GIVEAWAY: Princess Awesome Busy Trains Dress + Ranger, The Reindeer Who Couldn’t Fly Boxed Set

The perfect last minute Christmas gift pack: a train-tastic dress, a book, CD & toy…and the chance to win this prize pack, too! 

My go-to gift for the wonderful girls in my life  — my daughters, goddaughters and nieces — are Princess Awesome dresses. And the Princess Awesome Busy Dresses are the crown jewels of the collection!

The first ever “play-able” dress, the Trains Busy Dress features trains and tracks carefully stitched onto a soft, stretchy dress that twirls perfectly. Custom-designed vehicles are found on the ends of the sashes allowing the little girl wearing the dress to chug them on and around the tracks on the dress.  Hidden side pockets allow for storage of extra trains, acorns, pebbles, and other treasures. Comfortable, playful, twirly, well-crafted, and PLAY-ABLE, the Busy Dress is unlike any other dress your daughter owns.

The Princess Awesome story is the stuff of legends and has captured the hearts of parents and girls across the country. The company was started by two incredible Silver Spring mothers, my dear friends Eva St. Clair and Rebecca Melsky, and was founded on the genius idea of making dresses for girls beyond the overwhelming, all-we-can-find-in-stores themes of pink poodles and princesses. Princess Awesome believe that girls should have the choice to wear dresses that feature STEM themes, pirates, robots, vehicles, sharks, ninjas, insects and more.

As they have written on their website, “We are Princess Awesome because butterflies are awesome and so are airplanes. Because monsters are awesome and so are twirly skirts. Because girls are awesome and girls decide what it means to be girly.”

This year Princess Awesome also launched their line of girl-power inspiring tees and leggings! Have you checked them out?

The perfect companion to the holiday spirit of the Trains Busy Dress is the Ranger, The Reindeer Who Couldn’t Fly gift pack featuring the book, CD (song and audiobook — great for car rides to Grandma’s) and reindeer plush toy.

Ranger is a reindeer who always wanted to be like his big brother and be part of the reindeer team that pulled Santa and his sleigh on their annual Christmas eve journey. But there was one big problem: Ranger couldn’t fly! (Which explains why, even though he was Rudolph’s younger brother, few outside of Santaland ever heard of Ranger.)

The book is a heartwarming addition to your holiday book collection and this three piece Ranger pack is a great gift. And this gift gives back: All profits from Ranger are donated to the Antonia J. Giallourakis Endowed Fund in Art Therapy for Children with Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Want to win a Princess Awesome Busy Trains Dress in the size of your choice, 2T-8, and a Ranger gift set? (Worth $108!) Enter the entry form below! A winner will be drawn in 24 hours! 

Princess Awesome Busy Dress + Ranger Reindeer Gift Pack Giveaway!

Top Tech Gifts That Will Arrive By Christmas

This morning I had a blast on Fox 5 DC talking about tech shopping gifts, how to stay on budget but still wow your gift recipients on Christmas, and my the top tech gift ideas featuring AirSelfieSwann Smart Security CameraWeatherman UmbrellasLUX LED Lighting and their partnership with Unite to Light,  Athena Safety Wearable from Roar for Good and Giggle and Play Masha + Deluxe Bear. 

Watch the segment here, and read on below for the complete scoop and wear to buy.


For your gadget guy/gal or photography enthusiast, gift them the AirSelfie: the world’s first pocket camera selfie drone. It’s lighter than a pen and fits in your purse. It is easy for anyone to use, adults or kids. You connect the drone via an app on your smartphone and instantly can begin taking incredible HD photos from up to 20 meters in the air.


