Bissinger’s Chocolate Tasting Party

Bissinger’s Chocolates and Party.  Two of my favorite things.  If you know me, you know I’m practically obsessed with Bissinger’s chocolate.   Bissinger’s is a premium chocolate company located right here in St. Louis and I was so excited about the opportunity to partner with them. They supplied several different types of chocolate for a tasting bar for our recent brunch.  I was thrilled to be able to partner with such an amazing company. Plus, when you love chocolate sharing is caring.  🙂

Bissinger's chocolate tasting
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When it’s cold and dreary outside, all I want to do is pack my bags and head south. I think to get through the winter months we all need a little something to look forward to from time to time. To get out of this slump, this past long weekend, the boys, grandma and I hopped in the car and headed for Memphis, Tennessee. It was also my mom’s birthday weekend, and given that she went to business school in Memphis, we decided to surprise her with a little trip to a city that holds a special place in her heart.

We had an absolute blast exploring all the things Memphis had to offer. For any STL mom looking for a little vacation to a vibrant city full of kid-friendly haunts, good eats, and is only a short road trip away, then Memphis is a perfect weekend getaway.

I love Memphis
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There’s no better way to unwind and recharge than with a massage at Massage Envy at Webster Rock Hill. What you may not know is that Massage Envy also offers an array of services dedicated to total body health such as stretches, facials,  skincare products, and peels. What’s more is that Massage Envy features affordable prices and high quality service, so you always know you’re getting the best treatment. Their services are perfect for the busy mom looking for a refresh and a little pampering. I wanted to share with you a few tidbits you might not know about Massage Envy–and reasons why I love them!

  • The  Hydrafacial.   This is not your typical facial,  It is a multi-step process to rehydrate the skin.  The final step of this facial your skin becomes infused with ultra-hydrating serums.  If you’re planning on attending an event like a wedding, reunion, or special occasion it’ll have your skin looking and feeling its best.  J.Lo gets this facial.
Massage Envy Hydrafacial
  • Total body Stretch. Before I recently ran in a 5K, I decided to give it a try and was so happy that I did! They helped me stretch from head to toe.  I felt amazing afterward. The experts work with a large number of athletes, older clients, runners, golfers, etc. so I knew I was in the right hands.
Massage Envy Stretch
  • Customized facial. Taking care of your skin is important to feel radiant and rejuvenated. My favorite is the relaxing hand and arm massage that comes with it!
Massage Envy Facial
  • HSA Accounts: If you choose to get a Massage Envy membership, most HSA Accounts will allow you to pay for your body/skin services. Double check with your specific plan first, but what a deal!
Massage Envy HSA
  • Massage Envy offers Murad Skin care products. After your facial, your esthetician can consult you on a skin care treatment regime. All the products were created by a dermatologist and are customizable for your skin. I have a combo for anti-aging and adult acne.   
Massage Envy Murad Skincare
  • You can book appointments anytime, day or night through their app. Sometimes I get the urge in the early morning hours when I’m tired and groggy that I’m in need of some total body care. The app makes it easy to book or cancel your services anytime you want.
  • Peels. I love taking care of my skin, so once I was confident in Massage Envy’s skin care services, I decided I wanted to take action with my adult acne as well as promote anti-aging. After a consultation and some hand holding, I tried my first peel. The results were amazing! Afterwards, they sent me home with a post peel kit which featured products to enhance the service.
  • As I mentioned before, the services at Massage Envy are super affordable. Where else can you get your first facial or massage for just $50?  I’m all about maximizing my budget and I have loved all the services and results I have gotten from ME.
Massage Envy
  • Lastly, I will always give my business to places where the people are friendly, welcoming, and experts of their craft. Massage Envy has always made me feel welcome and relaxed.

Check out the photos from our fun event Massage Envy put together! All the attendees got to try out mini services and went home with SWAG from these great local businesses. If you are thinking about total body health services, check out Massage Envy in Rock Hill.  Use the code SarahOutandAbout for free enhancements to any service. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

Best of Travel 2018

Last year was filled with road trips for my family.  I have set a goal to get my boys to all 50 states by the time they graduate high school so we hit the road and created loads of family memories doing it.  

