Christmas Nights in The City

We finally made it to New York during "the most magical time of the year" last year. I don't know why I have that in quotations as if I was quoting someone saying it. I'm not quoting anyone in particular but I am sure that someone at some time was bound to have said it about New York at Christmas and so the quotations remain.

There is a reason that when you think of New York at winter, you think Christmas. There's something magical about New York at all times of the year but when you thread in the lights, the trees, the iceskating and the occasional flurries of snow into the fabric of this amazing city, it's magic like no other time.

After my mom passed away last year, I needed a trip for my soul. I pretty much feel the need for this at all times but December of last year, especially, I longed to get away for a few days, to remember her, to feel more alive, to connect with God, and just pause.
New York is never restful or quiet, per say, but it speaks to my heart in ways that sitting before a waterfall or cruising on the lake at sunset does. And winter sings of Jesus to my soul the way that the beach does for others. Not to mention, Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. I mean, isn't it for most? This city, Christmas-loving, winter girl was in bliss on the streets of New York last December.
I think New York at Christmas is almost a tradition that we all grew up with, too. From the Christmas Parae, to Home Alone 2, to nearly every winter-based chick flick growing up (Hello, You've Got Mail!), the sparkly Christmas lights and Rockefeller Tree are essentials.
Zachary and I went to see Wicked on Broadway, which is UH-MAZING, people-go see it!, and we stepped out of the show into the crisp 10:30 pm air just in front of Times Square. On principal and taste, I find Times Square rather unappealing but I will say that all of those lit up billboards added to the magic of our evening.

A terrible picture, yet proof that we saw Wicked.

The city streets around Times Square.

With the Rockefeller tree lit till Midnight daily, we knew we had just enough time to go check it out. We lazily hailed a taxi, versus taking the subway, and had him drop us off at the giant Christmas balls at 1251 Avenue of Americas, which I'm sad to say that I didn't even know about until a week before this trip.
Ya'll, I was so overjoyed on this trip, I didn't even care that I was wearing a puffy jacket that made me look 50 pounds heavier. No cares, at all. Also, should you be in New York City at Christmas, I highly recommend visiting all of these cheery sights late at night. The hoards of crowds have retired for the evening, leaving the place almost all to yourself.

A short walk across the street from the Christmas balls finds you at Radio City Music Hall which of course, looks better at night.

Another short walk later, we arrived at the famous Rockefeller Tree. 

These grainy pics of us were the best we could get. We probably should have just asked someone to take a picture of us, or had brought out a selfie stick, but we didn't. Oh well!
The walk around the Rockefeller Plaza is filled with little treats for the eyes to behold- from the Lego Store display, to giant wooden drummer boys lining the walk, sea nymphs, to the famous ice skating rink, there's so much that adds to the magic and all of it has the giant Norway spruce in view.
Of course a visit to Rockefeller Center at Christmas wouldn't be complete without the wired Christmas Angels that have heralded the walk since 1954. 
Lucky for us, Saks Fifth Avenue, also featured a gorgeous light show last year. This music-synced show consisted of a changing, 10 story show on the side of the Saks building. Here's a few shots;
Less than a block over the stunning Saint Patrick Cathedral towers over Fifth Avenue and of course, a short walk down Fifth and we found all of the funky to cheery window displays and gorgeous architecture.

Our night walk ended at The Plaza around midnight. We, like lost kids in the City, searched and searched for a subway station. Not lucky for us, both of our phones died, so they were zero help to us in finding a stop but thankfully, we found one after 20 minutes or so. We jumped on the subway, and headed back to our home for the week in Brooklyn. By the time we sat down, our fingers and toes were frozen, our cheeks were flushed, but my heart was so happy! 


Pairing Night // CARES

As I shared in my Painting Party post, we're the CARES Team at our apartment, which means we get to throw two events a month for our residents to enjoy! One of our events last fall was a "Pairing Party." As a CARES Team, we're not permitted to purchase alcohol, but we had heard from residents that they'd love some "grown up events."

 Zachary and I love a good cheese board and wine pairing. There's nothing quite so welcoming to us as an overflowing cheese board and good wine with some candles lit and Spotify on. It's our go-to hospitality touch, so naturally, we knew we could put together a night that any resident could enjoy while encouraging guests who'd like to, to bring their own wine to share, too, to give that "grown up" event feel we had residents requesting.

Since we have two events a month and a limited budget, we have to get creative and reuse many of our decorations. For this event, for food tags, I simply folded a note card and used a permanent marker to label each snack.

These trusty chalkboard stands and mason jars go with us to nearly every event. I snagged the chalkboard stands at Hobby Lobby on a 50% off week for $5. I buy mason jars from basically any grocery store. They come in all sizes and usually run $10-$12 for a dozen jars.

These chalkboard trays have also been a go-to party staple and I happened to score them at the Target Dollar Aisle for 3 bucks a few years ago.
I wanted the event to have that "overflowing" feel of abundance so we stocked the counters with plenty of cheeses, crackers, sweets, meats, nuts, fruits and olives- all the make up of a good cheese board.
There's something about "the cheese board" that reminds me of the Lord's table. I don't know if it's simply because it is so dear to Zachary and I's hearts and how we tangibly love to welcome others into our home, but there's just something about it that draws me to God. It reminds me of His goodness and care for us.
You gotta love glasses pics- oh that glare. I feel like the majority of my current pictures of myself, with my big glasses on, look like this. He's a cutie anyway.
After everyone loaded their plates, some guests stuck around for some games. We played Loaded Questions which has turned out to be a great party game. Loaded Questions is similar to Apples to Apples but requires a bit more creativity and is over all more interesting. 

To play, you go around the circle and have someone draw a card & read it. For example, someone might draw and read a card that says, "What is not a good first date location?" After the card is read, everyone writes their answer on a piece of paper before passing it to the "reader." The reader reads out all of the answers and the person who drew the initial card picks their favorite one. Whoever had the favorited answer gets a point. This game is more interesting than Apples to Apples because you have to use your wits and humor to come up with a clever answer. To "What is not a good first date location?" someone could write, "Your mom's basement." "The hospital." "A funeral home" Etc. Most questions illicit hilarious answers and help you get to know each other's personalities and senses of humor, too.

The Pairing Night turned out to be a great success. While we had fewer residents attend than events in the past, it was a great event to connect with our neighbors in a smaller, more intimate setting.

What's your go-to treat when guests come over? 
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