3 ways to kick off the holiday season

Posted at 2:31 PM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-22 13:37:27-05

The holidays are an exciting time to spend with loved ones.

Whether you have traditions handed down through generations or like changing up your celebrations every year, kick off the holidays right with these three fun activities:

Make your own decorations

No matter what kind of decor you like — from sparkly to cozy — making your own decorations is a great activity to do with family or turn into a party with friends. Not only is creating fun, you'll end up with all you need to give your home a festive look for the season.

Check online for ways to construct ornaments or other adornments you admire, or come up with your own creative ideas. Gather the materials needed, and make an evening of it, complete with hot cider and cheerful music.



Do a group service project

The holidays are a time to express thankfulness for all you have and turn your mind to those who may need a lift. There are many ways to contribute, so call local organizations or check their websites to find out how you can help. Whether by collecting supplies for animal shelters, organizing a group to pick up litter or performing at a retirement home, you can give back to your community.

You can also care for those closer to home by doing yard work for a neighbor, making dinner for a family or inviting new acquaintances to the light parade (see below). Whatever you do, assisting others will invite the holiday spirit into your life and the lives of those you serve.

Attend the light parade

The APS Electric Light Parade is celebrating its 30th year on Dec. 3 with the theme “1986-2016 A Phoenix Family Tradition.” The parade features floats, balloons and other vehicles lit up to cast the magic of the holiday season. APS has partnered with the city of Phoenix for 30 years. The company understands how important it is to give back to local communities.

“APS Electric Light Parade has long been an event where families, neighborhood groups and businesses from across the city come together and spread the joy of the holidays to over 100,000 spectators,” according to “This free parade engenders a feeling of belonging through a shared experience, it improves the quality of life for residents, brings diverse people together, inspires a positive image of the city with a shared pride in the community, brings vitality to the community, and promotes economic impact and tourism.”

The parade originally started as a circle around the Civic Plaza and featured two floats — one with Santa Claus, the other with a saguaro cactus made from tomato cages covered in painted green cheesecloth and lights — and the Heinz company’s percheron horses.

With the help of NextGeneration Inflatables & Display, lit up balloons joined the parade in 1988 and have been part of the festivities ever since. A couple years later, a 32-foot Santa became the first custom shaped balloon in the parade. The largest balloon ever in the parade was a 45-foot nutcracker.

In the early 1990s, budget cuts threatened the parade, so Ima Jean Dolan collected pennies until she had the necessary $6,000. She arranged to deliver the pennies to a council meeting by having children pull them in red wagons, and she was dubbed the Penny Lady.

Families who want to watch the parade this year should plan ahead, as organizers expect up to 200,000 spectators. The parade starts at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Central Avenue and Montebello Avenue and goes to 7th St??reet and Indian School Road. Choose your spot with the help of the parade route map on the Parks and Recreation website.

You can get a sneak peek of the floats ahead of the parade. Visit the North Phoenix Baptist Church at 5757 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 for float viewing and judging. There will also be a free event for children.