My parents were avid travelers so I learned at an early age there is so much to explore in this beautiful country and I want my boys to experience that as well.  One of my biggest passions is traveling and I am thrilled to share all the places we would recommend with you is to hopefully make your travel planning process easier.  

Here are the most popular travel destinations from last year.  Click the link below each pic for all the scoop on where we stayed, what we did and where we ate.  

Nashville mural

Nashville

Gulf Shores
Mobile AL

Gulf Shores, AL

Branson Road Trip with Kids #notyourgrandmasBranson! #

Branson, MO  

Cape Girardeau MO

Cape Girardeau, MO

STL Staycation at the Ameristar

St Charles MO, girls weekend

St Louis Arch

St Louis Arch Staycation

Echo Bluff
Echo Bluff

Echo Bluff State Park

Kozy Kaboose

Kozy Caboose, Eureka MO

St Charles Christmas Traditions

St Charles, Holiday Staycation

We had so much fun on all these trips. I want these trip posts to be a valuable resource for you because I know the time it takes to plan a vacation. Please let me know anything else you would like to see that would be helpful. I’d love to know where your traveling to this year.

XOXO Sarah~

Mom to Mom:  Coach Gayle WhyPowered Coaching

Tell us about your background.

I’ve worked as a certified whole health coach and personal fitness trainer for four years. I’m a native St. Louisan (Parkway North, lol) but lived elsewhere for 15 years (Italy, Austria, Boston, Boulder, and Seattle). I’ve been back in the Lou for 5 years now and have one son who I gave birth to in Italy.  

I founded WhyPowered Whole Health Coaching to help women struggling to maintain a healthy weight by offering personalized support and accountability for making lifestyle and mindset shifts toward healthier living. I coach individuals and groups for finding their personal ‘whys’ for eating cleaner, exercising regularly and proactively managing stress. No gimmicks or quick fixes; just real and lasting change.    

Social handles:  

IG:WhyPoweredCoaching

FB:facebook.com/WhyPoweredCoaching/

Email:Gayle@WhyPoweredCoaching.com

Coaching questions:

What made you want to be a health coach?  

I’ve been passionate about health most of my life, but in my early 20s, I was carried an extra 20 pounds and felt miserable. I smoked and drank and just couldn’t seem to get untangled from it. Once I did, everything shifted positively.   

What type of person would benefit from working with a health coach?  

Anyone who has moved past the diet quick-fix mentality of weight loss.  

What created your passion in a healthy lifestyle?  

Personally moving out of an unhealthy and stuck place and having life open up as a result.    

What is your favorite thing about coaching?  

The positive life-changing impact it offers, especially for those who’ve struggled for years to find peace with food and for shifting to healthy lifestyles habits. 

What is your biggest challenge?  

Not enough hours in a day.  

Advice you would give someone wanting to make healthy changes in their life?  

Don’t go it alone.  Working with an accountability partner makes a huge difference—whether  with a professional coach, a friend, colleague or family member, when you have support systems to keep you in-check and cheer you on and help you right yourself when you get off-track, you’ll go farther than you would going it alone. 

What are healthy qualities you try and role model for your son?  

Moderation in all things– except love.  

What are some kid friendly healthy snacks you’d recommend for kids? 

Sliced apples coated with lemon juice (to prevent browning) and cinnamon

Fresh sugar snap peas

What are the best ways to keep kids active if they don’t play sports?  

Being outside in nature is fantastic, whether hiking or flying a kite or riding a scooter or a bike.  

What would you tell your younger self? 

Dream big and always invest in yourself.  

Advice you’d give to other working moms to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Keep your self-care and well-being high on your priority list. It’s not selfish—it’s vital.  When your ‘cup’ is full, you have so much more to give. 

Personal:

What is your guilty pleasure? 

Dark chocolate (70% or greater for the antioxidants)

Favorite beauty tip?

Exercise—it’s the number one way to control how you age.

Favorite beauty product?

Moisturizer with sunscreen (and smiling!)

What is one thing you cannot go to bed without doing?

