Thursday, November 17, 2011


    Located in downtown Vancouver on the Plaza at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (on Georgia, between Cambie and Hamilton), the Vancouver Christmas Market will be returning from 24 November to 24 December 2011 and will be open daily from 11 am to 9 pm.  Named as one of the 10 most Spectacular Holiday Markets Around the World, the Vancouver Christmas Market is a new, can't miss Vancouver Christmas event!
It is so much more than just a craft fair. An authentic German Christmas Market creates the perfect atmosphere for purchasing Christmas related merchandise and food. It also serves as an ideal setting for multiple cultural activities and events. The romantic setting of the Christmas Market with its customary rows of little wooden huts that are decorated in pine branches, strung with little white lights showing off the merchandise, will develop into the focal point of the holiday season in the city.

   During the pre-Christmas season the market is the perfect destination for combining a family outing with some Christmas shopping. A special children’s area known as the Kids Market will give youngsters the chance to make their own Christmas gifts. Business people will find a fun meeting place for a quick bite during lunch time or a drink after work. Companies will host their Christmas parties there. With a wide variety of entertainment offered, it also becomes a place for young people to enjoy and mingle before a night on the town. School groups of all ages, social clubs and senior organizations will incorporate a visit in their holiday activities.

   The centre piece of the Christmas Market will be a festively decorated stage which creates a unique Christmas atmosphere when surrounded by more than 45 traditional wooden booths and rows of Christmas trees with thousands of fairy lights.
   There will be a mix of food and merchandise booths including some specialties such as German Bratwurst, suckling pig and Swiss Raclette, traditional Christmas cookies, Lebkuchen, roasted chestnuts, baked apples and spiced Christmas Cake (Stollen). Beverages will include the famous German Christmas Drink (Feuerzangenbowle) and authentic hot spiced red wine (Gluehwein) and a selection of German beers (Weissbier).
The merchandise will include authentic wood carvings and wooden toys, knitted clothes and scarves, Christmas pyramids and tree balls, tin toys, stain glass, nutcrackers in various sizes as well as advent wreaths. You can find unique gifts such as glass jewelry, Polish pottery, organic baby clothes or German beer steins.

   During the daytime and evening hours Vancouver Christmas Market will offer a kaleidoscope of performances, including traditional European choirs and dance performances, world class string ensembles, worldly gospel choirs and festive carol singers. The Pavilion Stage will also host daily feature kid’s activities and a variety of school choirs and bands will show off their talent during their performances on stage.
Vancouver is a cosmopolitan city with a rich history of hosting world-class events. The Vancouver Christmas Market will change the way Vancouverites celebrate the Christmas season.
   Colourful décor. Authentic gifts. Family entertainment. Tasty authentic food. The aroma of mulled wine. A truly enchanting atmosphere.


German Christmas Markets … a 700 year tradition

   German Christmas markets are a centuries old tradition in Germany. The markets light up communities with gaiety, fun, laughter, companionship, good food and drink during the advent season.
   Charming Christmas markets are a good antidote to holiday commercialism. Instead of mass-produced gifts, the markets feature unique, hand-crafted items, purchased from vendors who have often crafted the items themselves.
   During the Christmas season, there are Christkindlmarkts throughout Germany. Each Christkindlmarkt has its own special charm, unique to the community and region. Visit a German Christmas Market to experience the sights, smells and sounds of an Old World Christmas.

History of German Christkindlmarkt

   Christmas markets have been a German tradition for 700 years. Seasonal markets were held in Germany year around. Christmas markets were an especially joyous, anticipated event, as they brought light and laughter to a cold, dark season.
   Each town had a unique market. Local tradesmen sold their wares at the market, which gave each market an individual flavor. Food and beverages served were produced in the region, so each town's offerings were a little different. Tradesmen lined the streets with handmade wares, displaying distinctive regional characteristics.
   Christmas markets, known as Christkindlmarkts, were a festive meeting place for people. Villagers bought and sold homemade Christmas ornaments, decorations, and gifts. Traditional German handicrafts at the markets included hand carved nutcrackers, wooden smokers, wooden figures, cuckoo clocks, straw ornaments and blown glass ornaments.

Martin Luther's Role in Christmas Customs

   Religious reformer Martin Luther played a major role in our current Christmas customs. Luther instituted new Christmas gift giving traditions. Before Luther, the exchange of Christmas presents took place on the Saint Days of St.. Nicholas (December 6) or St. Martin (November 11). The tradition of giving gifts to children on Christmas became a boon to the Markets.
   Martin Luther suggested that children receive presents from "The Christ Child", Christkindl. German Christmas Markets are called Christkindlmarkt.
   The Christkindl delivers presents to children on Christmas. Christkindl is a romantic, fairy like being, dressed in white and gold, with golden hair topped by a golden crown. Christkindl is the German equivalent of Santa Claus.

