Nov 192014

Chicago Toy and Game Fair (Navy Pier, Chicago)
As the only fair of its kind in the United States open to the public, ChiTAG Fair returns to Navy Pier in Chicago, the world’s top city for toy and game inventors, for a weekend of fun-filled discovery, interactive events, and of course, play.

Thanksgiving Dance Party” to Benefit St. Francis Xavier Food Pantry (Jo’s Footwork Studio, Western Springs)
For a donation of a canned good or non-perishable item (peanut butter, soup, rice, etc) or five dollars in cash, per party, the individual will have a choice of participating in three different dance parties: Jazz Dance Party, PomDance Party, or Frozen Dance Party.

Beachcombers (Wonder Works Children’s Museum, Oak Park)
An ocean beach comes to Wonder Works! You can sift sand for small shells, take home a shell collection, make shell crafts, hunt for fossil shark teeth, play with plastic and plush sea life, and touch and talk about preserved shells, sea stars, corals and other sea life found on ocean beaches.

Gobble Gobble! It’s a Holiday Movie in the Park (Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center, Glen Ellyn)
Bring your blanket or lawn chairs, we’re having our first indoor movie on the turf at Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center. It’s the greatest turkey movie of all time, FREE BIRDS. This fun family comedy tells the story of two rival turkeys who travel back in time to prevent their own kind from becoming a savory Thanksgiving tradition. Free popcorn will be available for all of our moviegoers.

Turkey Shoot (Darien Park District Community Center)
Lace up those basketball shoes and join them this fall for a holiday free throw contest! This competition will be for children ages 6-12 and shooters will be split up by age group. Prizes will be given out to the top finishers! This is a FREE event but pre-registration is required.

Holly Days Gift Bazaar (Westmont Park District)
All your Christmas gifts can be purchased under one roof at the annual Holly Days Gift Bazaar! There is something for everyone. From beautiful handmade items, one of a kind ornaments, to home-based businesses, you’re sure to find it here.

Recreation Center Gym Floor Grand Reopening (Western Springs)
All are invited to come and enjoy fun and games with the reopening of the Recreation Center’s newly renovated gym!

Turkey Shoot (Western Springs Recreation Center)
Test your skill and win flavorful Thanksgiving items at the Recreation Department’s annual free throw basketball competition. Participants will play “Around the World” for points and win gift certificates.

 Posted by at 7:50 pm
Nov 172014

We had the pleasure of going to the Grand Opening of Adventure to Santa at Oakbrook Center tonight. I have never seen a more unique Santa experience and would definitely recommend taking your family!

dream place adventure to santa

Adventure to Santa is free, but you make a reservation = no waiting in long lines! If you would like to purchase the pictures with Santa you can buy them there, when you get home or save 33% on the photo package by pre-ordering here. I just checked out ours online and you can purchase the digital download by itself, any combination of sizes and gift items, or the large photo package complete with a video (which is what is on sale for the pre-order).

Warning: Spoiler Alert. We had no idea what the experience was going to be like, so if you want to be surprised too, don’t read any further! Just book your time slot at this link. Want to know what to expect? (I recommend not telling your kids or letting them read this because it was way too fun to see their faces throughout the experience!)

Santa’s elves greet you in the entry and escort you throughout the house. They did a wonderful job welcoming everyone with their cheerful dispositions and treated the kids with respect, shaking their hands and introducing themselves, which I thought was great. You are then taken into the room to see Santa, but he’s not there! Via video, Shrek tells everyone that Santa couldn’t make it, but invites the group to go to the North Pole to see him.

adventure to santa sleigh designYou enter a room with mounted tablets where the kids can design their own sleigh to take the journey. They choose the design along the side, colors and name on the license plate. My kids had so much fun with this part! Designing the sleigh takes about 2-3 minutes and had the perfect amount of interaction.

