The holiday season can be a busy time what with the parties, the shopping, the food, and the lights! With so much excitement around us, it can be easy to forget what’s most important during this time of year: giving back! Here are just a few toy drives accepting donations in San Diego.

Remember: It’s always better to give than to receive!

 

San Diego Toys for Tots

Each year during the months of October, November and December the U.S. Marine Corps resumes their mission of collecting new, unwrapped toys to distribute to less fortunate children in the community. Toys can be dropped off at any of the designated drop off sights in your area, or you can make a monetary donation online.

To find the drop off sight closest to you, visit https://bit.ly/2SeYutg.

Little Italy Toy Drive- Bring Joy, Give a Toy!

The Little Italy Association is hosting its 8th Annual Little Italy Toy Drive that benefits the foster children of New Alternatives, Inc. The toy drive runs through Friday, Dec. 14th, and toys are requested to be unwrapped and for a child between 1 and 18 years old.

For more information on drop off locations in Little Italy, be sure to visit https://bit.ly/2qLRQ22.

 

In-Kind Rady Children’s Hospital Toy Drive

Rady Children’s Hospital is accepting toys in their original packaging to give to the patients staying and visiting the hospital during the holidays. Right now, the hospital’s greatest need is infant and toddler toys, however, they are also accepting items such as LEGOS, electronic games, Play-Doh, musical toys, and action figures.

Rady Children’s offers easy access to their toy drop-off bin 24/7 in the Rose Pavillion, just outside of the gift shop: 3020 Children’s Way, San Diego, CA 92123.

 

 

There’s so much to do in San Diego during the holiday season. With parades, light displays, plays and even seeing Santa himself, there’s surely something for everyone to enjoy! Here is a list of some of the top Christmas events happening in San Diego!

 

Balboa Park December Nights

December Nights is San Diego’s largest free festival with more than 350,000 attendees each year! This free, two-day holiday celebration consists of food from around the world, carolers, live music, holiday light displays, and dancing performances, what could be better than that?! Numerous museums will also be opening their doors free of charge from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The festivities kick off on Friday, December 7 from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and run through Saturday, December 8 from noon to 11:00 p.m.

Be sure to visit balboapark.org for tips and tricks on transportation/parking for the event!

 

Skating by the Sea at Hotel Del Coronado

There is never a shortage of things to do during the holiday season at San Diego’s most famous hotel. Events include Sunday Brunch with Santa, Holiday Ornament and Artwork, and the beachside Jingle Roast, but by far the most popular activity the hotel boasts is Skating by the Sea.

Skating by the Sea is the ultimate Southern California experience and a great activity for the whole family! The rink is located on the Windsor Lawn and features stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Coronado Beach. Skating sessions will be offered daily and will run through New Year’s Day. Tickets are $30 per person and guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

 

Jungle Bells at The San Diego Zoo

During Jungle Bells, the famous San Diego Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland! Twinkling lights, special performances, and festive food fill the zoo. Santa will also be making appearances before Christmas to hang with the kiddos, with the help of his elves. Other Santa-themed adventures include 4-D experiences and Dr. Zoolittle’s Animal themed version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The grounds will also be filled with colorful lights in the form of sculptures of animals!

The fun kicks off on Dec. 8 and concludes on Jan. 1, with the park open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

 

Neighborhood Christmas Lights- Candy Cane Lane, Garrison Street, Christmas Card Lane, Belardo Lights

Each year, neighborhoods in San Diego work to create magical displays that are sure to make everyone’s eyes sparkle. Here are a few of our favorite neighborhoods to visit if you’re looking for some holiday magic!

Candy Cane Lane (Poway)- This cul-de-sac is themed like the North Pole and each house is estimated to have over 50,000 lights! Decorating typically begins the day after Thanksgiving and the official opening is usually the second week in December. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for more updates throughout the season!

Location: Hickory Court, Hickory Street, off Twin Peaks Road and Silverset St.

Garrison Street (Point Loma)– These high-end homes go all out during the holiday season! You can either drive throughout the neighborhood or walk around to get an up-close experience. People usually make their way over to see the lights around 5:00 p.m. and the streets are filled until 10 p.m. when the lights are shut off.

