Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year – but it can also be the most stressful.

You’re working hard to meet your year-end goals, shopping for presents for your friends and family, and planning your own Christmas wish list. When is there time to fit in some fun?

To make it a bit easier during this busy time of year, I’ve compiled a list of 3 awesome ways to celebrate the holiday spirit in Atlanta this Christmas season.

Take a look!

1. Take part in time-honored favorites around the city.

There are hundreds of parties, festivals, parades, and events to keep you occupied in Atlanta this holiday season. Here are a few of my must-sees:

Garden Lights Holiday Nights at Piedmont Park (through January 9th) 

In it’s fifth season, Garden Lights is an annual holiday spectacular that features over 2 million lights, botanical displays, and interactive exhibits. Purchase tickets online for after peak hours (9 to 10 pm) for only $15 – otherwise, tickets are $23-26 depending on the day you visit.

Reindeer Day at Chattahoochee Nature Center (Sunday, December 13th, 12-4 pm)

The nature center, a popular Roswell spot for hiking and wildlife observation, hosts its 5th annual Reindeer Day on December 13th. The name just isn’t for kicks – there will be live reindeer on site, as well as organized trail hikes, marshmellow roasting, and games and crafts for kids. Tickets are $10, which includes admission to Reindeer Day, as well as access to the entire center. Parking is free, and guests are allowed to bring a picnic and outside food.

Ice Skating at Centennial Olympic Park (through January 10th)

One of the most popular attractions in Atlanta during the holidays, the skating rink at Centennial Park is a perfect place to start a day of holiday cheer. Tickets are $12 for 1.5 hours of skating, with skate rentals included.

After a jaunt on the rink, walk around the park to see Holiday in Lights, a winter wonderland with thousands of lights that is free to the public!

Christmas at Ponce City Market

While Ponce City Market is a more recent addition to Atlanta, there are tons of great holiday events going on through the end of December.

This week on December 8th, PCM is hosting Latkes and Vodka, a holiday homage to these international favorites. Every Saturday and Sunday until Christmas, market-goers can meet and take pictures with Santa from 11-6.  Through December 23rd, PCM will display gingerbread houses created by shops and restaurants in the market – check out the second floor to vote for your favorites. The winner will receive $1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.

2. Shop till you drop!

There are tons of great holiday markets taking place around Atlanta over the next few weekends.

Here are the ones that I’ll be stopping at:

Scoutmob Holiday Makers Market (Friday, December 18th at 7 pm) 

Hosted by Scoutmob at their office at Strongbox West, this Makers Market features all Atlanta-based craftsmen. While you’ll have to fork over a bit of cash to attend, the price of admission (currently $19 on Scoutmob’s website – buy your tickets here) includes a cocktail, small plates, and swag bags. This will be the most hipster market/pop-up shop of the season in Atlanta – so, if that’s your thing (like it is mine), jump on tickets while they’re available!

Root City Holiday Pop Up (Saturday, December 12th, 10 am to 4 pm)

Root City hosts amazing markets throughout the year (like this one I wrote about in June), but they’re pulling out all the stops for their holiday pop-up. Shop from over 50 Southern makers, listen to live music, and eat from delicious local food trucks. The market is off the BeltLine at Stove Works (adjacent to Krog Street Market) and admission is $5.

Enter their Makers Giveaway by clicking on the photo – you could win $500 in merchandise from makers that will be at the market.

3. Give back to your community.

The holidays are normally a big time for volunteering – but it can be incredibly difficult to get a spot at popular local charities due to a high supply of willing participants.

Finding it tough to find a place to lend a hand? These 2 local organizations are looking for volunteers this holiday season – I’m involved with both, so we might be working alongside each other this Christmas!


Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.55.00 PMCommunity Bucket

I’ve recently started getting more involved with Community Bucket (you can read more about their service project I attended last month here), and I’m excited about their upcoming holiday service opportunities.

Community Bucket is making a huge push to volunteer 1,000 hours of time during a 7-day period in January as part of their Make Your Mark initiative. There will be more than 20 events to take part in to donate your time, including working with pups at PAWS Atlanta, protecting our city’s urban forest with Trees Atlanta, and developing housing for low-income families with the Mad Housers.

Click on the image to learn more about all of Community Bucket’s Make Your Mark service opportunities – event sign up will open on December 14th, and spots fill quickly!

Cafe 458

This cozy cafe, located right next to everyone’s favorite bar Church on Edgewood Ave, has a two-fold purpose. First – the cafe helps fund programs that offer employment readiness and job placement for the homeless. Second- they serve a delicious Sunday brunch! You can get involved in 2 ways:

1) Eat at Cafe 458! All proceeds from the cafe, including tips, go directly to the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency to empower homeless individuals. You’ll get a tasty meal (I recommend the Shrimp and Grits) and feel good about giving back to a deserving local charity.

2) Volunteer your time by working in the kitchen helping to prepare food, serving hungry guests, and helping spread the mission of the cafe. I recently volunteered and had a blast – putting in hard work to serve others was really rewarding, especially when all of the money goes directly to rehabilitating the homeless. Click here to request to volunteer – shifts are typically 9 am to 4 pm on Sundays.

Want more holiday cheer?

For a full list of holiday events around Atlanta, click here.