Five Best Cities for Holiday Christmas Light Displays


While the rest of the world is cleaning up from Thanksgiving and gathering their Christmas décor from the attic, some Americans have spent the past several months preparing for some of the most elaborate and out-of-this-world holiday light displays in America.

Shindigz, a party supply retailer, set out to find the five most dazzling holiday light displays in America. And, baby – Clark Griswold ain’t got nothin’ on these masterpieces!

5. Nashville & Sevierville, TN – New Market, MD – Myrtle Beach, SC

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland

With four locations confirmed for 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee, Sevierville, Tennessee, New Market, Maryland and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland is worth the road trip. Each drive through display contains hundreds of thousands of LED lights controlled by 1,600 different light circuits and perfectly choreographed to festive music. In 2010, Forbes Magazine featured Shadrack’s as a must-see holiday attraction. Pricing starts at $25 per car. The best part about Shadrack’s is that they understand the Shindigz motto to “Make Life More Fun” for others. Every year, Shadrack’s makes generous donations to organizations like Ronald McDonald House, American Red Cross and Toys for Tots among other local charities within the host cities. Our party hats are off to you, Shadrack’s!

 

4. Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival

Often compared to a real-life version of a country snow globe, the Christmas Lighting Festival in Leavenworth, Washington is the perfect mix of lights, entertainment and old-time holiday spirit. The streets of this Bavarian village feature a sea of twinkling lights, carolers, chestnut vendors and horse-drawn carriages. Bring the family for activities like sledding, caroling, live music and an incredible live nativity. As stated on their website, Leavenworth’s country atmosphere and holiday festivities are enough to make put any snow globe to shame.

 

3. Wheeling, WV

Oglebay Festival of Lights

This incredible display opened in 1985 in Wheeling, West Virginia and has grown into a spectacular attraction of 75 larger-than-life light displays spanning 300 acres over a six mile drive through the Oglebay Resort. The Festival of Lights was featured on the Travel Channel’s Extreme Christmas Celebrations show and has gained notoriety across the nation. The Oglebay Festival of Lights is open through January 8, 2012 on Sundays through Thursdays until 10:00 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays until 11:00 p.m. A per car donation is requested and the pass is valid for the entire festival season.

 

2. Gatlinburg, TN

Smoky Mountain Winterfest

Although this festival spans three cities including Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg, the brightest sights and holiday events of Smoky Mountain Winterfest can be found in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This annual festival is a breathtaking scene of snow covered mountains set behind millions of twinkling lights and several holiday parades. With events like the Festival of Trees, Fantasy of Lights parade, Trolley of Lights Tour and New Year’s Ball Drop and Fireworks show, Gatlinburg in December is one bright spectacle to behold. While Pigeon Forge and Sevierville have equally entertaining events, our vote for best light displays at Winterfest goes to the Gatlinburg version.

 

1. Branson, MO

Silver Dollar City

Located in Branson, Missouri, the Silver Dollar City Holiday Festivities should be on every holiday bucket list. Therefore, it’s the number one city on the Shindigz list of best Christmas Light Displays in America. Christmas on Main Street kicks off the festival with the lighting of a 5-story tall musical Christmas tree with over a million lights choreographed to many favorite Holiday tunes. Shortly after, the Gifts of Christmas Holiday Light Parade takes over the streets with over 100,000 dazzling lights. This parade takes place not once, not twice, but 4 days each week through December 30th. Want even more? The Branson Area Festival of Lights is a magical one mile long drive through thrilling lights and holiday spirit. With over 175 displays, this unique holiday showcase is guaranteed to please the oldest and youngest of guests. The Branson Area Festival of Lights is open daily through Jan. 2, 2012, from dusk until 11 p.m. Prices start at just $12 for a family vehicle. We wouldn’t be surprised if you could see this city from space in December.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2011 Offers, Deals and Contests!


We’ve put together so many offers, deals, specials and contests for Thanksgiving Weekend, we had to make a list! Shindigz is the place to save this Holiday Season with hundreds of sale items for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Facebook contests, Twitter contests and so much more!