Christmas Markets Across Germany are Unique Celebrations

   Towns, cities and villages across Germany celebrate unique Christkindlmarkts. The markets in Munich, Berlin, Rothenburg, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Baden Baden and every other town serve different foods and sell different handcrafted wares that are specialties of the region. Larger cities, such as Munich, have more than one market.
   Christmas markets are a delightful way to begin holiday festivities. The crisp, cold air fills with the fragrance of sizzling sausages, sweet pastries, spices and hot spiced gluhwein. Booths sell sweet treats, such as chocolates, cakes, pastries, cookies and candies. Music of Christmas fills the air, in preparation for Christmas.
   Christmas markets are preparation for the Holy Christmas day. The days following Christmas are a time for family gatherings and holiday meals.
   Today's markets are much the same as they have been for hundreds of years. The crowds at the German Christmas markets today are likely much bigger than they were hundreds of years ago, but the markets are still a warm, friendly gathering place and a festive part of the Christmas holidays.

   The Christmas Market concept has now spread throughout Europe and to North America. Christkindlmarket Chicago started in 1995 and now attracts over a million people each year. The Vancouver Christmas Market will feature the best attributes of Germany’s top Christmas Markets, will attract hundreds of thousands of people this year, and will become an annual tradition for the city of Vancouver.


 This diy comes from www.silverboxcreative.com.  A simple and special diy for everyone at your next Thanksgiving dinner to talk about.  What better way to start off your meal, than to go around the table and have people talk about what they are thankful for this year.

am thankful for…printables

Oh, we have so much to be thankful for this year. We hope you enjoy these Thanksgiving printables. Each strip has an empty space to write what you’re feeling grateful for. They can be used as napkins rings, tags for branches of trees, which would make a terrific conversation piece, or be as creative as you’d like. You’ll see we printed them on kraft paper to make a very thankful paper chain. (A fun project for the kids while dinner is preparing.)


   This comes from www.marthastewart.com .  Make these early enought and send them not just for xmas cards but also, possibly an xmas party.  When someone gets one of these, it won't get thrown away, it will be shown and talked about for the holiday season. Enjoy!
   The art of handmade holiday cards is a treasure for the creator and recipient alike. This season, try your hand at one of our many holiday-card craft ideas. Whether the sentiment is embossed, decked in ribbon, or encasing a prized photograph, the extra time will be well worth it when your cards are opened.
With a few basic techniques, you can create a wide range of looks by varying shapes, color, and decorative details. These snowman and snowflake pop-ups are decorated with glitter and glue, and inscribed with a fountain pen dipped in red ink.

Tools and Materials
  • Templates, enlarged to desired size
  • Fountain pen
  • Red ink
  • Card stock
  • Utility knife
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Ribbon, optional

  • Introduction


    With a few basic techniques, you can create a wide range of looks by varying shapes, color, and decorative details. These snowman and snowflake pop-ups are decorated with glitter and glue, and inscribed with a fountain pen dipped in red ink.
    Step 1
  • Cut Out Figures

    For the snowflake and snowman, trace template onto folded card stock, centering the image over the fold. Cut along shape with a utility knife, leaving it attached at the tabs. For the gift card, cut two parallel horizontal lines equidistant from the center fold on card stock.

Step 2

Complete the Card

For all cards, push the shape forward from behind while slightly closing card to crease the shape down the middle. For gift card, attach ribbon. Glue all cards into a larger prefolded backing.

The Holly Card

A sprig of holly springs to life from atop a store-bought plain note card. This project wouldn't fare well in the mail, so save it for greetings you're planning to deliver by hand.

Tools and Materials:
Holly Card How-To:1. Draw a holly leaf on cardboard to make a template; cut out.
2. Trace template onto card stock in different shades of green to make eight leaves; cut out with a utility knife.
3. Using a ruler and a bone folder, score each leaf down its center, as shown; lightly fold sides upward along the scored line. Bend the top of each leaf away from its stem.
4. Punch berries from red card stock using a hole punch.
5. Cut a branch from brown card stock. Affix branch to a store-bought note card with craft glue; let dry. Add leaves, gluing only at the stems. Top with berries along branch.


    Plum pudding or Christmas pudding, as it is more popularly known, has its origins in England. It is often served about Christmas time, or usually around Advent time. It has been a family tradition in many homes to have a "stir up Sunday", when each child is allowed to stir the pudding and make a wish.

What is Plum Pudding?

    It's almost black color comes from the heavy dried fruits that are used to make it. Traditionally, plum puddings are boiled or steamed using a pudding cloth and would sometimes have charms mixed inside them. The charms may either be a silver coin, a silver thimble, anchor or ring which all stand for good things in life such as good luck, wealth, a happy marriage and a safe trip.
    A plum pudding does not really have plums in it, but it is full of dried fruits and nuts,mixed with beef suet and citrus fruit juices or alcohol such as beer, rum or brandy. It is often dried out before it is served, as the longer it is allowed to dry, the stronger the flavor becomes. When it is ready to be served, it is steamed and some more alcohol or juice is spread on it to bring out a strong aroma. it may be served with a sprig of holly on top, some custard or cream, and is often decorated with caster sugar on top that somewhat resembles snow flakes.
    Historically speaking, plum puddings probably originated in England during the Victorian period, around 1420. It was first prepared and served not as a dessert, but as a way to preserve meats and make them last all throughout periods when meats are not readily available. The various dried fruits were used as preservatives. During the reign of Elizabeth I, prunes were used and the name "plum pudding" evolved.
    It was only during the mid 1800's that the dish became more popular as a food often served during the Christmas season. These days, ready made puddings are available in stores, specialty shops and supermarkets. Although home made plum puddings are still preferred as perfect gifts for relatives and friends during the Christmas season, ready made cooked puddings are just as good, without going through many hours of preparation.


