It’s the best time of the year- Christmas! If you sneaked a Santa in the house mid-November or threw up your wreaths as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers were put away, then you’re probably a Christmas fanatic like most of us. There are a lot of things to do in the greater Richmond area this holiday season, so read on to find things to add to your Christmas Bucket List.

🤹‍♂️Christmas Parades and Pomp

Hopefully, you made it out to see the Dominion Energy Christmas Parade last weekend – if you didn’t, here’s a recap of the exciting family event. You can still have more parade fun in your own backyard – many smaller municipalities have their own small parade events, and there’s still plenty of Christmas fun to be had.

For a parade that’s a little different, come down to the James River 25th Annual Parade of Lights on Saturday, December 9 from 6 pm – 9 pm. Watch private boats small and large as they trail down the James River. Boaters work (sometimes in teams) for the most creative, over-the-top Merry Christmas light display, for a prize of $500. If you’re a boat owner or just like to watch, this is the parade for you. Before the parade stars, enjoy hot dogs and burgers, and hot chocolate at the Libby Hill Park in Richmond. These treats and a roaring bonfire are courtesy of the Friends of the James River Park System.

Home covered in Christmas lights with a snowman in front yardIf watching a parade isn’t enough for you, consider being in a parade – Register for the Carmax Tacky Light Run starting at Midlothian Mines Park. The run will feature a course through the Walton Park neighborhood in Midlothian, where participants can see over-the-top tacky lights and holiday decorations. This fun for the whole family 5K includes strollers and jogger options, but no pets, please. They scare the reindeer. Your ticket includes 1 melted snowman & Santa Snack Cookie Stop along the way, entertainment on the course, and admission to the party at the North Pole after the event. It begins at 6 pm on Saturday, December 9.

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🏠The Fan District

Step back in time and tour one of the historic homes in the Fan District of Richmond. The Fan District Holiday House Tours are Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10, from 12pm-5pm each day. The Fan Area Historic District is a residential neighborhood developed largely from 1890-1930. The neighborhood is unquestionably one of the city’s greatest architectural assets displaying a rich, cohesive collection of historic homes in a variety of architectural styles. You can enjoy extravagant décor by the homeowners, open-house style. For convenience, there are two trolleys running on both days from 12 pm-5pm. Ten historic homes, recognized by the Richmond Historical Association, will have an open house – come enjoy touring the most stylish and elegant homes in the city. You can get your tickets and more information here.

For a truly awe-inspiring musical experience, attend the Christmas in the Fan Concert at the Tabernacle Baptist Church Sunday, December 17, from 4pm – 6pm. The Richmond Concert Band pairs with the musicians of Tabernacle Baptist Church for a unique Christmas Concert. This performance features both sacred and secular Christmas music featuring the Richmond Concert Band, the Tabernacle Sanctuary Choir, and the Meadow Street Band. The concert concludes with a sing-a-long of holiday favorites.

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🎉Holiday Events for Grown-ups

Everyone loves the chance to get dressed up, hair done, and special make-up during Christmas. Make sure that you’re all dressed up with a fun place to go when you purchase tickets to one (or more!) of these adult-only semi-formal holiday bashes.

You know you love them – here’s a fun meet & greet, the AHP’S Ugly Sweater Holiday Party. Hosted by Une Computer, Styllion, Trifecta, proceeds go to help those afflicted in Haiti. Tickets can be purchased here. There’s even a prize for the ugliest sweater – if you haven’t raided your great-aunt’s closet yet, or started knitting one of your own, excessive amounts of red and green are highly recommended. Grab a group of friends – you can ugly-sweater party all night long for a good cause and the best? No one has to clean up afterward.

If you don’t mind your ugly sweater seeing the light of day, there’s another charity ugly sweater event to add to your calendar: The Whole Loaf presents The Ugly Christmas Sweater Holi-Day Party II. This charity holiday party collects canned goods/non-perishables to donate to FeedMore to help families in need this holiday season. Hosted by Whole Loaf, and partnered with DTLR, canned goods can be dropped off from now until the actual event on Saturday, December 9, from 12pm-5pm. Participating Richmond DTLR Locations are Broad & Bowe; Southside Plaza; Oak Hill; The Shops at White Oak; Regency Square; and VA Center Commons. The party Saturday, December 9th (at Good Tymes) will serve as the final drop off/collection date for the food drive. So show love, throw on an ugly Christmas sweater, and break bread with Whole Loaf.

If you’d rather jingle your bells with a pretty dress and heels join Creative Designs & Events for their annual “jingle & mingle: A Holiday Soiree.” Enjoy a night of mingling, dancing and light appetizers, as well as a cash bar, with your favorite mistletoe honey or a group of friends. It’s not formal, but cocktail attire is preferred. Oh, and in case your date needs a refresher on tying his tie this year, here you go. You’re welcome.

