I have rounded up some photos from the 2018 holiday season. The weeks leading up to Christmas are my favorite time of year. Nearly every weekend from mid-November until early January, my family, friends and I are taking part in some sort of festive activity. January is wrapping up, but I wanted to share some of my favorite moments and traditions, so here we go!
This was the first Christmas in my little apartment and decorations were hung on the first of November. As I’ve said before, the holidays are my favorite time of the year and with nobody to tell me it’s too early, I was thrilled to put up the tree as soon as possible. After several trips to Target, my tiny home was all dressed up for the season.
Chicago’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony took place the weekend before Thanksgiving. The crowds were terribly congested, so I watched the tree lighting from the rooftop of my building. A birds-eye view was better because I had perfect visibility of the fireworks and the entire scene. It was a magical Chicago tradition that I highly recommend attending if you’ve never been.
The Christkindlmarket is another venue I frequented throughout November and December. The giant open-air market mirrors a similar seasonal tradition in Nuremberg, Germany. Roasted nuts from the Candy Castle are my favorite treat at Christkindlmarket, but potato latkes, hot chocolate, mulled wine, and strudel all come in at a close second.
Driving around looking at holiday decorations is a tradition my Mom started with my sisters and me when we were toddlers. Chicago is like the Broadway of the Midwest for Christmas lights, but that should be no surprise considering Clark Griswold hailed from a Windy City suburb. Bottom line: Chicagoans take their festive decorations seriously.
It officially feels like the holidays when my best friends from high school visit. Carolyn and Jessica flew from Costa Rica and Hawaii to spend Christmas with their families. This year was particularly special because they came to Chicago for a weekend and I was able to show them my favorite places in the city. We also hit up a few of the Wrigleyville Christmas bars.
I have a large family, so there are usually three or four Christmas parties during the holiday season. There’s a lot of food, a lot of gifts, and all of the celebrations are a lot of fun.
It’s a tradition for my immediate family to attend a concert at Christmastime. In the past we have seen Tran-Siberian Orchestra, but this year we saw Straight No Chaser, an acapella group that started at Indiana University. The comedy, set design, and vocal talent of their show was incredible. If you haven’t seen them before, do it!
My sisters and I always have a holiday movie night during the holidays. They came to Chicago and we walked around and looked at lights, then went back to my apartment and watched some of our favorite Christmas films.
On Christmas Eve, we hit up Deuce’s and the Diamond Club’s Christmas pop-up, Santa Baby Bar. My sisters wanted to go to try the extravagant milkshakes and see the exuberant decorations. If the pop-up bar returns in 2019, we are absolutely making that place a tradition because it’s a total blast, even for kids!
A bunch of my relatives get together to watch It’s a Wonderful Life at the theater every year. It’s one of my favorite movies and I have seen it over 100 times, but watching it in a theater at Christmastime is still so magical. The message within the film will never get old.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are always spent with my family in Indiana. It has become a tradition in my friend group that we spend New Year’s Eve together. I traveled down to Indianapolis and we rang in 2019 at Katie’s house. I love spending the New Year with my best friends because it’s a night that welcomes a full calendar of endless possibilities. I’m glad to share the beginning with some of my favorite people.
Three Kings’ Day was the wrap-up of the 2018 holiday season. My sisters and I finally made it over to Lincoln Park Zoo for their ZooLights event. It was the greatest way to conclude my favorite time of year — cute animals, family, and millions of enchanting twinkle lights.
Only 11 months until we get to do it all over again. Happy holidays!