Total Time:
4 hr 30 min
30 min
4 hr 0 min

approximately 10 to 12 serving


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1 cup chopped suet
  • 1 cup prune pulp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup uncooked chopped prunes
  • 1/4 cup candied lemon peel, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • Hard Sauce, recipe follows


Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, except the egg whites, adding just the yolks. Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Grease a pudding mold dredged with sugar and pour in batter. Cover the mold with its lid or cover tightly with foil. Steam for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the size of your mold. Serve hot with hard sauce. If you are not serving the pudding immediately, store in the refrigerator soaking in 1 ounce of brandy. Add 1 ounce each week.
Serve with warmed Hard Sauce.

Hard sauce:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream the butter in an electric mixer until pale in color. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the flavorings and mix in then adjust, to taste.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1 cup chopped suet
  • 1 cup prune pulp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup uncooked chopped prunes
  • 1/4 cup candied lemon peel, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • Hard Sauce, recipe follows


Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, except the egg whites, adding just the yolks. Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Grease a pudding mold dredged with sugar and pour in batter. Cover the mold with its lid or cover tightly with foil. Steam for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the size of your mold. Serve hot with hard sauce. If you are not serving the pudding immediately, store in the refrigerator soaking in 1 ounce of brandy. Add 1 ounce each week.
Serve with warmed Hard Sauce.

Hard sauce:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream the butter in an electric mixer until pale in color. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the flavorings and mix in then adjust, to taste.


  It’s that time of year again! The holiday rush is here – finding that perfect gift for Gram, that new toy for Mikey, a unique gift for that special someone, long lines, parties and family get-togethers. Here’s a quick look at the numbers for this holiday season.


This come from the people at www.goodhousekeeping.com .  I hope they help you with your turkey quandry this Thanksgiving.

Should I buy a fresh or frozen turkey?

1. Should I buy a fresh or frozen turkey?
Frozen turkeys are widely available and often on sale during the holidays. Some are prebasted to enhance juiciness. You can buy them well in advance of Thanksgiving, but you'll need to allow enough time for them to thaw.

Fresh turkeys are preferred by many people but are usually more expensive, have a shorter shelf life, and may need to be special-ordered. Don't buy one more than two days ahead.

What are other differences in types of turkeys that I should be aware of?

2. What are other differences in types of turkeys that I should be aware of?
Kosher turkeys are salted as part of the koshering process, so no additional salt is needed. This process makes the meat very tender and juicy, similar to the results you'd get from a brined bird.

Organic turkeys are raised and fed without the use of antibiotics, hormones, or artificial flavors or colors It is against the law to use hormones on any turkey, so even your frozen nonbranded will be hormone free.

Grass-fed turkeys are raised and allowed free access to feed outdoors.

Prepackaged turkeys have water added to keep the meat moist.

How do I figure out what size bird I need?

3. How do I figure out what size bird I need?
The rule is 1 pound of uncooked turkey per person. That gives you enough for everyone to have a generous serving, with leftovers for the weekend.

If you'll be cooking for a large crowd, consult our handy chart for the amounts you should buy.

What if most of my family wants white meat?

4. What if most of my family wants white meat?
Cook an additional turkey breast. If your family prefers dark meat, on the other hand, cook two small turkeys instead of one large one.
I bought two turkeys last year but used only one — the other is in my freezer. Can I cook it this year?

5. I bought two turkeys last year but used only one — the other is in my freezer. Can I cook it this year?
Properly wrapped poultry can be kept for up to one year if it is frozen below 0 degrees F. Keep whole uncooked turkeys in their original packaging when you freeze them.

How do I thaw a frozen turkey?

6. How do I thaw a frozen turkey?
The best way: Place frozen turkey (still in packaging) in a shallow pan on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours thawing time for every 4 to 5 pounds. A thawed bird can keep up to 4 days in the fridge.

Last-minute solution: Place a still-wrapped turkey in a large cooler or bowl and submerge in cold water. Allow 30 minutes of thawing time per pound and change the water every 30 minutes. Cook turkey immediately.

How can I stuff the bird safely?

7. How can I stuff the bird safely?
The best way: Bake stuffing separately in a shallow casserole in the oven alongside the turkey. If you prefer to stuff the bird, follow these guidelines:
  • Make sure the turkey is fully thawed.
  • Mix ingredients just before using and pack stuffing loosely into cavity to allow room for expansion.
  • Roast turkey about 30 minutes longer than an unstuffed one.
  • Check that the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees F.

What's the best roasting method?

8. What's the best roasting method?
Place the turkey (breast side up) on a rack in a large roasting pan in an oven preheated to 325 degrees F. If you don't have a rack, place 2 or 3 large carrots crosswise underneath the bird to ensure good heat circulation.

For moist meat, cover with foil from the start — but remove foil during the last hour of roasting for browner, crispier skin.

