It seems to happen every year: Just when my husband and I are pretty sure we've got the holidays on lock and our plans made, something crops up to throw us into a busier-than-ever season. So we readjust and make new plans!
The kids and I sat down this week, and even as young as they are, they knew we needed to make a list to make sure we didn't miss some our favorite holiday happenings. Want to peek at our list?
Here are a few of our favorite things on our local Christmas bucket list (and some new ideas!)
1. Shop Local
I grew up in Murfreesboro, and even worked at a few signature downtown spots during college, and nothing says Christmas to me like meandering historic buildings dressed up for the holidays. So do it! Head to downtown Murfreesboro, Smyrna's Depot District, or Eagleville's Main Street to peruse one-of-a-kind shops for one-of-a-kind gifts. Of course shopping great merch is a thrill, but the conversations and cheerful hellos from store owners warms the spirit just as much.
2. Ice Skating
While ponds don't exactly get cold enough here for sturdy skating, creativity on the part of Fountains at Gateway and World Outreach Church means our city has two spots for families to enjoy the ice skating experience. No experience, you say? Take advantage of supports for young and novice skaters, warm fires for chilly hands, and a wonderful outdoor tradition to put you in the holiday spirit.
3. See the Lights
Do lights EVER get old? While neighborhoods seem particularly well-lit this year thanks to many providing extra Covid-era cheer, take in some wonderful displays at The Dancing Lights of Christmas in Lebanon and Christmas Lights in Cannonsburg. Don't forget to get everyone some holiday snacks and sips to work on while they're taking in the show.
4. Stroll The Avenue Murfreesboro
Wiggly kids who just want to be in the lights will love the displays and music at The Avenue Murfreesboro's outdoor shopping center. From the giant tree in the middle of Central Park, to oversized ornaments and fir-tree reindeer lounging on park benches, photo ops and holiday fun abound. It's a tradition for us to pick up dinner at a restaurant like Mimi's or Bar Louie, stroll the lights, and pickup a new book or ornament at one of the fabulous shops. This year, get in on their "Holiday Gnome Hunt" to win a $100 gift card!
5. Treats from Batey's Farm
I'm in the stage of life where I mostly create a grocery-list with one-stop shopping in mind, but at the holidays I make an extra trip out to Batey Farms for gift items and ingredients for holiday dining-- signature sausage, fresh pork meat cuts, and even fresh dairy items from partner farms. This year they are offering order-ahead options and staff will bring your goodies to your car! Learn about seasonal offerings here.
6. WOC Christmas Festival
This is the last weekend of World Outreach's free Christmas festival for families, complete with a living Nativity, food trucks onsite, and more (along with the ice skating!) They are also accepting new, unwrapped toy donations for Toys for Tots. Find out more here.
7. Holiday Open House at Discovery Center
Saturday, December 12 will be a FREE day at Discovery Center featuring holiday traditions from around the world, Santa pictures, a giant gingerbread house and much more! Register ahead of time on the DC website, but you can also get in on special holiday-themed activities during the week during their "25 Days of Discovery." Go to explorethedc.org for tickets and additional holiday details.
8. Candlelight Tours
Catch Oaklands Mansion in its seasonal splendor with a special evening candlelight tour and be wowed by period decorations and stunning holiday displays. While the annual tour of historic homes has moved to a virtual platform, it's still a special treat to get a peek inside gorgeous downtown homes (link available with donation). In Smyrna, the Historic Sam Davis Home and Plantation also shows off beautiful examples of 19th century holiday celebrations. Don't forget to stop in the gift shops at both locations for unique and beautiful gifts!
9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
See a live performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by the Center for the Arts at Murfreesboro's Civic Plaza today, Friday, December 11 and Saturday, December 12. Bring your own chairs and blankets and settle in for a festive performance under the stars! Tickets $10 each. More info here
What else would you add to a local Christmas bucket list? Please share with readers below!
Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama and Murfreesboro native who lives in the Blackman community with her husband and two children. Follow her at @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram. Got a column idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.