Pre-Black Friday Clearance Sale

11/23/11 through 11/28/11

We’ve hand selected 100 Holiday decoration and party supply items and slashed their prices up to 90% off! From napkins and tableware to Hanukkah decor and New Year’s Favors, our Pre-Black Friday clearance store is where the party starts! No coupon codes required!

Black Friday 75% off Personalized Banners Offer

11/25/11 through 11/27/11

Coupon Code: WSH79D

It’s our best seller. It’s personalized. It’s unique. And it’s on sale for just $3.75 for Black Friday! Our 18×34 inch personalized custom banners are perfect for any occasion. Christmas parties, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Birthdays, Anniversaries, School events, office news and the list goes on! This is the time to stock up on these banners for all of your 2012 events! As always, you can upload your own photos, logos and artwork. You can customize the colors, the layouts, the designs and even the font! Best of all, you can use this coupon code over and over and over again from Black Friday through Cyber Monday! Order as many times as your little Holiday Heart desires!

$250 Gift Certificate Facebook Giveaway – Best Thanksgiving Photos

11/23/11 through 11/25/11

Post your Thanksgiving photos on our Facebook page for a chance to win a $250 Shindigz Gift Certificate! We want to see your turkey, your table setting, the boys watching the game, the girls baking pies, your family playing poker, your kids doing crafts and any other holiday traditions you would like to share! Just post the photos on our Facebook page between 11/23/11 and 11/25/11 for a chance to win! We will randomly choose a winner and post it on Cyber Monday morning!

$100 Gift Certificate Facebook Giveaway – Best Black Friday Shopping Photos

11/25/11 – 11/27/11

Post your Black Friday shopping photos for a chance to win a $100 Shindigz Gift Certificate! We know that Black Friday can get CrAzY! Show us photos of the lines you stood in, the insane checkout, the bags and bags and bags of loot you came home with or just you and your friends enjoying lunch! Then just post your photos to our Facebook page! We’ll choose one winner at random and announce the winning name Cyber Monday morning on our Facebook page!

Cyber Monday Clearance Sale

11/28/11

The deals don’t stop after Black Friday! We’ve got a Cyber Monday Clearance Sale to keep the savings rolling! This store features over 100 Holiday items including candles, balloons, pretzel molds, centerpieces and New Year’s party supplies all slashed up to 90% off! This sale begins at 12:01 am on Cyber Monday morning and ends at Midnight Cyber Monday night! Don’t miss the chance to throw your holiday parties for up to 90% off!

Thoughtful Tips for a Very Merry Holiday


Christmas tree costume

Let the Christmas tree spirit in you shine this holiday!

It Is Never Too Early to Start Planning
Spread holiday party preparation out. For example, buy your party supplies and decorations now, instead of waiting until the last minute to make purchases!

  • Turn the TV off and the holiday music on – you’ll be surprised how much more you will get done. Plus, you won’t have the added stress of comparing what you are doing to what the “perfect families” are doing on TV.
  • Keep your holiday address list on your computer so you can print out address labels. Many fonts are decorative and you will save significant time versus addressing each one.
  • Make lists during your wait times. When waiting in line at the grocery or while working on the treadmill, make lists of everything. People on your gift list, dinner menus, decorations to buy, etc.
  • Make your most stressful holiday events a celebration in and of themselves. If you hate to decorate a tree, make it family fun tree night. Proclaim dinner to be elf pizza (easy to order and it’s what the elves do) so you don’t have to cook. Pop popcorn, simmer some yummy pot pourri, pump up the Christmas carols and start a tradition. Give everyone old and young a task. The family will look forward to it each year. Add new ornaments every year, giving each family member a new one to hang.
  • Make Sunday afternoon, or any other day of the week, baking day. Have fun baking with family and friends. Host a cookie exchange to increase the variety of cookies during the season.
  • Plan your holiday travel plans now. If you plan to fly over the holidays, book the earliest flights in the morning so you’ll be less likely to experience a delay. If possible, avoid connections.
  • Plan and purchase a few holiday outfits to wear through the season for all types of parties – office holiday parties, neighbors’ open houses, New Year’s Eve parties, and cookie exchanges. Don’t wait until the last minute to shop for a new outfit!
  • Don’t overeat during the holidays with the promise you will lose weight starting in January. Set a weight goal for January 1, and stick with it. Enjoy all the holiday food in smaller helpings.

