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Colorado holiday guide: Getting festive – 12 days of December action

We can’t guarantee geese a-laying or swans a-swimming, but whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year (see No. 1), you deserve a little holiday fun.

There’s a lot to do in and around Denver. So here’s our 12 days of Christmas.

1. Say “hi” to the big guy
What’s Christmas without Santa Claus? Everyone’s favorite present-slinger will hold court at several locations this season, including Larimer Square (Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas Eve) and Fort Collins’ Old Town Square (Wednesdays-Sundays through Dec. 9 and daily Dec. 11-24). Find Santa through Dec. 24 at the Cherry Creek Mall, FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield and Park Meadows in Lone Tree.

2. Go back in time

15 things that I never said before I had kids

There are a lot of things my husband and I talk about now that we never did before having kids. There are reasons why this happens long after the first infatuation.

Example One [takes place at the present time]: 

Him: What’s that on your shirt?

Me: Poop.

I can say this as if having fecal material on my clothes is the most normal thing in the world and all he does is ask me who I think will win tomorrow evening’s football game.

Example Two [takes place during the very first date]

Stay-at-home mom? How to make money or be an entrepreneur!

You never know what a kid is going to find. Perhaps that is why stay-at-home moms stay so busy.

Between cooking, cleaning and stretching the family dollar, it’s no doubt why more and more stay-at-home moms are looking for an extra boost to the family budget.

It’s one of the reasons why Suzanne Miller, mom of two, took a friend’s suggestion. Her business of taking photos has taken off.

Amber Johnson of the Denver Post’s MileHighMamas.com says there are more options than ever for stay-at-home moms who want to make a little extra money.

CLICK TO WATCH THE 9NEWS VIDEO

CLICK TO READ ON AT 9NEWS!

Calling all entrepreneurial moms. Be sure to share a link to your home-based business!

Additional Santa Appearances Include Special Needs or Sign Language Santa

Santa may already be at area shopping centers and special events through town. Here are some planned events that may appeal to you.

Town Center of Aurora  – Visit Caring Santa on December 2 before the mall opens if your kids have sensory issues. Caring Santa is an event that provides a low stress environment for the families of children with special needs. Families can visit and take pictures with Santa in an atmosphere that is more quiet and calm with few people and lines. Families can take their time as they visit with Santa and take pictures. No rush. No pressure. Just Family. If you are interested in attending our Caring Santa event, please visit Abilitypath.org to set up a reservation.

Town Center of Aurora also offers bilingual Santa every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Denver Deal: Olde Golden Christmas, Free Days & more

I survived! I did the crazy shopping thing on Friday morning after Thanksgiving. It really wasn’t that bad. I may even do it again next year! And as if I hadn’t had enough to eat the day before, on Saturday I did a food tour (top restaurants tour) with my sister as celebration of her birthday. I just love the idea of giving someone an experience (especially if I get to experience it with them) as a present – and food never hurts either. There are several experience gifts on Cloud9Living.com (out of Boulder, CO). While they are not a DEAL – they are really fun!

 

Plum Consignment

I’ll be honest with you. I am a bargain hunter. But I’m not really fond of shopping Goodwill or most consignment stores. No disrespect to them – but I don’t want to shop at someone else’s garage sale. Until I found Plum Consignment in Stapleton. The place feels like a really cool boutique and they have GREAT stuff. They even have an area for kids clothes and maternity wear. I found a pair of MissMe Jeans for my daughter for just $20 (normally around $80 in a store). Wrap that up! I also added a few name brands that I love to my wish list – when those items come in they will call me!

FREE Day

Thanks to the SCFD (Scientific Cultural and Facilities District) several area attractions have free admission days. The Denver Zoo will host a free day on November 28, 2012 for all Colorado Residents, Denver Art Museum Free Day is December 1, 2012 and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science upcoming free day is on December 9, 2012.

