At the beginning of the month, send a holiday scavenger hunt list to family members, including aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and all of the kids, too. Encourage every family member to look for the items on the list throughout the month. When they find one of the festive items, they should document it with a photo. The goal is to photograph as many of the items as possible, and the family member with the most items checked off their list wins!
When your family gathers for a holiday celebration, each family member can share his or her photos. Or, for a twist, have everyone share their photos on social media all month long. The winner can be rewarded a small prize, gag gift or homemade treat. But the bigger prize will be bringing the family together for the holidays, sharing silly scavenger hunt stories and creating new family traditions.
Here are a few items to start your photo scavenger hunt list. Add some of your own ideas, too, and be sure to include a few family jokes!
Happy Thanksgiving from Little Rock Family! We hope you have a wonderful holiday sitting around the table with loved ones. And after all of the pie and turkey, we hope you'll make some family memories at one of the many activities in central Arkansas this weekend. It's a fun-filled weekend that includes the opening of The Velveteen Rabbit at Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre, decorating the Christmas tree at Laman Library's Argenta Branch, and the illumination of multiple holiday lights around town!
Plus, if you're still feeling stuffed from Turkey Day, you can find ways to work off a few calories with our list of fun (and active) ideas for family workouts (hint: how about some skating or trampoline parks?). Or, if you're ready to snag a Christmas tree and decorate your home for the holidays, check out our list of local Christmas tree farms. Speaking of Christmas, Santa is all over town, waiting to hear Christmas wishes--click here to see where you can find him.
Last, but not least, you may notice central Arkansas shining a little more brightly this weekend--many of our favorite holiday light displays are returning! And, several new holiday lights will illuminate, too. See a few lighting ceremonies below and check out our full list of holiday lights here.
1. The Velveteen Rabbit at Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theater: A Christmas-themed childhood favorite comes to life on stage. Families will recognize the heartwarming story of a stuffed rabbit and his quest to become real through the love of his owner. The Velveteen Rabbit is written by Alan Keith Smith and based on the story by Margery Williams. $12.50; AAC members are $10. Performances are: 7 p.m. Fri., 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. Sat.; 2 p.m. Sun. Nov. 28-Dec. 21. For info: (501) 372-4000, ArkansasArtsCenter.org.
2. Holidays in the Park in Riverfront Park & First Security Amphitheater: Downtown Little Rock is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights this holiday season. Enjoy this festive light display that operates to music and dances on the Amphitheater Stage; shows run nightly from 5-10 p.m. Nov. 29 - Jan. 3. Celebrate this addition with a holiday party in the Rivermarket Pavilion 3-5 p.m. Nov. 29, complete with a visit from Santa, games, crafts, holiday cookies, beverages and more. 3-10 p.m. Nov. 29. For info: (501) 375-2552, Rivermarket.info. FREE!
3. Children's Department Tree Trimming at Laman Library North Little Rock Argenta Branch: The Children's Department needs help decorating their tree! 10:30-11:30 a.m. Nov. 29. For info: (501) 687-1061, LamanLibrary.org. FREE!
4. 7th Annual Celebration of Lights & Light the Night Sale at The Promenade at Chenal: Shoppers will delight in the animated tree and light display and free Promenade Express train rides all day. Other exciting events include free photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus (1-5 p.m. Nov. 29, 1-6 p.m. Nov. 30), Plays with a Purpose presents "The Gift of the Magi" in the courtyard at 1 & 4 p.m., and the tree lighting presentation at 5 p.m. Plus, don't miss the special sale event, refreshments, and free gifts for the first 100 kids. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 29. For info: (501) 821-5552, ChenalShopping.com. FREE!
5. Capital Hotel Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at The Capital Hotel: Don't miss this yummy family event that includes delicious cookies, treats and hot chocolate with the trimmings. Holiday music will be performed by U.A.L.R. flautists and carolers. After the tree lighting at 6 p.m., Santa will arrive to visit with the boys and girls! Bring your camera for pictures with Santa, too. 5-9 p.m. Nov. 30. For info: (501) 374-7474, Facebook.com/TheCapitalHotel. FREE!
6. The Polar Express at Colonel Glenn 18+XTREME: The movie theater will screen special Christmas films throughout the holiday season, including The Polar Express (PG) starring Tom Hanks. Based on the beloved book by Chris Van Allsburg, this 2004 animated film follows a young boy as he travels to the North Pole on a magical train ride. 2 p.m. Nov. 30. For info: (501) 687-0499, Cinemark.com.