For a truly magical event, make a night and a morning of it at the Holiday Gala, hosted by B.R.S. Enjoy a night of dancing (adults only please!), dinner, and door prizes, with a cash bar. There are even discounted hotel rooms with a complimentary breakfast buffet in the morning at the event venue, the Four Points Sheraton. Dress your best, and dance the night away – don’t forget to stop under the mistletoe!

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🎅Finding Santa

You know Dasher and Dancer and Rudolph (and if you know the rest, you’re a bigger Christmas nerd than I am!) but do you know Santa Cow? If not, come bring the kids and make sure you’re hungry, because Santa Cow will be in the Chick Fil A at Tuckernuck Plaza from 8:30 am – 10:30 am on Wednesday, December 20. Breakfast with Santa Cow will be filled with tons of FAMILY FUN, raffle prizes, treats and a jolly breakfast. There’s even arts and crafts, featuring Lloydette Diggs of FOREVER, who will share tips on how to preserve your printed/digital photos and media. She will also instruct creative arts & crafts just in time for the holidays. Reservations are needed; you can make them here. The event (not the meal) is free, too!

If breakfast with Santa Cow isn’t as fun without bacon, come visit Santa Claus at his festive Glen Allen Christmas Cottage from 9:30 to 12:30 p.m on Saturday, December 9. Hosted by The Virginia Cliffe Inn in Glen Allen, there will be four different fun workshops for children, each lasting about 30 minutes. The cost is only $5, and you can relax with the other adults in the Grown-Ups lounge while your children work with Santa’s elves. Get workshop tickets here!

Photo of happy Santa Claus outdoors in snowfall carrying gifts

Come enjoy Brunch with Santa at the Independence Golf Club in Midlothian. There are two events, one on Sunday, December 10, and a second on Sunday, December 17. Come get pictures with Santa Claus, eat the lovely spread of food until your heart is content and enjoy the spirit of the holiday season. After you buy your ticket, please call Megan Campbell at (804) 601-8602 to schedule your reservation time! She will call you back within 24 hours to confirm your reservation.

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👩‍👩‍👦‍👦Family-friendly events

Do you love Christmas Crafts? Are you social? If you answered yes to both, come make some new like-minded friends at the RVA Craft Clique. This month’s event features wood burning holiday ornaments and decorations. Save the jokes about women and blow torches, because this hot new crafting technique is fun, safe, and very trendy. Visit their Facebook page to check out some past events, and get in touch. Please bear in mind that this particular event is best for adults or responsible teenagers.

If you have never taken the family for a tour of the historic, restored Tuckahoe Plantation located on the outskirts of Richmond, visiting for the Holiday Open House on Friday, December 15, 2017 from 4:00pm – 7:00 pm is a quaint and educational way to step back in time and enjoy the way Christmas was celebrated centuries ago. You and your family can stroll through rooms decorated in the 18th-century style and learn about the plantation’s long history. Treats and cider (prepared over an open fire) will be available in the Old Kitchen, and several different vendors have Christmas gifts for sale.

You know the Christmas movie Home Alone? Of course, you do, you haven’t been living under a rock for the past twenty years. Have you ever dreamed of defending your house like Kevin did? (you know you have!) Now you can enjoy the full fun experience at the Jingle Jam 2017, hosted by Hope Kids at Hope Church (West Creek). There sessions on Saturday, December 9 (11 am, 2 pm, and 5 pm) are free but please make reservations. Jingle Jam is a Christmas party big enough for the whole family! Your children will love a world filled with Christmas inflatables, enjoy cookies & hot chocolate, and see their favorite Christmas characters like Santa, Rudolph and the Gingerbread Man! Experience the wonder of the Christmas story, told like never before! Jingle Jam is geared toward kids, but the whole family is welcome to have fun!

No Christmas celebration is complete without viewing the Nutcracker Ballet. This Christmas classic is performed by the Richmond Ballet December 9-23 at the Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center. This performance Nutcracker shines brighter than ever with newly tailored costumes, handcrafted scenery, and “non-canon” characters (look for the elegant Swan Sleigh) added to the production. The wonder and magic of the season come alive once again with sugarplums, chocolates, marzipan, a dancing bear, and life-like dolls.

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🎄The Best Christmas Light Displays

If the Fan District Holiday House Tour is a little too highbrow for you, come join the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) for the NACE Richmond Trolley Tacky Light Tour. This trolley tour takes place Tue, December 19, 2017, from 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Don ye now your tacky sweaters, but don’t stop there – if there was even an event where jingle bell necklaces and light-up Rudolph earrings are appropriate this is the one. Light hors d’ oeuvres and beverages will be served in the trolley, or you may bring your own – just no coolers, please (it’s not that tacky, and space is limited). Get tickets here – but hurry!