The AirSelfie’s turbo fan propellers allow you to capture wide, truly original photos and videos on your device. The anti-vibration shock absorber and 5 MP camera ensure the highest quality images. And its ultra-light 61g form slips into a special phone cover and charger, so you can keep AirSelfie on you at all times. Buy at AirSelfie and also via Amazon

Swann Smart Security Camera

The Swann Smart Security Camera is a top holiday gift for 2017 and is completely wire-free, with a wireless connection to a Wifi router totally rechargeable — no cables, rechargeable internal battery via USB! Unlike competitors, the Smart Security Camera has an internal rechargeable battery so it does not need a hub or home charging base whereas most others can only charge up to 4 cameras on a hub.

It features True DetectTM Heat-Sensing Technology for more reliable motion detection. The device syncs with the Safe by Swann app providing surveillance from anywhere and sends push notifications to your phone to alert you. The footage is stored using internal memory and on the cloud.

It has a Weatherproof IP65 rating for indoor and outdoor use, rain or shine. It records in 1080p Full HD day or night with powerful night vision at a 120-degree angle.

Special Sale: Get the Swann Smart Security Camera for just $129.99 through the end of the year at 

Weatherman Umbrellas 

When one of the nation’s most trusted meteorologists, Rick Reichmuth, was unable to find an umbrella that met his standards, he set out to design his own—and Weatherman was born. Weatherman is the last umbrella you’ll ever need to buy. It is built to last for every kind of rain there is—showers, gusts, storms, and everything in between. Lightweight, yet sturdy it withstands winds up to 55 mph.

Weatherman comes with a corresponding app that detects the forecast in your area and a PebbleBee Bluetooth tracker that reminds you to take your umbrella along when you need it most. It also knows where you last left your umbrella in case you lose it!

Buy exclusively at

LUX LED Lighting  

I’m obsessed with these gorgeous, high tech and sleek LED lights for the home! And not only do they look good, they do good: Now through December 26th, with each purchase LUX LED Lighting will donate one solar light through Unite To Light which brings light to people around the world without access to electricity, or affected by natural disasters like the recent hurricanes in Puerto Rico

Unite To Light provides portable, solar-powered lamps to communities without electricity. Whether from disaster, lack of infrastructure, or inability to pay, the organization aims to bring light to those who would otherwise live in darkness.

The LUX Toronto LED Task Lamp has 360-degree flexibility, soft-touch silicone overmold and three touch-activated brightness levels. It conveniently has two USB charging ports on either side of its minimalist base to charge your devices while providing warn LED light that’s easy on the eyes. It comes in two finishes, white and black and is built to last.

The LUX Brooklyn LED Desk Lamp’s curves and modernist lines will make your home shine. It has great functionality with two universal AC sockets, two USB ports and a device shelf perfect for your phone. The linen shade is awesome quality and and so elegant with either the brushed aluminum or black slate finishes. I love the touch-activated brightness levels.

The LUX Brooklyn USB LED Task Lamp also has two USB charging ports, three touch activated brightness options, and an integrated device shelf. Its understated modern design make the Brooklyn USB an efficient option when desk space is limited.

Purchase them all in the LUX LED store  — before December 26 to support Unite to Light — at

Athena Safety Wearable from Roar for Good 

The Athena is discreet, sleek, wearable tech that at the touch of a button, shares your location with your trusted network of friends and family via mobile SMS alerts and, in more threatening situations, Athena can also sound a high frequency alarm. Athena pairs with the ROAR Personal Safety app on the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth to send the distress messages and, within the app, the user also designates their emergency contacts.

Wear it your way – on your purse, clipped to your clothing, or as a necklace. Athena is intentionally designed to suit your lifestyle, be easily accessible, and prevent accidental activation.

As part of their ROAR Back program, ROAR contributes a portion of proceeds from each Athena sold to educational programs that have been shown to increase empathy and reduce violence.

Athena is available for purchase on and Amazon and is an Amazon Deal, saving you 15% through December 22nd.

Giggle and Play Masha + Deluxe Bear from Masha and the Bear

They tech toys are based upon the hit 3-D family show, Masha and the Bear, which tells about the hilarious adventures of a mischievous little girl, Masha and her kind and caring friend, the Bear. Are your kids into this show? It’s a  \YouTube record-breaking animated show with over 27 BILLION views in total. It is a global sensation translated into more than 35 languages and broadcast in almost each part of the world.