For stress-management I prioritize a practice of nightly gratitudes. In a bedside notebook, I record 2-3 things that either made me smile that day or generally I feel grateful for. It’s had a profound impact on my ability to see the silver lining in challenging times and keep my optimism meter set on high.  

Best place in the world you have been?  Bucket List travel spot?

Tuscany.  I lived in northern Italy for 4 years, so I was blessed with being able to spend quite a bit of time there.  It’s dreamy– especially the food!

Bucket list travel destination is…

Too many to list.  I’ve experienced lots of Europe, but never Asia or Africa, so somewhere on those continents.  

Favorite App 

SworkIt 

Anything else you want people to know? 

Diets don’t work.  The industry has 95% failure rate. Learn to trust your body and yourself.     

The Grinch at Stifel Theatre

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is making lasting memories my boys will remember forever. We love Christmas, and everything that comes with it, so it’s the perfect time to have some festive fun. Seeing Santa Claus is always a fan favorite, but who could forget our most lovable green Christmas villain, the Grinch! This year, I surprised my boys by taking them to Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical at Stifel Theatre in downtown St. Louis for a special holiday night.  The show was magical. Logan loved the Grinch and all his funny antics.   Mason thought Cindy Lou Who was pretty and I loved watching the excitement on my boys faces.  

Logan and Mason love the Grinch, and I loved dropping little hints that we were finally going to see him. They saw the commercials on TV for the musical, and kept asking me if we could go, so I decided to have some fun and build the excitement. I went for whipping up some delicious green Grinch themed smoothies for breakfast, that they not only loved but were also a super healthy way to start our mornings. We also made Grinch themed cookies, which were dark chocolate and mint. They were seriously tasty. When the night finally arrived, I couldn’t wait to tell them the big news that we were finally going to see one of their favorite Christmas characters on stage. They were so excited!

Grinch theme breakfast smoothies

I wanted to include some helpful tips below, in case you and your family decide to pay the Grinch a visit this holiday season. Tickets are still available. Not only is it a great way to spend a night out on the town (who doesn’t love going to the theater), but also a great Christmas memory to make with you and your loved ones. The show was so fun!

  • The show runs for four days, starting the night of December 13th.
  • If you purchase your tickets at the box office you save money on the added fees.  
  • For most shows, Abram’s Garage offers parking passes for purchase, which is right next door to the Stifel Theatre.
  • If you don’t pay for advanced parking, there is also parking available for $10-$20 at the Kiel Center Garage (owned and operated by the city of St. Louis) which is attached to the Enterprise Center. If you take the back exit, it leads straight to the venue.
  • I suggest coming early! The doors open one hour before the start of the show.  There are fun photo opps.  
  • If you need ADA tickets, give the Box Office a call. The staff at Stifel is happy to accommodate you.
    • A sign language interpreter may be requested through the Box Office.
    • For select shows, Stifel partners with MindsEye to provide audio description for those who are visually impaired.
  • Booster seats are also available for your littler ones. Ushers will provide them upon request.
  • This show does not have an intermission.  

So those are my tips to make the most out of your visit to Stifel! I’d love to hear about your experience seeing the Grinch, and as always, Happy Holidays! Tickets are still available here.  

Photo courtesy of Stifel theatre

To check out our holiday posts click here and here.   

Holiday Staycation

This holiday season, the boys, grandma and I took a holiday staycation in St. Charles! Every year the city holds the St. Charles Christmas Traditions featuring tons of festive events for the whole family. It’s a great way to reconnect with loved ones and take a break from the distractions of daily life. And you don’t need to take a plane or train to get there! I wanted to share with you some of our favorite events we attended, where we stayed, and a few of my favorite places to shop downtown; all in time for this holiday season.

What we did

 The St. Charles Christmas Traditions filled with all sorts of fun events such as parades, caroling, Christmas characters, and card collecting and more!

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After we got all settled and checked into the Drury, we decided to take the trolley that night into the downtown area to catch some fun holiday festivities. We used the Ride Saint Charles app to find out the trolley route and times which show you when the trolley will be in your area. It was free and best of all we didn’t have to park.

