This year we did four fun Christmas events.  We went to see the lights at the Botanical Gardens.  We went to the Julbord at IKEA.  We road the Santa Train at Union Station, and we went to breakfast with Santa at IKEA.

By far the most fun, and also the best value, was the breakfast with Santa at IKEA.  We will absolutely be doing this again next year.  The cost was only $5 per person.  This price included breakfast (well… we had to pay like $6 extra total for several additional cinnamon rolls and pancakes.. but mostly all included), cookies and cookie decorating, meeting Santa (they had a very kind Santa who talked to the girls and didn’t just push them through the line too fast), a photo with Santa and a photo frame (in our case, two photos and two frames… one for the older kids, one for the littles)  Also, and this is the really cool part, Santa gave every chid a toy.  Adeline (age 3) got a big stuffed golden retriever, and for Arista (4 months) got some plush stacking rings that look like a penguin.  My oldest said she saw him giving tubes of candy to the older kids who might not want a puppy.

The other event we attended at IKEA was the Julbord (literally translates as “Christmas Table” in Swedish.)  We are studying Swedish as a family, and thought a traditional Swedish holiday meal be a cool thing to do.  It was!  The food was great, and we enjoyed it.   IKEA totally won Christmas this year.

The lights at the Botanical Garden were beautiful.  It wasn’t cheap thought, and I would recommend not going on the day after Thanksgiving.  It was super busy.  We will probably go again next year, but aim to go on a random weeknight.

We also had a chance to speak with Santa over by the hot cocoa and smores!

Finally, the Santa Train ride at Union Station.  I can’t even begin to tell you what a disappointment this was.  And not only was it the worst, it was the most expensive!  We did this two years ago when it was the “Polar Express” and it was pretty good but we thought it would be more fun this year now that Adeline was older.  The reality was, we no longer got a collectors mug, the train had less staff, our “hot” cocoa was cold, and the Santa was AWEFUL.  He nearly ran down the train handing the souvenir coins to kids, and not saying a word to anyone.  Adeline seems confused that her “friend” Santa didn’t talk to her or stop when she chased after him.  Not cool.  It was so disappointing, and I felt so bad for Adeline.  At least IKEA redeemed Santa a few days later.

On an unrelated note, the Santa at South County is really good! 🙂