12 Days of Christmas Vacation: What to do over over the holidays

dkubarek@centredaily.comDecember 21, 2013 

Here is our list of some of the most enchanting things to do over the holiday break, exactly 12 days.

On it, you won’t find any partridges or pear trees.

Instead, you’ll find warm and fun things to bring to your true loves.

We hope you enjoy these 12 days of "gifts" and perhaps find the true meaning of holiday spirit within them. Enjoy.

1. Wrap gifts

It needs to be done, and it can be fun. The key here is to plan ahead. Get plenty of supplies: Wrapping paper, tape, bows, ribbons, labels and a couple pairs of scissors.

This task can be daunting. Warning: Do not attempt on an empty stomach. Perhaps prep for this task with a few others on this list. Tire the kids out with game night, and feast on cookies baked from the night before. Be sure to pop in your favorite Christmas movie to pass the time.

2. Diner and a movie at the Rowland

Make a day of it in Philipsburg with a stop at the Retro Diner before catching a feature film in the breathtakingly historic Rowland Theatre. Check showtimes and screenings•  at www.telcott.com/rowlandtheatre.html. It’s been around since the birth of “talkies” and has the charm to show for it.

3. Ice skating indoors or outdoors

Make time to slice the ice and visit the $80 million Pegula Ice Arena. The state-of-the-art system means you’re skating on a sheet fit for the pros.

No skates? No skills? No problem. Just bring your will and some optional knee pads and the rest is ready to rent. Check public skate times and dates at www.gopsusports.com/pegula-ice-arena or call 865-4102.

More of a true romantic? Weather permitting, lace up your skates at the Village Ice Rink at Blue Spring Park in Boalsburg for some outdoor skating. Be sure to call 234-7146 for conditions.

4. Movie night

From “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “A Christmas Story,” there’s a slew of movies to get you in the holiday spirit. Make some shaky-cheese popcorn, hot beverages and cozy up with the family. Once the little ones fall asleep, host an encore with “Bad Santa” or “Christmas Vacation.” Life is short. Seize the day. Life is fragile. That’s Italian!

5. Build a snowman and make REAL hot cocoa

Self-explanatory here. Roll a ball. Stack, repeat, repeat. Raid the fridge and coat closet for accoutrements, and voila!

Survey your creation from a warm room indoors sipping on REAL hot cocoa (not chocolate) using this simple recipe: 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and a pinch of salt stirred in a splash of cold milk until sandy yet smooth. Stir in 6 ounces of near boiling milk. Top with marshmallow or whipped cream.

6. Visit a museum

One joy of living in a college town is there’s so much to see and do on the cheap. Here’s a sampling of just a few of the many educational and entertaining ones in your neighborhood:

• Discovery Space Children’s Science Museum. Exhibits include Dinosaur Dig, Map It and The Weather Station. Call 234-0200 or visit www.mydiscoveryspace.org for more information.

• Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum at University Park. Exhibits include fossils, miniature tornadoes and a virtual Martian landscape. Closed until after New Year’s. Call 865-6336 or visit www.ems.psu.edu/outreach/museum for more information.

7. Let’s go tubing!

This can be as simple as grabbing a couple tubes and heading for the hills. For more thrills and no walking up hills, head for Avalanche Canyon at Tussey Mountain. It’s scheduled to open Saturday, but call 466-6266 or visit www.tusseymountain.com because sometimes those plans change like, well, the weather.

8. Cruising for Christmas lights

Maybe your lights are like mine, tangled and rolling through the attic like giant tumbleweeds.

No matter. Many of your neighbors have crafted works of art. Cruise through the neighborhood and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

If you feel like traveling, load the car up, drive to Altoona and enjoy Lakemont Park’s “Lights on the Lake,” set to Christmas music.

9. Bake cookies

Many things in life are about hard work leading up to a payday. Baking cookies isn’t one of those things. Gathering the ingredients, friends and family to craft your own delectable creations is just as fun as the reward: Dunking that minutes-old massive double chocolate chip cookie in a glass of milk and savoring its glorious and gooey goodness.

10. Cook something your grandmother made

Nothing snaps the bitter-cold like grandma’s … you name it.

Call it nostalgia, old-fashioned cooking or just hard-earned knowledge from surviving decades of brutal winters, Grandma always had the remedy.

If you still have that luxury, give her a call. Better yet, make a visit and learn the secrets to that childhood comfort food you still crave.

And, if you are already a grandma, whip up your specialty and drop it off to the kind folks in the CDT newsroom. Word is they sure would appreciate it.

11. Snowball fight

This one’s self-explanatory. Maybe you’re a bit rusty. No worries. Smack a loved one in the chest with a mound of snow and it’ll all start coming back to you. Make a couple of bases. Wear plenty of layers for padding, and then it’s go-time. Fire away! Have some hot cocoa ready for when the fun is all done.

12. Game night

The holidays used to be more simple. Now, let’s face it, it’s often a rush. Put away the electronic devices, turn off the television and enjoy your favorite game among friends and family. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve been missing.

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