Tis the season, and this month we’re planning the perfect Chicagoland winter activities, tracking down the best gifts for your virtual white elephant exchange, and ringing in the new year in a unique way.
These signature Chicagoland events afford the perfect opportunity for holiday cheer this season. While celebrations may be a bit different this year, the city and suburbs offer activities for the whole family.
- Experience the wonder of ZooLights. Reserve your ticket for this Lincoln Park Zoo tradition to experience the wonder of ZooLights this month. With over 2.5 million bulbs lighting up the park, this amazing outdoor event is perfect for the whole family. Looking for a date night activity? The zoo also offers an adults-only night complete with mulled wine you won’t want to miss. Visit bit.ly/zoolights-chi for more information.
- Shop at a virtual Christkindlmarket. Reimagined for 2020, this year’s Christkindlmarket offers Chicagoans the opportunity to shop a huge online marketplace for traditional German wares and treats from the comfort of home. There’s also an amazing lineup of virtual events, including a weekly story time every Saturday afternoon. Visit christkindlmarket.com for more information.
- Visit the winter wonderland of Illumination. The Morton Arboretum’s annual light display is now a drive-through journey. With nearly two miles of colorful lights and a cheerful musical soundtrack, this amazing experience will transport you to crystal palaces, woodland wonders, and so much more—all without ever leaving your car. Visit bit.ly/morton-lights for more information.
- Stream the Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol at home. For more than 43 years, Chicago’s very own Goodman Theatre has put on its annual production of A Christmas Carol—and this year is no exception, though it will be a little different. In celebration of the holidays, this world-renowned theatre will be offering a free streaming audio version that you can experience at home. Visit goodmantheatre.org/Carol for more information.
- Ice skate with the skyline as your backdrop at Maggie Daley Park. Take in sweeping city views while enjoying some fun with the whole family at Maggie Daley Park’s Skating Ribbon. A free winter attraction unlike any other, this icy winding path is a great way to get outdoors—weather permitting, of course. Whether you bring your own skates or rent, you’ll need to reserve your spot, so plan accordingly. Visit bit.ly/skate-chi for more information.
New Year Traditions From Around the Globe
Celebrated in countless ways around the world, these New Year traditions may surprise you. Looking for a new way to ring in 2021? Give one of these unique traditions a try!
- Buddhist temples across Japan herald the new year by ringing their bells
- Taking the adage “out with the old, and in with the new” very seriously, residents of Johannesburg, South Africa throw old appliances out their windows.
- Each year in Brazil, many gather at the ocean front to toss white flowers into the water in hopes that their wishes for the next year come true.
- In Russia, people write their wishes for the new year on a piece of paper, light it on fire, and toss it into a glass of champagne—then they must drink it before the clock hits 12:01.
- As the clock strikes midnight, many in Spain eat 12 grapes to ensure a year full of happiness and good fortune.
- In Denmark, many people celebrate by smashing plates on their neighbor’s doorsteps. The more broken dinnerware at the door, the better your luck will be.
- As the clock hits midnight, the people of Turkey open their front doors to sprinkle a bit of salt, which is said to bring peace and abundance to your home.
- As a symbol of rebirth, households in Greece hang an onion on their front door on New Year’s Eve. Parents then wake their children the next day by tapping them on the head with the onion for good luck.
Planning a virtual white elephant exchange has never been easier with the help of platforms like SecretSanta.com, but you’ll still need to find the perfect gift. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite fun, affordable options that your friends and family are sure to want to steal!
- Shower Wine Glass Holder
Be prepared to bring the most stolen gift to your exchange! This hysterical and practical item offers an easy way to unwind with a glass of vino, even in the shower. $15, bit.ly/shower-wine
- Constantin Brainteasers
These laser-cut, handheld mazes are an interactive, unique gift that’s sure to inspire some healthy white elephant competition. $20, bit.ly/constantin-brainteasers
- Dad Jokes Book
Need a good laugh? Everyone loves a classic dad joke, and this collection is the perfect addition to any gift exchange. $14, bit.ly/classic-dad-jokes
- Insulated Champagne Flute
This fully insulated champagne flute makes it easy to raise a perfectly chilled glass of your preferred drink—anywhere. $23, bit.ly/champagne-tumbler
- Hanging Planter
With plants becoming all the rage in the last few months, this stylish hanging planter offers a cool new way to show them off. $25, bit.ly/wall-planters
- Pet Feeder Log
Funny and practical, this reminder magnet will help keep track of all the dog’s meals—which means no more accidental double feedings. Don’t worry, there’s a cat version too! $10, bit.ly/dog-meals