Tag Archives: Holidays

Top 5 Alternative Movies to Watch This Christmas

Are you sick of the typical holly, jolly, good-natured Christmas movies?  Tired of Charlie Brown and his dopey tree, the antics of Ebenezer Scrooge, and Bing Crosby tap dancing with Danny f’ing Kaye? Are you rooting for that dumb kid to shoot his eye out, ready to cook Rudolph on an open fire,  and finally see Jimmy Stewart take the plunge off that bridge?

Check out our Top 5 alternative movies for you to watch this Christmas!

Bad Santa (2003)

Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox play a Santa/Elf duo who get work at a mall each year during the holiday season only to rob it on Christmas Eve.  The only hitch is that Thornton is a vulgar, alcoholic degenerate who can barely see straight most of the time, let alone interact with children.  The movie is as mean-spirited as it sounds but underneath it all, it probably has the most heart of any film on this list.  It’s also playing at the Enzian for free on December 23rd.

bad-santa-movie-image

Black Christmas (1974)

Every year some channel plays A Christmas Story for 24hrs and leaving it on all day is even a tradition in some households.  It may come as a surprise to some that its director, Bob Clark, made another Christmas movie.  Only instead of being about children and their Christmas wishes, its about a sorority house whose members are tormented and murdered one-by-one during their Christmas party. It’s a great early slasher film with a creepy atmosphere and even creepier killer.

black-christmas-claire

Die Hard (1988)

I’ve had a number of arguments over the years about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. But it takes place on Christmas Eve during an office Christmas party.  I’d even argue it’s more of a Christmas movie than something like It’s a Wonderful Life. Everyman John McClane is thrust into the role of badass action hero when a criminal group takes the Christmas party hostage, including McClane’s wife.  Over the top, and yet somehow grounded by Willis’s performance, Die Hard is not just one of the best action films of all time, but also one of the best Christmas movies of all time.

Die Hard

Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins comes from the wonderful era of where the line between films for kids and adults was blurred.  Billy gets a Mogwai for Christmas and has three simple rules to follow: Don’t get them wet, don’t feed them after midnight, and keep them away from bright lights. Of course all three are broken, causing Gremlins hatch and bring mischief and mayhem wherever they go.  It’s a Christmas horror comedy that manages perfectly blend its fun and humor with the mean-spirited hijinks of the little green monsters.

Gremlins-Gizmo

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

This is probably the least well known movie on the list.  A boy, Billy (a different Billy from Gremlins) witnesses his parents being raped and murdered by a man dressed as Santa Claus.  Years later after getting a job at a toy store, he’s forced to dress up as Santa, causing him to snap and go on a killing spree. It’s a lesser known slasher flick that’s gained a bit of a a cult following (and four sequels) over the years.  There was plenty of controversy around the film when it was released due to it advertising a killer dressed as Santa. Silent Night, Deadly Night is honestly the worst film here, but if you’re in to cult, 80’s slashers, you’ll want to give it a watch.

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Krampus (2015)

Krampus is technically an honorable mention but I felt it deserved a little more attention.  The only reason it didn’t make the list is because of how new it is and I’d like to see how much yearly rewatchability it has.  It’s the newest film from Michael Dougherty, the writer/director of Trick ‘r Treat (which made out Top 5 Halloween Movies).  If you aren’t aware, Krampus comes from Alpine Folklore about a sort of Christmas Devil who kidnaps and punishes misbehaved children.  Dougherty’s Krampus focuses on a stereotypical dysfunctional Christmas family gathering where everyone’s forgotten the reason for the season. It’s falls into the same vein as Trick ‘r Treat in that Krampus is  about respecting Christmas and keeping its traditions alive. It’s not exactly an over the top, laugh-out-loud horror comedy like Evil Dead 2 or Dead Alive but is ultimately a very fun, light, and twisted Christmas horror film. It’s currently playing in theaters and is one you’ll want to see this month.

Krampus copy

 

Honorable Mentions:

1. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

2. Lethal Weapon

3. Trading Places

Baby It’s Cold… In Orlando (Somewhat)

It’s the last week of fall and here in Central Florida we’re experiencing temperatures 10 degrees higher than average. What’s an Orlandoan to do when they’d like a taste of a Winter Wonderland? Here are my top five:

1) Ice Skating
I remember skating on a pond outside our house in Michigan as a child. It was a tiny little thing, and you couldn’t really get up enough speed to do even an arabesque, much less any kind of twirls. Luckily we have rinks here in Orlando like RDV Sportsplex that has public skating hours, and in Kissimmee there’s  The Ice Factory where they also have open skating AND you can skate with Santa this Friday night (December 18, 2015)! Light Up UCF has an outdoor (albeit warm) rink plus lots of other holiday activities including a film festival and light show. Other synthetic ice rinks include and I-Drive 360  and the Orlando Science Center both warm yet (pardon the pun) COOL!

