Vacations & Holiday News

News and information about the best vacations and holidays

It used to be that families had no rules about gift buying. Everyone bought for everyone else, and gifts were exchanged when the family all got together somewhere during the Christmas season.

These days, it's more common for people to draw a name out of a hat or get assigned a person to buy for. Or the family creates a type of “white elephant” exchange instead of having family members buy for individuals in particular. So, what many families need is a fun way to exchange the gifts, whether they be for a specific person or whether they are 'white elephant” type gifts.

If the family members drew names, there are several fun things you can do. The gifts can be hidden and clues given as to the location of the gifts. So, if you arrive at grandma's house with your gift for Aunt Martha, you might tuck her gift into a kitchen cabinet. Then you'd create a series of clue as to here it is. You might say, “Cinnamon lurks here” or “it's the hub of the home, but not always the home of the hub”.

The clues can be silly or deadly serious. They can be designed so someone will know where to find their present in just minutes, or designed so that it takes a series of clues to get someone right to their gift. If the group is small or the house particularly large, and the participants have the time you can always create a hunt where more than one tip is left and one tip leads to another, which leads to another until the gift is finally found.

Why should the kids have all the fun? Create some fun gift exchange ideas for adults. Whether the family is doing a name draw and exchanging regular gifts or not, you can have some good family fun with a white elephant gift exchange. How about a themed white elephant gift exchange? If the family is into fishing, you could create that as a theme. Everyone must bring a gift related to fishing (this could be anything from sporting goods items, to a singing bass that goes on the wall). It could be a hand held electronic fishing game or a board game with fishing as a theme.

In that same vein, you could create a “cooking” white elephant exchange or a camping themed gift exchange. Again, it's more about what will please members of the family than anything. Then create some fun games for the exchange itself. Perhaps everyone draws a number and gets to pick their gifts from the pile in the middle based on their number. Perhaps you begin the game that way, but then also people to 'steal' someone else's gift if they choose.

You can require that the gift recipient shakes a gift, studies a gift and makes a good, educated guess as to its contents before opening it. If they are right, they can “steal” someone else's gift, but if they are wrong, they keep theirs. Add to the silliness factor by playing a card game and dictating that people can't get their gift and open it until they win a hand in the card game (ideally something fairly quick like poker or rummy).

The idea behind any family gift exchange should be enjoying each other's company and enjoying the Christmas spirit. As long as it's fun and engaging, there's no reason why the adults in the family can't have some fun games for exchanging gifts just the kids might.

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Family Christmas Gift Exchange Games


If you're looking for some great free things to do in Vegas, there are some amazing treats for you and the family awaiting. Many casinos in an effort to bring in more and more business are offering elaborate shows free for the family in an effort to bring more warm bodies into their casinos and out of their competitors. This is a win win situation for tourists and locals alike who are seeking entertainment that will leave a little money in their pockets to spend at the casinos (which is exactly what the casinos were hoping for).

One of the great shows that is available free to families is the Fall of Atlantis Show at Caesar's Palace. This particular show is a laser, water, and light show that features wonderful animatronics action. Also notice that the show's platform is actually a salt-water aquarium. You can see divers feed the fish each day at 1:15 and 5:15 while another staff member is on hand to answer any questions you may have and explain a little about the facility. You can actually take a tour of the facility at 3:15 each day. Enjoy watching the gods as they entertain you rather than us entertaining them.

The Cambridge Community Center offers a free movie and popcorn each Saturday at 1:00. Each week a different movie will be shown and children under 12 must bring an adult to keep them company. You can check out which movie will be playing by checking out the posting on Friday.

Another great Vegas freebie is daily performances of the Hawaiian Marketplace Island Performers. These performances take place throughout the day from 11:00 am until 10:30 pm and feature wonderful dances that will remind you of the island. See hula dancers, fire and knife dancers, musicians, lei makers, and animatronic birds. The performances are free and take place at the Hawaiian Marketplace.

For the Elvis fan in all of us you can see Pete Vallee perform as Big Elvis from Monday to Thursday with shows that take place at 3:00 and 5:00 pm at the Barbary Coast Casino. The admission for this show is free and he brings in quite a crowd with his vocal talent and heartfelt renditions of Elvis' ballads.

M & M World should need no introduction. It is a wonderful and yummy place to visit. More importantly it is a free place to visit. This museum is open Sunday through Thursday from 9 am until 11 pm and Friday and Saturday from 9 am until midnight. This really is a neat attraction to visit and is much more than initially meets the eye. Take a stroll, look around and make sure you see all there is to see or you just might miss something fantastic.

For another sweet freebie, you really must make plans to visit Ethel M's Chocolate Factory. The admission for this self-guided tour is free as is the first sample, but who can eat just one chocolate? Be sure not to leave this tour empty handed, as you'll be kicking yourself once you get back to the room and have a craving for something sinfully sweet. In addition to the chocolate factor is the Botanical Cactus Garden that is open from 8:30 until 7:00 daily. Another great thing to see on this particular tour is the Living Machine, which as waste-consuming ecologies that turns 32,000 gallons wastewater each day into water that is clean enough to use for irrigation purposes.

