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Holiday season is a magical time of year. Warmth and holiday movies and family and a general, pervading sense of mirth make for a potion that can rejuvenate even the darkest spirits. But let's face it – capturing that holiday spirit can be tricky when you're in a place like sunny Florida, where the temperatures rarely dip below 50 degrees and snow seems more like something from a book rather than an actual meteorological event.

Don't fret, though. There are still plenty of ways to kindle your holiday spirit even in a state that's more at home in summer than winter, and we're here to share them.

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Gainesville, FL is no stranger to holiday spirit! The home to the University of Florida, Gainesville and its residents don't slack when it comes to celebrating Christmas with ornate displays and festive atmosphere. Here's where you can see the best Christmas lights in Gainesville, FL.

Butler Town Center Friday Night Lights

Every Friday night through December 18, you can catch a live lighting of the Butler Town Center's Christmas tree. The event features special sales, letters to Santa, giveaways, and more. You can even tune in live on Facebook or Instagram if you can't make it in person!

Celebrate D Holidays at Depot Park

Venture out to Depot Park for a stunning light display featuring more than 200,000 LED lights. Wander through the festive wonderland while enjoying tasty snacks and drinks provided by local vendors. The best part? You can visit any day until December 30.

Celebration Pointe Holiday Lights

One of Gainesville's more popular destinations, Celebration Pointe, has its impressive holiday light display hanging until December 31. Chances are pretty good you'll be visiting Celebration Pointe anyway, so why not enjoy the festive lighting while you're there?

Lights on 20th Avenue

Lights on 20th Avenue is the masterful work of one man and his family. Logan Euler, a self-proclaimed Christmas lights maniac, has been creating this extravagant display of lights, decorations, and music for years, and the show only gets better each year.

31st Annual Duck Pond Lighting at North Florida Regional Medical Center

For the 31st year in a row, the North Florida Regional Medical Center kicks off the holiday season with its 90,000+ light ceremony! Unlike previous years, the event will be broadcast virtually as opposed to an in-person ceremony. Guests are still invited to visit the campus and see the display for themselves throughout the month of December, however.


Never let it be said Florida's east coast doesn't know how to celebrate Christmas. That goes double for Space Coast and Treasure Coast. The two coastal regions love the holidays, and you can see how seriously they take it when you visit these Christmas light displays in Space Coast and Treasure Coast.

PSL in Lights

Port St. Lucie's fourth-annual holiday lights contest returns in 2019. Through January 5, residents are encouraged to dress up their home in its finest Christmas decorations and enter the running to be named the city's most festive house. But if you want to just enjoy the over-the-top decorations, the city makes it easy; all the participating homes are compiled into a map, making it easy to plan your very own Christmas light tour.

Holiday Lights Spectacular in Fort Pierce

Fort Pierce goes all-out for the holidays with several celebrations, including an annual Christmas parade and a lighting ceremony for the city's beautiful Christmas tree. For our money, though, the standout attraction is the Holiday Lights Spectacular in Marina Square. The Dancing Palms are the centerpiece here; more than 100,000 Christmas lights strung around the palm trees flash in symphony with Christmas hits, creating a magical experience.

Wamsley Christmas Light Show

You may have seen this Palm Bay attraction on the news before, but you won't understand the magic until you've seen it in person. For the eighth year, the Wamsley Christmas Light Show offers one of the best Christmas light displays in Florida. You'll be treated to a stunning show of lights, decorations, and more, all synchronized to Christmas tunes pumped into your car stereo. It's a unique show you don't want to miss!

Garden of Lights

Every Friday and Saturday through the end of the year, Fort Pierce residents can see the Heathcote Botanical Gardens in an entirely new light – literally. The gardens become reformed into a dazzling holiday light festival, as sparkling blue rivers give way to kaleidoscopes of colorful flower beds, potting benches, and more. Visitors also enjoy refreshments, entertainment, and special appearances from Santa himself.

Space Coast Lightfest

The Space Coast Lightfest returns to Melbourne bigger, better, and brighter than before. As one of the best Christmas light displays in Space Coast, this attraction transports you to a winter wonderland as you drive through a sprawling, mile-long display of shimmering lights and animated displays. By the time you reach the climax – a 200-ft. tunnel exploding with festive light – you'll be overcome with holiday joy.    