If watching ice skating gives you a shiver, SeaWorld Orlando’s Winter Wonderland on Ice is a show-stopping, ice skating extravaganza. Though far from making one think of ice, “Hot Chocolate” is my favorite production number. Check it out! (♫ Oh We Got It! ♫) Best of all, all #SeaWorldChristmas events are included with admission.

2) Ice Bars
Ice Bar on International Drive is one “hot” spot (pun intended) where you can “taste the cold” along with your drink! Visit during happy hour every Sunday through Thursday from 7–9p for discounted admission (drinks extra).

At Minus5 Ice Bar at Pointe Orlando everything is made of 100% ice including the bar, tables, benches, walls and even the glasses guests drink from. Check their calendar for events and specials.

Though both bars are marketed to the tourists, locals can have a night of cold fun if to just imagine what it would be like to live in a cold clime, or to remember the days when they “used to” live up north.

Another option is On The Block, a “pop up” VIP ice bar inside ICE! at Gaylord Palms (read more about ICE! below). This add-on experience is for guests 21 and over.

3) Frozen Treats
Can’t get TO the snow? How about a snow… cone?! Or ice cream? Orlando is home to great restaurants and shops with delicious frozen treats. Vivoli Gelateria in Disney Springs offers a variety of Italian frozen creations including seasonal flavors. Also at Disney Springs, Downtown Snow Company (near Fulton’s Crab House and across from Portobello), offers shaved ice and a multitude of festive flavors. Thinking French instead? Check out L’artisan des Glaces at Epcot’s France Pavilion. Kona Ice serves up shaved ice at multiple locations and you can’t go wrong with a Concrete from Shake Shack (not very “holiday”, but I LOVE the Key Lime!) or Freddy’s Frozen Custard (they have a Pumpkin Pie one seasonally that’s OH so good).

Want to make a frozen drink at home that tastes like the holidays? Emily Ellyn created some of my all-time favorites. (Her Eggnog Martini is my go-to holiday drink with spirit!)

4) Snow and Ice IN Florida
You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere in Florida colder than ICE! at Gaylord Palms. It’s a chilly 9 degrees inside! Enjoy ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas carved out of over two million pounds of ice. After your chilly stroll through a true Winter Wonderland, add to the fun with Alpine Rush! Who knew you could snow sled in the Sunshine State?! My son has been down the slides at least 50 times (conservatively). This is by far my favorite Florida cold spot, though remember to bring your touch-pad gloves for the walk-through if you intend to take pictures or Instagram your #CAGP15 trip. My phone froze up before I made it to the last room, the Nativity.

ProTip: Keep your phone or camera as close to your body as you can between shots and by all means wear closed-toed shoes. (I did not during one of my walk-throughs this year and I found myself doing a Prancer imitation as I went from room to room.) ICE! featuring ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas runs through January 3, 2016. Season passes are available, too, so you can enjoy the Frozen Fabulousness over and over. It’ll be like you live in snow country. But without the tire chains.

This Friday (Dec. 18), guests age 21 and older can visit Gaylord Palms Resort to zoom down the Alpine Rush Snow Tubing hills and jaunt through the 9-degree ICE! attraction wearing only a bikini or board shorts (shorts and a T-shirt can also be worn)! Their one-night-only Polar Bear Plunge 2015 is $50 plus tax and processing fees and include access to Alpine Rush Snow Tubing and ICE!, appetizers and two drink tickets to be redeemed during the event. A portion of all ticket proceeds from the Polar Bear Plunge will be donated to Special Olympics Florida.

The City of Winter Haven is holding Snow Central. Play in 70 tons of snow and go down 3 lanes of the Snow Slide,  meet Santa and more, all for free, Thurs. Dec. 17 from 6–9pm.

5) Fake It ‘Till You Make It
While there are no places to build snowmen (though you can sing along to the family frozenDisney Frozen soundtrack…), you can close your eyes and imagine the attraction industry’s soap-bubble concoction or tissue paper cutouts are snow. Theme parks have snow nightly now through the end of the year (Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld all have Florida-friendly “snow” nightly; check park maps for details), and it’s “Now Snowing” at Celebration Florida, too!

I only lived in Michigan for a couple of years. The rest of the time I lived in my birth place of Central Florida. It did snow here one year when I was a kid. I hadn’t seen snow prior to then and it seemed other-worldly. I think we managed to scoop up enough for a single snowball, but in that moment it was winter here in Orlando. There are no forecasts for flurries this year, but I can “feel” winter just a little more though fun frozen activities and treats all around town.

IKEA’s Soft Toys For Education USA Raises $1.2M for UNICEF and Save The Children

Tack, Orlando!

(Swedish for "Thank you!")

Thank you, readers! You came through in a BIG way this past holiday season! Remember waaay back in November (2014) when we told you about IKEA’s Soft Toys For Education program? Well, IKEA Orlando has some great news! Through their local Give Twice campaign, 213 soft toys were given to the Children’s Home Society of Florida! From November 9th to January 3rd, Orlando customers contributed close to $28,000 through purchases of children’s books and soft toys.