The Marjorie Barrick Museum of History, which is located on the University of Nevada Las Vegas Campus, is another place to go and learn while being entertained. Admission is Monday through Friday from 8:00 until 4:45 and on Saturday from 10:00 until 2:00. Admission is free and the museum is closed on all state and federal holidays. This museum offers a great display of Western culture and the history of ancient Mexico.

No matter what your specific interests are there are plenty of wonderful things to see and do in Las Vegas that do not put a strain on the pocketbook at all.

More Fantastic Vegas Freebies


Whether you stay in South or North Orange County, you will find some fine accommodations. They have hotels, vacation rentals and B&B's. You will find pet friendly hotels as well as family friendly hotels. The area is also filled with many lovely resorts. You can choose a beach location or a location further away. You might even find some lodging that can be a center point to everywhere you wish to visit. The hotels and resorts have many amenities and the vacation homes are just that, a home away from home with everything you need. The B&B's are friendly and warm, you will feel like a part of the family.

If you have a family or you are looking for an extended stay, the Aliso Creek Inn and Golf Course is a fine place to reside for however long you will be in Orange County. Laguna Beach is a nice location and with the added attraction of the golf course, many visitors find that this is a great area to stay. The Inn only has sixty-two rooms that are spacious and affordable. You can choose from the one or two bedroom studios or townhouses. Considering the golf course, which plays out around a creek and a steep canyon, you will enjoy your stay at the Inn.

In San Juan Capistrano, you will find the Best Western Capistrano Inn a great place for the family. Located just three blocks away from the downtown area, the hotel offers a shuttle service for guests. If you want to stay in a building that looks like a piece of artwork, you will find the Blue Lantern Inn just spectacular. The rooms have fireplaces, large bathrooms, a sitting area with a refrigerator and coffee maker. It is a beautiful Inn to stay at in Dana Point.

If you are looking for a hotel near Disneyland, Newport Beach or the Anaheim Convention Center, you will find the Orange County Airport Crowne Plaza perfect for you. They have tennis court, basketball and other court sporting games on a multi use court. They have an indoor pool, but if you need some sun, there is a sundeck for sunbathing. The hotel is a luxury high-rise hotel with affordable pricing. The hotel is so close to so many different things, you will have no problem finding something to do.

In Mission Viejo, you will find the Fairfield Inn with a fitness facility and a continental breakfast. In Dana Point, you will find Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort, Doubletree Guest Suites and Dana Marina Inn. If you like the Laguna Beach area, you will find the Casa Laguna Inn or the Hotel La Casa del Camino. Newport Beach has the Newport Beach Marriott, Hyatt Regency and the Holiday Express.

There are so many different places to stay when you visit Orange County that you will have a hard time selecting which one is right for you and your family. The best part is that you will find accommodations nearby any attraction or place of interest you want to see.

Orange County Has Some Fine Lodging And Hotels


It can be great fun to spend the holidays with your family and friends, but there always seems to be a few people that you wish to avoid as well. Planning ahead can help you to avoid conflicts when you travel for the holidays. Remember that each person is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions. Agree to disagree on issues that pertain to politics and various types of controversial issues.

Everyone should take care of their own children during a gathering for the holidays. This is to prevent issues that arise when different parenting styles are in play. Make sure your children understand before you travel for the holidays that you expect them to follow the same rules they have at home regardless of what other children there will be allowed to do. This will help to prevent confusion and frustration for everyone involved in the gathering for the holidays.

In order to ensure everyone has a great time let those that will be in attendance help to place the events. Make sure someone is in charge of activities for the children to enjoy too. Take a look at the span of age groups that will be present at the event and either come up with activities for all of them to enjoy together or break them up into groups based on age.

Make sure everyone gets to take on a role for the holiday gathering that they will enjoy. This way the overall event will be a success and everyone will look forward to attending. Don't leave certain people to clean up from the dinner or the activities just because you assume that is what they want to do. Knowing what your role is before you travel for the holidays allows you to be prepared for it.

Food is a common part of any holiday gathering but it can be a problem for some people. Before you travel for the holidays make sure the host is aware of any special foods you will need to have or to avoid. They can even offer dishes without meat for those that are on a vegetarian diet. Some people have an allergy to peanut oil or other foods though that need to be taken into consideration. Don't wait until you arrive to tell them as it can mean foods they spent time preparing will have to be thrown out.

If you have an unresolved issue with someone that will be at the family gathering you should attempt to contact them prior to the event. This will help both of you to relieve the tension and anxiety over the situation. If it is something that can't be resolved then ask them to agree to put your differences aside for the sake of everyone else that will be in attendance.

It doesn't mean you have to become best friends at the event but don't waste your energy being in conflict with the individual. Focus on the good memories that you can create for your family during the holidays instead. Too many families end up with parties missing for the gathering because they don't want to attend if someone else is. Taking the high road so that everyone can enjoy their holiday more is an amazing gift you can give to them.

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Avoid Conflicts When You Travel For The Holidays


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Attraction & Discount Travel Tips for Affordable Beach Vacations & Getaways for All Ages + Especially for the over 50 Crowd