If you know me, you know that I get social anxiety when it comes to going out with the family during the crowded, holiday season. Other parents seem to have their ducks in a row, whereas I definitely overwhelm myself, every single time (this’ll be my 5th Christmas activity season with Mia).
Fortunately, I do eventually pull myself together enough to experience what the holidays are all about with my family. I’m not claiming that it’ll be easy or stress-free. In fact, just be mentally prepared for the chaos and long lines you may just be in for all the fun activities they offer for the kiddos. This year, it’ll be easier for me to navigate all the things Mia will get to experience since we did them all last year. Hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy these experiences with your family too and be a little less stressed out!
EVERYTHING in Crown Center will guarantee Christmas chaos. But it’s a place you’ll spend hours upon hours in or out and be able to bask in the glory of all things Christmas-y.
From the North Pole all the way to the unique train station museum deep within Union Station, there are entertainment for days. And I do mean DAYS. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve taken Mia to the train museum, but every visit is like the first time. Plenty of “ooo’s” and “aaa’s” to melt your heart – and it’s FREE of charge!
Last year, we skipped the long line to the Polar Express and chose the mini version indoors instead. Worth the price that you pay and the long line you wait in. The expression on their face will make you want to jump back in line and have them take the ride again, at least for Mia (ha!).
No photos for the Plaza considering I’m way too busy enjoying the beautiful lights hugging every building. It’s quite a sight in the evening. And if you’re lucky, you can take a ride around a carriage. That is still a goal I have to ride in a carriage someday (sigh).
And again, no photo for proof but take my word for it — the lights and Christmas decorations will draw you in and you’ll have a hard time leaving. There are opportunities to visit Santa and Princesses for photo op sessions.
First thing’s first — come early to Bass Pro Shop or The Independence Mall because both photo opportunities with Santa Claus will have you waiting in line for HOURS. Fortunately, there are a heck of a lot of beautiful distractions at both places so there are things for you to distract the kiddos with.
I waited in line at the Independence Mall for 2 hours while my husband took Mia on a never-ending walk around the mall and had a few snacks/meals at the food court while I patiently waited in line. Mama was serious about having her kiddo meet Santa that year (2015). We probably won’t be doing that for awhile, but it was worth it seeing the photos and how they turned out. Yes, there were snacks used as bribes to get that beautiful smile on her face. The Santa also got a snack, too.
The Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is a SPECTACULAR experience. Last year, I won my family tickets to this once in a lifetime activity. Yes, it was extremely cold so I advice for you and the family to wear an appropriate amount of layers. I also advice you wear comfortable shoes to walk on because you will walk around the botanical gardens the whole time there. I can’t even explain how lovely the sight is. All the lights. All the activities. They were captivating and made me truly love the holiday season with family and friends. My last advice for this experience is to show up EARLY because the drive there will be hectic. Parking can be challenging. Go before it gets super dark out, or not. It’s beautiful either way. JUST GO!!!
This is free and causes no stress. Enjoy the snow. Enjoy dressing your kiddo up for the holiday season. Decorate your tree with them. Spend quality time with them while they’re still young. At age 4 I’ve noticed how much more this season means to her and I’m lucky to be experiencing it all with my daughter.
This year my goal is to experience the holiday season as simply and stress-free as possible. We all learned some lessons with everything we got to do last year. I hope you and your family are able to experience a few things while they last. After all, family time is the reason for the season.