When we got onto Main Street in the downtown area, I felt like I had stepped straight into a Hallmark Christmas movie! Everything was so festive and jolly, with carolers, music, lights, decorations and even Christmas characters. They had Santas and Magical Legends of Christmas, who were in character all over Main Street. They give you a brief background of who they are, and even carry around cards with their name and a little picture of themselves, with a description on the back so you can remember them! Some of them were jokesters and others seemed to take a page straight from Ebenezer Scrooge himself. My boys got really into meeting and talking to all of them, especially the Christmas Angel who was Logan’s favorite.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

Another great event that everyone from 1 to 92 will get a kick out of is the Santa Parade! Every Saturday and Sunday during the festival, the Santa Parade rolls on down Main Street with music, floats, and even international Santas. The grand finale features Santa and Mrs. Claus riding in their horse-drawn carriage. The Ice Block Party is also a fun way to end the day with a bang. It starts every Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After strolling around for a bit, we took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets to take in all the holiday cheer.  

The horse-drawn carriages are parked along the street.  You can take a short or long ride and they are equipped with cozy blankets to keep you warm.  We could not resist this cute horse.  I mean look at the glitter hoofs.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

St Charles Christmas Traditions

My Favorite Places to Shop on Main Street

No visit to the historic downtown area of St. Charles is complete without a little shopping! I love perusing the locally owned stores that line the brick streets for gifts and goods you really can’t find anywhere else.

Grandma’s Cookies

If you’re in need of a quick and delicious pick-me-up, make sure to stop by Grandma’s cookies. They have a holiday special:  Cookie and Cocoa for $2.00. With classic flavors like chocolate chip, sugar sprinkle, snickerdoodle, and coconut, Grandma’s cookies is sure to please all sweet tooths in your family. Not to mention the cute little location the bakery calls home is the same building where all the cookie magic started in 1976 with the Grandma herself, Charlotte Thompson.

Bathhouse Soapery and Caldarium

Get ready to treat your nose, because Bathhouse Soapery and Caldarium has soaps and bath products that smell good enough to eat. Spiced cranberry bar soaps, pumpkin spice latte bath bombs and apple mint oatmeal sugar scrub are just some of the indulgent creations this one of a kind soap shop whips up. They also make for great gifts!  My favorite-The bath bombs.  

Happy Camper

This shop makes me happy.  It’s the only shop you need for the best graphic T’s.  My current favorite T-shirt says Hallmark Movies and Christmas Cookies!  Yessss. They have loads of cute T’s for adults and kids.

Main Street Books

This cute little red brick building is every book lover’s dream. Stop by for a new book or a gift for your loved ones. The shop also has unique greeting cards, children’s toys, journals and more. Sometimes, just getting lost in the bookshelves the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Candle Fusion

If you are looking for a fun hands-on activity you can create your own candle at Candle Fusion.  They have over 100 different scents to choose from and you create your candle from beginning to end.  This would be the perfect girls night or fun to do with kids to create the perfect gift for someone special.

Holiday Lights

If you’re in the area of St. Charles, O’Fallon isn’t a far drive away and worth visiting for its “Celebration of Lights,” which you can experience from the comfort of your own car. The event is held at Fort Zumwalt Park and runs from Thursday to Sunday 6-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6-10 p.m. You can also make your visit a little more special by reserving a horse-drawn wagonette, a train, or a sleigh hayride!

We decided to drive around and catch some holiday light displays in the area! To limit our time trying to find houses all over the area, we used the website, Holiday Light Hopping, which lists an easy to use guide of all the best home light displays. 

Bass Pro Shop

If you’re in the area of St. Charles, a visit to Bass Pro Shop is a free fun indoor spot for kids. My boys love to come here for Santa’s Wonderland.  There are tons of fun activities for the kids inside the store like video games, kids shooting range, write a letter to Santa, play with remote control trucks, and even Santa photos for free.  

When you arrive you’ll get a pass for a specific time to see Santa.

Bass Pro St Charles

Where we ate

Looking for a pizza joint that offers delicious pies while also being completely customizable? Then Pieology is your new favorite spot! This week, the boys and I headed over to Pieology to try a slice (or a few) from the restaurant’s six new crusts. Not only were they super yummy, but we also got to choose exactly what we wanted. With tons of choices and individual sized pizzas, there’s a little something for everyone at this not your average pizzeria.

