While Santa is making his list and checking it twice, we’re busy with a holiday list of our own unique to the town of Cary. Here’s a run-down of the season’s best of the best, from local gifts and events to all-time favorite Christmas songs and movies.

HOLIDAY SONGS

1. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
This rockabilly beat captures the fun of the season, thanks to its vintage vibe and infectious rhythm.

2. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
The Christmas song master’s nostalgic ode to the magic of snow is an instant throwback to childhood holidays.

3. Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt
Inspiration for how to drop (not so) subtle hints about the must-have items on your wishlist, even if they’re not quite as big of asks as yachts or diamonds.

4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
by Frank Sinatra
Ol’ blue eyes paints the perfect red and green picture of the holidays.

5. All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
The high-note queen’s pop spectacle is major fun – and a major earworm.

 

PLACES TO SEE LIGHTS

nc chinese lantern festival, photo courtesy rob kinnan photography

nc chinese lantern festival, photo courtesy rob kinnan photography

1. Cary Jaycees Christmas Parade
For 38 years, the parade has kicked off the holiday season along Chatham Street in downtown Cary, including bands, mascots, local businesses, community groups, and churches.

2. Official Town of Cary Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Welcome in the holiday season with the official Christmas tree lighting featuring actors, singers and musicians from the community. Plus, more than 120 community groups created the handcrafted ornaments displayed on the tree.

3. North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival
This Koka Booth experience is great for adults and children alike; a neat twist on the traditional holiday light excursion around town.

4. Page-Walker Holiday Open House
Get into the holiday spirit with some old-fashioned Christmas fun, including Victorian holiday traditions like caroling and horse-drawn carriage rides.

5. Green Acres Farm
There’s something magical about the hand-strung lights that illuminate Christmas tree farms’ offerings, turning the selection of your family tree into an outing for the entire family.

 

GIFTS (for those that have everything)

photo courtesy of umstead hotel & spa

photo courtesy of umstead hotel & spa

1. Umstead Spa Gift Card
Perfect for post-holiday fatigue. Just be sure to pass along the restrictions on booking appointments for non-hotel guests.

2. LaFarm Bakery Baking Classes
From sourdough bread and pizzas to brioche and French pastries, giving these lessons as gifts will be a win-win when you get to sample what they’ve learned.

3. Charity Donation
Funnel funds in their name into deserving local organizations like The V Foundation for Cancer Research, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, and Dorcas Ministries.

4. Cary Arts Center Classes
Have a long-standing (yet unfulfilled) interest in jewelry making, woodworking, or even clowning? The downtown center has a variety of classes and open studios for aspiring artists.

5. Season Tickets to Koka Booth Amphitheatre
Music lovers on your list? Cary’s outdoor amphitheatre offers mini-packs of tickets, 10- and 20-show bundles and VIP options as an opportunity to take advantage of Koka Booth’s wide range of country, rock, pop, and classical musical events.

 

HOLIDAY MOVIES

1.  Home Alone
Simply the best. (All together now: “AHHHHH!”)

2. Home Alone 2
Right on the heels of the original, Kevin’s romp through New York City captures the magic of the season.

3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Chevy Chase helps make the stress of the season a little more manageable.

4. A Christmas Story
For everyone who ever wanted a Red Ryder BB gun.

5. Elf
“Not now, Arctic Puffin!” Will Ferrell’s one-liners make this a modern Christmas comedy classic.

 

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

Performing Artists: Elegba Folklore Society, Photo Credit: Aaron Sutten. this year’s cary kwanzaa celebration will be held on december 29th.

Performing Artists: Elegba Folklore Society, Photo Credit: Aaron Sutten. this year’s cary kwanzaa celebration will be held on december 29th.

1. Cary Kwanzaa Celebration
A communal, cultural celebration featuring a marketplace and children’s village with art-making activities, plus performances by Shabutaso: The Magic of African Rhythm and the North Carolina Association of Black Storytellers.

2. Gingerbread House Competition
On display in downtown Cary starting in early December, these houses offer up inspiration for homemade versions. Or, get an early start and enter your own in the competition.

3. Santa’s Workshop at the Herbert C. Young Community Center
In addition to the jolly man himself, kids can enjoy craft stations. Plus, non-perishable food items or a cash donation supports the Cary Teen Council’s food drive.

4. Cary Players’ The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
This performance at the Cary Arts Center is a version of the heart-warming comedy for the whole family.

5. Holiday Sip ‘n Shoppe
Knock your Christmas shopping out for a good cause, all in one location. This artisan market benefits Cary Academy, plus brings together a mix of 100 crafters and artists over its three-day run.

 

HOLIDAY COOKIES

1. Swedish wedding Cookies
Swedish Grandma Jensen used to make these for any special occasion. They are also called butterballs and a million other names. Everyone LOVES them.

2. Thumbprints
These are basically little butter cookies, rolled in nuts and then dented in the center (with your thumb!) to hold a smidgen of raspberry jam.

3. Peanut Kisses
Another cookie with a bonus on top. Peanut butter cookies, rolled in sugar then crested with a Hershey’s Kiss. (Be sure to take the foil off before baking!)

4. Gingerbread Boys and Girls
This is the classic cookie to let the children help with. Have fun decorating, then put them in an eggwash with sprinkles on top. (Tip: they taste MUCH better with lots of sugar icing than plain.)

5. Benne
Originally from Africa and the Middle East, these are now considered a classic cookie from Charleston, SC. These
rich brown cookies, sweet and nutty with sesame seeds, have a unique texture: solid and crisp on the bottom, crunchy-light on top. They go down nicely with a cup of tea.

 

APPETIZERS

1. Mushroom Pâté in Mini Phyllo Shells
These little bite-sized morsels practically make themselves and, sadly, there will be absolutely none left at the end of your party.

2. Green Olive & Pimento Cheese
Use pre-grated sharp cheddar cheese, a handful of chopped green olives stuffed with pimentos, and enough mayo to hang things together. Add a dash of Texas Pete and serve with water crackers.

3. Spiced Pecans or Walnuts
Buy them at Whole Foods, or make your own at home. (Recipe on the Whole Foods website.)

4. Steamed Dumplings with Sauce
Buy a bag at Trader Joe’s in the freezer department, and make a dip with 1/3 cup mayo and a large squeeze of sriracha sauce.

5. Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Halve a pound of brussels sprouts and spread on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (a spicy olive oil will kick up the flavor a little), add salt and pepper, and place in a 400-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Stir once while roasting. Serve with toothpicks at room temperature. A tasty, health snack!


UGLY Holiday Sweaters

Thanks to all of our readers for sending in your Ugly Holiday Sweater photos and congrats to Andy & Leigh Roach for winning a $100 gift card to Bellini Fine Italian Cuisine!