Tag Archives: travel

One Mom’s Guide to Visiting Santa’s Village: A New Hampshire Gem

One Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: A New Hampshire Gem! | Hardly A Goddess

So many of us are in full Holiday-mode, and gearing up for a memorable Christmas season. Well, this year, I was lucky enough to receive tickets to Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH in exchange for an honest review, and I was more that eager to share this great place with you all!

While Santa’s Village is open May-December, we always go in November, right after Thanksgiving. It is sort of our way to get ready for the holiday and enjoy the beautiful lights, and spirit of fun of the season. I have to say, I would LOVE to go in the summer though, as they have a whole section of summer-fun water slides that we never get to try! But for today, I will share my very wintry experience with you!

So before you go, I thought I could tell you some tips and more about the park, that might help make your visit extra great and easy too!

What to bring:

  • If you go in the winter, wear snow pants. The rides can be wet, and also cold, so prepare yourself and the kids by bringing snow-gear: hats, gloves, boots, snowpants, and maybe hand-warmers!
  • If you go in summer, don’t forget to pack: towel, flip-flops, sunscreen, bathing suits with a plastic bag to carry the wet suit in after, and hats.
  • Bring a little backpack. Items that you make, buy, or to hold gloves can go in here without worry about where you left them!

Once you arrive:

  • Go to the bathrooms 1st. With all the snow gear on, it is easier to just get it done now! But they do have very clean, spacious (great changing areas for babies) restrooms throughout the park!
  • Then go to Elf University 2nd. Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NHThe kids will get their Elfabet Game Cards, to use throughout the park. They wear it around their neck and then as you make your way through the park, there are Elves with names from A-Z like this: So then, the kids do a punch-card poke of the card until all the letters (elves) are found. When you are done, return to the University for an Elf Diploma and prize! Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NHThis is the best, most fun ever, and my kids love it- plus it motivates them to work their way around the park to the next elf. Genius.
  • If you need a Santa visit,  you may want to assess the line for that right after you visit the Elf University.
  • If you already saw Santa, or will see him somewhere else, then you can go left, or right once you enter the park. They give a map upon entry, and the total space of the park is small enough to cover close to all of the features in one day. Enjoy!

Special Tips

  • We stay an hour away, so we arrive at the opening time and usually stay until they close! You can do almost everything they offer, though you need to make sure to leave wait-time for 3 things: Santa’s Home visit, the YouTubing, and the Skyway Sleigh. While the lines are longer for these, they mostly move quickly and we’ve never waited too long. The park is small enough, that lines move along, which I love! On their website, they have dates that are less busy than the weekend of Thanksgiving, so you can plan your visit for when lines will be very short!

    Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

    Of course the boys had to race each other!

  • For extra value, if you buy a ticket during the final 3 hours of the day, you can get in for those 3 hours and also, the next day on the same ticket. I have never done this, and I think it would be great if you stayed at a place super close by. There are just a few motel-type places nearby that we’ve never tried, but if you check around, I am sure you could get reviews.


We always eat there at either Nick’s Pizza Emporium or Dasher’s Delights, but unlike other parks, you can bring your own food in and eat! Such a bonus, right?! This is just so refreshing to go to an amusement area, where everything is priced very reasonably and you never get the sense that you are shelling out money all the time. Some parks are the exact opposite. My kids love the midway-type games at most parks and those games can bleed you dry! At Santa’s Village, the midway-games cost a dollar! Food is so inexpensive compared to other places we’ve been. In fact, they offer FREE strollers, and FREE parking, and a FREE pet-sitting area. Souveniers and gifts are available and also are very reasonably priced. I just love this.

What we did:

Everything! The park is small enough that you can do everything! I love that the rides are geared for little people, so nothing is too scary. The height requirements vary, but most are 42″ to ride alone, or under if with a parent.

An easy ride for little kids and tired parents is the Jinglebell Junction railroad which is adorable and a way to see the entire park:

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

Making Gingerbread Men:

My boys loved decorating gingerbread men at the Sugar ‘n Spice Bake Shop, when it was time to get a little snack. My girls went to have cocoa and my husband, the homemade donuts (yum!) at the Doe-Nut Factory.

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

Driving their own cars!

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

Making Rings (Free!)

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

And visiting Santa’s Reindeer! And you can feed them too! It was fun to remember their names on the car ride up…actually we had to Google it! And then proceed to sing the Rudolph song for the next hour…memories… and Advil! Can you remember all the names in the song?

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

Well, we didn’t do everything– we didn’t make our own gifts at the workshop, nor did we see the shows this year at the Jingle Jamboree or Polar Theater, but we have in the past, and to be honest, those are not to be missed when you need to get warmed up and the kids need a break.

When dusk comes, I love the lights and there were plenty of places to get some great family-fun shots that might be contenders for the Holiday card this year! This one is just okay- as my phone camera given to a stranger, only works so well. But you get the idea of how pretty it is at night and magical when the park is really at it’s best with the snow and colors!

Mom's Guide to Santa's Village: Jefferson, NH

I asked my kids what they like the most about Santa’s Village:

“The Rapid Rudy Transit Coaster, the Sleigh Ride, and driving the Antique cars (by themselves!).” And my kids are 6, 10 and 11 years old. We have gone the past 3 years, and they still love it!

I asked my husband what he likes the most about Santa’s Village:

“Just the overall atmosphere.”