This interactive Masha doll is full of personality. Giggle and Play Masha really giggles when you swing her side to side. Plus she recites 12 phrases from the show, and sings a song! The 12 inch super soft, cuddling plush Bellowing Bear loves to play and snuggle up at bedtime. Hug or squeeze Bear and he grunts like a bear, just like in the show!

You will find these items at the best price at

My Love Is With You Wherever You Go and A Very Special Christmas Tree: Perfect Christmas Gifts

One of our favorite children’s authors has a new book that is holiday present perfection: My Love Is With You Wherever You Go by Debra Buchanan, illustrated by Nataly Vits.

The lyrical verse tells the child recipient or listener of the story how much he or she is loved and treasured by his or her family member. It is a beautiful gift from a parent, grandparent, godparent, aunt or uncle to the children in their life who they love beyond measure. There is a gentle spirituality to the book too, assuring the child not only of his love from his family but his love from God.

Alice has adored having me and her dad read My Love Is With You Wherever You Go to her, especially at bedtime. After a whirlwind day of first grade, the soothing, sweet assurances that she is safe and cared for make for a peaceful love letter to her each night before sleep.

One of the closing lines makes me tear up a little, and makes me want to send this book to all of my nieces, nephews and friends’ children:

“When I am with you or if I am far, my love will be with you wherever you are.” 

The watercolor illustrations are equally calming and charming, painted by children’s book illustrator Nataly Vits of Moscow, Russia. Author Buchanan is a devoted mother and career teacher who has in recent years become a grandmother, and her love for those babies is evident and relatable to our own love for our children.

This hardcover keepsake book is extremely reasonable at just $15.99. I highly recommend ordering via Amazon My Love Is With You Wherever You Go — it will arrive before Christmas!


Another wonderful Christmas gift is Buchanan’s first children’s book, A Very Special Christmas Tree. This story tells of a little tree with big aspirations for the location where she will shine with ornaments and lights.

I love the soft, gentle writing of A Very Special Christmas Tree: “Deep in the forest where the fairies dwell, a little pine tree grows among her lush and lofty neighbors…the little tree dreamed of her magnificent home for the holidays.”

The words flow like a Christmas bedtime story or a graceful children’s ballet. In fact, A Very Special Christmas Tree was written to be performed as a ballet during Christmastime! In addition to being an author, Buchanan is an award-winning dance educator and director in Southern California who has brought her popular stage production to the page for children everywhere.

Vits again partners with Buchanan with beautiful watercolor illustrations that soothe and delight.

The story’s themes of faith and spirituality are soft and subtle but easy for children to understand. As other trees in the forest are chosen for glamorous, well-known locations in New York City, the little tree eagerly awaits her placement. After every other tree finds a glorious home for the holiday, the little tree is disappointed to find where she has been taken. She finds herself transported to a small home with modest conditions. But an angel informs the tree of her important purpose in a shelter that provides warmth, food, gifts and Christmas for those in need. The little tree discovers the true spirit of Christmas and that her greatest wish to be a significant tree has actually come true.

A Very Special Christmas Tree in hardcover is a gorgeous keepsake, as well as an extremely thoughtful yet reasonable gift at just $13.99.

We received review copies from the author Debra Buchanan of Dancing Pen Publishers, a longtime friend. The author’s affiliate link is used, so if you buy through those links you support children’s literature! 

Skincando Services, Skin Care and Sale!

Sara Damelio of Skincando has a new out of this world treatment and a once-a-year only sale that I just had to tell you about! 

I am a massive fan of Sara Damelio, the creator of Skincando, and eco-aesthetician of green beauty treatments at the Emerald Door Spa (located right on the Silver Spring/Chevy Chase/NW DC border). Sara is one of the country’s first eco-facialists and has been practicing and studying natural skincare for over 15 years.