Frontier Airlines Cyber Monday (week) sale

Frontier Airlines is offering domestic fares you can’t bear to pass up. Travel to your favorite city with fares as low as $36* each way. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59 ET on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Fares are one way for travel Jan. 7, 2013 – March 6, 2013. Sale applies to domestic fares for travel within the continental United States. A 21-day advance purchase is required. Blackout dates (Feb. 14-15, and 18, 2013) apply.

Ice Rinks

  • Boulder Ice Rink – downtown Boulder on 13th between Walnut and Canyon. Get $1.00 off with coupon.
  • Skyline Park (Downtown Denver) with free days through the season.
  • FlatIron Crossing Ice Rink

Parade Of Lights

Grab a mug of hot chocolate and enjoy the annual Parade of Lights through Downtown Denver this Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday (6 p.m).  Make it an occasion – stay overnight with Mile High Holiday hotel rates start as low as $52.80. While you are there delight at the City and County Building lights.

Olde Golden Christmas

Golden Colorado transforms itself into the Christmas spirit this weekend. The weekend will begin with a candlelight walk down the main street of Golden (it’s very cool – they turn out all the street lights so it is only candles!) starting at 6:30 this Friday, November 30. The fun continues through the month each Saturday with Hometown parade, horse-drawn carriage rides, dog cart rides & carolers. Details and times available at www.VisitGolden.com.

Don’t forget to register to win the gift card from Gordman’s on our site.

Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

Don’t want to miss any of Mile High Mamas’ contests and events? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter so you can forward these great deals to your friends.

You can also follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

A Holiday Dream Comes True in The Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker

“Is that real snow?” whispered my six-year-old daughter as white flakes floated and swirled to the snowy forest floor.

“No,” I shook my head as I watched her face. Her eyes were wide, lit by icy blue stage lights as she watched Clara, the Nutcracker Prince, and whirling snowflakes twirl and leap on stage at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. “The Nutcracker” has returned to brighten another holiday season with the enchanting story of a young girl’s magical dream.

Generations of Colorado families have made watching “The Nutcracker” a beloved holiday tradition, which is a testament to the quality of The Colorado Ballet’s clever interpretation and deep talent. I enjoyed the small details of staging, like the harried mother who appreciates a champagne flute (or three) and the nuances of Clara and Fritz’s sibling fight over her new Nutcracker doll. My teenaged daughter caught these little moments, too, and more than once the audience broke out into appreciative laughter. They aren’t afraid to interpret the ballet with knowing winks at pop culture, which keeps it infinitely fresh. I guarantee you’ve never seen a Mother Ginger like The Colorado Ballet’s. Even the Mouse King’s death was entertaining. Without giving anything away, he tries everything to stay alive.

photo by Terry Shapiro

The little details were tons of fun, but they’d be adrift without the strength of stellar dancing and exquisite costumes. Dana Benton brought Clara to life with the innocence and tenderness you’d expect. The Sugar Plum Fairy was danced by a very regal Maria Mosina. I thought Fritz, who was danced by Sean Omandam, was going to leap into the rafters. My teenaged daughter adored the Arabian dancers and I did, too. It was gorgeously choreographed to one of the most haunting songs in the whole Nutcracker suite. Shelby Dyer and Luis Valdes exhaled a fluid sensuality. Oh my stars. My little girl didn’t pick up on that. She marveled how strong “that guy” was.

This time of year, we are steeped in Tchaikovsky’s familiar suite—performed adeptly by The Colorado Ballet’s orchestra—which captures the majesty and whimsy of the story. The matinee audience was brimming with little girls in holiday dresses and more than once I heard a breathless little voice exclaim, “I know this song!” This makes it even more special. When you leave the theater, there’s a very good chance you’ll hear “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” on the radio or piped through the mall’s corridors. I love when my kids cultural dots are connected.