Basting with pan juices isn't necessary, but it will help with browning after the foil is removed.

Roast turkey 3 to 3 3/4 hours for a 12- to 14-pounder. (That's around 15 to 17 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird.)

Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test doneness. Turkey should be taken out of the oven when the thickest part of the thigh (next to but not touching the bone) reaches 175 degrees F and the breast reaches 165 degrees F. Keep in mind that temperature will rise 5 degrees to 10 degrees F upon standing.

If the turkey is fully cooked earlier than expected, wrap the entire bird and pan with foil and place a large bath towel on top to keep it hot and moist for 1 hour. Never leave at room temperature longer than 2 hours.

Everything I'm making will be done at different times. How can I get it all on the table at once?

9. Everything I'm making will be done at different times. How can I get it all on the table at once?
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold: Bacteria growth increases when food is kept between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F for more than two hours. Figure out which cold dishes and desserts can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator. When possible, use shallow baking dishes for side dishes — they can often fit on the lowest rack of the oven while the turkey is roasting. To keep food warm, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and wrap dishes with aluminum foil. The microwave can be used on less than full power to reheat smaller dishes that have been refrigerated.

We have a lot of leftovers this year. How long will they stay fresh?

10. We have a lot of leftovers this year. How long will they stay fresh?
Cooked poultry should be kept refrigerated for a maximum of three to four days; stuffing and gravy are good for one to two days. Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.


   Are you ready for Chicago's Grand Holiday Tradition?

   Santa Claus, Ronald McDonald and a cast of thousands bring you the 78th McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade, marching down State Street on Thanksgiving Day, November 24th.
   Whether you're moving your feet to the uplifting melodies of marching bands, gazing skyward at gigantic inflatable helium balloons making their way down the street, or waving at talented entertainers in decorative floats dispensing holiday cheer, there is fun to be had by all at the biggest holiday parade in Chicagoland.


   In 1934, the United States had been in the Great Depression for six years. Many leaders in Chicago searched for ways to boost the economy as well as public spirit. Walter Gregory, President of Chicago's State Street Council, proposed a Christmas parade to Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly in the hopes that it would improve the moods of Chicago residents. The Mayor agreed to the parade, being primarily interested in its potential to improve Chicago's economy.

   Chicago's first Christmas Parade was on State Street on December 7, 1934. Gregory and a costumed Santa Claus led the caravan, which was filled with toys and various merchandise from State Street businesses. As the city's government officials had hoped, the parade contributed to desirable growth in the local economy and 1934 held the city's largest holiday buying period since 1927. This was both exciting and surprising for the entire city. Not only was it the Depression, but that day held dangerously low temperatures throughout the entire state. Some areas of Illinois were as low as fourteen degrees below zero (fahrenheit).
   In 1935, the city was in even worse financial status as a result of the Depression. The city could not afford the expensive floats that were used the year before. However, the event had been so successful in the previous year that The State Street Council and the City of Chicago agreed to use an old trolley to pull the floats, as there were trolley tracks on State Street at the time.
   The parade underwent a leadership change in 1968, when the Mayor's Office of Special Events took over the responsibility of producing the holiday parade when the State Street Council determined that it could no longer fund the parade. Mayor Richard J. Daley assues the children of Chicago that Santa Claus will still be coming to town as usual.
   In 1969, the Chicago Tribune reported that more than 1.5 million people lined the parade route.
   In 1981, Over 100 Santas hand out over 10,000 balloons as hundreds of thousands watch the parade.

   The parade saw it's first title sponsor in 1984. The parade was renamed "The Ronald McDonald Children's Charities Parade." The route of the parade was also changed from State Street to Michigan Avenue. McDonald's was the title sponsor until 1989, and has had some sort of sponsorship with the parade to this day.
In 1990, the parade became known as "The Brach's Kid's Holiday Parade." Local confectionier Brach's Confections, Inc. assumed the title sponsorship of the parade until 1998.
   In 1998, Marshall Field's took over as title sponsor of the parade. "The Field's Jingle Elf Parade" was created and lasted through the 2001 parade. The Radio City Rockettes began a three-year run of opening the parade's television broadcast with a high-kicking routine. That same year, the parade started focusing on debuting several giant character balloons. Starting with Kermit the Frog and Billy Blazes, Chicago's Thanksgiving Parade has introduced more recognizable character balloons since this time than any other parade in the country.

   In 1999, Target joined Marshal Field's as the title sponsor. The parade is moved back to State Street, and for the first time, takes place on Thanksgiving Day.
   In 2001, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus became the parade's newest opening act – a position it still holds ot this day. This year, the circus introduces the first elephant to appear in the parade.
   The "Target Thanksgiving Parade" was formed in 2002, as Target takes over title sponsorship of the parade. In this year, CFA signed a five-year national syndication deal with ABC 7 Chicago. A partnership with CFA and The League of Chicago Theatres was formed as well, resulting in several local and national touring theatre companies performing vignettes of their current productions for the parade.
   In 2003, the parade was renamed to the "State Street Thanksgiving Parade." The parade presented its first-ever unit from Hawaii – E la Ka Hololio Me Ke Kahiau, a traditional equestrian group from Kailua, Hawaii.
   In 2004, the City of Zurich (Switzerland) Police Band makes its Chicago debut as the first ever international unit to appear in the parade.
   In 2006, the parade assumed the name "McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade," as the McDonald's Owners of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana and the McDonald's Corporation announce a two-year title sponsorship of the parade. Close to a half-million spectators line Chicago's State Street for one of the warmest Thanskgiving mornings in memory.