Sara’s facials have done wonders to improve my skin, and her organic, hand-mixed beauty products are my go-tos. The Skincando Miracle Cream truly worked miracles on my face and neck, and the skin around my eyes has gone back in time thanks to the Eye Balm.

New Service: Japanese Head Scratch Massage + Hair Treatment

I just tried Sara’s new service and it is my favorite spa treatment of all time: the ultimate scalp massage! The Skincando Japanese Head Scratch Massage and Hair Treatment is a unique spa service that releases oxytocin, relieves tension and nourishes the scalp and hair using Eastern massage techniques combined with warm organic apricot oil. Hair brushing, light pulling and neck and shoulder massage are part of this holistic treatment. This 3o minute treatment is just $60. (Ask about the off-menu back scratch add-on, too!)

After this blissful experience, I was in a fog. My scalp is my favorite place to be massaged and my hair was so nourished and soft afterwards. My shoulders, spine and neck finally relaxed after a stressful few months. This treatment is the BEST.

Other eco-beauty treatments by Sara that I highly recommend:

Skincando Organic Facials

Eyelash Tinting

Deep Tissue Full Body Massage


Book your appointment or purchase a gift certificate for a service (a GREAT holiday gift) at 301.587.5800 or

Holiday Skincando Sale

For this weekend only — Friday, December 8 through Sunday, December 10 — Skincando is making its products down to a whopping 40 percent off! That’s super savings. Plus, if you are a devoted Skincando groupie, you can also get a free jar of Miracle Cream ($70 value!) with your purchase over $500.

Get to Skincando shopping online ASAP because this sale happens just once a year!

New Skincando Products 

Combat-Ready Baby Wash

A safe and nontoxic bath gel + shampoo to use on the most sensitive skin. Handcrafted from plant extracts and organic natural oils, it works beautifully to cleanse all skin types, including children suffering from eczema and other skin issues. $15

Combat-Ready Shower Gel

Combat-Ready Shower Gel is an unscented organic body wash designed to clean sensitive skin naturally without irritation. Perfect for daily use. $15.

Skincando Spot Treatment 

A beautiful roller ball bottle filled with a custom blend of organic witch hazel and salicylic acid that discourages bacteria growth and blemishes. Use as needed up to 4 times per day. $40

I received a Japanese Head Scratch Massage + Hair Treatment and select products for review. No additional or monetary compensation received. All opinions are mine. 

Cirque Dreams Holidaze in DC at MGM National Harbor 12/6 – 12/9

CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE at MGM: The most magical holiday show of the season! 

Cirque Dreams opens its acclaimed Holidaze show at The Theater at MGM National Harbor on Wednesday, December 6th and runs through Saturday, December 9th. Get tickets before they are gone!

For its 10th Anniversary National Tour, the critically-acclaimed holiday stage extravaganza makes it way to the MGM National Harbor’s gorgeous theater for this cirque spectacle. We cannot wait to see this show which reviewers say is a Broadway musical and family show all in one!

Cirque Dreams Holidaze is a multi-million dollar live stage production is filled with over 300 imaginative costumes, 20 world-class astonishing acts, the finest singers, original music and seasonal favorites, don’t miss snowmen, penguins, angels, reindeer, toy soldiers, gingerbread men, ornaments and of course Santa Claus himself. Cirque Dreams Holidaze has been hailed by The New York Daily News as a “delicious confection of charm, sparkle and talent by the sleighload.”

I am taking my kids to the opening night show, and we are excited to see the soaring acrobatics, gravity defying feats, elaborate production numbers and illusions, and also to see our first show in the MGM venue!

The two-hour theatrical phenomenon was heralded by the Boston Globe as a “full-on sensory immersion, in which Las Vegas meets family entertainment meets musical theater!”

We are receiving tickets for review. No additional compensation received. 

See Mount Vernon By Candlelight: Just 3 Nights Left!

