Help a child have a happier Christmas this year by donating new, unwrapped toys to one of these donation sites at participating stores, restaurants and other business around the Twin Cities.
Toys are sorted and distributed to children in the weeks before Christmas, so donating early in December helps with organizing. Your gift will make a big difference to a child in need this Christmas.
The first snow emergency of the winter always catches us off guard. Minneapolis' complex, 3-day snow emergencies in particular. Need a refresher of the snow emergency parking rules?
And how do you even know if there is a snow emergency? The home page of Minneapolis' website has a prominent banner for whether there is, or is not a snow emergency, plus links for signing up for email alerts of when a snow emergency is declared. And, for smartphone users, there's a new Snow Emergency app for iOS and Android phones.
And for St. Paul, the city of St. Paul's website also has a banner, and links to snow emergency rules for the city, plus how to sign up for email and other alerts for St. Paul snow emergencies.
Stay warm, and drive safe!
Do you need help buying toys for your children this Christmas? Organizations like the Minnesota chapter of Toys for Toys, and the Salvation Army can help. Each year they organize toy drives and then distribute toys to children around the Twin Cities. Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a non-profit who collect donated bikes, tune them up, and then distribute them to children on a big give-away day; this year on December 8.
The earlier families can register for toys the better, usually by the end of the first week of December. For example, the Salvation Army asks families to register to receive children's toys by December 5.
Find more info on signing up or registering for toys this Christmas: organizations who can help with Christmas gifts, toys and bicycles for children in the Twin Cities.
Is there a perfect boot for the Minnesota winter? Something that can deal with cold, wet, snow, ice, but also be appropriate for all of the events of daily life - smart at work, busy errands, casual days, and holiday parties?
After many years of testing many different kinds of footwear during the snow, ice, cold and wet of Minnesota winters, I have come to the conclusion that unless you are a 6-year-old boy, or otherwise don't care about fashion or style, there is no perfect boot.
What's the solution? Something practical is a must, plus being prepared to carry and change into stylish shoes once you arrive at your destination is the solution arrived at by many Minnesotans.
So: practical winter boots: what kind of boots should you buy? Reviews and advice on different types of winter boots.
Even though we've barely had any natural snowfall this season, it's been cold enough for ski hills to make enough snow to cover a couple of runs. If you are raring to get out on the slopes, expect early season conditions and plenty of company on the run or two that are open. Still, it's a nice way to get outdoors during this long holiday weekend.
Here's the latest from local ski hills for Thanksgiving weekend.
Afton Alps: Open at the weekends with 3-4 runs and some terrain.
Buck Hill: Open daily, closed Thanksgiving Day, reopening Friday and Thanksgiving weekend. Currently 4 runs open.
Trollhaugen: Open daily, closed Thankgiving Day. Currently 7 runs open plus two terrain parks.
Welch Village: Open on the weekends, currently two runs open. Expected to be open November 29 and Thanksgiving weekend.
Wild Mountain: Open regular hours with several runs open. Expecting to have the majority of runs open by Thanksgiving weekend. Open every day including Thanksgiving.
The further north you go, the more chance of natural snow: Lutsen Mountains are open. For Thanksgiving weekend, they will be open November 28 until December 1, and projecting 7-12 runs.
Thanksgiving falls very late this year, on Thursday November 28. We'll have more time to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, and then a very short time to get ready for Christmas and fit in all our the holiday plans.
What are you cooking for Thanksgiving dinner? Or perhaps you'd prefer someone else to cook? What will you do with your out of town guests? Do you need a hotel for them? And how will you entertain them - what's happening on Thanksgiving Day, and what events are on Thanksgiving weekend? (Hint: lots of Christmas-themed events). What about working off all that Turkey - how can you get outside and be active?
All about Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving resources in Minneapolis and St. Paul
Holiday Parades and festivals traditionally begin in late November and early December. With our cold days and early nights, a festive holiday parade with music, twinkling lights, hot chocolate and family is just the thing to take the gloom off winter.
Cities around the Metro area hold community celebrations and events, and there are plenty of parades on the calendar: Minneapolis, Lakeville, Taylors Falls, Excelsior, Arlington, Stillwater, Maple Grove and South St. Paul all have holidays festivals with parades in the next few weeks.
The biggest news of the holiday parade season is that 2013 is likely to be the last year of the Holidazzle Parade in downtown Minneapolis. Organizers have said that 2013 will be the last year of Holidazzle as we know it. What will replace it in 2014? We'll have to wait and see.
But, we have all of the 2013 holiday parade season to look forward to. Which parades will you go to? Here's a Calendar of Holiday Parades in the Twin Cities.
Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 28, sees many shops, attractions and businesses closed for the day. But, there is still plenty to do in Minneapolis on Thanksgiving Day itself.
The Depot in downtown Minneapolis opens its indoor ice skating rink on Thanksgiving Day. And outside, ski hills should have managed to make some snow and there should be some runs open.
The Walker Art Center's Sculpture Garden is open every day, a perpetual favorite destination for out of town guests.
But perhaps you have had enough of the cold? Como Zoo is open every day of the year, and the Marjorie McNeely conservatory and thousands of tropical flowers are a welcome escape from the cold outside.
Ballet, comedy, pantomime, choral music, concerts, drama and more - there is a holiday show for everyone this season in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Classic shows like the Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, and neo-classics like the New Standards Holiday show and the annual Boychoir Christmas are on the calendar. And, theat
Buy tickets to the shows you want in advance - there's usually strong demand for holiday shows, and as you know, Christmas comes but once a year!
You can see excellent shows for a bargain price by going to a holiday show at one of the private colleges in Minneapolis and St. Paul. There are several to choose from and most are free, or low cost.
Which holidays shows are you going to this year? Here's a calendar of Holiday Shows in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Communities around the Twin Cities celebrate the start of the holiday season with festivals and fairs, and in some cases, month-long celebrations. Classic Christmas music and carols, horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday light parades, visiting with Santa, Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, warm food and hot chocolate are the order of the day, plus you can find extra fun like meeting live reindeer, face painting, and arts and craft shows.
Taylors Falls' Lighting Festival, Grand Avenue's Grand Meander, Arlington's Arli-Dazzle, and Stillwater's month of Hometown Holiday events are some of the largest and best known, but there are many more, and bound to be one near you.
White Bear Lake, Maple Grove, Anoka, Excelsior, Hopkins, South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, and many other cities also have holiday celebrations, and all are free to attend.