Experiencing Valentine’s Day

Experiencing Valentine’s Day

How many people actually remember what they got for Valentine’s Day last year?  How about the year before?  I would venture not too many of us recall those gifts.  But, what if the gift was a trip to Napa Valley touring the wineries and vineyards?  Chances are pretty good that we would remember THAT gift, right?

Lulu’s Valentine’s Day party looms large in the Keats household.  Of course, because I work at a Stationary/Craft store that specializes in fantastic, creative and colorful cards and gifts, the pressure is on  to deliver something unforgettable for Lulu’s class. I’ve already spent a small fortune pulling together the Valentine’s surprises for Lulu.  Once I finished buying the stuffed animals, cards and candy, I started to wonder how much is too much to spend on Valentine’s Day?  Is it normal to spend $40 on specialty cards that our children must assemble and decorate prior to giving to her classmates? Is there a right amount?  How much should Adam and I spend on each other?  What, exactly is “love” worth on Valentine’s Day?  So, like any good mom addicted to google, I looked for an interesting infographic to share on my site:  


Courtesy of: CashNetUSA It’s Economic

I’ve come to a decision.  My love cannot (and should not) be measured with dollars.  I guess I can’t be included in these statistics because this year, it’s not for sale.  In lieu of tangible objects, I have requested that my loved ones shower me with great experiences.  It looks like DailyFinance.com  agrees with my preference too. (At last!  Some validation!) Today’s article entitled “Last Minute Valentine’s Gifting: Survey Reveals Consumers Want an Experience” identifies that more and more couples (or in our case families) are craving having experiences like going to concerts, musicals and other large group venues.   (Monster Trucks anyone?)  I guess it’s time to throw away that gift box and candy I was going to give Adam tomorrow for Valentine’s Day because we have decided to go tUniversal Studios Orlando for Valentine’s Day, President’s  Day, Mardi Gras and Purim: It’s a celebration of multiple holidays wrapped into one adventure.

We are hitting the road and venturing down to Florida to embrace:

  1. The sun (Sorry, but when you live in Chicago, it’s hard not to crave a warm sun shining on your white & pasty skin)
  2. The Despicable Me Minions
  3. Mardi Gras parade to rival the ones in New Orleans
  4. The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  5. And, of course, my personal favorite, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Best of all, I will toast Valentine’s Day with my two favorite people: Adam and Lulu.  Better yet, we’ll all be drinking butter beer!

butter beer

Mmm….Butter Beer. Lulu gets a Butter Beer Mustache in front of Hogwarts.

Wishing everyone a sunny, love-filled Valentine’s Day!  I can’t wait to experience my gift!

Looking For A Great Way to Kick Off The Holidays In Chicago?

Looking For A Great Way to Kick Off The Holidays In Chicago?

Are you looking for a great way to kick off the holiday season in Chicago this year?  Two events always mark the beginning of the holidays for my family: The Chicago Toy and Game Fair and The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.  Both events occur this coming weekend and are sure to be a hit with the whole family.

Starting Saturday, November 17th, you can get your game on at Navy Pier.  It is the 10th Annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair where families can preview, play, and yes, purchase the latest hot new TOYS and GAMES from around the world.  But don’t mistake this fair for a glorified Toys-R-Us showroom!  At this show you actually get the chance to meet the inventors of some of your favorite games like Twister and Operation!  Last year we spoke with a variety of people marketing interactive games that you can use on the iPad.  This year, those same games are being sold at the local toy stores and…yes, the prices have gone up.  This is your chance to learn about this year’s IT games.

“This is not the Jenga game you are looking for.”


One of the highlights of this fair, something that you rarely see at other events is the Young Inventor Challenge.   We loved strolling through aisles of  toys and games invented by kids ages 6 to 18.  Maybe you have to be a kid to understand what other children like to do?  To be quite honest, my family felt that lot of the toys and games in this section of the fair topped the adult’s toy and game concepts.  In the end, we spent MUCH more time talking to children about their ideas rather than spending time with the adults on the other side of the Expo Hall.

By the time we are finished checking out the many toys and games at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, it is hard to convince the adults in our party to hang out for The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.  If you’ve never experienced the majesty and fun of this event, you really need to grab another Soy Latte and get your second wind!  I promise you, this event is not to be missed by children and adults!

The first time that Adam and I experienced this event, we weren’t even aware that it was going on.  Imagine our surprise when we saw Mickey and Minnie Mouse on a float traveling down Michigan Avenue.  Of course the second time, we were even less prepared.  We couldn’t figure out why the American Girl Place was so crowded that Saturday afternoon?!  Now, we get it and are ready for the crowds and the feeling of awe as over a million lights on trees up and down North Michigan Avenue are illuminated at this magical holiday celebration hosted by Mickey, Minnie and their friends from Disney Parks.  Mickey flips the switch at 5:30 pm on Saturday, November 17, and with the lights come exciting marching bands, gigantic balloons, celebrity appearances and more.  Of course, like any significant event in Chicago, the evening ends with a spectacular fireworks show over the Chicago River.

Yes, it’s exhausting to try to master both events in one day.  I get that.  However, I am frequently reminded (usually by my child) that your kids are only young once.  With each passing year, I feel that K is slowly slipping away from believing in the magic of the holiday season.  Well, at least that’s what I tell myself when I consider how exhausted I am while waiting for the lights to be illuminated on Michigan Avenue.  Oh, I also remind myself that I can take a nap tomorrow.  Unless, of course, I am being dragged to Day 2 of the Chicago Toy and Game Fair to get one last look at the must-have game of the year!


Last year’s show. Will we still be all smiles by the end?