December Special Event Your Family Will Remember All Year: Mount Vernon By Candlelight

Remaining tours for 2017: Friday December 8, Saturday December 9 and Sunday December 17. Get tickets. 

The A Parent in Silver Spring crew loves a visit to Mount Vernon any day of the year (even Christmas Day!) but for a highly special experience, take one of the holiday season candlelight tours! You will you get to see the Washington family estate by night and decorated for Christmas.

The experience begins in the Ford Orientation Center, where you can enjoy the sounds of the holiday season and view spectacular Christmas trees highlighting the lives of the Washingtons and their home. Light concessions will be available for purchase.

Then you will be guided into the 18th century for a lantern-lit tour of the historic area, where you will see the Slave Quarters and the Blacksmith Shop. Inside the Mansion, Martha Washington and other Mount Vernon residents will welcome you into their home and share stories of past Christmases.

After the tour concludes, continue the experience by visiting the Greenhouse and participating in 18th-century dancing, just as the Washingtons might have done during the holidays. Enjoy cookies while sipping warm cider, listening to fireside caroling, and paying a visit to Aladdin the Christmas camel.

The evening will conclude with live music in the Education Center Lobby and an opportunity to visit the Education Center exhibits and The Shops.

Tour times vary each day, see the ticketing page for time information. Guests will be allowed entry through the main gate 15 minutes prior to their tour time. Mount Vernon by Candlelight takes place rain or shine.


Washington Nationals 2017 Winterfest: Get Tickets!

Don’t Miss Washington Nationals 2017 Winterfest Saturday December 16 and Sunday December 17 

Every Nats-loving family should make sure to attend Nats Winterfest this month at Washington Convention Center. It is the Nationals’ event of the offseason will again feature two days of fun!

Open to fans of all ages, guests can enjoy holiday and baseball themed activities and interactive events, meet and greet their favorite Nationals player and coaches, take a photo with Santa, enjoy their favorite ballpark concession, do any last-minute holiday shopping and much more!

Activities include:

* Clinics with Nationals players and coaches
* Watch a Home Run Derby featuring the Nationals mascots
* Ride down The Slider, a giant slide reminiscent of a sledding hill
* Make a snow fort, participate in the steal home challenge and take batting practice
* Hear a winter or baseball-themed story, read by a Nationals player
* Participate in the Kids Press Conferences
* Sign up for 2018 season Jr. Nats Kids Club memberships at the Jr. Nationals Kids Club kiosk
* “Video Pitch,” where fans can give virtual batters their best pitch

Tickets may be purchased in advance for $39 for adults, $29 for kids. Buy online ahead of time because prices increase at the door! Get tickets. 

GIVEAWAY: Busch Gardens Christmas Town Getaway!

My family and I drove down to Williamsburg for a festive holiday family getaway, and the highlight of the kids’ time there was definitely Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg!

Read on to hear about why this trip rocks, and at the end enter to win your own family getaway to Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Christmas Town, complete with park tickets, a hotel stay for your family and more! 

Select days between Thanksgiving and Jan. 1, 2018, holiday season lovers of all ages are invited to Busch Gardens Williamsburg 2 – 10 p.m. for its transformation to Christmas Town. There the theme park glows with over 8 million Christmas lights, making it the largest Christmas light display in North America!

Christmas Town is amazing not only for the park rides and attractions that stay open during this seasonal event, but its holiday-specific showsfood and drinkholiday shopping and experiences.

Arrive Early to Avoid Ride Lines 

We pulled into the Busch Gardens parking lot at 1:30 p.m. in order to be on the premises when the rides began operating at 2 p.m. sharp. We headed straight for the thrill rides open during Christmas Town that draw the longest lines: the brand-new for 2017 InvadR coaster and fan-favorite dark-ride coaster/outside coaster combo Verbolten.

Neither InvadR or Verbolten turn upside down, but are both extremely thrilling, so they will please all the coaster lovers in your family.

Many of the not-so-scary park rides and attractions stay open during this Christmas event so that the entire family can have a blast as the park turns on the Christmas magic.