Then you are ushered into the next room where the sleigh awaits. The sleigh isn’t actually changing with each group, but my kids were so excited about the opportunity to design it that the magic was there and they didn’t notice that the details were not the same. When you sit down in the sleigh the multimedia experience begins with a dome-like screen, similar to the Omnimax theater but smaller, and you travel to the North Pole with Shrek guiding you on a friendly dragon. adventure to santa north pole journeyThe sleigh shudders and thumps along with the video as you soar through the sky. Gentle wind blows through your hair and the video moves to make you feel like you are flying. There are three rows of seats on the sleigh, so if you tend to get dizzy on “rides” like this then I recommend sitting in the back row.

You finally make it to the North Pole and you are taken to another room while you wait to see Santa. There are more mounted tablets where the kids can play a North Pole game called “Naughty or Nice.” My son is a fan of apps and games, so this was right up his alley. The elf in the room was singing Christmas carols, so my daughter joined right in. It wasn’t a long wait (maybe a few minutes?) until we got to see the big man himself. Santa was great, talking to the kids, really listening to what they wanted for Christmas and they felt comfortable with him. adventure to santaConsequently, the photo was great: relaxed, happy kids and the scene was really special. The elf gives each child a Christmas bell and you are led to a small room with DreamWorks merchandise before you exit.

The whole experience is about 15 minutes, is wheelchair accessible and fun for all ages. Like I mentioned, there isn’t an admission fee so I highly recommend that you make a reservation right now! I’m sure the schedule is going to fill up.




We were granted admission into the private Grand Opening celebration for Adventure to Santa, but all opinions are mine.

 Posted by at 9:04 pm
Nov 162014

italian christmas lightsNormally I don’t like talking about Christmas before Thanksgiving, but the holidays are an exciting time with a lot going on, so I figured everyone would appreciate a heads up and time to plan ahead before things get crazy. Plus, the Christmas events are starting! I have compiled all of the holiday related events that I could find in this handy list, which is linked to the calendar so you can access it for more information. You can expand the listing by clicking on the box for the event and if you want to see the full listing with the address, map and event times click “Read more.” Enjoy planning some fun stuff with your kids this holiday season!

Events for the Christmas Holiday Season

 Posted by at 5:24 pm
Nov 142014

Don’t have time to cook, don’t like to cook or too exhausted to cook?! We’ve all been there. As much as we love spending time with family, the preparation can be exhausting. Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, 200 North Columbus Drive, is offering a gourmet ready-to-serve Thanksgiving Day dinner prepared by the Executive Chef!

Fairmont Chicago Turkey-to-go

Your guests will be gushing about the lavishly prepared meal for years to come! The extravagant meal accommodates up to eight guests and includes an oven-roasted turkey with savory herb stuffing, cranberry relish with candied lemon zest, buttery mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, baby carrots in dill butter, fresh-baked Parker House rolls, and a choice of apple-cranberry cobbler, chocolate pecan pie, or pumpkin cheesecake. For a full menu, please click here. The dinner is $260 plus tax. To place an order, please call 312.565.6665 between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily. Orders must be placed by noon on November 25 and dinners may be picked up on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 27) between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park on the B-2 Level.

 Posted by at 3:50 pm
Nov 132014


Come out and play at the 12th annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair (ChiTAG), arriving in the Windy City on Saturday, November, 22, 2014 and Sunday, November 23, 2014. As the only fair of its kind in the United States open to the public, ChiTAG Fair returns to Navy Pier in Chicago, the world’s top city for toy and game inventors, for a weekend of fun-filled discovery, interactive events, and of course, play.

We have gone to ChiTAG for the past few years and really enjoyed it. Our kids have such a great time playing with all the latest toys, it’s fun to meet the inventors and creators of the games and toys my kids enjoy and we get great ideas for Christmas presents.