Yes. A man of few words here, but the atmosphere really is the best part about Santa’s Village. As you can see, it is themed out in every conceivable way, and my kids just love it. We love it. It is holiday-awesomeness all year around! I hope you consider making a trip if you are anywhere near New Hampshire. From Boston it is about a 2-hour drive. There is so much to do in the surrounding area for families, you can totally make it a trip for a weekend! It is truly a trip that your kids will treasure for years to come~

If you want to know more about Santa’s Village check them out here:

Web (awesome website!): http://www.santasvillage.com/

*While I was not financially compensated for this post, I received ticket compensation for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own as always, and based on my personal experience.For more information see my full disclosures page.

5 Toddler Must-Haves for Mom’s Car

 This is an update to the post that I did almost exactly a year ago.  Because it is still so applicable to my every-day life, I thought that it would be a good one to share again!
5 Toddler Must-Haves for Mom’s Car

Maybe I should have called this post, “5 Mom Must -Haves for a Toddler’s Car”?

Not sure. Either way, I have some great tips for you stemming from my crazy morning, which looked like any other morning: opening cereals, pouring juices, doing hair, getting dressed and make-up’d, feeding animals, putting shoes on for everyone, organizing end-of-year gifts to put where they can be grabbed, and on… Out of this mix, I loaded the boys into the car and gave them their juice and cereal for the ride… READ: Mother of the Year, feeds her kids breakfast in the car, not organized enough to get them out of bed and dressed and fed at home. Ugh.

Anyhoo…One cry and lots of tears later, the juice in hand was now covering my little guy’s shirt and dripping down his pants.

Awesome.  Now 10 minutes late. I won’t go on to detail what happened next, but I was very lucky this morning.  Lucky, because, I was at my own home when all became utter chaos;  I could recover from a tantrum, spill, and all else while sitting perched in the driveway.

All of this chaos got me thinking, after all was said and done, about the emergency stashes in the car that have all but saved me from feeling helpless and mad too, in the midst of toddler crisis in the past.

Here is the list of my top 5 things to keep handy in the car, to avert disaster:

  1. Snacks:  I can’t say it enough.  I always bring snacks.  I put some in the trunk, in the glove compartment, and stash some in my purse.  Low blood sugar can bring all kinds of H-LL down to rain on you! A little cracker or pretzel can work wonders.  An emergency lollipop is awesome for booboo’s and bribes. You get it.
  2. Extra Clothes:  Like this morning, I am well aware of needing not just an extra pair of pants or t-shirt, but underwear, socks, pants, sweatshirt, and shoes too! I usually bring 2! It’s a twin thing. What one does, the next will surely try too, so spills happen in double-time around me! I keep a bag in the trunk, and another in the car!
  3. Wipes: My kids are past the diaper phase, but all those bribes (READ: lollipops) leave their messes behind.  Great for wiping hands after a trip to the grocery carts too…or the rides…or the bathrooms.  I know you’ve been there. Me too! Twice.
  4. Travel Potty: I have no shame in opening that trunk and letting my kids sit on the side of the road or in the trunk (for privacy) if they need to.  Far easier for all of us, than pain, discomfort, or wet pants! **Along with this comes garbage bags to line the potty. These are a must, so you can toss any messes. I use double lined grocery plastic bags…You know you have hundreds of these.  A training potty is the next best thing to a travel potty- So that you don’t feel like a jerk with a toilet in her car, maybe stow it in a cute crate or canvas bag!
  5. An emergency kit:  Not the “What you need to survive in the wild,” kit.   I mean, the one for boo-boos.  You know this one? The one you mean to have but don’t? Get one.  Band-Aids, water, bacitracin wipes, butterfly band-aids, kids Benadryl tabs, adult aspirin (for you!) are just some that I can think of that we need all the time.

I literally could go on about things that I love to have in the car with my toddlers, and also my big girls for having fun:  Books, entertaining games, toys for the ride, drawing supplies, a garbage bag, good music, books on CD.  Just so many things that can make a ride enjoyable, but the 5 listed above, are focused on keeping the ride safe and basically sane for most trips, short or long to avoid a problem that can turn a good ride, bad.

Fun Activities for Car Trips with Kids

Between long car rides to see family for Christmas or Hannukah, and the long two week holiday from most public schools in the Northeast, we need some inspiration around here for some fun and games when we are away from home (and all those fun toys we got)- and trapped in a car with 5 other people- 4 of whom are not adults. Oh, help me!

Some of the ideas that I have had some luck with keeping the kids busy and happy for the car rides in the past are:

  • A metal lunch box and magnetic letters
  • A lunch box with legos inside
  • A bathroom over-the-door organizer filled with crayons/pencils/paper
  • Magnetic doll kits
  • Car BINGO games
  • Books, iPad, Barbies
  • Pencil Box with playing cards

I am also rounding up some of the best ideas that I have seen from around the BlogWorld. Visit their blogs for the details but here are 5:

  1. Questions for kids from The Measured Mom Blog

From: TheMeasuredMom.com

2.  Car Tricks & Hacks for Families from Kids Activities Blog

From Kids Activities Blog: great tips for the car ride ahead!

3.   25 Tips and Tricks for little kids on car rides at Take Off With Kids Blog

Some good ideas here, that I never think of!

4.  15 Best Road Trip Games for any age from Mrs. Fields Site (the cookie lady!)
Has games I’ve never heard like: Nifty or the Casserole Game

Car Games For any age!

5. Puzzles with Magnets (Genius!) at My Kind of Makeover Blog
   She adds magnets to crayons, stickers and has other great travel ideas here.

This is such a great idea!

Do you have any great ideas? I am not sure all these will be ones that we do- considering that some of them look like a lot of work! But I am very open to all new ideas that WORK to keep little ones from asking the dreaded question, “mom?  How much longer,  mom?”

Maddening!  Happy mom, happy kids.  Happy kids, happy mom!

Please leave me a comment and a link to the idea if you have one!