Enjoy KIDsiderate areas for the young kids, thrill rides for big kids and the brave and lots of merry entertainment.  open, as will the Sesame Street Forest of Fun and more!

Character Meet and Greets, and Character Dining 

If you would like your kids to meet Santa Claus in his workshop at Christmas Town, choose that as an early-in-the-day experience. The line for this increased dramatically throughout the day, we observed. You can also drop off with him your Christmas list and take pictures with the jolly old elf.

For special character experiences, check out the brand-new Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland for chances to meet Rudolph, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and Bumble the Abominable Snowman. You can also experience Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer like never before as it comes to life in an all-new, immersive, multi-sensory movie experience. Got kids who LOOOOVE characters, or is character dining a treasured family tradition of yours? Then be sure to reserve a special dining experience with Santa or Rudolph and friends!

See the Shows 

The special performances only available to see during Christmas Town are amazing see as many as possible!  There is the ice spectacular ‘Twas That Night  featuring world-champion figure skater Elvis Stojko that brings the magic Christmas to life on ice skates.

Also see Scrooge No More! (A Christmas Carol), Gloria! (musical retelling of the first Christmas), Deck the Halls (musical revue of contemporary carols and dancing) and more.  We personally caught ‘Twas That Night, Deck the Halls and Gloria! but want to go back to catch Scrooge and more performances.

Get the Cocoa

Walking around admiring all of the lights at Christmas Town by night is best experienced while holding a mug of their signature cocoa, which is sold in oodles of kiosks and cafes around the park. You can pre-purchase tickets for a refillable souvenir mug so you can get additional cups of cocoa at a reduced price. Our kids had two or three cups each to “stay warm” (they just loved the warm, special sweetness) and thus it was worth-it purchase. Besides, part of the Christmas Town magic is holding your mug, kind of like peanuts at a baseball game. Go with it!

Stay Out as Late As You Can 

The park becomes extra magical at night when the millions (literally) of lights are visible, so keep the kids out as late as they can handle. We have done well on our visits to do the rides first when the sun is still out, and then the shows and lights-admiring after sundown. Although we are an early-to-bed family, we try to stay up to close to the park’s closing time to max out the magic.

Get tickets to Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Christmas Town!

Stay Overnight at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel and Suites 

We always have a wonderful time staying a night or two at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel and Suites! It is located near both the Colonial sites and Busch Gardens, a standard room comfortably accommodates our family of 5 and the complimentary breakfast in the morning cannot be beat. Check out their Holiday Getaway Package. Rates start at just $109 a night but the hotel feels luxe.

Want to win your own Christmas Town overnight getaway on a day of your choice before its final day, January 1? One lucky A Parent in Silver Spring reader family will win: 

Four (4) Single-Day Tickets to Christmas Town
One-night hotel stay at an area Williamsburg hotel (most likely Williamsburg Woodlands…subject to availability on the day you select) 
Parking voucher
Four souvenir hot chocolate mug vouchers
Four reserved seats to ‘Twas that Night Christmas Ice Show

Enter below! 

Busch Gardens Christmas Town GETAWAY!

The A Parent in Silver Spring family received the same items as the winner of the prize pack. No additional or monetary compensation received. Additional expenses covered by me. All opinions are my own. 

Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens: Holiday Must-Do (and Giveaway!)

Nothing will fill you with more holiday happiness than walking through Garden of Lights with your family!

Pick an evening between now and New Year’s Day to visit Brookside Gardens and experience the dazzling Garden of Lights. It’s magical and marvelous for literally every age, baby to grandparent. My family and I have attended every year since 2004 and it keeps getting better and better. Strolling through this winter wonderland is one of our favorite holiday traditions.

This year we attended opening weekend with our three kids and made plans to meet another family there to see the more than one million colorful lights and creative displays. 2017’s Garden of Lights — its 19th season — was simply spectacular, and this opinion was shared by both sets of parents, the teen, the tween, the third grader and the first graders.