Try Something New
Start a new tradition for each holiday each year. Family members love the traditional aspect of holiday celebrations. Each year add to your own traditions by trying something new.

  • For Thanksgiving, make it a pre-dinner tradition to tell each family member or guest at the table one thing about them that makes them special.
  • For Christmas, have each individual select a figure from the nativity scene.Then, one-by-one, tell the story of Jesus’ birth from the figure’s eye. Include animals, angels, shepherds, the wise men and their unique point-of-view. This is a wonderful activity for children of all ages!
  • Prepare a birthday cake for baby Jesus and sing happy birthday on Christmas day.
  • For Hanukkah, ask the youngest and the oldest to tell the family the meaning behind the celebration and the importance of each element. Enjoy the differing views.
  • For New Year’s Eve, create a box of wishes for the New Year and select a wish each week throughout the year. A wish for a family movie night, for a day without arguing, a parents’ night out, a picnic visit to a nearby park—be creative!

Treat Your Family Like Company
Don’t save the best china, outfits, and decorations for guests. Treat the ones you are closest to and love the most to a holiday filled with the best!

Make It the “Year of Decorations” and Go All Out!
Even the tightest budgets can decorate using inexpensive items such as construction paper and Christmas balloons. Set your children or friends to making paper chains in red and green or blue and white. Decorate your with lovely paper and plastic tableware and a festive, gold cone tree centerpiece to let your family and friends know you think they are special (and no one has to wash the dishes!).

Don’t Forget the Special Favor or Memento
Providing family and friends with a treasured memento, such as a snowflake gel candle or personalized bath salts, will be appreciated as much as any large and costly gift you might give. Whether big or small, give your guests something to take home to remember the time you spent together over the holiday.

Keep Your Camera Ready!
Make sure your camera’s batteries are charged and ready to go. Keep spare “AA’s” in your camera case for emergencies. Leave your camera in an easy-to-get-to place for taking those spontaneous pictures of children baking cookies and playing in the snow. There is no such thing as too many photos or priceless memories!

Interview with a Vampire Fan


With the release of Twilight, Breaking Dawn Part 1 hitting theaters this week, vampire lovers everywhere will be on the prowl for the best seats in the house. Shindigz, an online party supply company, set out to find the most intense Twi-Hard in the country. We didn’t have to look far.

On the surface, Fort Wayne, Indiana resident Danielle Ormiston looks like any young 30-something mother of three. She’s dainty and stylish with a cute brunette bob and attractive smile. With a full time job, a toddler on her hip and two school aged boys, Danielle is considered by those who know her as a sweet and loving mother, wife and friend. Take a closer look and you’ll see small hints of her true passion … Twilight vampires.

Around her neck is a simple charm of Edward and Bella printed on the back of a Scrabble tile. On her keys, you’ll find a Twilight keychain. Her cell phone is an album of Edward photos. Behind the cabinets of her kitchen, you’ll find Twilight plates, cups, lunch boxes, thermoses, and an array of vampire party supplies.

But these little trinkets are just the beginning. Step into Danielle’s secret closet (AKA, The Vampire Lair) and you’ll see how deep the vampire blood runs. On the walls are posters of Edward.  There are not one, not two, but THREE life size standees of the Twilight characters. The entire book series is sitting on the nightstand.

Shindigz wanted to get into the mind of a real life Twi-Hard. So, we conducted our own “Interview with a Vampire Fan.”

Shindigz: What time do you plan on getting to the theater for the movie release?

