2016 guide to the holidays in St. Louis

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2016 guide to the holidays in St. Louis

Senior Leigh Ann Barnett snaps a photo of her Christmas tree to get into the holiday student.

Senior Leigh Ann Barnett snaps a photo of her Christmas tree to get into the holiday student.

Leigh Ann Barnett

Senior Leigh Ann Barnett snaps a photo of her Christmas tree to get into the holiday student.

Leigh Ann Barnett

Leigh Ann Barnett

Senior Leigh Ann Barnett snaps a photo of her Christmas tree to get into the holiday student.

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As we enter the final weeks of 2016, the holidays return in full swing. Opportunities for the family get-togethers, outings, gift exchanges and recipe swaps exemplify December. The holiday season brings joy, but it is very easy to get overwhelmed with all the possibilities during the month. But fear not, with this this guide, you will have access to unique e activities, recipes and gift ideas to help you with this holiday season.

Activities

A classic Christmas outing is the Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park. A drive through the park is only $10 per vehicle. There are expansive light displays and it can be a great thing for the family to do together. If you don’t want to pay admission, it’s very easy to drive around area neighborhoods (Candy Cane Lane) and look at lights, as well. Regardless of what you choose, crank up the holiday tunes as you enjoy the lights!

In addition, ice skating is synonymous with winter and the holiday season, and there are many opportunities to skate outdoors this December, especially with the NHL Winter Classic being held in St. Louis. In historic Forest Park, Steinberg Ice Rink is easily the most well-known outdoor ice skating arena in St. Louis. Aside from the popular Steinberg and new for 2016, the St. Louis Blues and the City Arch Foundation are putting on the Arch Winterfest in downtown St. Louis. With the influx of ice rink fans from the NHL, the idea of an ice rink in front of the St. Louis Arch only makes sense. The event will be held in Luther Ely Smith Square from Dec. 27 till Jan. 8. Grab a hot cocoa, lace up your skates and bask in the winter scenery of downtown St. Louis.

With a little over two weeks of winter break, Netflix and being with your family may get a little mundane. The holiday season is the perfect time to step out of your comfort zone and see a show at the theater. The first tour of the new Broadway hit, “Finding Neverland,” based on the Disney classic “Peter Pan,” is coming to town on Dec. 6-18 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in the heart of Grand Center. Also, the holiday classic “The Nutcracker” is being put on by St. Louis Ballet preprofessional and professional companies. This performance is a classic rendition of Tchaikovsky’s show, complete with ballet and dancing nutcrackers. Each show is an artistic outing that the whole family can enjoy.

If you want an indoor activity, a holiday movie night can be great for friends and relatives to do together. Holiday classics such as “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer” for the young at heart, “White Christmas” for musical loving individuals or “Elf” for comedy lovers are great options. Try curling up on the couch with your blankets and a plate of cookies while you watch, possibly even some holiday cake batter cookies.

When the holiday season rolls around, we all await the sweets that come with it. We all expect to ruin our meals with holiday cookies and candy canes, so why not bake some treats that can really bring people together? Now, who doesn’t love cookies? This recipe below is an easy option for those who love cake batter and cookies.

Alex Rossi
Senior Alex Rossi bakes Spritz cookie men with sprinkles in the tradition of Christmas.

Holiday cake batter cookies

Ingredients
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/4 cups yellow or vanilla boxed cake mix (I typically use vanilla cake mix – you just need the DRY mix)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) (2.5 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg at room temperature
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I used a blend of white and semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/2 cup of sprinkles

Directions
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cake mix, and baking soda. Set aside.
Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to ensure that everything gets mixed. Add the vanilla and beat on high speed until combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low to medium speed until everything is combined. Add the chocolate chips and sprinkles. Mix on low until the add-ins are evenly mixed.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours. The dough is a little sticky, so chilling the dough is required in order to keep the cookies from spreading too much.
Once dough has been chilled, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop rounded balls of the cold dough onto an ungreased baking sheet, use about ping pong ball sized amount of cookie dough per cookie. Press a few chocolate chips into the tops of the cookie dough balls.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until edges are slightly browned. The centers will still appear very soft, but the cookies will set as they cool. You can also press a few more chips and holiday sprinkles into the tops of the cookies as well.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 4 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sit back, eat your cookies, and enjoy the holiday season!

Gifts

Everyone loves cookies during the holiday season, but it’s a little harder to find presents that everyone will enjoy. The most stressful part of the holidays can be finding unique and reasonably priced gifts to give. Whether you are shopping for your friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, etc., this guide may give you ideas for a stocking stuffer this holiday season.

For Her
Any product from the store “LUSH” can be a perfect present for the holidays. LUSH is an all natural and cruelty-free brand that takes pride in their high-quality body products. LUSH bath bombs, a fusion of bath salts and bubble bath, are very popular on Instagram, and anyone would be inspired to snap a photo after receiving and using one. These orbs are filled with essential oils, fragrances, microglitter and coloring, and they leave your bath smelling like a photo worthy spa. Each bath bomb runs around $7, and may be a fun, easy gift for a secret Santa or gift exchange.

For Him

If you want an easy present for your boyfriend or brother, hats or beanies offer inexpensive yet high-quality gifts. Many local chains like Target or Urban Outfitters supply them and often don’t run over $25. Regardless of the price, the hat can be a perfect gift for the cold holiday season, in addition to a fun fashion statement.

I hope this guide eliminated some of the stress of the holiday season, as well as inspired you to get creative with the month. This is a time of joy and cheer, and every person should enjoy this it worry free. Go eat some cookies, watch a few movies, and go create holiday memories for many years to come.