7. Lighting Ceremony at Mountain Harbor Resort: The festive lighting ceremony includes live music on the stage, free hayrides to view the Christmas lights of Harbor, free cookies and hot cocoa and cider, Christmas story reading by Mrs. Claus, and the arrival of Santa on a hayride wagon to turn on all the lights of Harbor. Open to the public. Nov. 28. For info: MountainHarborResort.com. FREE!
8. 17th Annual Mountain Rendezvous at Petit Jean State Park: Experience a primitive camp and learn some of the survival skills used by Arkansas pioneers. Watch a variety of demonstrations including muzzleloading rifles, tomahawk throwing, and more. Co-sponsored by the Early Arkansaw Reenactor Association. Contact the park for a schedule as the event draws near. Nov. 28-30. For info: (501) 727-5441, PetitJeanStatePark.com. FREE!
9. Green Friday at Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park in Scott: Spend Black Friday exploring the history of cotton agriculture in Arkansas. The gift shop is located in the main museum featuring unique gifts-- and no crowds! 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 28. For info: (501) 961-1409, ArkansasStateParks.com/PlantationAgricultureMuseum. FREE!
10. Black Friday Skate at Arkansas Skatium: Work off your Thanksgiving meal while you ice and roller skate. $10 admission; skate rental free. Noon-5:30 p.m. Nov. 28. For info: (501) 227-4333, ArkansasSkatium.com.
11. Fall Hayride & Campfire at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Jostle, bounce, and laugh your way across the fields and through the woods on a guided hayride with a warm campfire, stories, hot chocolate, and marshmallows. Advance payment is required. $12, children ages 6-12 $6. 3-5 p.m. Nov. 29 & 30. For info: (501) 868-5806, ArkansasStateParks.com/PinnacleMountain.
12. Hometown Holiday Lights at Burns Park: At this annual event, families enjoy holiday lights in a drive-through setting. More than 40 displays are set-up beginning at the Softball Complex and continuing down Funland Drive ending at Military Drive. Open 6-10 p.m. nightly except on Christmas. Donations welcome. 6-10 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 30. For info: (501) 791-8543, NLRPR.org. FREE!
For more events, see our full online calendar here.
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Central Arkansas is ablaze with holiday light displays. Clear, multi-colored, twinkling, single strands or huge displays--we love them all! Visit these festivals and exhibits this month for a brighter holiday season, from the classic festival at Garvan Woodland Gardens to the brand-new display in downtown Little Rock.
1. Holiday Lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens: See nearly 4 million bulbs transform approximately 17 acres into a memorable animated holiday display. As you amble through through the winter wonderland, your family can sip complimentary hot cocoa. Plus, on special Santa nights, families can have their photos taken with the big guy. Professional photographer Rebecca Peterman will be on hand to snap pictures from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 8-11, 15, 17-18, which will be available for purchase. Holiday lights are on display 5-9 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31. Admission to Gardens: $10, ages 6-12 are $5, under 6 & members are free. For info: (501) 262-9300, GarvanGardens.org.
2. Holidays in the Park at First Security Amphitheater: On Nov. 29, the First Security Amphitheater in downtown Little Rock will transform into a bright winter wonderland called Holidays in the Park. The seasonal lighting display, a new attraction for Riverfront Park, will be a 10-minute show choreographed to music and can be seen each night throughout the holiday season. Holidays in the Park will run on the First Security Amphitheater stage each evening from 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Nov. 29-Jan. 3. Families can help kick things off at the official lighting ceremony from 3-5 p.m. Nov 29. The opening night celebration includes a meet & greet with Santa Claus, holiday cookies, beverages, crafts, games and more. For info: Rivermarket.info or HolidaysInLittleRock.com. FREE!
3. Northern Lights Festival at City Services Building in Downtown North Little Rock: The city of North Little Rock is gearing up for its first-ever Northern Lights Festival on Dec. 7, where they'll unveil a new, 20-foot tree made of LED lights. The free festivities take place from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and families can enjoy photos with Santa, free hot chocolate and performances from local choirs. Plus, kids can make holiday ornaments and cards with Art Connection, Thea Foundation and the North Little Rock Mayor’s Youth Council. Families won't want to miss the annual North Little Rock Sertoma Club Christmas Parade, which takes place right before the festival at 2 p.m. The tree will be lit each evening Dec. 7-Jan. 2 and will be located in the middle of "Trolley Plaza" in front of the City Services Building (120 Main St.) at Washington and Broadway Sts. For info: NorthLittleRock.org. FREE!