The elementary schoolers’ were delighted by the lights shaped into animals. The lighted land animals we discovered in the gardens, while some twinkling aquatic animals we found hopping, skipping, croaking and peering from the fountains and pools.

The older kids had fun with the interactive and creative light elements, such as the weather system rainbow that “rains” lights, flashes with lightning and crashes with thunder.

I loved the gazebos covered in icicle lights and the twinkling trees that changed color. Watching my girls dancing beneath a tree changing from pink to blue to green on an early winter night made all my worries melt away.

The Children’s Garden is also festooned with lights, making for a fairy garden of sparkles for the little ones to play in.

The Visitors Center features nightly live music!  Check out the musical lineup. The on-site caterer at the Visitors Center has a delicious selection of hot drinks, treats, soups and sandwiches for sale. There was also a bonfire with marshmallow roasting on the night we attended.

We knew from previous years to arrive extra early, 15 minutes before the official opening time of 5:30 p.m. and to enter Glenallen Avenue via Kemp Mill Road and park in the Conservatory parking lot, if possible. These two steps saved us waiting in any car lines at all. Friends of ours waited in a slightly longer line by coming in Glenallen Avenue from Randolph Road and parking near the Visitor Center, but the lines move very quickly. Weekdays have less wait times than weekends.

The cost is $25 per car/van Sunday-Thursday and $30 per car/van Friday-Saturday. Fill all your seats and carpool with friends for a great value on a night out. There is currently a Groupon deal on Garden of Lights for $20 tickets valid any night through December 15, so if you attend on or before 12/15 definitely get your ticket there to save $5-$10. After that promo is over, you can also pick up $25 advance sale tickets at the Brookside Gardens gift shop, which are good for use any night (saving you $5 if you utilize on a Friday or Saturday).

Please note that you must drive into Garden of Lights — no pedestrian traffic is allowed. Pets need to stay at home, although service animals are welcome.

Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens

Nightly through January 1, 2018 (closed December 24 & 25) 

Sunday-Thursday 5:30 – 9 p.m., $25 per car/van 

Friday-Saturday 5:30 – 10 p.m., $30 per car/van

Save using Groupon deal on Garden of Lights for $20 tickets valid any night through December 15

Advance sale tickets at Brookside Gardens gift shop $25 good for use any night (saves you $5 if you use on a Friday or Saturday)

Want to win a free pass for a car load of loved ones to share Garden of Lights with you on a night of your choosing? Enter via the form below!

Garden of Lights Car Pass!

The Best ICE at Gaylord National EVER: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!

My family and I have made a holiday pilgrimage to experience Gaylord National Resort’s ICE! attraction each year since its inception. But I have to say, this year’s display featuring the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is my favorite ICE! to date. If you have always wanted to don those snazzy blue parkas, see the colorful ice sculptures and slide down those massive ice slides, this year is the year!

Of course, ICE! is just one element of Gaylord National Resort complete holiday celebration, Christmas On The Potomac. The full holiday line-up is happening now through New Year’s Day and ICE is just the tip of the ICE-berg.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer…in ICE!

You are going to love ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Everyone’s favorite 1964 Christmas classic is portrayed in stunning, larger-than-life vignettes kept at a chilling 9-degrees. You’ll receive cozy, lined, full-length blue parkas with hoods to wear atop your own winter coats, gloves and hats as you walk through 13 scenes of more than two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures.

You and your family will see breathtaking scenes featuring your favorite characters – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice the flirting girl reindeer, Yukon Cornelius, Santa, Mrs. Claus….the gang’s all there!

The best part? Sliding down two-story tall ice slides in the Island of Misfit Toys. The attraction concludes with a breathtaking Nativity scene carved from crystal ice and set behind a twinkling light curtain.