   In 2007, WGN-TV and CFA announce that the station will broadcast the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade live and in high definition on WGN 9 Chicago. Available in 72 million homes at that time, Superstation WGN will also air the parade live across the nation. This establishes the parade as one of three parades in the country to be covered live, in its entirety, on a national television broadcast.
   In 2008, the parade celebrates its 75th step-off with a three hour live broadcast. The first hour of the parade features the best in local theatre and culture, with the rest of the parade featuring the traditional, forward motion parade.
   In 2010, the parade announced local-born actress Jennifer Beals as its Grand Marshal. The parade reached a record high 3.75 million viewers across the country. Over 350,000 spectators braved the elements and attended the parade in person on State Street.

The different names of "Chicago's Grand Holiday Tradition"

  • 1934: Christmas Caravan
On State Street from Wacker Drive to Congress Parkway
  • 1935–1983: State Street Christmas Parade
  • 1984: McDonald's Children's Charity Parade
parade route changed as well, now on Michigan Avenue From Balbo Avenue to Wacker Drive
  • 1990: The Brach's Kids Holiday Parade (Brach's Confections)
  • 1998: The Field's Jingle Elf Parade (sponsored by Marshall Field's)
  • 1999: The Field's Jingle Elf Parade Presented by Target & Marshall Field's
parade route and date changed as well, now on Thanksgiving Day and back on State Street, moving north from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street
  • 2002: Target Thanksgiving Parade (Target Corporation)
  • 2003: State Street Thanksgiving Parade
  • 2006: McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade


   Every year, more than 100 different groups, otherwise known as units, walk down the parade route. These units are made up of Giant Inflatables, Specialty Units, Equestrian Units, Marching Bands, and Floats.

Teddy Turkey

   Teddy Turkey is the fun-loving, plump mascot of the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade. Teddy Turkey made his first live appearance in the 2009 parade. Teddy also is known to make appearances throughout the city, helping to spread the holiday spirit – year round – to everyone he meets.


   The McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade uses primarily helium balloons, which have the benefit of floating in the air. In recent years, a helium shortage has caused several parades to cut down or cease their helium use altogether. However, The producers of this parade have yet to express any plans to move to cold air balloons; only one or two cold air balloons are used every year. Chicago's Thanksgiving Parade is the city's only event that features inflatable balloons every year.

 Parade school

   Every year, the producers of the parade  hold a parade training school to ensure sufficient preparation in several of the volunteers. For many years the Chicago Festival Association, the parade's producers, have been partnered with the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago, and hold the day's proceedings there. The main attraction and section of the school is for the balloon handlers, a name given to the volunteers who balance the giant inflatables as they go down the parade route.  All volunteers are treated to a sneak preview of the parade. 2010's parade school included performances from Miss Illinois and the 501st Midwest Garrison. Honorary Grand Marshal Ronald McDonald also gave a motivational speech and emceed the event.

   Although the producers of the parade organize and run the Parade School primarily as a means to train the volunteers so they're ready on the day of the parade, they have started to see a consistent and alternative pattern. A great number of veteran volunteers return to the training every year because of their enjoyment of the Parade School itself, forcing the parade organizers to have more preparations at the ready.

 Balloon inflation

   The balloons for the parade begin the inflation process before sunrise to the south of the beginning of the parade route. It takes several people to fill each balloon with helium or cold air.

The Parade Today

   In 2000, the Chicago Festival Association was given the rights to produce the Field's Jingle Elf Parade by the City of Chicago.  Before that time, the parade had been produced for several years by the Chicago Christmas Parade Association.  In 1999 the Chicago Christmas Parade Association's last year brought a significant change, as they reverted the parade route back to State Street.  The parade had previously been on Michigan Avenue.
Many followers took a great deal of pride that the parade had returned to State Street. However, because of the positive effect that the Michigan Avenue parade route had on the city's economy—bringing many potential holiday shoppers into the many world-famous stores on Michigan Avenue--many individuals voiced great criticism. After all, the Greater State Street Council had made it very clear that no State Street businesses would be open for business on Thanksgiving Day.  The Chicago Festival Association responded that although the parade was originally created to stimulate economic growth, the parade now primarily exists as a community celebration.   In any case, as the parade has made powerful and surprising growth in only a few short years, Chicago's economy is continuing to see the parade's growing benefits. Hence, criticism about its location change has long-since passed.

