Playtime: Holiday displays to light up winter break, plus free family art workshops

Evergreen Arboretum Wintertide Lights in Everett.

The morning of the last day of school before winter break, I realized the gift card I had intended on gifting my son’s homeroom teacher was an actual gift card that needed to be mailed and not the e-gift card I had expected to have delivered to her inbox. As my son wrote the card (we use a box of notecards sold at Target recommended by a friend that are always great in a pinch) I put one of the emergency small Whitman’s samplers I buy at QFC by the door for the neighbors who bring us fudge and jam each year, along with something we had intended on gifting her earlier in the year. I used a plain brown gift-style bag, adorned with some holiday stickers. Fun fact: The bags that Edmonds Thai restaurant Noodle Hut uses for takeout can, in fact, double as a holiday bag if they don’t get stained when removing the food — I fully suggest their crispy fried green beans.

A trip down the one-fourth aisle of holiday items at my QFC helps me remember that I buy backup candy to give as a small gift and a few bags of holiday wrapped candy unfortunately named “Santa’s Sack.” I put a little in the stockings and hide the rest in a sock drawer so that when I eat it, the wrappers of the candy that comes from the North Pole aren’t in the trash pre-Christmas.

With the break from school underway, there are some fun, local and non-screen — if you’re looking for that — options coming up.

Since holiday traditions are impacted by COVID, we turned to the library for the second year in a row to satisfy our “see a play on Christmas Eve” and “see a movie on Christmas Day.” While we’re still hoping to do these two in-person activities this year, we’re following the numbers to see what is best. I was able to get the CD audiobook version of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a DVD copy of Fiddler on the Roof, and some back-up titles including the Broadway version of a Spongebob musical I’ve never heard of but now feel compelled to see. While we were there to pick up the Fiddler DVD, my son checked out the graphic novel section and of course the fish tank, and I saw a table of To Do! To Go! tech-free activities. The table I saw was filled with options for teens including instructions on how to make a pop-up card and envelope, a pinecone owl in a tree, and how to make your own board game.’s blog about December’s To Do! To Go! options show activities for preschoolers, kids and teens available at each branch. You can find more information at or by calling 425-771-1933.

Last year we took a drive to see the Irwin Family Lights — a South Everett family who decorates their home, on a corner lot, with all kinds of lights and music. While they don’t publish the exact address, you can visit to navigate there and to request music ahead of time. Our previous article here linked to an option to search home light displays, HERE, and I listed some local options a few weeks ago, HERE, including lights at the Port of Edmonds and the Mountlake Terrace Christmas Lights.

The event that keeps coming up in my news feed is the Wintertide Lights at the Evergreen Arboretum in Everett. This light display is free and open 4 to 8 p.m. every night in December. They suggest that you “come early to walk the arboretum and enjoy hot cocoa, candy canes and a free gift.” A recent Facebook update explains that when visiting, you may notice that some of the lights are what they called “offline.” They said that “this rainy December (and squirrels) have been our biggest challenges” and that they have to reset something each day. You can find more information at

A Cultural Experience Collage workshop for families is scheduled for Jan. 29 at  Cascadia Art Museum.

After feeling super inspired by a fellow hockey parent who is an artist, and who honestly described having to hone their craft and that they weren’t born just great at it, I am doubly excited to share the upcoming Cascadia Art Museums Family Art Workshops. The first of the two, which will be virtual, is an Introduction to Sumi Painting taught by Lois Yoshida on Jan. 22 at 11 a.m. The next workshop, which is slated to be in-person, is Cultural Experience Collage taught by Cynthia Gahan and is offered at two times slots on Jan. 29 to allow for social distancing. Each FREE workshop includes the offer to buy a $1 supply pack, which is available for pickup at the museum. If this isn’t a great option for you, their website lists the supplies you can use from home for each class. For registration, more information and the backgrounds of the artists leading the workshops, you can visit

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.


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