One of our kids’ favorite Advent traditions is our Advent calendar. Instead of putting candy or surprises in it, we put a special activity for each day. Some of these are things we would do anyway (the Christmas concert at our co-op or a special church service). Some are really simple, like “drink hot chocolate” or “extra books” (meaning that they get to pick extra books from the book basket). I throw in a few movie nights and game nights. And then I try and include a couple of activities that are more special and exciting. There are hundreds of options for special Christmas themed activities we could do. The problem (other than time limits) is that many are quite expensive. Luckily, over the years we’ve found a few special events that our kids love but that are either free or inexpensive.
There are many different light shows in the area. The National Zoo’s Zoolights is one that we have enjoyed in the past but hadn’t been to in several years. Think thousands and thousands of LED lights wrapped around trees and in animal themed displays. There is the bonus of getting to see some animals although many areas of the zoo are closed off due and many animals are sleeping or inside due to the cold.
Zoolights is free but the parking is $22.00. Still, for a family of five that is relatively inexpensive compared to the other similar displays. If you go be prepared to resist the extra costs of all the vendors selling light-themed souvenirs, the many snack and treat vendors and the new rides they have available at an extra cost.
In case I’m sounding a little Scrooge-like about all the extra costs, we did take the kids out for a fabulous dinner at Cactus Cantina. (Which just happens to be my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant.) They ate well. Very well.
Today after church we headed downtown with friends to the U.S. Botanic Garden’s Seasons Greenings exhibit. This wonderland of trains is created entirely out of plant materials (except for the trains themselves). It is free and always a treat. It’s also where we took the photo currently in my header at the top of the page. If you are in the area or live in one of the other cities with a similar display, I definitely recommend it.