‘Tis the Busy Holiday Season!
Most families, both here on the coast and across the world, have established holiday traditions that children look forward to every year.
Holiday traditions are important and different in every family. Family holiday traditions can be as simple as you make them. They might include a Christmas Eve family game night; preparing a holiday meal as a family; or picking out and decorating the Christmas tree.
Research shows that routines and traditions are an important part of healthy families. Traditions give security to children and provide meaningful and cherished lifelong memories. Children will remember the special experiences of family traditions more than the toys and gifts they receive throughout the holiday season.
Strong families have a sense of family history, spirituality, and unity, all of which tie into traditions. These dependable, expected events help us to remain close to our family members and create a connection between our past and the future. The Mississippi Gulf Coast offers a wide variety of events that can become new and beloved holiday traditions for your family. The holidays are a special time on the Gulf Coast, with several towns getting into the Christmasspirit through community-wide events.
Here are just a few of the memory-making options: Bring the family to see a beautiful light display and enjoy several other activities, including Santa’s Village, Elfie Selfie stations, Merry-Go-Round Carousel and train rides at the 3rd Annual Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival. It happens daily through December 31 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. (with the show ending at 10:30 p.m., weather permitting) at Jones Park, Highway 90, Gulfport. Cost: $7 per person, with ages four and younger free of charge.
The Annual Snowflakes in the Bay features beautiful century-old Live Oak trees illuminated with snowflakes throughout the Bay St. Louis and Waveland areas. The lights are on nightly through December 31 in downtown and the Depot Row areas of Bay St. Louis. Cost: Free.
This might be more appropriate for older kids, but the 56th Annual Christmas Tour of Homes Will allow your family to view beautifully decorated houses for the holidays. All proceeds benefit local services for adults and children with special needs. Tours happen December 3 from 2 to 5 p.m. throughout Gulfport. Call (228)424-5833 for more information. Cost: $15
Photo opportunities are available and Santa’s mailbox is ready for your letter to be dropped in at the Annual Ocean Springs Tree Lighting with Santa. It happens December 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Marshall Park in downtown Ocean Springs. Cost: free.
The Annual Christmas at Beauvoir offers several activities including movie night, carolers and story time, all held at the elegant, historic Beauvoir property. This recurring event happens December 7 through December 23 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at Beauvoir, 2244 Beach Blvd., Biloxi. Cost: $12.50, adults; $10, military and seniors; $7.50, children ages 6-18; children younger than age 6, free.
Watch a magical show come to life on a stage made of real ice, featuring real snowfall, in a performance that’s perfect for the whole family. Christmas on Ice performances will be held December 15 through December 25 at 3 and 7 p.m. at Beau Rivage Casino, 875 Beach Blvd., Biloxi. Cost: (varies)$12.95-$29.95.
Show your children the meaning of Christmas by bringing them to a Live Nativity ReEnactment of the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre, held December 16 at 7 p.m. at the Historic L&N Depot, 398 Blaize Ave., Bay St. Louis. Cost: free.
Gingerbread is a favorite of the season, and everyone will love the Gingerbread House Family Decorating Workshop. Decorate a gingerbread house together and enjoy the hot cocoa, cookies, and holiday music that will make this a memorable family experience. Space is limited, and registration is required. It happens December 17 at Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, 246 Dolan Ave., Gulfport. Cost: $30 per family.
Whether you’re doing something fancy, or simply driving around town looking at Christmas lights or caroling with your neighbors, there’s a lot of local activities for family holiday bonding. Remember, no matter what your holiday traditions are, the real benefit is the time spent together making lifelong memories.
Ashley Schafer Karcher lives in Ocean Springs and loves celebrating the holiday season with her husband and four children.