Founded in 2003 by the Chicago Toy & Game Group, the ChiTAG Fair commemorates the toy and game industry as the global hub for consumers, inventors, trade, and media to preview, play, and purchase the hottest new toys and games, while rediscovering the classics and meeting the inventors behind the ingenuity of play. For $10 per adult ticket and $5 per children’s ticket, fair attendees can explore the booths of more than 150 toy and game exhibitors, participate in engaging contests and tournaments, enjoy live stage entertainment, and much more.5okldeiumK2YghFJFG6wIiC1x4ydWH0Il8Mu-WAO3KU

Click here for ticket info and a $2 off coupon

November 22 & 23, 2014
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. & Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00p.m.
Navy Pier, 2ndFloor Festival Hall A (far east end of the Pier) Chicago, IL

Saturday, November 22

10:00 a.m.
ChiTAG Doors Open The first 1,000 attendeesthrough the doors on Saturday, November 22, will receive a free copy of the acclaimed book, About Jenga, by author and Jenga creator Leslie Scott. Leslie Scott will also be attending the Fair and autographing copies of her book during the Fair.

10:00a.m. to 2:00p.m.
Young Inventor Challenge (YIC)
Open to boys and girls ages 6 to 18; this showcase exhibits imaginative original toysor games from aspiring inventors. Prize packages are awarded to “Best in Show”injunior and senior categories, along with two runners-up and one “People’s Choice”recipient. Judging will take place from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00p.m., and the winners will be announced at 5:00 p.m. |Registration requiredbefore November 4, 2014. | Rules& regulations can be found on the ChiTAG website.

10:00 a.m. to 5:00p.m.
Official Illinois State Yo-Yo Contest on ChiTAG StagePerfect your technique with adynamic performance competition featuring hands-ontips for all skill levels. The immensely entertaining contest is open toall ages with the longest standing yo-yo participant taking home the title of champion.

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Legoland Discovery Center Girl Scout Program
Make your own scene using LEGO®bricks and mini figures and snap photos for each frame of your comic. Edit each photo to make your visual story come to life.

12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Catan National Championship
US QualifierTake a chance at becoming a Catan Worldwide Champion by competing in the CWC USA Pre-Qualifier a ChiTAG.

12:30 p.m. to 1:00p.m.
Star Wars Character Luncheon in the Lakeview Terrace Room
Meet and eat with your favorites from Star Wars 501stLegion: Vader’s First. Registration required. | Cost: $30 per child, $36 per adult | Tournament for children ages 6 to 14.

2:30 p.m. to 6:00p.m.
Rummikub USA Championship Presented by Goliath Games
Participate in the first U.S. Rummikub Championship event for the opportunity to win a trip to Germany to attend the 2015 Rummikub World Championship event!

Dino Zoo Live sponsored by Spin Master
Get ready for the ultimate playdate –65 million years in the making –as Erth’s DINOSAUR ZOO LIVE guides your family on a breathtaking pre-historic tour.You’ll observe, meet and interact with an eye-popping collection of amazingly life-like dinosaurs and other creatures presented in a theatrical performance that will thrill and entertain kidswhile stimulating their imaginations in ways that will forever connect them to their world.
Check additional details.

Sunday, November 23

10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Grandparents Day
ChiTAG celebrates fun at all ages and on Sunday grandparents get in for free! Bring your grandchildren along and enjoy the funtogether.

10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Legoland Discovery Center Girl Scout Program
Make your own scene using LEGO®bricks and mini figures and snap photos for each frame of your comic. Edit each photo to make your visual story come to life.

1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Frozen Parade starting at theChiTAG Stage
Come dressed as your favorite character from Disney’s “Frozen” and receive free admission to the ChiTAG Fair. All ages are invited to participate.

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Adventure Sandwich Performance on ChiTAG Stage
Watch Adventure Sandwich perform live action cartoon scenes that combines music, art, & storytelling to encourage the imagination to run wild.

Mayfair Games Boy Scout Badge Design
Join Mayfair Games for a special workshop on Game Design. Participants will receive a special design kit from Mayfair containing components.

This post brought to you by Chicago Toy and Game Fair.

 Posted by at 3:33 pm