From Whootville Parades to Pioneer Pastimes, Here Are Our Top Holiday Picks

Our cups are running over with holiday cheer here in Southwest Michigan. We've sifted through the jam-packed calendar to bring you 15 of our top choices. The icing on the sugar cookie? Most are free, low-cost or charitable in nature. Enjoy! A Charlie Brown Christmas Holland | through Dec 10 Charlie Brown discovers the true meaning of Christmas in a charming live-stage production of the small-screen holiday staple at the Holland Civic Theatre. Giving Tuesday at the Outdoor Discovery Center Holland | Nov 29 The non-profit nature center invites the community to help decorate its visitor center for the holidays and enjoy cookies and hot cocoa. Gingerbread House Contest Douglas | Nov 30-Dec 4

What's On This Weekend: Nov 25-27

Here we go. Embrace the holidays with a weekend bustling with small-town parades, visits with Santa, reindeer encounters, enchanting seasonal staples on the stage, local shopping, an afternoon at a local Christmas tree farm, hot cocoa and more. And if that's not your jam, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and explore nature or volunteer in your community (Giving Tuesday is just around the corner). Whatever you do, have yourself a fabulous little weekend. FRIDAY Score seats to the live production of A Charlie Brown Christmas in Holland (through Dec 10) Enjoy a full weekend of festive fun in New Buffalo, including gingerbread house decorations, carols, a parade, Santa, hot cocoa an

A New Family Tradition: Head To One Of These Picturesque Christmas Tree Farms

Who doesn't love the scent of a real Christmas tree? The upkeep is a bit pesky, but totally worth it -- especially given that real trees are a more environmentally sound choice. Our family typically picks out a cute little tree (we have low ceilings and a small car) from a nearby lot the day after Thanksgiving, but this year will finally be the year that we venture out to a tree farm. It looks like we've got no shortage of wonderful choices, some with wagon rides, complimentary hot cocoa and wood-burning stoves to beckon those of us hankering for the total, out-of-the-movies-picture-perfect package. Badger Country Christmas Trees 61880 CR 365 N, Lawrence | 269-217-6743 | Open Mon-Fri 12-6 p

How To Make A Thankful Tree (And Make A Donation That Matters)

To put a little more emphasis on gratitude this Thanksgiving, we decided to create a visual reminder of all the things, big and small, that make us feel happy, safe and thankful. It took five minutes tops since we already had all the materials at hand. Here's how you do it: 1) Find a branch that looks good to you. Spray paint it if you want. 2) Collect leaves, buy fake ones or cut some out of paper. You can use a hole punch to tie them on if you want. 3) Have everyone in your family write down a few things they are grateful for. Stick with one leaf each if you are doing this before Thanksgiving dinner and have a big family. 4) Use small pieces of twine (about 2" long) to tie them to the bran

What's On This Weekend: Nov 18-20

Well, the holiday season has crept up on us, which is especially hard to believe if you have stepped outside any time in the past 24 hours. We had our toes in the Lake Michigan water yesterday. But we live in the Midwest, so that doesn't mean it can't snow tomorrow (Please don't let it snow tomorrow.). Whether you are in the mood for some festive celebrations or not, there are plenty of fun ways to while away your weekend. FRIDAY Watch Allegan's high school drama club bring the marvelously spooky Addams Family to life in a one-of-a-kind musical comedy (through Sunday) Catch a glimpse of Paw Paw's spectacular winter wonderland during the Annual Festival of Trees Stroll through Grand Haven’s s

8 Things You Can Do To Get Into The Holiday Spirit

Ready or not, the holidays are just around the corner. Shake off the end-of-autumn inertia and ease yourself into the jolliest of seasons. Where to start? So glad you asked. 1. Go for a ride on the festively bedecked Silver Beach Carousel It is magical, really. The kids will ooh and aah over the decorations and sparkly lights, and some of that enthusiasm will undoubtedly rub off on even the most crotchety of grownups. It also makes a great backdrop for Christmas cards (we did that last year), so you can knock that one off your list. . 2. Make an advent calendar. I put together a really simple one last year of fun activities and it gave us all something to look forward to each morning. I'll

What's On This Weekend: Nov 11-13

We've been talking up kindness all month long, and this weekend we recommend that all our awesome Southwest Michigan families go out and act on it. Pick one nice thing and do it. It's amazing how fast that one little act takes off and comes back in ways you never expected; we received hugs, lollipops and helping hands yesterday while chalking positive messages in front of the movie theater in South Haven. We've got plenty of other ways to fill your weekend too, of course. FRIDAY Catch a charming stage performance of the beloved Ramona Quimby stories in Kalamazoo (through Saturday) Gear up for the holidays with the fun, fantastic Elf Jr. musical in Benton Harbor (through Sunday) Stretch and p

30 Ways For Kids To Show Kindness, Starting Today

What the world needs now is a little extra of kindness, right? We've come up with 30 small ways that kids of all ages can do something nice for others. Hopefully those efforts will rub off on others, and before we know it there will be a full-blown kindness movement sweeping the nation. Let's spread it like confetti, friends! IN THE COMMUNITY Rake the leaves for your neighbor Pick up litter on your block Hold the door open for someone Buy popsicles or cupcakes and deliver them to your local police or fire station Smile at a stranger Volunteer for an hour at your local animal shelter Paint rocks with happy pictures and messages and leave them around town Pick or buy flowers and hand them out

Encore! 8 More Fabulous Shows To Catch This Autumn

We've rounded up another colorful assortment of plays and musicals slated for the upcoming holiday season across Southwest Michigan and Michiana. They are all crowd-pleasing classics (or some variation on them), so scroll through and grab tickets to your favorites. Ramona Quimby Nov 4-12 | Kalamazoo Civic Theatre Meet Ramona and her down-on-their-luck family through this amusing collection of vignettes. Tickets are $10. Anne of Green Gables Nov 10-12, Bethel College, Mishawaka, IN The treasured book by L.M. Montgomery is adapted for the stage in this non-musical production. Tickets start at $13. Elf Jr. the Musical Nov 11-13 | The Mendel Center, Benton Harbor, MI Silly yuletide shenanigans a

What's On This Weekend: Nov 4-6

We're in a sweet lull ahead of the holidays, but there's still plenty to do for those of you who want to get out and explore. From wild animal encounters to fundraisers of all sorts, read on for Southwest Michigan's weekend lineup. FRIDAY Catch a charming stage performance of the beloved Ramona Quimby stories in Kalamazoo (through Nov 12) Watch a dazzling lineup of young wonders and raise funds for the Forever Curious Children's Museum during the Jr Caberet Talent Show in Allegan SATURDAY Tuck into a tasty meal at Sarett's Ribfest in Benton Harbor and help provide money for the nature center's enriching programs for kids Meet frogs up close and discover fascinating facts about them at the Ka

30 Days Of Gratitude

Today is the first day of November, and we've decided to spend the month focusing on kindness and gratitude. An ongoing gratitude journal can be a great thing for older kids and adults, but for the little ones we're keeping it nice and simple. Spend a few moments at breakfast or before bedtime talking about one thing that makes your kid(s) feel thankful. You might need to give a few examples to get the concept across, but they'll catch on quickly. It'll be a fun little project to look back on at the end of the month -- and maybe years from now. Get the printable link here.

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