When it comes to Christmas and the holidays, it’s always been about traditions for our family. From church services on Christmas Eve (don’t you dare do another one that doesn’t include “Silent Night”) to visits with Santa to our annual viewing of “The Polar Express” and Hallmark Christmas movies to festooning the exterior of our house with an almost obscene amount of lights, we eat up the holidays like they’re free Christmas cookies sitting in the office break room. Like those cookies, they’re bound to disappear quickly as the new year rolls around so head out to these following fun family activities before it’s too late … and you find yourself contemplating whether or not to just leave the lights up all year.
If my beloved Hallmark Channel decided to film a Christmas movie in these here parts, they’d head straight to Hensler’s, located about five minutes west of Plymouth. When there’s snow on the ground, it’s a literal winter wonderland and when the snow is absent, the countless decorations and presence of Mr. and Mrs. Claus more than makes up for it.
You can cut your own tree (or choose a pre-cut one) and they’ll shake and bail it for you. They’ll even provide the tools so you can leave that rusty rarely used saw hanging on the wall in your garage. Live animals, including reindeer, can be viewed, decorations can be made, wreaths, ornaments and other holiday décor can be purchased and of course, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus can be taken.
Food is also available but you have to look for it. Head to where the animals are and look for the long white building. It’s on the northwest corner of the property a little tucked away from everything.
Be sure and check out the Hensler Nursery website for a full listing of fun activities along with hours.
Central Park Lights
Tucked in between the south shore of Center Lake and the looming Zimmer Biomet international headquarters is Warsaw’s Central Park. In December, the park transitions from a sleepy late fall slumber with paths lit by alternating cool and warm white lights to a family fun park bedazzled with Christmas lights and decorations of all different shapes, sizes and colors. The city has invested a lot in the light display to keep it fresh and it has paid off. The programmed LED Christmas trees, which now include two smaller ones to compliment the main large one, have become a focal point for visitors. To help ward off the cold temps, hot chocolate and popcorn are available at the main entrance in the northeast corner of the park.
Hawthorn Estates Light Show and The Original That Started It All
If I was going to move to a neighborhood for one month, it would be Hawthorn Estates and it would be December. Located at the corner of E 450 N and N 25 E (north side of Chapman and not to be confused with the other Hawthorn south of town), a majority of the homeowners dive right into the whole house decorating thing and the result is a Christmas trail you can enjoy from the warmth of your car. You can even tune into a local radio frequency and enjoy the synced show. Some of the homes, including the addition’s perimeter, sync their displays to the music as well. It’s a site to behold and we never miss it.
The original house that started the craze in Warsaw can now be found at 1916 E. Ridge Valley Road in Crestview subdivision. You can find out more about the Christmas lights show on their website.
Head to a Hill and Go Sledding
For those of you who don’t know, there are two prime spots in Warsaw to go sledding – the hill behind the old Madison school and Kelly Park’s new man-made hill. Either location offers plenty of fun and sledding until you can’t take another step. Snow helps but hey, I can’t control that.
Surprise Number Five – Drive By Our House
Honestly, our house isn’t the best decorated house in the area but if you head to our neck of the woods, maybe you’ll make an evening out of it and check out other neighborhoods. Hawthorne might be the most well-coordinated and have the most participation but other neighborhoods are stepping up their game. Just up the road from us is Summer Field where a large number of homes proudly showcase their extravagant holiday displays. We’ve already crept through there a couple times.
We do this every year. Think about it – if you have kids, they’re trapped in the car and can’t go anywhere. If you take away their electronics, they’ll just stare out the window. It might as well be at a bunch of pretty lights. Our kids are younger so they still get excited when we yell out for the seventh time – Look, it’s Santa Claus!” Time is limited to make moments into memories. Grab it while you can.
Ahh, I barely made it to four free fun family activities so the alliteration side of my can sleep softly tonight. I’ll add to the list and update it each year so make sure checking out this blog is one of your new annual Christmas traditions! See, now we’re up to five. 🙂
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!