The department stores are already decked out with holiday décor so it’s prime time to get in some last minute family activities before the holiday season blows in like the frigid winter wind! If you know your house will be bustling with a boatload of kids, siblings and out-of-town aunts and uncles who are scheduled to spend the holidays with you and yours, then plan ahead for some fun and budget-friendly activities before the big celebrations begin. Here are five family-friendly activities to do before the holidays.

Visit holiday light displays – In Atlanta I’m taking my kids to see Garden Lights, Holiday Lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. This twinkling winter wonderland has festive lights with hypnotic spiral displays, a harvest of illuminated corn, brilliant bugs and a grand Poinsettia Tree. It’s one-of-a kind but there are many kinds of light displays throughout cities across the globe.  The lights and festive displays are a great way to be awed and get into the holiday mood. Most of these displays charge by the car-load and is an economical family activity.

Try an Ice-Skating Experience – My dream is to one day take my kids ice-skating at the Rockefeller Center in New York City since we’ve never been there and they’ve never ever been ice-skating before! To me, ice-skating accentuates the holiday season. And it’s a great activity that you can easily make a fun family skating tradition. There’s surely an ice-skating rink in your area and most even host family nights especially designed for inexperienced skaters who are free to slip, slide and fall without being judged on their ice-skating skills.

Off-season tourist attraction – There’s nothing wrong with getting wet in the winter. Yes the beaches are closed but it’s open season for getting wet at waterparks! Wilderness at the Smokies is Tennessee’s largest indoor Waterpark. They have special discount packages and winter rates for the budget conscious family. And according to Ellen Liston, Director of Public Relations and Events at Wilderness at the Smokies, you can’t beat the value this place offers. “It’s a great thing to do no matter what time of the year,” she said. “The key is that the waterpark is included in the hotel price and that makes a good value.” And it’s a place that you and your family can indulge since kids eat free, there’s an indoor laser tag facility and a massive 66,000 square foot indoor waterpark with a see-through roof that makes you feel like you’re outside. The weather outside may be frightful, but the 84 degree indoor Wild WaterDome makes this family attraction delightful.

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