Pieology recently released six new premium crusts that you can choose from when building your pizza. The menu features Artisan Thin, Artisan Thin Hearty Wheat, PieRise® Thick, Hand-Crafted Deep Dish, Cauliflower Crust and Gluten Free. I ordered my boys the Cauliflower Crust as a base for their cheese pizza, and they absolutely loved it! They ate every bite and had no clue they were eating something good for them. I’d call that a win. I tried the Hand-Crafted Deep Dish and the Artisan Thin Hearty Wheat which were both delicious.

Pieology lets you create any type of pizza you want, but if you get a little overwhelmed with all the choices like I sometimes do, the menu also has Chef Inspired Pizza. One of the most popular choices on the menu is the “Butcher’s Choice” which features house red sauce, pepperoni, sausage, meatball, mozzarella and olive oil blend. The other favorite is the Margherita Da Vinci, which is a classic margherita pizza. The restaurant also has delicious salads, such as the Elevated Caesar, and the Classic Italian, and even beer and wine for the adults in the family.

Pieology

Another great feature that Pieology offers is their app, “Pieology Pie Life Rewards,” which makes it super easy to order and pick up your pizza. Although you can’t get delivery through the app, you can still order Pieology pizza using Grub Hub or Door Dash. With the restaurant’s app, you can easily customize your pizza any way you want just like in the restaurant, and it even has loyalty reward points and exclusive offers for an added bonus. You can pay through the app, and every 100 points earned is a free pizza!

App_Pizza_image 2

Pieology is perfect for kids, family friendly and in a great location in the streets of St. Charles. They also hold great fundraisers for organizations raising money for a charitable cause. It’s great food, with a great message. Give Pieology a visit today!

Where We Stayed

For our holiday weekend, we stayed at the Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis St. Charles. It’s fun meets convenient! TripAdvisor lists the Drury as excellent, and it’s not hard to see why with amazing amenities to make your stay comfortable and completely stress-free.  This hotel is modern and new and is the only Drury with a mini convenience store

Drury St Charles

The boys loved the indoor/outdoor pool, and I loved hitting the jacuzzi after a long day spent out in the cold. But what was definitely an added bonus was our suite. Comfortable and roomy, the suite had a private bedroom separated by a door so the kids go could go to bed early and I can stay up binge watching Christmas movies.

Drury indoor outdoor pool

The free, hot (and delicious) breakfast the Drury features is sure to please even the pickiest eater in the family. With biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, Belgian waffles, sausage, fresh fruit, coffee and more, it’s the perfect way to start your day before heading into town.

Drury hot breakfast

In addition to the breakfast, what really sets the Drury apart from other hotels is their free “Kickback” hour. Yep, free food and drinks! Starting every day at 5:30 and running to 7, the hotel offers 3 free drinks per adult and yummy “snacks.” The snacks include chili, baked potato, hot dogs, and nachos as well as their main dish of the night which varies from chicken, tacos, or pasta. It’s perfect for kids (and adults) who want a little bit of everything without the formal setting or expenses of a sit-down restaurant.

Drury kickback hour

This hotel is just minutes from downtown St. Charles and is walking distance to the free trolley service that shuttles you into town for all of the holiday events. (No parking hassles-yeah)

So gear up for the holidays and create some long-lasting memories by visiting all the festivities in St. Charles! It’s a close to home holiday adventure, perfect for your family this Christmas.  We have posted more of our favorite St Louis metro holiday traditions here.  

If you are in St Charles check out my adult Ameristar staycation post too.

Have you been before?  Tell me your favorite Christmas tradition.

**  Thank you to all the businesses we partnered with to bring you this story.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As a lifestyle blogger, it’s my job to stay up to date with what’s happening in my hometown so that I can recommend my favorite local events and businesses with all of you! That’s why I use xplor which connects me with the best of the best. With xplor, I’m the first to know about St. Louis’ hottest events, trendiest restaurants, and coolest shops and boutiques.