Home with Christmas lights all over roof and decorations in front yardIf you miss the trolley tour or just want to take one yourself with friends or kids, follow the Richmond Tacky Lights Map. Bundle up the kids, pop on Mix 98.1 for Christmas music, and make the kids leave the tablets and phones at home. There’s an app, too, that you can download from their website. For best results, brew up a batch of my secret recipe for Hot Chocolate. Simply combine 1 cup of white sugar, ½ cup of Hershey’s cocoa powder, a pinch of salt, and (the secret) 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. When you’re ready to make it, just heat 4 cups of milk on the stove, and when it’s hot (not boiling), whisk in ½ of the homemade hot cocoa mix. Add marshmallows, and enjoy. You can put these in travel coffee mugs (shhh, I won’t tell if Mom puts a splash of Bailey’s in) and sip while Dad chauffers the family around.

Hands down, the best place in town for a story in lights is the Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. This holiday tradition features more than half-a-million twinkling lights, hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners, warming fire with s’mores and hot chocolate (for purchase); nightly family activities & more. The region’s ultimate holiday extravaganza! Check the schedule of special themed events each night here, and purchase tickets here. The theme this year is Naturally Ever After featuring fairy tales, stories of natural phenomena, and highlights of cultural and historical myths. It’s a lot more than Santa and reindeer, and it’s just as much fun (almost!) for grown-ups as it is for kids. Even Fluffy can get in on the holiday fun – January 4th, there’s a special leashed pets event!

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🤝Volunteer Events and Places to Serve

The United State Marine Corps hosts their annual charity event, the Toys for Tots program. It’s a toy drive for underprivileged children. Drop off locations are nationwide at Toys r’ Us locations, and there are several local ones, as well. The deadline for all toy drop-offs is December 15, so get shopping!

Picture of clock with words Time To Give Be a Holiday Hero for Support One. The Support One facility provides housing, around-the-clock care, and a variety of other services for adults in the Richmond area who suffer from intellectual disabilities. Although they welcome volunteers year round, it’s during the holidays that they need a little extra. The Holiday Hero program allows individuals and/or groups to “adopt” one of Support One’s 25 residents for the holiday season. Each resident will create a “wish list” made up of much-needed items and one special gift, which you and your family can then fulfill. Everyone remembers the Angel Tree, but this service gives hope and love to those beyond younger years.

The Giving Heart is a Richmond-based non-profit that hosts an annual Community Thanksgiving Feast where they provide must more than just a meal. They also provide services like free haircuts and social service consultations, personal items, clothing, non-perishable food items, and more. Plus, they provide free transportation to the event, making it accessible to everyone in the Richmond Metropolitan area, including the elderly, disabled, homeless, and families in need. This Thanksgiving, you can be part of their incredible mission by volunteering at their annual feast.

“At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” – Denzel Washington

If you have older tweens or teens looking for ways to give back this year, chose Hosted by generationOn, an organization that provides resources, programs, and tools to engage youth in volunteering, the Joy Maker Challenge will run from November 21 – December 23. With specific emphasis on children and teens, the challenge encourages kids to get out and be active in their own communities—especially during the holiday season. The Joy Maker site provides complete guides for projects such as creating “holiday hope chests,” decorating a nursing home, making care packages for service members, and so much more.

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⛪Christmas Eve Services

The Reason for the Season, Christmas is a special time of year for many people. For many, despite the gift giving whirl, tacky reindeer sweaters, and the bright excitement of holiday light displays, Christmas doesn’t really start to feel like Christmas until they’re sitting quietly in a sanctuary, bathed in a dim glow and hearing timeless words and music. When you have family in town, a special tradition is attending a candlelight service, special choral events, or Midnight Mass. If you don’t have a home church, here are some places that offer special Christmas Eve services.

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is Roman Catholic. Located at 823 Park Ave. Services are at 4 pm Christmas Eve Mass (carols begin at 3:30), 6:30 pm Christmas Eve Mass (carols begin at 6), and a special 12 a.m. Midnight Mass (pre-Mass concert begins at 11 p.m.)

First Baptist Church (Monument) is Baptist. Located at 2709 Monument Ave., they offer a 5 pm Candlelight service as well as an 11 pm Candlelight service (includes communion).

First English Evangelical Lutheran Church is Lutheran denomination. Located at 1603 Monument Ave., First English provides a 5 pm Christmas Eve Service with Holy Communion and a second 10:30 pm Candlelight Service with Holy Communion.

Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Virginia located at 30 Malvern Ave. has a 5 pm Vespers and Orthros at 6 pm Divine Liturgy

Grove Avenue Baptist Church at 8701 Ridge Road has a single service at 6 pm on Christmas Eve.

Reveille United Methodist Church on 4200 Cary St. hosts a 5:30 pm traditional Candlelight Service with carols and Communion and a later 11 pm traditional Candlelight Service with carols and Communion.

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Want To Find A Home To Call Yours To Show Off Your Holiday Spirits?

Best Places For Christmas Lights and Events in RVA [2017]
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Best Places For Christmas Lights and Events in RVA [2017]
It’s the best time of the year- Christmas! If you sneaked a Santa in the house mid-November or threw up your wreaths as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers were put away, then you’re probably a Christmas fanatic like me. There are a lot of things to do in the greater Richmond area this holiday season, so read on to find things to add to your Christmas Bucket List.
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