“The Nutcracker” is simply a great way to introduce young children to the ballet. Connect those dots. It was my younger daughter’s first ballet and she was delighted by the whole experience—although slightly disappointed she couldn’t get up and dance, too. It has two acts, which means it’s shorter and more fast-paced than some other ballets. This lends itself to being kid-friendly. Including intermission, it clocked in under two hours, so if your children can maintain their attention during a feature-length film, “The Nutcracker” is a smart choice. Be sure to ask one of the friendly ushers for a foam booster seat. It helped my daughter see all the action. It had a Pepsi logo on it and she asked if it was stuffed with comfy, comfy Pepsi. Also, there is nothing terribly scary, so sensitive kids should be okay with the action. Herr Drosselmeyer is creepy in a genial way. The only villains in the story are the Mice army, but they are satisfyingly vanquished.

photo by Mike Watson

This would be the perfect year to begin or even revisit this family holiday tradition. The Colorado Ballet is offering multiple performance times between now and December 24th, including night and matinee show times. It’s a busy time of year, but with so many show times it’s easy to find a few hours to indulge your senses and pause for a few moments. Become that kiddo seeing it with fresh eyes, wondering if the snow is real.

Maybe it was?

** Contest Closed Congratulations Jenny M. ***

Do you go all out decorating your house for the holidays?At Gordman’s you can save up to 60% off everything. EVERYDAY!

Be a decorating trend setter (put a tree up in each room of the house) or create your own style -getting everything at Gordman’s. Or get amazing brand-name apparel or shoes as gifts or just for yourself!

Contest
Mile High Mamas is giving away one $25 certificate to Gordman’s. Please go here to enter. Contest deadline is December 7, 2012.

Events: 9News Parade of Lights, free Newfoundland dog-pulled cart rides & more!

  • Let the holidays begin! Several communities will be kicking off their holiday celebrations this week. The Denver Botanic Gardens’ Blossoms of Light features a dazzling display of more than 1 million colorful lights, along with entertainment and food Nov. 30-Jan. 1 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Its counterpart Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield will  have stunning lights but also an ice-skating rink for $5 per person in December. Holidays at the Astor House Museum in Golden will have holiday crafts and Victorian fun from Nov. 27-Dec. 30.

Don’t miss the 9News Parade of Lights Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. with sparkling lights, marching bands, giant balloons, majestic floats and delightful characters. Start your shopping now with Mile High Holidays in downtown Denver and get great deals and discounts from Denver’s finest stores and restaurants now through January 27, 2012.

You’d better watch out: The Children’s Museum of Denver is hosting a Snack with Santa on Saturday, December 1 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Dress your little ones in their holiday best and come take photos of them with Santa Claus. This event is the perfect way to get pictures for all your holiday cards and ornaments in a quiet, safe setting. In addition to a visit with Santa, children get hot cocoa provided by Bo’s Brewed Coffee and a bag of goodies to take home. Activities included with Museum admission.

Join Rocky Mountain PBS and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for a visit from Buddy the T. Rex on December 1 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The new Dinosaur Train Discovery Tour’s mobile website relates dinosaur and science information from the hit program “Dinosaur Train” to exhibits in the museum, so bring along your laptop, smartphone, or mobile tablet device for a full experience. Cost is included with general admission to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. http://www.dmns.org/

Olde Golden Christmas on Parade – Saturdays, December 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2012.  Experience a true Olde Fashioned Hometown Parade infused with a fun, only-in-Golden spirit.  Enjoy lighted floats, clowns, Christmas characters, music, Santa, and even elves on unicycles.  Afterwards, catch a free horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic 12th Street neighborhood (noon-4 p.m.) or kids can enjoy a ride in a Newfoundland dog-pulled cart (noon-3 p.m.)   Parade travels down Washington Avenue from 11 a.m.to 11:30 a.m. on the first four Saturdays in December. For more details, visit www.VisitGolden.com or call 303-279-3113.

Do you have any Rudolph fans at your house? Then they will love the kids’ fundraiser Reindeer Run in Breckenridge, a new addition to Race of the Santas on Dec. 1, 2012. The fun runs take place just prior to the Lighting of Breckenridge, both include costumes with registration, and proceeds benefit Adopt an Angel Summit County. Activities continue throughout the month of December and include performances at the Backstage Theatre, a new Arts Weekend, the Dew Tour and more.