On a national level, the United States contributed an outstanding $1.2 MILLION to UNICEF and Save The Children via the IKEA Foundation!!

Even more heartwarming is, globally, $11.9 Million was raised for children in Africa, Asia and Europe! This effort will allow UNICEF and Save the Children to continue improving education in 18 countries, even when disasters strike!

We are grateful for our partnership with IKEA, and thankful for all the support that IKEA employees and customers gave to this year’s successful holiday campaign. The funds raised will provide learning to children who are often overlooked in school, or who are entirely left out of the education system. Together, we can create a better and brighter future for them,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children.

All children should have the opportunity to go to school,” said Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “UNICEF works to provide access to a quality education to the most vulnerable children, including those that have been affected by emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Thanks to the IKEA Foundation, IKEA customers and invaluable support from IKEA co-workers, more children will have the opportunity to continue their education, helping to build a brighter future.

Väl Done, Orlando!

The Orlando Eye gets festive!

Is that Santa at The Orlando Eye?? Maybe he needed to defrost? Or a quick staycation before the busy season?

Can you believe it? Only a week left until Christmas!! And right around the corner… Spring 2015 and the opening of The Orlando Eye!

With The Orlando Eye growing to 400-feet and the outer wheel nearly complete, Santa felt compelled to put a star on top so the reindeer knew to fly a little bit higher than usual.

With The Orlando Eye growing to 400-feet and the outer wheel nearly complete, Santa felt compelled to put a star on top so the reindeer knew to fly a little bit higher than usual.

Get #WrappedInIKEA this holiday season!

By: @jenvargas

IKEA Orlando invited us to sample from their special holiday menu and take a sneak peek of their Holiday catalog! Make sure to check out their event calendar for more holiday fun and enter below to win a IKEA $100 gift card! Hurry! Deadline is November 30th. (Winner will be drawn on Monday, Dec 1st.)

  Can’t make it into an IKEA store? No problem! Join IKEA Orlando, Miami, Sunrise and Tampa for a Twitter Chat on Wednesday, December 3rd, from 12:30pm to 1:30pm EST!

Also happening: IKEA Foundation’s annual #SoftToys4Education drive has begun at all IKEA stores around the world. Did you see the cool Vine the Orlando location did for it?? SO. CUTE. Help these little guys and their friends find their way home to the Children’s Home Society of Florida by visiting IKEA Orlando and dropping a soft toy in the chimney near the exit!

 

At IKEA, we believe that children are the most important people in the world. It’s great to see the awareness of this campaign grow over the years, allowing us to help more children begin and stay in school,” said Kendra Ferguson, IKEA Orlando’s Local Marketing Specialist.

We now have customers asking us when it will begin. It’s a great time to teach their children about giving back; and with the option to give twice, parents can let their children select a toy for themselves and one that they think another child would enjoy receiving.

IKEA’s soft toys star in the store’s children’s books and new card games that train memory, as well as visual and social skills. IKEA Foundation will also make a donation when these items are purchased – making a great holiday present package, as the furniture you can find in Homecouture, as every donation gives the powerful gift of an education to children in need around the world.  

Since 2003, the holiday sales of the furniture retailer’s soft toys has raised nearly €67 million, supported 99 projects in 46 countries, and helped more than 11 million children receive a better education.  The IKEA Foundation, which works with a total of 31 nonprofit organizations, is the largest global corporate donor to UNICEF, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Save the Children, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and KickStart International.   IKEA Orlando wants your help to find their soft toys a home at the Children’s Home Society of Florida (@HelpFLKids), and they need OUR help! Here’s how you can ‘double dip’ to help children locally AND internationally:

IKEAOrlando_SoftToy_GiveTwice But wait! There’s more! Thanks to the kindness of our friends at IKEA Orlando, you can enter from now until – November 30th for a chance to win a $100 IKEA gift card! IKEA will choose a winner on Monday, December 1st, and contact the lucky winner via Twitter! a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

TIP: Join IKEA FAMILY, their FREE loyalty program for discounts, other perks and a sweet discount on their JULBORD Dinner upstairs!

Christmas Town Now Included With Park Admission at Busch Gardens

christmas town busch gardens smTampa Bay’s Biggest Christmas Celebration is Now Included with any Pass, Fun Card or Daily Admission.

“Since 2012, Busch Gardens has offered the ultimate Christmastime experience for families, and we’re excited to continue that tradition again in this year,” said Park President Jim Dean. “And with all of this Christmas fun included with any annual pass, Fun Card or daily admission, all guests receive an even greater value during their visit. We’ve created a season-long celebration unlike any other event our guests have ever seen – the kind of Christmas fun only Busch Gardens can provide.”

Highlights include special entertainment, live music, festive treats, holiday shopping and over a million twinkling lights and santa sacks around every turn. million lights christmas town

Christmas Town is open 23 select dates from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31. Guests can experience all of the Christmas celebrations throughout the day, and park closing times will range from 8pm to 9pm throughout the event. Visit ChristmasTown.com for dates, times and event details.