Location: 3616 Garrison St.

Christmas Card Lane (Rancho Penasquitos)– This neighborhood specializes in creating larger than life Christmas themed cards as well as homes covered in lights. The best time to go is between 7-8 p.m. to ensure that all of the lights are turned on. Most displays are up and finished by the second week in December.

Location: Ellingham Street and Oviedo Street, just off Black Mountain Road.

Belardo Lights (Tierrasanta)– Although Belardo Lights is just a single house; it does not disappoint! It is San Diego’s most famous computerized holiday lighting display and was started in 2006 by Randy and Brandon Schimka as a gift to their sons. Make sure to turn on your radio to FM 106.1 to hear holiday music in sync with the lights. Feel free to visit anytime before New Year’s Day! For more information, visit http://www.belardolights.com/.

Location: 5306 Belardo Drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Thanksgiving last week and Christmas right around the corner, stress and anxiety from the holidays can be so real. Don’t forget to treat yourself this holiday season! We want to share some of our favorite spas in Solana Beach where you can go to relax, unwind, and destress the holiday season away.

 

Eden Esthetics

Eden Esthetics is run by Brittany Blain, who has been a licensed esthetician for over 13 years and is extremely passionate about results driven treatments, which is what her spa is centered around. This spa is located right next to the beach, where the atmosphere will help ease your mind and calm your mood. Brittany’s specialty is her Eden Facial and Peel Treatment, where she believes the treatment is a great choice for any skin condition. Head to this spa for anti-aging or acne treatments, and you’ll be pleased with Brittany’s expertise and treatment options.

Location: 124 Lomas Santa Fe Dr, Ste 206, Solana Beach, CA 92075

 

Spa Na’mara

Hidden away in the Hotel Del Indigo, this luxury spa overlooks the Pacific Ocean, which is the perfect setting to set your mind at ease with the sunshine and ocean breeze surrounding you. Enjoy personalized spa services, including a special couples massage, at this small retreat where you can eliminate stress and achieve relaxation, rejuvenation, and rebalance. Come to Spa Na’mara for a day to yourself and choose between a massage, facial, body treatments, or waxing services.

Location: 710 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014

 

Vitality Massage and Wellness Center

Ivone Alem opened Vitality Massage and Wellness Center to treat those in need of alternative medicine and holistic treatments. The treatments received at this spa go well beyond muscle tissue manipulation, allowing you to leave feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. From acupuncture to massages, Vitality Massage and Wellness Center has everything you need for a personalized experience that will cater to your wellness needs.

Location: 243 N Hwy 101, Ste 5, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Going out to dinner for date night is always a good go-to, but we want to help you spice up date night! With the cooler weather in November, we want to share these exciting date ideas to try out around San Diego!

 

Gondola Ride

Ride around the canals of the Coronado Cays in a Venetian gondola, where you can enjoy a relaxing and romantic date night. The Gondola Company in San Diego provides romantic 50 minute cruises, with different package options for your date night needs! Cuddle up with soft blankets, an ice bucket, and wine glasses (all included), with wine selections and nonalcoholic beverages available at an additional cost. Surprise your significant other with a romantic night on the water they will never forget! Reservations are required, so book your date night today!

Contact: 619.429.6317

 

Hornblower Dinner Cruise

Enjoy a dinner cruise on board the Hornblower in the San Diego Bay. Experience date night on a whole new level with a 3 hour cruise around the Bay that will guarantee to spice up your regular dinner date spot. See incredible views of San Diego from the water while you dine and dance all day long to the sparkling San Diego skyline. Your date night will include your own private table, chilled champagne, a 3-course dinner meal, a professional DJ, and stunning views. Schedule your exciting date night now!

Contact: 619-686-8700

 

Liberty Station/Pinot’s Palette

Wanting to switch up date night to something new, fun, not too fancy, but still have a good time? Then head over to Liberty Station where you can sample all different types of cuisine in the Liberty Public Market. Afterward, sip on wine or enjoy a beer while painting a masterpiece at Pinot’s Palette, located in Liberty Station. Pinot’s Palette offers 2 and 3 hour painting classes, where you can channel your inner Picasso! Don’t worry, you don’t need to be artistic to be included in all the fun – the instructor goes through step by step directions for each painting, making it easy to follow for any level of artist! Check out their event calendar online to book a class online dependent on what painting you choose!