ICE! is open daily from November 18, 2017 through January 1, 2018. Tickets cost $32 for adults ages 12 and older and $24 for children ages 4 to 11 on value days; $38 for adults and $31 for children on general admission days; and $39 for adults and $32 for children on peak days. Kids 3 and younger are free. Military and group ticket pricing is available and hours vary. Buy tickets.

Get tickets at the ICE! Cyber Sale and get 30 percent off on select dates! 

After ICE!, enter the Christmas Village (and get Santa pics!) 

Upon entering the Christmas Village, guests will delight in discovering a new ice skating attraction, carousel and train rides, Cookies with Mrs. Claus, photos with Santa and a Gingerbread Decorating Corner presented by Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas. To enjoy several of these attractions at a reduced rate, the resort has created Play and Save packages starting at $29.45. Get Play and Save tickets.

The resort also offers a Build-A-Bear Workshop experience where guests make their very own furry winter friend – a cuddly, cute polar bear plush, designed exclusively for Gaylord Hotels that can be personalized with cozy winter clothing and accessories. For even more fun, families can work together to solve the Build-A-Bear Workshop Scavenger Hunt throughout Gaylord National Resort to gain a “beary” special prize.

Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Character Breakfast 

Visitors also can delight in a new family breakfast featuring Rudolph, the star of ICE! Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Breakfast is a one-of-a-kind interactive character breakfast experience with tableside visits by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster and Clarice. Children of all ages will enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet, play games and sing-a-long to favorite music from the beloved television special.

We experienced this breakfast and not only were the activities memorable and fun for all, the food was amazing! There is a deluxe waffle station with mounds of chocolate, candy, berries and creams…totally what Buddy the Elf would fix you at the North Pole. There’s also a station with omelets made to order, a big hot buffet with bacons, sausages, eggs, potatoes and more, and dozens of pastries, yogurts and fruit. Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Breakfast is offered on select days and costs $39.99 for adults ages 12 and older and $26.99 for children ages 4 to 11. Kids 3 and younger are free. Get tickets.

Gaylord National Resort’s JOY– A Holiday Spectacular 

If ice sculptures weren’t enough, the resort also has transformed itself into a Christmas wonderland. Featuring more than two million lights, a suspended 55-foot tall Christmas tree and a 20-foot wide Washington, D.C. gingerbread display.

New this year, Gaylord National also is introducing a live entertainment show, JOY – A Holiday Spectacular, set within the resort’s stunning 19-story atrium. Visitors can enjoy the rich harmonies of classic and modern songs that celebrate the joy of the holiday season performed by Gaylord National singers. Tickets start at $11.99 for all ages. Military pricing is available. Get tickets.

The show is immediately followed by a free Tree Lighting Show that includes laser lights, a dancing water fountain, indoor snow flurry and holiday music – all centered on the resort’s suspended Starlight Christmas Tree.

Mistletoe Mixology Class

For visitors 21 and older, Gaylord National’s beverage director has created a Mistletoe Mixology class designed to teach participants the basics of cocktail making. The 90-minute hands-on class includes crafting three unique holiday cocktails paired with hors d’oeuvres provided by the resort chef. The class costs $29.00 and is available select dates during Christmas On The Potomac.

Make It An Overnight to Remember 

To experience the best of Christmas in the Washington, D.C. area, the resort offers two overnight packages including unlimited priority entry to ICE! You’ll bump up to the front of the line! Packages include:

ICE! Is Nice Package
• One night room accommodations
• Unlimited, priority entry tickets to experience ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Package starts at $219 for two people.

Christmas On The Potomac Package
• One night room accommodations
• Unlimited, priority entry tickets to experience ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
• $100 resort credit per night for hotel dining and Relâche Spa services
• One (1) complimentary souvenir ICE! photo
Package starts at $279 for two people.

For more information on Christmas On The Potomac at Gaylord National Resort and to book a package or tickets to ICE! and other holiday attractions, visit, call 301-965-4000 and follow


My family and I received tickets to ICE!, character breakfast and Christmas Village tickets for review. No compensation received. All opinions are my own.