Playtime: Where to see holiday lights, find last-minute gifts

Irwin Family Lights in Everett

Now that school is out for the holiday break and the alarms are off at the house for a bit, we have time to do some of the fun holiday events I’ve been seeing on social media and our yearly traditions. So sure, we now have some time, but will a couple of post 7am wake-ups magically fill us with the energy and motivation to do so? While writing this on a Friday night after having taken a trip down to Archie McPhee directly after a half-day pick-up, I’m not so sure. So I’m making the list and we can all check it (twice) if we’re up for it!

Both of my kids’ schools had holiday concerts and did some of the holiday spirit heavy lifting with pajama days and sugary treats. I enjoy buying gifts for the little ones in my family that live far away, that is to say all of them, and this definitely raised the Clausometer ala Elf. With that gas in the tank we headed south to check out an indoor plant shop in Fremont called Indoor Sun Shoppe to buy something for a local little one and then to Archie McPhee to laugh at the items like Caesar Salad Flavored Candy Canes and visit the Rubber Chicken Museum in the back of the store. It is a great place for stocking stuffers or if you need any White Elephant or Secret Santa gifts. Who doesn’t want an Instant Audience device that plays Boos, Crickets, Applause or a Rimshot?!? Archie McPhee is at the corner of Stone Way and 45th in Wallingford or online at

Holiday movies are a big part of our tradition. We typically try a new one each year before hitting the staples. In recent years, we watched Klaus, Jingle Jangle, The Christmas Chronicles, and this year Spirited. Klaus (Netflix,) quickly became a favorite and we now add it to the list which includes Elf, Arthur Christmas, and catching parts of Scrooged on TV. Those and of course the Hallmark/Lifetime movies, and this year, the Food Network’s offering that features Duff, The Ace of Cakes.

Wintertide Lights at the Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens in Everett looks like a free and easy way to enjoy lights, be outside, and get some great pictures. Every night in December from 4 to 8 p.m., the arboretum invites you to “Come walk the grounds and enjoy our winter wonderland!” This is the kind of slow-paced sparkly event that sounds fun and can be done before dinner! For more information and directions, you can visit

If you’re in Everett, the Irwin Family Lights are a twinkly, musical display that can be enjoyed from your car or from the sidewalk. You can see the playlist online, which also plays over your radio and new songs — sometimes requests — are often added to the list. When we went to see this light show. we packed hot chocolate and lucked out with a parking spot to watch the lights and hear the music. The light show goes from 5 to 10 p.m. each night and you can find directions at

If you’re looking for more light displays, you can visit or of course you can head to Holiday on the Docks at the guest moorage at the Edmonds Marina. Nightly, until Jan. 2, to take in the boats decorated and lit up for the holidays. We plan to keep this a holiday tradition so I’m ignoring the forecast while remembering that the lights will be up after Christmas. For more information, visit

I want to wrap up with one event that while held after Christmas, might make a fun present. The 2nd Annual Seattle Kraken Super Skills Showcase will be Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. at Climate Pledge Arena. We went to this last year, and will go again this year, and it’s a fun and far less expensive way to see the Seattle Kraken in person. Cost is $15 a person or $50 for a family of four and net proceeds benefit the One Roof Foundation. The team takes the ice to compete to find out “who on the team is the best stick-taper, who has the fastest shot and whose trick shot hits the back of the net.” Of course, that is super fun, but last year they made it a very exciting fan event with lots to experience. You can visit for tickets.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.


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