4. Arkansas State Capitol in Downtown Little Rock: Following the Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade in downtown Little Rock, the State Capitol will be illuminated with its annual holiday display at 6 p.m. Dec. 6. In addition to the seasonal lights, families will catch a fireworks display. And don't forget to take in the magnificent 25-foot Rockefeller pine tree and elegant decorations in the Capitol building's rotunda. The tree's topper is a blow glass piece handcrafted by Arkansan James Hayes. Holiday lights will continue to shine each night throughout the season. For info: (501) 835-3399, HolidaysInLittleRock.com. FREE!
5. Hometown Holiday Lights at Burns Park: At this annual event, families enjoy holiday lights in a drive-through setting. More than 40 displays will be set up beginning at the Softball Complex and continuing down Funland Drive ending at Military Drive. Open 6-10 p.m. nightly except on Christmas. Donations welcome. 6-10 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 30. For info: (501) 753-7307, NLRPR.org. FREE!
6. A Trail of Holiday Lights at Sherwood's Enchanted Forest: Drive through this mile-long trail of lights in Sherwood Forest to spot over 92 brightly-lit displays. Don't forget to pick up a complimentary candy cane at the end of the trail. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. 6-9:30 p.m. Dec. 1-30. For info: (501) 833-3790, CityofSherwood.net. FREE!
7. 7th Annual Celebration of Lights at The Promenade at Chenal: Shoppers will delight in the animated tree and light display, which is unveiled at 5 p.m. Nov. 29 and shines throughout the holiday season. Other exciting events include free photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus (1-5 p.m. Nov. 29, 1-6 p.m. Nov. 30). 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 29. For info: (501) 821-5552, ChenalShopping.com. FREE!
For more holiday light displays throughout the state, visit the Arkansas Parks & Tourism Trail of Holiday Lights website.
In my adult life, nothing has sapped my self-confidence like motherhood. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, the kids grow and change in a new direction. And watching other moms only makes matters worse. I spend my days sucking up cereal with a hand-held vacuum while Supermom posts to-die-for pictures on Pinterest.
Of course, it is perfectly normal to feel insecure at times. But self-doubt can create a vicious, downward spiral. To lift yourself up, you’ve got to tap into your inner core of confidence. Here’s how.
1. Know Yourself. Overestimating your abilities will cause you to crash and burn like an American-Idol wannabe, says Lynn Kennedy Baxter, B.S.N., M.A., a licensed marriage and family therapist in Colorado Springs, Colorado. And underestimating your abilities may cause you to pass up chances to stretch your skills. “Get reality checks from people you trust to give you good, honest feedback,” says Baxter. You may be holding yourself back.
2. Get Passionate. Fuel your confidence by investing in your own interests. Take dance classes, start a blog, or finish your college degree. “When we’re passionate about something—about anything—we become more attractive to others, and more importantly, we become more attractive to ourselves,” says certified life coach and inspirista Jennifer Tuma-Young of Edison, NJ.
3. Stop Comparing. “If you feel like your life is a see-saw, perhaps you’re depending on other people for your ups and downs,” says communication consultant Sam Horn, author of “What’s Holding You Back? 30 Days to Having the Courage and Confidence to Do What You Want, Meet Whom You Want, and Go Where You Want.” Comparing yourself to others generates feelings of inferiority or superiority, neither of which is helpful. Be accountable to your own wishes and values.
4. Banish Limiting Language. Telling yourself “I can’t,” “I’ll never,” or “I always,” reinforces your flaws and shortcomings, says Baxter, and can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Either accept your inadequacies, or choose to develop the trait or skill you’d like to have.” Ask yourself “What words of encouragement would I offer a friend in the same situation?” then say them to yourself. Optimistic self-talk inspires confidence.
5. Rest Up. “Research clearly demonstrates that even a few days of too-little sleep causes a part of the brain called the amygdala to go into overdrive with fear and anxiety,” says Baxter. Instead of responding to stress with worry and panicked preparation, take a warm bath and get to bed. You’ll be ready to move mountains in the morning.
6. Affirm Your Attributes. List your top 10 qualities. “They can be serious—like ‘I’m a great listener’—or silly, like ‘I always call people back,’ ‘I read with my kids every night,’ or ‘My cookies sell out first at the bake sale,” says Tuma-Young. Celebrating your own unique, special skills makes you feel fabulous.
7. Coach Yourself. There will be times when you don’t live up to your own expectations, like when you scream at your 4-year-old for washing the dog with pricey salon shampoo. “The key to a more productive approach lies in these two little words: next time,” says Horn. Focusing on how you’ll act differently in the future takes frees you from shame and self-blame.