Register here

Thanksgiving. The holiday that includes everything food. Dessert is one of our favorite parts about the Thanksgiving food, so we wanted to share some recipes (our favorites) from Pinterest from to make for Thanksgiving!

 

Candy Pretzel Turkey Bites

An easy recipe to let the kids get involved with! This is one of our favorites to make and customize depending on the season, so for Thanksgiving we want to create tiny turkey bites! Salty and sweet is such a great combination, so it’s guaranteed to be a hit for this dessert!

Ingredients:

  • Mini pretzels
  • Rolos
  • Candy corn
  • Candy eyes
  • Yellow Reese’s Pieces
  • Note: the amount of each ingredient is dependent on how many bites you will make

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F. While the oven is preheating, place all your pretzels down on a lined cookie sheet. Place Rolos in the center of each pretzel piece. Put into oven for 1-2 minutes or until Rolo is soft (important: do not let Rolo melt!). Immediately after removal from the oven, insert 3 candy corn pieces into the side of the Rolo, on the one rounded side of the pretzel (the “bottom”). Add two candy eyes and one Reese’s Pieces sideways (for the beak) on top of the Rolo, pushing in slightly to create your turkey’s face. Allow to set, or speed up the drying process in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Suburban Simplicity

 

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Nothing says Thanksgiving more than pumpkin pie. However, pumpkin pie sometimes isn’t a fan favorite, so what better way to still serve pumpkin pie than in miniature form? This miniature pumpkin pies are adorable, in the fall spirit, and the perfect addition to your food arrangement.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4-inch round cookie cutter
  • Standard size muffin tin
  • 1 package refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Mix pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl until smooth. Pour into pastry lined muffin cups to the top. Top with a pastry leaf if desired.

Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake 20 – 25 minutes longer or until knife inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool 30 minutes in pan and remove to wire rack to cool for another hour for pumpkin filling to set completely.

Recipe from: Home is Where the Boat is

 

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Apple Crisp

We didn’t forget about all you apple pie lovers! Use this super easy twist on apple pie to wow your guests on Thanksgiving.

Ingredients:

For the pumpkin apple filling:

  • 15 ounce can (1 ¾ cups) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices

For the crisp topping:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

For serving:

  • freshly whipped cream or ice cream, if desired

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, ½ cup pure maple syrup, spices, and salt until well combined. Stir in apple slices. Transfer the mixture to your slow cooker insert.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, white whole wheat flour and cinnamon. Use your fingertips to work the butter into the oat mixture until the mixture clumps together and the butter pieces are small. Stir in the ¼ cup maple syrup. Crumble the topping evenly over the filling in the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on high for 2 to 2 ½ hours or on low for 3 to 3 ½ hours, until the apples are soft. Turn off the heat and let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before serving (keeping the lid on). Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Recipe from: Kristine’s Kitchen

 

 

 

It’s November, which means that Thanksgiving is right around the corner! At Oakwood Escrow, we love celebrating the holidays with our families, but hosting can get stressful. Here’s some tips to create an incredible centerpiece for this year!

 

Theme

First, you need to decide on your theme for your Thanksgiving table! Are you going minimalistic and sticking to neutral colors, such as whites and browns? Or are you going more traditional and bringing in all of the colors for fall, bright yellows and deep oranges? Once you know the theme you’re going for, it will be a lot easier to create a masterpiece!

Real pumpkins

You probably went to the pumpkin patch with your kids or family this past October, so recycle those tiny pumpkins you purchased and put them to good use! If you’re going simple, you can line the pumpkins up and down your table runner, and add little tea lights and greenery, leaves, vines, etc., around them to create a simple, yet beautiful centerpiece. If you want to get a little more creative, use a bigger pumpkin for the main piece on your table this year! Cut the top off the pumpkin as if you were to carve it, so it can be used as a base for a vase, floral arrangement, etc., this is where you can get creative! Add a plethora of orange, yellow, and red flowers to bring out the fall colors in your home, or add fall colored leaves and twigs amongst a few flowers to create a farmhouse feel to your table. The options are endless! Cut the tops off of smaller pumpkins to add tea lights in for extra decor, with your big pumpkin arrangement in the center!

