Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. Growing up in New York I’ve always loved walking around, sipping hot cocoa, and checking out the Christmas displays. When I moved to Florida the holidays here took a little getting used to. The weather is much warmer, there’s definitely no snow, and somehow Christmas would just sneak up on me without the feeling of “winter”. It left me asking around, #HowDoYouHoliday ?
I’ve been trying to find fun ways to capture the holiday spirit without the cold weather. Especially now that I have Ryleigh I have been trying to fun fun events of the holidays so she can get just as much joy and excitement out of Christmas as I was able to as a kid (and as an adult!).
One of the things that we decided we were going to do each year was a photo with Santa. I was trying to find a place to take her this year and found a few events with a Santa photo opp. We tried one, and the photo didn’t come out to great. Ryleigh was scared and she refused to smile. She also wouldn’t even sit with Santa unless Mommy & Daddy sat with her. Should we try again?
We were going to just keep the picture we took, assuming that Ryleigh was just at the age where she would be scared, and have a fun story to teller when she was older. Then we were told about the Mommy & Me event at Westfield Brandon (there were ones at Westfield Citrus Park & Countryside too). There were going to be live reindeer and crafts for the kiddos.
We decided to go and visit the reindeer & try our luck with Santa photos again.
When we arrived the reindeer were outside for viewing. Ryleigh was excited to see the reindeer and it was impossible to get a picture of her in front of them because she kept wanting to check them out.
Inside there were kids making ornaments and decorating gingerbread cookies. Ryleigh was a bit too short to reach the tables the crafts and cookies were on so we checked out the awesome Christmas tree and decided it was time for Santa.
We used the fast pass line and it was such a great idea! You check in during your designated time and bypass the long wait. This was not only a time saver, but made waiting with a hungry toddler easy.
When we got to our turn Ryleigh was once again afraid to sit with Santa. She clenched my arm tightly and looked away. Mr & Mrs Claus knew her name and spoke gently to her, offering her a gingerbread cookie. That took away some fear and she eventually decided to sit on Mrs Claus’ lap.
There was a girl assisting the photographer that was amazing with Ryleigh, using a stuffed reindeer (i think) to get her to laugh and smile and finally look up for a picture without looking scared. They were all great with Ryleigh and I was so excited when I saw how the photo came out.
We definitely got into the holiday spirit after spending some time at Westfield Brandon and can’t wait to send out our picture with Santa to friends and family. They have several packages to choose from and digital download is an option as well. You can even pre-pay for your package when booking a fast pass! Any time savers are great during all of the holiday hustle and bustle.
After you get your kids’ pictures done (or if you are kid-free), make sure your fur babies get into the holiday spirit too! Westfield Brandon, Citrus Park, & Countryside are hosting Hounds for the Holidays: December 11th from 6:30 – 8:30pm. You can bring your four legged friends (well-behaved and leashed) to take photos with Santa! The first 50 pet-parents will receive a stocking full of treats for their pups.
There’s so much for everyone at the Westfield family of malls. Get into the holiday spirit, shop around, grab some lunch, and just have a great day out with the family. And don’t forget to tag your pictures with the hashtag #HowDoYouHoliday – you might even be featured on the Westfield page.
Are you planning on checking out Santa? What else do you love about Westfield?
*Thanks to my relationship with Westfield I was given a photo package with Santa & gift bag for Ryleigh in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.