Friday, November 15, 2013

Philadelphia's Best Holiday Happenings

Our guest blogger today is Melanie Forman, President of the Greater Philadelphia Association Management Group. Melanie has an incredible amount of expertise about meeting planning under her belt--we met her when she planned Melinda Emerson's (@SmallBizLady) Reinvention Weekend. We wanted to know what her favorite parts of a Philadelphia holiday season are, and she very kindly told us. Here, in her words, are her picks for a very happy Philly holiday:


Thanksgiving Day Parade
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Possibly the oldest in the country, Philly’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is 94! This 1.4-mile parade is a tradition for many Philadelphians.  For 3.5 hours, giant balloons, huge floats roll down the streets, while performances from the Mummers, various local choirs, dance groups, and marching bands fill the streets of Center City. At some point during the parade Santa arrives, and ushers in the holiday season. It’s a great way to start off your Thanksgiving holiday and kick off the Christmas season.  

 Get there waaaay earlier than the parade’s official start time (8:30 AM) to cop a good spot on the parade route! You'll be done by noon to head back home and settle down for your Thanksgiving meal and football (another Philly fave)! Check out this great list of hotspots to watch the parade along its route. (

Macy’s Christmas Light Show 
Now more than a half-century old, this holiday attraction – featured in Macy's Center City store, housed in the historic Wanamaker Building – is a holiday tradition for generations of Philadelphians.

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Twinkling snowflakes, reindeer and ballerinas fashioned from more than 100,000 energy-efficient colored LED lights float four stories high in the velvet curtain-draped Grand Court atrium, accompanied by festive holiday music such as the Nutcracker Suite, piped from the acclaimed Wanamaker Grand Organ. Enjoy a line-free, ticket-free experience as the light show runs every hour on the hour, starting Friday, November 23rd and through New Year’s Eve at 5pm.  

Pennsylvania Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” 
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Although it has been quite a few years since I myself have been to this production, it will always hold a special place in my memories as one of the greatest Philadelphia holiday traditions. I remember being mesmerized by the gorgeous sets and beautiful costumes, and let’s not forget the graceful dancing of the ballerinas. Set to Tchaikovsky’s original score, brought to life by The Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra and Philadelphia Boys Choir, this is a must-see for children and adults alike. One of the greatest things about this production is it features dozens of young students from The School of Pennsylvania Ballet. This is one of the city’s most popular holiday events, so reserve your tickets early.

Longwood Gardens Christmas
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          No holiday is complete without a visit to Longwood Gardens. Each year the Gardens transform into a brilliant winter wonderland your family is sure to love. As your family strolls the Outdoor Gardens you will take in a floating tree display with what appears to be hundreds of sparkling snowflakes, with more than 400,000 twinkling lights and spectacular fountain shows featuring a 12-foot  fountain of lights in the Main Fountain Garden and so, so much more. You'll need to plan this fun outing in advance. Timed admission tickets are required.

New Years' Eve Fireworks 
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This year you can ring in 2014 TWICE! That’s right, the SugarHouse Casino’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Delaware River Waterfront will feature two firework shows – one at 6 p.m. and another at its traditional midnight timeslot.  
Easily the main attraction in Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve, the fireworks extravaganza draws crowds of thousands to the waterfront each year. The 6PM show, “The Fire Within” will be set to a family-friendly musical soundtrack of “Fire Bird Suite,” “Call of the Champions,” “Four Seasons” and other songs to get you in a festive mood.
Pull out those dancing shoes for the midnight show, “Pop’n on the Delaware” which will be set to a soundtrack of your favorite pop artists like Mariah Carey (my personal fave!), The Wanted, FUN, Rihanna, Nikki Minaj, and Usher!

Peddler's Village  
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Nestled in the serene landscape of Bucks County, Peddler’sVillage boasts more than 70 specialty shops and eight restaurants, and is filled with charm and breathtaking decorations. It’s the perfect spot for holiday shopping and a great way to bring in the holidays! 
Schedule a visit on November 16th and enjoy the Grand Illumination Celebration, a fantastic display of nearly one million holiday lights. Watch as Santa “switches on” the Village’s outdoor holiday lights display to start the season. Be sure to grab your free cider and toasted marshmallows. Speaking of Santa, he arrives at Peddler’s Village in a horse-drawn carriage on December 1st and 2nd. Admission to all events is free.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Socially great holiday gifts for clients

If you haven't started buying client gifts yet, well, it's time to start getting some good ideas together.
We took a quick ask around our office and discovered these ideas hiding in the ranks. We like them all, so maybe they'll provide you some thoughts. They all happen to be both sustainable and a little do-goody. We like that.

Kiva gift card. The award-winning not-for-profit and micro-loan provider has a gift-card option: you can choose the amount to gift, like any gift card, only this one allows the recipient to go to and choose someone to donate it to. The recipient can opt to be paid back, or she can make a straight donation. If he or she opts to get paid back, the Kiva web site allows that amount to be put back into the system to do more good. Pretty awesome.

Local wines or olive oils: Near us here in Philadelphia, we have a great wine trail, the Bucks County Wine Trail. We love the idea of supporting our local wineries, so this idea appeals to our "shop local" side. Likewise, we have some good friends who have an oil-and-vinegar taproom (we KNOW! so cool!), and some of their good products might find their way into some lucky baskets. Remember, even though a product's origin might not be local, buying from a local vendor does a lot to keep an economy healthy.

Here's another good gift with global implications: one of our favorite charities, ShelterBox USA, has a cool shop that provides gift options from $25 to $100. The best news is, these options--clean water, mosquito nets, kids' kits--are all components of the charity's bespoke ShelterBox, which is shipped around the world to help families who have been in a disaster.

What do you think your gifts will be this year? We'd love to hear about them.