Fall leaves

An easy, simple way to spice up what you already have! Use your normal Thanksgiving centerpiece and add some fall colored leaves around the table and down your runner. Bright yellows, deep reds, and rusty oranges are the perfect touch to add some fall vibes to your table. You can collect real leaves from outside, or head to your local craft store to pick some up at a cheap price.

 

Name tags

Get creative when it comes to name tags on place settings. Use teeny tiny pumpkins and attach a small leaf to the steam with twine and a name on it to add to your pumpkin theme. Cut out felt fabric in the shape of maple leaves, write the names in cursive, and back them with burlap to add a rustic feel to your table. Use pinecones, an easy and free alternative, to stick a name card into and add it to each person’s place setting. Involve the kids to these easy, simple crafts to let them join in on preparing for Thanksgiving!

Fall means holiday parties are around the corner, and if you’re hosting one this year, why not spice things up with a seasonal cocktail?! We want to share our favorite easy Fall cocktails that will ensure your party is a hit! All recipes are from Town and Country Magazine.

*Please drink responsibly.*

 

Apple Cider Mimosas

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of champagne
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

How to make:
Mix together the sugar and cinnamon, then dip the champagne glass rims into water and into the cinnamon sugar mix. Fill flutes up ¼ with apple cider and top the rest with champagne. Enjoy this Fall twist on your breakfast cocktail!

 

Caramel Apple Mule

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Absolut vodka
  • .5 oz caramel syrup
  • 1 oz apple cider

How to make:
Shake the ingredients together with ice, then strain into desired mug over ice. Top the concoction with ginger beer, and garnish with an apple slice.

 

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Bailey’s Pumpkin Spice
  • 1 oz. Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
  • 1.5 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • Cola
  • Mint

How to make:
Combine the Bailey’s Pumpkin Spice, Captain Morgan, and ice cream into a highball glass. Top with Cola, stir, and garnish with mint.

 

Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

This one is for those who want a little more challenging cocktail!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Liqueur
  • 4 cups whole milk (divided)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Optional toppings: whipped cream (marshmallows, shaved chocolate, pumpkin pie spice)

How to make:
Measure ⅓ cup of Kahlúa and set aside. Whisk together 1 cup of milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt into medium saucepan until fully combined. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and hot (do not boil). Whisk in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice until mixture is heated. Move from heat right before boiling. Once moved from heat, immediately whisk in Kahlúa. Pour into glasses and add desired toppings.

Are haunted thrills what you love about October to prepare for Halloween? Don’t look any further, check out our favorite spots to experience haunted mazes and thrills in San Diego this October!

 

The Haunted Trail Balboa Park

Experience a thrill that is too big to keep indoors. Head to the historic Balboa Park if you dare to seek out two terror filled experiences. First, you’ll have to find your way out of the eXperiment maze, a horrifying maze where you’ll be stalked by your favorite horror characters. After you crawl and scream your way out of the maze, enter the mile long trail if you dare. The Haunted Trail winds around the park where you’ll feel like you’re trapped in Friday the 13th. Watch out for Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, and Pennywise as you creep your way through the trail. Who knows what, or who, will pop out next.

Location: at the corner of Balboa Drive & Juniper in Balboa Park

 

The Haunted Hotel

If you love Downtown San Diego and the Gaslamp District, experience the terror the Haunted Hotel has in store for you. Make your way through the Haunted Hotel, where clowns will turn the corners unexpectedly while you fight your way through the zombie infested hallways and find yourself in the Morgue Autopsy Lab. Find out for yourself what other horrors are waiting while making your way out of this hotel.