8. Speak Up. When you’re unhappy, you have three options: you can whine, you can wait, or you can take responsibility, says Horn. Be proactive rather than passive. Tell the PTA president “No” if you don’t want to be in charge of the silent auction this spring. Staying true to yourself minimizes feelings of burnout and resentment.
9. Make a Difference. Giving to others increases feelings of competence and connectedness. Tuma-Young volunteers with Enchanted Makeovers, a nonprofit organization that offers inside-out makeovers to women and children living in shelters. “It’s not about giving to the needy,” says Tuma-Young. “We’re all needy. When we help each other, we heal our own lives.”
10. Be Positive. It may seem like other people have easier lives, but that’s just an illusion. Pay attention to small victories, like making a home-cooked meal that everyone in the family will eat. Celebrate improvement rather than focusing on perfection. And give yourself permission to feel disappointed when setbacks happen. Just don’t let them stop you from starting again. And again.
Find gifts for everyone in the family, including our brand-new babe. Speaking of whom...
Editor's Note: This is the Nipper family's final week of the Fit Families Challenge from Special Olympics Arkansas! The family of four -- Luke, Christy, Miles (3 years) and Molly (9 months) -- has been participating in the six-week program designed for individuals with special needs and their families. The Fit Families Challenge encourages physical activity and healthy eating for the whole family. Read more about the free program here, and check out more posts about the Nipper family's journey here.
As I set up an indoor obstacle course for Miles and Molly one afternoon this week, Miles wandered off to his room and returned with a pop-up crawling tunnel. I had stored it away months ago and had completely forgotten about it. I asked Miles if he would like to add the tunnel as part of the obstacle course and he excitedly said “yeah, yeah, YEAH.” So we opened it up and the kids enjoyed crawling back and forth for a few minutes before we added it to the course.
I demonstrated the course for the kids…run down the hallway, jump 10 times on the mini trampoline, walk on your tip toes to the rug, jump across the rug, do a little dance, crawl through the tunnel and run back down the hallway. Miles was so excited he could barely stand it. As he lined up and awaited the “ready, set, go” commands, I couldn’t help but laugh. As he took off, I repeated the instructions “run, run, run. Get on the trampoline, 1,2,3…, hurry, tip toes, jump, jump, jump, dance, run!” As he reached the threshold for his room, he collapsed in a fit of giggles. As we got Molly ready to take her turn I said, “Exercise is so good for us and it is so much fun!”
That last line has been the big change we have made over the course of our Fit Family challenge. Luke and I have always made exercise a priority and we have always tried to feed our kids healthy foods. During the Fit Family Challenge it dawned on me that we did these things, but we were not teaching our kids to do them for themselves or explaining why they were important. Over the course of the last six weeks we have really made the effort to start teaching them about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating. We know they may not completely understand what we are telling them but if we continue to reinforce these concepts, eventually they will get it!
As a teacher and coach, it surprised me to realize that the very thing I do all day with students and runners, I was overlooking with my own kids. In the busyness of life it is often much easier for me to just do things for my kids (pack their lunch, pick their snacks, etc.), but I am missing out on the valuable opportunity to teach them to make healthy choices and why certain choices are “healthy.”
It is really a pretty simple change. Instead of saying “No, Miles, you can’t have those,” when Miles opens the pantry and pulls out a bag of crackers, I now say “Miles, those crackers have something called gluten in them and gluten makes your tummy hurt, so you can’t have those.” A simple change will help our kids understand how to make choices that will benefit them for years to come.
Everyone feels better when they are healthy, and we know that equipping our kids to make choices that will put them on a path to a healthy lifestyle, is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.
What's your favorite Christmas film? There's a good chance that it will be showing at a movie theater in central Arkansas this holiday season! Several theaters will bring old Christmas movies back to the big screen, including true classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" and more recent favorites like "Elf" and "Home Alone." Here's where you can see special holiday screenings!
National Lampoon's Christmas Vaction (PG-13): Like all of the goofy flicks in the National Lampoon franchise, you can expect hilarious disaster after disaster. Thanks for the chuckles, Chevy Chase. 4 & 7 p.m. Dec. 4.
Elf (PG): Relive Buddy the Elf's journey from Santa's Workshop at the North Pole to the Rockefeller Center in New York City in this heartwarming family favorite starring Will Ferrell. 4 & 7 p.m. Dec. 11.