Danielle: Not sure yet…sometime between 9:00 and 10:00. Not too early … I’ve already got tickets.

Shindigz: Since you’ve read the books and already know what’s going to happen, what makes the movie so exciting?

Danielle: It’s nice to see everything you have pictured in your head come to life. Also, if I’m being honest, after 4 books we FINALLY get a hot, steamy love scene!

Shindigz: Tell us about some of the Twilight memorabilia you have.

Danielle: There’s not enough time to list everything! I have three standees, magazines, plates, action figures, blankets, an Edward Pillow, key chains and so much more. Wow, after saying this out loud I really sound like a loser! In my defense, most of the items I have were purchased as gifts for me because everyone knows of my vampire obsession.

Shindigz: How many times have you read the Twilight books?

Danielle: I’ve read the books 8 times each. But I’ve only read New Moon all the way through once. When I re-read it now, I stop before Edward leaves Bella and pick back up when Alice returns. I’m not a Jacob fan, so I don’t enjoy reading when Edward and Bella aren’t together. I’m weird like that.

Shindigz: Are any of your children named after Twilight characters?

Danielle: No, but we just recently adopted a puppy…her name is Bella.

Shindigz: What does your husband think of all this?

Danielle: Here (she pulls out this photo of her and her husband at her surprise 30th Twilight Party). Enough said.

Danielle and her husband, Jeremy at her Twilight Themed 30th Birthday Party

Pilgrims- Decorate a Mayflower Thanksgiving Party


Plan your next Thanksgiving party for children or adults with a sailing theme twist. Remember the Pilgrim’s first autumn aboard the Mayflower in 1620 with this combined sea and autumn genre that will make a lasting impression on your guests. Themed room decorating, crafts, snacks, and costumes are some of the ways to bring this variation of Thanksgiving celebrating to life.

Design a Thanksgiving Party Ship

Recreate the Mayflower’s atmosphere by using party backdrops of old time sailing ships looking out across the deck toward the sea. Your ship can be surrounded by an ocean blue room roll of waves. Use posts connected by rope to outline the ship’s sides and then cover both inside and outside with patterned corrugated paper simulating wooden planks.

Place tables “inside” the ship and use nautical standees like an antique captain’s wheel to go back in time. Or go all inside by using plank paper and columns covered with black or gold tulle and string lights to imitate the inside of the ship. Place a few portholes around the room for a glimpse out to sea.

Think about using the typical orange, brown and golds of autumn mixed with blues and creams from the sea to create interesting combinations of fall decorations. Pumpkins, gourds and sprays of fall leaves amidst shells and sea decorations can make excellent themed accents for both the floor area and/or table tops. Soft or brightly colored lights can brighten up a corner or place emphasis on a special area of interest – such as the food line.

Thanksgiving Party Craft Ideas

Some party crafts to consider for the young ones are:

  • Sugar cookies in the form of miniature sailing ships. Decorate with varied colored icing tubes
  • Sand crafts-kits and bottles
  • Pilgrim and turkey stick crafts for kids
  • Table top decorations. Stand the stick puppets upright in a Styrofoam base. Add wreathes of leaves, straw, or orange ribbon.

Pilgrim Thanksgiving Snacks

Serve up autumn inspired treats like apple walnut cake, pumpkin muffins, caramel apples, popcorn balls, and trail mix mixed with candy corn. Fish crackers can be placed in several smaller bowls around a sea of blue punch made from lemon/lime soda and blue colored Kool Aid. Be sure to bring plenty of candy corn!

Thanksgiving Party Costumes

Fall wearables and costumes add that finished touch. Your guests will have fun looking up period clothing on the Internet. Find a suitable equivalent with something homemade or buy costumes from a thrift store.

By trying something new this season and hosting a Mayflower Thanksgiving, you may be surprised at how much fun it is to think outside the typical setting. Above all, enjoy creating, hosting and celebrating this wonderful season full of autumn’s bounty, family and friends.

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