Family, Kid-Friendly, Reviews, Things To Do

Visit Santa and Mrs. Claus at Operation North Pole

This has to top your Christmas bucket list! In fact, I insist you visit Operation North Pole immediately! It is such a great family friendly outing that will appeal to kids of all ages!

Thanks to 411 Mommas and the Vegas Lifestyle Influencers, Operation North Pole at Tivoli Village is our new holiday tradition. JJ & I took his best bud and his mom for this year’s festivities and we already can’t wait to visit again. What a great way to start the holiday season!
Operation North Pole is located at Tivoli Village beside Kidville and across the street from Waffle Bar. Upon arrival, head into the retail shop to check in with a clipboard clad elf and get your stamp. I bet you can chance going standby, but that might be a lot of waiting… Make reservations online ahead of time at opnorthpole.com. While completing your registration, you’llbe given an opportunity to donate to the Boys and Girls Club. A $49 donation upgrades you to the VIP Santa photo package. You get 4 different poses, digital versions and a souvenir

Santa sack. Exit the retail shop and take pictures on the train to the left or make your way to the right along the outside of the building. There is an entrance on the side where you will see folks begin to line up. There is no strollers access, so remember to bring your carrier or be prepared to hold your infant! 

Your ticket includes four rooms of festive delight! You will have candy tasting in the snow room, elves leading you in song and perhaps a game or 2. Next, you will have some playtime to try old and new games or decorate ornaments in Santa’s workshop with gorgeously decorated Christmas trees to admire. 

After all that play, it’s clearly time for a snack, so cruise on into Mrs. Claus’ kitchen for some cookies and cocoa! Mrs. Claus is just as sweet and adoring as you can imagine and she makes her way around the long kitchen table quietly chatting with each child as they decorate their cookies with icing and sprinkles. Afterwards, Mrs. Claus reads the children a Christmas story and you can ask her anything you want – even about Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer. During the time in the kitchen, you may catch a glimpse of Santa walking thru! He might just stop for a free quick hugs on his path.

After refueling with sweet snacks, Thank Mrs. Claus and head over to the stables to brush and feed the reindeer. Here you can sing songs with Mira, our favorite elf. Don’t forget to bag up some reindeer food too! You’ll visit Santa next in turn, one family at a time… I left in a bit of a rush so I didn’t have time to shop, but I will definitely be back there for the cutest Christmas finds in town! They even have autograph books if you want to bring one with you for all the wonderful North Pole residents you meet along the way! This is by far, the nest bang for your buck – cookie decorating and story time with Mrs. Claus, learning about reindeer and gifts from Santa when you take pictures with him. You will be amazed at how a couple of hour ours of fun at the North Pole sticks with your littles. Big kids and littles are sure to enjoy…


PHOTO and TRIVIA Scavenger Hunt

□ Selfie with lashes or a candy truck

□ Name your favorite flavor candy you tasted

□ Selfie with an elfie

□ Name your favorite game

□ Selfie with Mrs. Claus or a gingerbread man

□ Which color sprinkles are your favorite?

□ Tree selfie (“treefie”?!)

□ What would you name a reindeer?

□ What do reindeer eat?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Tag us on Instagram or Twitter so we can see pictures from your visit!

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Family, Moms

Holiday Traditions With Extended Family

I love the holidays! I have some of the best memories of my childhood involve Christmas Barkada (“The Group”) parties…I look forward to sharing these with my son along with the other third generation Bakada babies.

circa 1979

circa 1979

When my mother was pregnant with my brother, my dad invited some coworkers to the baby shower. Who knew this would turn into a friendship of forty five years and counting…There were more friends of friends added to the circle, more babies and thus, more reasons to celebrate and see each other. Eight families getting together for a day (that sometimes turned to night!) of family fun. Dads played mahjong in the garage while the moms cooked and chatted in the kitchen. Sometimes perms, dyes and new haircuts emerged after our time together. The boys played video games or card games and the girls played dressing up. Our teenage years meant group trips to the mall or bowling alley. We even got disciplined together! We took turns hosting at each family home, about an hour’s drive away. I grew up with seven extra aunties and uncles and about twenty bonus cousins! I was a teenager by the time I realized we are not related by blood.

That’s me in the front row! Check out the boys: matching shirts and hairstyles too! Hahaha…

Christmas was especially fun. We always had certain dishes that were mainstays on the potluck menu. As we got older, we started requesting things like, Auntie Tita’s lemon bars, Uncle Lino’s lasagna, and even the kids started to share their creations: Cousin Cheryl’s crème puffs!!! Aside from the amazing food we shared, my favorite Christmas memory is the gift exchange. Even as a big group, the kids each got a gift from each of the families.

Matching gifts as adults.

Matching gifts as adults.

Twenty kids across eight families and we are all pretty close in age. From my brother to the youngest there is about 13 years separating us, but in between there are several years of more than one birth. One Christmas, one grandmother made the girls matching dresses. It was so awesome and cheesy, we loved being the same. We have grown to be such a big family that we eventually had to adopt a gift exchange. We had one uncle dress up as Santa every year. We are officially on the second generation Santa now…

The most recent Barkada wedding was Aug 2014.

What a gift to be part of a family of friends who have been there for each other for everything: From potlucks, house hunting, and cherry picking to life’s biggest events of weddings, graduations, European vacations, births, deaths, cancer battles, weddings, baptisms, EVERYTHING! Currently we are focusing on our dear cousin beating cancer. It has been a rough road, but having a prayer tree this big means automatically having a massive collective positive energy healing her. {We Love You Lyn, KICK CANCER’S BEHIND!}

I am blessed to carry on this tradition with my son and he is blessed to be born into a loving extended family who loves him unconditionally. They say it takes a village to raise one child. I am so lucky I have a village built in! Now more than ever, I crave time with my family and want my relatives to be a part of our lives as often as possible – even if it’s a Skype session!
The oldest of the 3rd generation is still a baby to me! J with his cousins. 

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