Irving Berlin's White Christmas: This Technicolor charmer from 1954 stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a song-and-dance act who team up with a pair of lovely lasses to put on a Christmas show and save a friend's failing Vermont lodge. 4 & 7 p.m. Dec. 16.
Entry to Retro Night movies at B&B Little Rock Chenal 9 is $5. For info, click here.
The Polar Express (PG): Based on the beloved book by Chris Van Allsburg, this 2004 animated film follows a young boy as he travels to the North Pole on a magical train ride. 2 p.m. Nov. 30.
A Christmas Carol & Christmas in Connecticut Double Feature (G): TCM presents this double feature presentation of 1938's A Christmas Carol and 1945's Christmas in Connecticut (’45) including a special introduction by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. 2 & 7 p.m. Dec. 7.
Irving Berlin's White Christmas: Ring in the holiday season with Irving Berlin’s beloved White Christmas on the big screen. The 60th anniversary screening celebration includes special backstage stories and a White Christmas retrospective. 2 & 7 p.m. Dec. 14.
It's a Wonderful Life (PG): Don't miss the 1946 classic starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. In the film, an angel helps the conflicted George Bailey see what life would have been like if he had never existed. 2 p.m. Dec. 21.
For more info on special events at Colonel Glenn 18+ Xtreme, click here.
Home Alone (PG): An 8-year-old boy, played by Macaulay Culkin, is accidentally left behind while his family flies to France for Christmas. As they desperately try to return home, the boy defends his home against idiotic burglars in inventive (and hilarious ways). 7 p.m. Dec. 9.
For more info on special screenings at Riverdale 10 Cinema, click here.
School's out! If the kids are getting stir-crazy this Thanksgiving, the holiday week offers plenty of family fun. Bonus: The weather forecast looks sunny and warm (for now, anyway), so you aren't limited to indoor-only activities. Here are eight great ideas, from mini golf to campfires!
1. Mini Golf and Go-Carts: Rain or shine, kids and their families can find plenty of entertainment at Big Rock Fun Park, including miniature golf, go-karts, bumper boats, batting cages and an indoor arcade with prizes. Thanksgiving week hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Wed, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri. Big Rock Fun Park will also offer a super Black Friday deal of a one-year unlimited mini golf pass for $74.99 (regular price is $145).
2. Trampoline Parks: Both Altitude Trampoline Park and Sky Zone will be open this week--and a great way to get the whole family moving. Or, if massive inflatables are more your style, Jump!Zone will also offer bouncy fun this week. For special Thanksgiving week hours and more info, see our full post of Active Family activities here.
3. Museum Exhibits: Take this week to catch up on the latest cultural offerings. The amazing Chihuly exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Center will wow your little ones. Nearby at the Museum of Discovery, you'll find two new exhibits--Dinosaurs: The Bare Bones and In the Dark. At the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, your family can view the free exhibit, Freedom! Oh, Freedom, which explores the African-American perspective of the Civil War. You'll find more free exhibits at the Arkansas Arts Center, and at the Historic Arkansas Museum, which recently opened the exhibition Under Pressure: The Arkansas Society of Printmakers. For more current exhibits, check out our full online calendar here.
4. Holiday Lights: Several holiday light exhibits kick off this weekend, including the brand-new animated display, called Holidays in the Park in downtown Little Rock's Riverfront Park. The free opening night celebration is 5:30-10 p.m. Nov. 29; read our full blog post for more info. The free annual Holiday Lights at Burns Park will also open Nov. 29. Plus, Garvan Woodland Gardens' extravagant winter wonderland is now open 5-9 p.m. daily (except Thanksgiving) through Dec. 31
5. Children's Theatre: After Thanksgiving, you can hop straight into the holidays as you experience The Velveteen Rabbit at the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre. The Christmas tale of the stuffed rabbit and his quest to become real is based on the classic story by Margery Williams. Performances are 7 p.m. Fri., 2 & 4 p.m. Sat., and 2 p.m. Sun.
6. Outdoor Activities: After the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, escape into nature at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Families can enjoy a fall hayride through the woods, then share stories and hot chocolate around a warm campfire. The event will take place from 3-5 p.m. Nov. 29 & 30. For info, click here.
7. Skating Rink: Work off your Thanksgiving meal during Black Friday Skate at the Arkansas Skatium. Ice and roller skating are open noon-5:30 p.m. Nov. 28, and skate rental is free all day with $10 admission price.
8. Indoor Play: The Wonder Place is closed for Thanksgiving, but open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 28 for little ones who need a break from holiday shopping. For more info, click here.