What is xplor?

xplor is an evolution from the founder’s previous company, kidzxplor which you may have heard of or used in the past. Their new business model focuses on promoting and producing unique events for brands and organizations and connecting insiders to these inspiring experiences. Think outside of the box events. xplor is a great way to get involved in your community and find new and exciting ways to spend time with family and friends. For busy moms, it’s a godsend. For bloggers, it’s especially useful when looking for events not easily found. It also provides an opportunity to meet and connect with local business owners at VIP functions for collaboration and sponsorship opportunities.

The Hookup

xplor also offers a feature called the VIP Hookup, a membership program that offers savings on various products and services found in St. Louis Insiders receive discounts on kid’s activities, restaurants, bars, salons, and fitness facilities. A paid membership includes a year’s subscription to St. Louis Magazine, a $250 gift card to David Kodner Jewelers, a head-to-toe makeover at Saks Fifth Avenue (umm..yes, please), 2 weeks of free classes at Shred415, event swag, and VIP perks at all events including priority check-ins and first-to-know ticket sales and discounts.

Perfect for the busy mom on the go

One of the best things about xplor is just how convenient it is to have a service that helps you find fun activities to do with your entire family without searching around obscure event calendars online. I’m always in the know which I love and no risk of FOMO!

Upcoming Events Hosted by xplor

I am SO excited for some of xplor’s upcoming holiday themed events. Fun photos to come. Make sure to mark your calendars for these exciting happenings!

Breakfast with Santa at Saks Fifth Avenue – Dec. 8th 10 AM – 12 PM

Mercy Holiday Celebration with the St. Louis Symphony – Dec. 21st 2 PM (Matinee), Dec. 21st 7:30 PM, Dec. 22nd 7:30pm

Winter Break Rockin’ Tots Breakfast – Dec. 26th 9 AM

Winter Break Rockin’ Jump Pizza Party – Dec. 26th 3 PM

The Ultimate holiday events for kids in St. Louis

The Garden Glow, Botanical Gardens

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” at the Missouri Botanical Gardens! This year, create some new family traditions at “Garden Glow,” which runs from November 17th to January 1st, and is a perfect way to see the beautiful gardens in a new light…over one million lights to be exact!

This year the boys and I met up with some friends to walk around the botanical garden and take in all of the beautiful lights and displays, sip some holiday drinks, listen to some music and get some always appreciated fresh air and exercise. New to the event this year is a huge 24-foot pixelated tree and flower xylophones kids can play that change color with the beat. 

Garden Glow Garden GlowYou can also step inside a huge snow globe and have a visit with Santa, who comes to the garden Monday to Thursday nights.

Garden Glow snow globe

Garden Glow Garden Glow

If your kids are a little nervous around Santa they have a book they can write their wish in.  It looks like Logan is wishing for a hamster this year.  (OMG) 

Garden Glow Garden Glow

Garden Glow is mostly outdoors, so make sure to bundle up if the forecast is chilly! The walk itself is only around a mile, so it’s perfect for kids who tire out easily. The event also allows strollers and wagons for moms with littler ones in tow.  (I was wishing I had this after Mason started whining his legs hurt).   

This year, the general admission also includes the Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train show, which features G-scale trains of all different styles weaving around holiday landscapes and thousands of fresh plants and flowers. “Garden Glow” also features family night every Wednesday from November 21st to December 12th, where tickets for the kids are only $3!  

Garden Glow Garden Glow

If you need to warm up check out the Victorian Christmas at the Tower Grove House with our admission. All decked out in Victorian style with plant decorations, Henry Shaw’s country home was a beautiful addition to our night.

We all had such a fun time at “Garden Glow” this year, strolling around to see the light displays and spending some much needed time outdoors. If you’re looking for a fun new tradition to add to your holidays, make this your next family night out!

Garden Glow

Christmas Traditions, St Charles

The St. Charles Christmas Traditions filled with all sorts of fun events such as parades, caroling, Christmas characters, and card collecting and more!

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After we got all settled and checked into the Drury, we decided to take the trolley that night into the downtown area to catch some fun holiday festivities. We used the Ride Saint Charles app to find out the trolley route and times which show you when the trolley will be in your area. It was free and best of all we didn’t have to park.