   Since that time, the organization has made many more significant changes, and today the parade is capturing much more attention. In 2002, the Chicago Festival Association changed the parade format from a Christmas or often broadly-labeled holiday parade to the Thanksgiving parade that it is today. In only a few years, the number of spectators on the streets have increased by hundreds of thousands. The parade is also given a live national broadcast. This is generally considered expedient growth, as the parade was available in no more than a handful of cities only two years ago.
   Since 2006, McDonald's has been partnered with the Chicago Festival Association as the parade's title sponsor. Although it isn't publicly known how long McDonald's plans to be the parade's title sponsor, they have frequently and publicly expressed great excitement to sponsor such a quickly growing and greatly loved event.
   In 2007, the Chicago Festival Association recruited the pop rock group Plain White T's to perform in the parade. In the last couple of years, the band had reached great success and their single Hey There Delilah had been number one on the Billboard Charts for two weeks. Despite the unseasonably cold temperatures, the Plain White T's agreed to do a free performance in the parade, which was no doubt greatly because of the parade's quickly growing ratings along with the event's first ever national broadcast.
   In 2008, the parade was on its 75th year. That year's parade was broadcasted for three hours, from 8 am to 11 am CST on WGN-TV9 and WGN-DT9.1 in Chicago, and WGN America nationwide. This makes the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade one of only two parades (the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade being the other) to be broadcast in its entirety to a nationwide audience. 2008 also featured Grand Marshal Jennie Finch, WWE Superstar CM Punk and the Harlem Globetrotters.
   In 2010, Grand Marshal Jennifer Beals, Honorary Grand Marshal Ronald McDonald, and Santa Claus were featured in a three-hour entertainment extravaganza. The parade featured the top marching bands in the country, including powerhouses Marist High School, Proviso East High School, Houston County High School and more. The parade featured the debut of several giant balloons as well, including Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone, and Scooby Doo.


The Christmas Book



Dancing Fountains from WET Fantasy Gift

The company behind some of the world's most famous fountains will bring its magical waterworks to private residences. Founded in 1983 in Sun Valley, California, WET is the foremost pioneer in creating state-of-the-art fountain technology. In displays that include The Fountains of Bellagio and the world's largest fountain, The Dubai Fountain, WET has mesmerized people with the beauty of moving water. Now, for the first time ever, WET will create a personal scale fountain showcasing two of its amazing underwater robotic nozzles dancing as a couple, just for you. You will delight in the joyful movements made by the elegant duo as they whirl, twirl, sweep, and bow—sometimes in unison, sometimes as counterpoints, but always with engaging grace. These beautiful fountains will thrill onlookers for a lifetime, while their purchase will touch the lives of hundreds. NM will donate $10,000 of the proceeds to Water.org, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries.

Online Only Experience: Guest Choreographer at The Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas

      A second opportunity by WET will grant one person the opportunity to become one of the very few people in the world who has created a masterpiece for The Fountains of Bellagio. This once-in-a-lifetime experience will allow you to collaborate with the extreme choreographers of WET and co-create a piece that will be played and replayed for tens of thousands of Las Vegas fans. It begins with a trip to WET's corporate headquarters in Sun Valley, California, where you'll tour The Campus with founder and CEO Mark Fuller. You'll visit the company's secret Idea Playground and get a rare view of some of their upcoming work with water, fire, and any other wonders their team of designers and scientists can imagine. You will then work with WET's principal choreographer to select a musical piece appropriate for The Fountains and take a crash course in VirtualWET™, the proprietary software that simulates the movements of the waters as the choreography develops. Next, you'll fly to Las Vegas for a private tour of The Fountains' vast mechanical room, and before your show makes its debut, you will dine at one of the Bellagio's finest restaurants, enjoy its celebrated "O" show by Cirque du Soleil®, and unwind in its Presidential or Chairman's Suite. As with the home installation, this experience will not only captivate your audiences but will also touch the lives of many. NM will donate $5,000 of the proceeds to Water.org, the aforementioned U.S.-based nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries.      

Dancing Fountains from WET

Guest Choreographer at The Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas


Neiman Marcus-Edition Hacker-Craft Speedboat Fantasy Gift
Chart a glamorous course in what is considered by boating enthusiasts worldwide to be the gold standard of pleasure boating. Entirely handbuilt in the USA, this 27-foot, solid mahogany wonder is the result of 1,400 hours of meticulous craftsmanship. Underneath 15 coats of handbrushed varnish and premium mahogany sits a glistening Mercury Marine 8.2 High Output 425-horsepower engine-CE, also compliant for use in Europe. A custom-designed bow burgee, gold-leafed waterline, underwater lighting, and deep violet bottom are among the rich details exclusive to the NM edition, which will feature the name you bestow it in gleaming 23-karat gold leafing. The ultra-posh, customized interior includes cream-colored seating with purple piping, a monogrammed humidor, topnotch refrigerator, GPS, and premium stereo sound system. No detail is left to chance—not the embroidered button-down shirts for you and your crew or the sterling silver plaque that graces the cockpit, notifying passengers that they are aboard the Neiman Marcus-Edition Hacker-Craft. Also included are the all-important sea trial, commissioning, and instructions in operation and maintenance. Lastly, you can board knowing that a portion of your purchase is benefiting a great cause. For every speedboat sold, NM will make a $3,000 donation to the Double H Ranch, a program that provides year-round support for families with children affected by life-threatening illnesses. Cofounded by Paul Newman and Charles R. Wood, the ranch offers unique camp experiences that are memorable, exciting, fun, and empowering. Edition of 10.
Neiman Marcus-Edition Hacker-Craft Speedboat


Daytrip to Stone Barns Farm Fantasy Gift
This idyllic farm is located just 25 miles north of Manhattan in the countryside of Pocantico Hills, New York. The lush 80-acre complex features rolling pastures and cultivated fields, where farmers raise livestock and grow a lush bounty of crops. Its mission is simple: Improve the way Americans eat and farm. Within this picturesque compound resides the critically hailed restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which offers multiple-course farmers' feasts prepared from the day's harvest. If all of this sounds too delicious to resist, then you'll love the experiences we have planned for you—two of which are available only to our online customers. 