Location: 424 Market Street, San Diego, Ca 92101

 

The Scream Zone

One haunt not good enough for you? Then experience The Scream Zone, San Diego’s largest haunted experience. With 3 horror filled attractions, you won’t know what hit you when you step inside The Scream Zone on the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Make your way into the House of Horror, where you’ll be trapped by clowns and shaken up in the darkness, unknowing of where you are. Or pile into a wagon for the Haunted Hayride, where you’ll be taken into the darkness where terrifying clowns, demonic dolls, and bloodthirsty zombies are waiting for your arrival. Choose to go to the Karnevil, the terrifying freakshow that will leave you disoriented and petrified. If you’re up for the challenge, experience all 3 haunts and see which one leaves you running for your life.

Location: 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, California 92014

October means Halloween is just around the corner! One of the things we love in October is heading to the pumpkin patch with the family to pick out the perfect pumpkin to create a one-of-a-kind jack o’ lantern. Check out our favorite pumpkin patches located near San Diego County!

 

Peltzer Pumpkin Farm

The Peltzer family-owned pumpkin farm is the perfect spot to bring the kids to enjoy a day filled with picking pumpkins and enjoying attractions. At the Peltzer Pumpkin Farm, you can enjoy gem mining, a petting farm, pig races, pony rides, a tractor garden, and train rides! Located in right outside San Diego County in Temecula, the Peltzer Pumpkin Farm will ensure you a day full of fun and make sure you get in the spirit of Fall and Halloween with the entire family!

Location: 39925 Calle Contento, Temecula, CA, 92591

 

Harbour Farm and Vineyard

Who said pumpkin patches are only fun for the kids? While the kids will still go crazy over this fall-themed patched with a bounce house, gem mining, hay rides, and a petting zoo area, the adults will have just as much fun! This patch offers live music, BBQ food, wine tasting, and frozen sangria slushies. Enjoy all the photo-op spots around the farm, and pick out the perfect pumpkin with the family for the holiday!

Location: 3326 Hwy 67, Ramona, CA 92065

 

Pumpkin Station Rancho Bernardo

While there are Pumpkin Station locations all around San Diego, Pumpkin Station Rancho Bernardo has them all beat! This pumpkin patch has free parking and free admission so you can walk around, pick your own pumpkins, and see all the farm animals. For only $2 per ticket for the attractions, you can venture into the corn maze and then enjoy a hayride right after! Bring the whole family for some fall-themed fun, and make it a competition to see who can make it out of the corn maze first!

Location: 13421 Highland Valley Road Escondido, CA. 92025

While Disneyland isn’t located in San Diego, it’s just a short 2 hour drive away, and we at Oakwood Escrow love to get out to Disneyland for the holidays, especially in October! Here are our reasons why Spooky Disney is the best!

 

It’s SPOOKY!

Disneyland in October is just spooky! Everything in both parks, Disneyland and California Adventure, is all decked out for Halloween! From the Headless Horseman in California Adventure, to the giant pumpkin and jack o’ lanterns hung in the trees in Disneyland, you can find spookiness throughout the parks. Halloween-themed snacks will be found around the park as well, so make sure you get your witchy fingers on an extra-spooky treat!

 

Get in the holiday spirit

This goes in hand with everything being spooky in the parks, so it just makes sense. When you have a spooky Oogie Boogie covered chocolate strawberry, a pumpkin spice churro with cream cheese frosting, and a Spoke-y Cone Macaron from the Cozy Cone Motel, how can you not be in the Halloween spirit? Everywhere you look you’ll see something Halloween-themed, hear spooky music, and feel the Halloween vibe in the atmosphere.

 

Enjoy spooky themed attractions

Can’t get enough spookiness from walking around the park? Head to the following attractions to experience a spooky twist on these rides: The Haunted Mansion becomes The Nightmare Before Christmas, Space Mountain becomes the Ghost Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy gets a Monsters after Dark twist, and Radiator Springs in Cars Land gets a full Halloween spin, with characters in costumes, Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween, and Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree! Experience all the Halloween-filled twists and turns of these rides and feel the spookiness among them all.

 

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

The Disney villains will make a special appearance this Halloween season for a meet and greet during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. A great Halloween experience for the kids, they can trick-or-treat after the regular park hours in their Halloween costumes and get some awesome treats! Don’t miss the Headless Horseman riding down Main Street and the Halloween-themed firework show!