When we got onto Main Street in the downtown area, I felt like I had stepped straight into a Hallmark Christmas movie! Everything was so festive and jolly, with carolers, music, lights, decorations and even Christmas characters. They had Santas and Magical Legends of Christmas, who were in character all over Main Street. They give you a brief background of who they are, and even carry around cards with their name and a little picture of themselves, with a description on the back so you can remember them! Some of them were jokesters and others seemed to take a page straight from Ebenezer Scrooge himself. My boys got really into meeting and talking to all of them, especially the Christmas Angel who was Logan’s favorite.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

Another great event that everyone from 1 to 92 will get a kick out of is the Santa Parade! Every Saturday and Sunday during the festival, the Santa Parade rolls on down Main Street with music, floats, and even international Santas. The grand finale features Santa and Mrs. Claus riding in their horse-drawn carriage. The Ice Block Party is also a fun way to end the day with a bang. It starts every Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After strolling around for a bit, we took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets to take in all the holiday cheer.

The horse-drawn carriages are parked along the street.  You can take a short or long ride and they are equipped with cozy blankets to keep you warm.  We could not resist this cute horse.  I mean look at the glitter hoofs.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

St Charles Christmas Traditions

To see our entire St Charles staycation holiday post check it out here.

The Polar Express

All aboard the Polar Express! This holiday season, spend a festive night with your family riding St. Louis Union Station’s very own Polar Express. It’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit with Christmas carols, hot cocoa, yummy treats, a reading of Polar Express, and even a visit from Kris Kringle himself! Kids and adults can wear pajamas if they would like, but don’t sweat it if you don’t want to. The dress code isn’t a big deal! All in all, we had the best time and my kids loved every minute of it.

Polar Express

We booked our tickets for the train ride through Xplorcity.com under their events tab. When we arrived, we parked near the main entrance, which is across from where the old Hard Rock Café was located. There we picked up our tickets and our wristbands and were ushered to a tent area to wait for the train. They tell you to arrive at least an hour before your train departs, but don’t worry because there are plenty of fun little activities for the kids. Coloring pages, build a bear, and cute photo opportunities are just some of the things we enjoyed while waiting. There aren’t a ton of bathroom options so make sure the kids make use of the deluxe porta-potty before boarding the train!

When it was time to board, we were lined up according to what car we booked as they put on a little production. Then, we climbed aboard and found colossal sized cookies waiting in each of our assigned seats! My kids were so excited to eat them. And no cookie is complete without a cup of delicious hot cocoa which was then served to everyone as the train left the station. Just like the book, chef characters came out to greet us to make sure everyone got a cup. It was great because the hot cocoa was the perfect temperature for the kids so they didn’t burn their mouths.

Polar Express

After they came around and punched our tickets just like the story, the characters read aloud the The Polar Express and walked up and down the aisles with large books so the kids could see the illustrations. And before we knew it, we were at the “North Pole!” Outside we saw a fun little light display and then Santa himself!

You don’t get off at the “North Pole” stop, but that doesn’t mean a certain someone doesn’t get on. Santa Claus came aboard the train and made his way around to every kid to give them a little gift (as well as making sure everyone was on the nice list). He asked Mason if he was eating all his vegetables and Logan if he was picking up all his toys! The kids went nuts seeing Santa, and it also reminded them to get their act together in time for Christmas presents!

Polar Express

I highly recommend The Polar Express Train Ride to anyone wanting to experience a little Christmas magic this year. My kids were dancing in the aisles, screaming for Santa, and fa-la-la-ing the whole ride! It’s a perfect way to switch into Christmas time mode for the whole family.  Stay tuned for St Louis event holiday updates.  

**Thank you Xplor for hosting us at this fun event.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Grinch at Stifel Theatre

The holidays are such a special time, they’re filled with family + friends and traditions both new + old. One of my favorite traditions is celebrating Friendsgiving. It’s a perfect celebration to recognize the amazing friendships that I have developed in the wonderful community I am part of.

Speaking of a wonderful community… this Friendsgiving was even more special because it was put together to raise money for my son’s school. Me and a few of my mom friends thought it would be fun to host a Trader Joe’s holiday tasting party.

Friends-giving hostesses
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