Gather six friends and head to the farm, where your group will participate in a hands-on learning experience. Farmer Jack Algiere will host an "edible garden lesson" and help participants plot their own home-based garden. Next, you'll receive a cooking demonstration from Chef-Kitchen Director Adam Kaye, followed by a four-course lunch featuring the best seasonal ingredients. The purchase of this package benefits the nonprofit Stone Barns Center with 100% of the proceeds.         

Luxury Weekend for Two
If a single day simply isn't long enough to absorb all this farm has to offer, join us for an unforgettable weekend. It begins with a full-access, behind-the scenes tour of the farm followed by a hands-on cooking lesson using farm-fresh ingredients. Later, you and your guest will enjoy dinner prepared by executive chef Dan Barber at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. To be sure the meal is truly memorable, you will receive a handwritten keepsake recipe card recording your menu. Your accommodations for this experience will be at the exquisite Ritz-Carlton, Westchester. As with the daytrip, the purchase of this package benefits the nonprofit Stone Barns Center with 100% of the proceeds.         

"Build A Hive"
Honeybees are one of the building blocks of verdant, sustainable agriculture, and their presence is vital to the farm at Stone Barns. If you can't make a trip to the farm yourself, you can still make your presence felt by giving a gift that will help keep the honeybees happy and productive. In return, as a symbol of what your generosity will make possible, you will receive a jar of honey as well as a certificate of thanks printed on plantable seed-paper.                

Daytrip to Stone Barns Farm
Luxury Weekend for Two
"Build a Hive"


Assouline Custom-Built Library Fantasy Gift
The publishing house renowned for its beautiful volumes and cultural perspective is offering the ultimate enriching addition to your home: a bespoke library. From floor to ceiling and wall to wall, every nuance of this room will reflect the company's brilliant style—through custom carpeting, objets d'art, and beautifully framed prints—as well as your intellectual viewpoint. When the decor is complete, the shelves will be lined with a one-of-a-kind Assouline collection, consisting of 250 current and vintage volumes in the genre of your choice. You'll enjoy published works from the world's foremost artists, photographers, writers, architects, interior designers, and fashion and culinary masters. Get ready to ditch your high-tech tablet and kick back with a real book in the comfort of your very own literary haven. With this purchase, NM will donate $2,500 to First Book, an award-winning nonprofit organization that provides access to new books for children in need throughout the U.S. and Canada.        
Assouline Custom-Built Library


International Flower Show Tour Arranged by JetWay Private Air Fantasy Gift
Botany buffs rejoice—we've handpicked an extraordinary vacation just for you. Round up nine friends and head to Europe's most celebrated flower shows, organized by the exclusive private jet-chartering company, JetWay Private Air. Your journey begins May 12, 2012, where you'll hop across the pond in first-class style on a Gulfstream G-IV—with a JetWay representative as your group's guide, concierge, and wine aficionado. Your tour will begin in Merges, Switzerland, at The Tulip Festival, where Lake Geneva provides a sparkling backdrop to 300 varieties of some 100,000 tulips. Later, rest and relax in luxury at the Hotel Lausanne Palace & Spa. Next, you'll fly to Athens, Greece, home of the Kifissia Flower Show, a lavish display of more than 2,000 native and foreign plant species. After a lovely promenade, enjoy superior accommodations at Hotel Grand Bretagne. Your next stop: Avignon, France, where the Altera Rosa Festival awaits. Famed for its 1,000-plus heady blooms, the garden boasts an extensive collection of established rose breeds, which comingle with 30 new species introduced each year. Afterward, head to the Hotel d'Europe Avignon, where you'll kick up your walking shoes in exquisite style. Finally, you'll visit London, England's renowned Chelsea Flower Show, site of The Daily Telegraph Garden, an award-winning illustration of how to gracefully blend traditional and modern horticultural design. Later that night, you'll bask in the beauty of the historic Goring Hotel. This opulent package includes two nights and three days at each destination, gourmet in-flight meals, private ground transportation, and flower show tickets. With the purchase of this memorable excursion, NM will donate $5,000 to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, an organization devoted to increasing the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes.