To celebrate the opening of their 2012 Birds in Art exhibit, The Wildlife Experience will be hosting a special evening of activities all about birds & art on December 4 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. including guided walk and talks of the new exhibit, a live bird presentation with Nature’s Educators, Artists in Action including woodcarver, Lee Thormalen, and painter Bill Alther and interactive educational displays on birds and bird conservation from the Audubon Society of Greater Denver and the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. Cost: $5 members/$8 non-members

Get tangled up in Disney On Ice’s Dare to Dream December 6-9 at the Pepsi Center. Experience Disney’s hilarious hair-raising escapade, Tangled; as Rapunzel, her unlikely companion, Flynn, and Maximus, embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths! Boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen in a magical, musical journey that all begins with a fateful kiss. All your favorite princesses take to the ice in a spectacular finale. Get $4 off all performances Click “Buy Tickets” on the performance of your choice. Enter the savings code 4MOM in the “Promotion Code” box (not valid for VIP tickets).

12th Annual Candy Cane Festival at Hammond’s Candies December 7 and 8. Now in its twelfth year, the festival continues to grow with activities for the kids and free admission. Snow or shine beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday, all are invited to enjoy a free mini-tour, fresh candy samples, and pick up some gifts for everyone on their holiday list.

The Polar Express, Durango. From now until December 28, 2012 the award-winning book comes to life on this magical journey to the North Pole and back! All passengers will enjoy hot chocolate and a treat served by your personal chefs who will also read the Polar Express story on the way to the North Pole to pick up Santa! While Santa visits each car, your chefs will lead you in specially selected Christmas carols on the return to Durango. All the kids aboard the train will receive a special gift from Santa! F or more information see http://www.durangotrain.com/events/2012-polar-express -MTN Town Magazine

The Longmont Museum presents AMP’D: Powering Longmont 1912-2012, a hands-on exhibition exploring the mysteries of electricity. This family-friendly exhibit will run through February 17, 2013. Featuring nine different hands-on activities, AMP’D invites children and families to assemble a model electrical grid from power plant to home, climb into a bucket next to a replica power pole, and use powerful magnets to generate energy. Kids can discover how LPC keeps the lights on with a lighted model neighborhood, and balance electrical “loads” on a giant scale. Visitors will become a part of an electric circuit, see electricity moving through a plasma globe, and can try to generate up to 90 watts of power through a hand-cranked generator. Exhibit admission is $5 adults, $3 students/seniors (62+), and free for children 5 and under.

Giving experience gifts can be a real pain (plus this season’s hottest toys)

At the height of the recession, money was tight for most of my extended family. So instead of giving each other gifts that we didn’t really want or need, my sister-in-law Jane came up with a plan:

“This year,” she announced, “we will give each other experiences!”

She explained that our gifts would entail spending time together doing a memorable activity.

This was on my mind as we treated my in-laws to The Broadmoor’s epic holiday festivities. During the resort’s White Lights Ceremony–when 260,000 lights rival the night sky–they avowed it was something they vowed it was something they’d never forget.
So I fell in love with Jane’s idea. I never know what to get most members of my family; making memories seemed like a great alternative.
Unless, of course, they are bad memories.

Facing heavy odds, Thornton couple create educational children’s software program featuring healthy foods

Jennifer and Jonathan Fenske recently joined the long list of budding entrepreneurs that have hitched their wagon onto the digital gold rush otherwise known as the wide world of apps.

The Thornton residents, one an author and the other an artist, created an educational children’s software program that features healthy foods.

“A lot of the apps out there allow you to decorate a cupcake or a cookie, and we just thought there is an opening for having kids play with their food and play with fruits and vegetables,” said Jennifer, who has a day job in marketing for a Denver-based weight-loss company.