I love Thanksgiving. It’s by far my favorite holiday. And for a long time I used to get very grumpy when people started talking about or preparing for the holiday season to follow before we’d even gotten that turkey in the oven. But then I had kids. And all of a sudden I learned (the hard way, of course) that a little bit of advanced planning can’t hurt when it comes to making the most wonderful time of the year actually feel like the most wonderful time of the year.
And while you won’t find me holiday shopping or hanging anything sparkly around my house until after we’ve at least had our fill of mashed potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about it, or planning a little or maybe even making a to-do list. So in that spirit of being prepared for Black Friday and beyond, I thought it would be fun (and useful!) to round up some of our favorite places to go shopping when you need to bring the kids with you.
As always, we only list places that we’ve actually been to and blogged about. But if you’ve got another spot that’s super for holiday shopping with little ones in tow, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to leave us a note in the comments section below.
One of our early finds as new moms was the Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, CT with its awesome little kids’ play area. It’s even better now because they’ve moved it to the food court, which also has a wonderful carousel. Now you can take a break from all that shopping and enjoy lunch or a snack in peace while the kiddos get to play.
Across the river in West Hartford, CT, the Westfarms Mall always impresses us with its over-the-top holiday display. This year, on November 11th, Westfarms will debut “Santa’s Flight Academy,” a one-of-a-kind, immersive holiday experience that combines a giant reimagination of the North Pole with state-of-the-art technology to enable children to become a member of Santa’s flight crew. Complete with a 22-foot sleigh! And of course, the opportunity to get their picture taken with the big man himself 🙂
Our newest Out and About Mom, Tiffany, recently visited an amazing jungle-themed indoor play arena at the Holyoke Mall, which is just a short trip over the border in Holyoke, MA. This brand new facility has 27,000 square feet of play space, not to mention a totally separate toddler-friendly area for kids ages 5 and under. Spend an hour or two letting the kiddos slip, slide, jump, roll, bounce and climb at Billy Beez, and they’ll have to cut you some slack as you check a few gifts off your holiday list.
For another mall experience your kids will actually enjoy, take them to the East Brook Mall in Mansfield, CT where you’ll find the new Quester’s Way indoor play area. Grab a cup of coffee at their café while the kids explore the nature themed indoor playground. Or better yet, check the Quester’s Way calendar for special drop-off times when you can let your kids stay and play while you go and shop!
If food shopping is on your agenda (and really, when is it not?!), you can’t beat Stew Leonard’s in Newington, CT for an amusing trip. Animated puppets down every aisle; a FREE ice cream cone with every $100 purchase; prepared foods and a fun, kid-friendly loft eating area; not to mention an entire series of holiday-themed kids’ cooking classes and crafting sessions (check out the schedule here!) and a Breakfast with Santa, are just some of the entertaining diversions your kids will love.
If you need a little peace and quiet while you plan your holiday menu, head to Big Y in Avon, CT (and other locations) where the Little Y Kids Club keeps your kids (ages 3-9) busy in a FREE supervised play area for up to two hours! Toys, games, crafting supplies and more will keep your little ones thoroughly entertained while you focus on your holiday grocery shopping list.
For another kid-free shopping opportunity that doesn’t require you to hire a sitter, head to Ikea in New Haven, CT where you can drop your (37″ to 54″ tall, potty-trained) kids off at Småland where they can play with some new friends while you pick out some sparkly decorations, entertaining essentials or holiday gifts. Or, if you just need a break from the hustle and bustle of holiday errands, drop off the kids and enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack (or a mini date night) at the Ikea restaurant.
And don’t forget to check out the Michaels Kids Club every Saturday morning at stores nationwide. For just a few dollars, kids can create a super cute craft while you get precious moments of alone time to shop in the store. Art supplies, craft kits, stickers, scrapbooking accessories, journals and many more creativity-inspiring items make great gifts for the kiddos!
So as you can see, with a little planning (and we are nothing if not planners here at Out and About Mom!), you can make getting prepared for your holiday just as fun as celebrating it. Now bookmark this post and then get back to fantasizing about your Thanksgiving feast. First things first 🙂
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