as Discount Diva shared with us recently in her post Operation Grateful Child or working in a soup kitchen.

Other ways to make an impact this holiday.

 

So, what are you doing to make this month special for your family?

Top Halloween Events

 

As Summer leaves us and Fall swoops in, the atmosphere around us changes. Here in the Hudson Valley, there are several locations that offer fun, scares, candy, and costumes that the whole family can enjoy. Make this Halloween season one to remember.

Orange County:

Forest of Fear
Tuxedo Park.
Oct. 3rd-26th(not Oct.23rd) & Oct. 31st-Nov.2nd

Pure Terror Scream Park
Monroe.
Oct. 3rd-26th(not Oct.23rd) & Oct. 31st-Nov. 2nd

Ghost Stories
Warwick.
Oct. 23rd

No Scare Halloween
Monroe.
Oct. 26th

Haunted Hayrides
Orange County’s Farmers Museum
Oct. 25th

Boo at the Zoo
Bear Mountain.
Oct. 25th

Trick or Treat and Parade
Greenwood Lake
Oct. 18th

Dutchess County:
Hogwarts Halloween

Wappingers Falls.
Oct. 25thTown of Wappinger Halloween Costume Contest

Wappingers Falls.
Oct. 25th

Halloween Parade and Festival
Wappingers.
Oct. 18th

Halloween Ghost Train Night
Hyde Park.
Oct 27th

Annual Mall-O-Ween Trick or Treat!
Poughkeepsie.
Oct. 31st

Pumpkin Festival
Beacon.
Oct. 12th

Fall Festival and Haunted Mini-Golf
Beekman Recreation
Oct. 25th

Ulster County:
Halloween Parade

New Paltz.
Oct. 31st

Night of 100 Pumpkins
New Paltz.
Oct.31st

5th Annual Wiles Chiropractic Haunted House
Marlboro.
Oct. 25th

Sullivan County:
Halloween Parade & Party

Jeffersonville.
Oct. 31st

Halloween Parade.
Livingston Manor.
Oct. 31st
Annual Halloween Extravaganza
Callicoon.
Oct. 25thGiant Pumpkin Party

Grahamsville.
Oct. 4th

Rockland County:

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Van Cortlandt Manor
Oct. 4-5, 10-13, 16-19, 23-31
Nov. 1-2, 6-9, 14-16