International Flower Show Tour Arranged by JetWay Private Air


Dream Folly Fantasy Gift
Ever wish you could cross your arms, bat your eyes, and escape to a serene place all your own? Well, your wish is our command. Our "Dream Folly" is inspired by the classic 1960s TV show I Dream of Jeannie. Starting with a sturdy 18-foot-diameter yurt—a structure invented centuries ago by ancient Mongols—"Dream Folly" is the ideal simulation of a genie's posh bottle. The purveyor of this haven is Rainier Yurts. Founded over 100 years ago, the Seattle-based company first provided tents and camping supplies for prospectors headed north for the Alaskan Gold Rush. Today, many would agree that procuring your own "Dream Folly" is the equivalent of striking gold. The structure consists of a mixed-grain interior lattice system, a Sunbrella® exterior lining, and a plexiglass door and dome. The roof is made from vinyl-coated polyester with an acrylic top coat for extra durability. But it's the interior that goes beyond your wildest, most decadent dreams. Let's start with the pièces de résistance: a bevy of one-of-a-kind, down-filled pillows from renowned designer Rebecca Vizard. For the uninitiated, Vizard built a workshop in her rural hometown of St. Joseph, Louisiana, where she and a group of craftsmen create these plush accessories—all by hand—from the finest textiles. To give you an idea of the remarkable workmanship, artisans meticulously remove embroidery and trim from antique garments, tapestries, and scrollwork, dating as far back as the eighteenth century. These exquisite "appliqués" are then hand-embroidered onto velvet cases and accented by sequins, beading, and hand-bordered metallic galon and corded trim. In addition to the pillows, Vizard designed every detail of this space and selected colors to evoke the bubbles of a warm, soothing bath. The room's other noteworthy embellishments include linen wall coverings by Coleman Taylor Handpainted Textiles in Montgomery, Alabama, and a custom, handcrafted crystal chandelier from New Orleans-based Julie Neill Designs. Since we're in the business of granting wishes, you can choose a different color scheme and decor from the ones depicted here. But why bother? There's no improving upon perfection. Simply ask for this dream getaway, and we'll have it installed on your estate grounds in the blink of an eye. For every retreat sold, Neiman Marcus will donate $5,000 to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The "Dream Folly" stands 12'5" tall with an 18' diameter.

Dream Folly


Johnnie Walker Private Scotch Tasting Fantasy Gift
In 1820 in Kilmarnock, Scotland, an enterprising young man named Johnnie Walker created powerful scotch blends that remain unrivaled in taste to this day. Now you can experience the smoothness of these perfectly aged libations during The Ultimate Scotch Tasting—your chance to host a truly exceptional gathering in the comfort of your own home. You and 20 guests will be entertained by an authentic Scottish bagpiper, while a Master of Whisky relays the history and palatable attributes of the five premium marques in the Johnnie Walker® portfolio: the Blue, Black, Gold, Red, and Green Labels. You needn't lift more than a snifter, as a top-notch event planner will be on hand to orchestrate the entire evening. Guests will leave with a custom-engraved bottle of Johnnie's premium-blend Blue Label for their personal enjoyment. The best part? 100% of the proceeds from this tax-deductible event will go directly to amfAR™, The Foundation for AIDS Research—now that's something to raise your glass to! Five available.

Johnnie Walker Private Scotch Tasting


Tom Burr Table-Tennis Table Fantasy Gift
Noted artist Tom Burr has showcased his tremendous talents in exhibitions at top museums and galleries around the world. Now he brings his modern aesthetic to your home in the form of this beautifully rendered table-tennis table, which also doubles as a contemporary work of art. Originally, the game of table tennis was favored by 19th-century British society before staging its most recent comeback among hipsters, families, and serious competitors alike. Just one summertime visit to Manhattan's Bryant Park, where a lively thwacking sound can be heard amid laughter and glee, confirms this theory. But you needn't travel to NYC to join in the fun. This limited-edition table, perfectly sculpted from a distinctive choice in material—black rubber—turns ordinary sporting equipment into the sublime. As Burr notes, "I like the notion of rubber. It has low-key glamour, like that of a sports car's bumpers and guards. And, quite simply, rubber makes the balls bounce—more bounce for your buck." It's a win/win situation: For each table sold, Neiman Marcus will donate $2,500 to Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation's mentoring leader in changing children's lives for the better, forever. The table measures 9'L x 5'W x 30"H. Call 1-877-9NM-GIFT for more details. Limited edition of 10.
Tom Burr Table-Tennis Table


The Ferrari FF, bespoke for Neiman Marcus

  • 651-horsepower V12 engine
  • Proprietary, lightweight 4WD system (4RM™)
  • 0 to 60 mph in less than 3.7 seconds
  • Top speed of over 200 mph
  • 7-speed, dual-clutch transmission for seamless automatic shifting
  • Production limited to just 10 Ferrari FFs, bespoke for Neiman Marcus
  • Each car identified by a numbered interior plaque and unique exterior color called "Grigio Caldo"
  • Interior features soft-touch semi-aniline leather with matching custom luggage set
  • Comfortably seats four adults
  • Class-leading 16 cubic feet of trunk space
  • Assurance of Ferrari's complimentary seven-year maintenance plan
  • Enrollment in the 2012 Ferrari Winter Driving Experience in Aspen, Colorado
  • The 2012 Ferrari FF, bespoke for Neiman Marcus, is priced at $395,000*
    The Ferrari FF