Santa's a busy guy this time of year. He's got billions of homes to visit and only one night to do it. In addition to racking up an inconceivable amount of SkyMiles®, Santa's going to work up a major appetite. And anyone who knows the big guy knows only one thing can sate his hunger: cookies. Sugar cookies, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, crazy cookies with bacon – Santa won't discriminate, and neither should you. Here are 10 incredible cookie recipes you should make for Santa this holiday season (or, you know, just make them for your family).

Chewy Chocolate Chip - Tasty

The chocolate chip cookie is an undisputed classic among the cookie ranks, which makes this recipe for a perfectly chewy batch of chocolate chip cookies a classic among classics.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Cookies – This Silly Girl's Kitchen

Dana Devolk, creator of This Silly Girl's Kitchen, calls these cookies "snickerdoodles on steroids." If that doesn't have you sold, then this might not be the blog post for you.

S'more Sandwich Cookies – Taste of Home

Want to really blow Santa's (or your family's) mind? Serve up a plate of these beauties, which reimagine a summertime classic into a unique cookie sandwich.

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies – Picky Palate

How do you make the already perfect cinnamon roll utterly transcendent? You turn it into a cookie. That's right; it's a cinnamon roll cookie. Enough said.

Bacon Chocolate Chip – Knead to Cook

It may sound counter intuitive, but a little dash of salt on your sweets goes a long way. In fact, why stop at salt? Mix some bacon into your chocolate chip cookies and become Santa's favorite. Plus, you can even eat these at breakfast. They've got bacon.

Frosted Red Velvet Cookies – Taste of Home

Red velvet is a popular flavor for a reason, and these cookies demonstrate that reason wonderfully. Moist and rich with a perfect layer of frosting, these red velvet cookies are more than just fun to look at.

Brown Butter Ginger Cookies with Mascarpone Cream – Not Without Salt

These cake-like cookies have the perfect warm, doughy texture to combat winter's icy grasp. The mascarpone cream adds a perfect touch of refreshing sweetness.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies – Whipper Berry

Sweet, tender, and chewy are words that immediately come to mind when describing these lemon cookies, but how about we come up with a few more? Decadent. Amazing. Refreshing. Life-changing.

Cake Mix Cookie Bars – Blue Cheese Bungalow

Before you scoff at the thought of using boxed cake mix, consider two things. One, these are some of the easiest cookies you'll ever make. And two, they're super delicious. Plus you can make it holiday-themed by using red and green candy coated chocolate pieces!

Cranberry Cookies with Browned Butter Glaze – Taste of Home

If you get a little overloaded with chocolate, why not give these cranberry cookies a spin? The browned butter glaze ensures you get the richness you crave, while the presence of fruit will make you feel a little better after downing eight in a row!


Everyone loves a well-decorated house for the holidays. Achieving that look, however, can be a chore depending on how you approach it. Luckily, there are a lot of inventive ways to get your house holiday-ready without smothering your house in thousands of lights and shutting down the local power grid a la Clark Griswold. Whether it's your first holiday season in your new home or you're looking for some new ideas, here are 12 easy Christmas decorating tips.

Use a White as Your Base Color

Green and red may be the go-to Christmas colors, but using white as your central colors allows you to truly capture the wintry feel of the season. Plus it makes your other colors pop more dramatically. Think white tree dressings, white ornaments, and maybe even some fake snow.

Utilize All Your Space

Your living room will of course get plenty of decorating love, but it's the holiday season – spread that love around! Add decorations to places you wouldn't expect to see them, like the entryway.

Presents Can Be Décor, Too

After spending hours wrapping them in beautiful wrapping paper, why just keep your presents hidden away under the tree? Popping those delicately packaged beauties around your house make for cute and unique décor.

Give Artificial Trees a Try

We know, we know. This one might be considered heresy in some homes, but hear us out! Artificial trees provide all the warm holiday vibes as a real tree with none of the mess, and they're usually easier to decorate thanks to their bendable limbs.

Pine Candles, Seriously

This one is doubly important if you go artificial with your tree. The pine scent is essential to nailing the spirit of the season, and pine candles allow you to get it in any room.

Nature is Your Friend

Utilizing the existing beauty of nature in your decorations is an easy way to set your house apart. When hanging your outdoor lights, don't just stick to your house. Drape lights on trees, bushes, birdfeeders, and other landscaping features to make your whole property shine. And when you want to create a warm, naturalistic atmosphere with your indoor decorations, incorporate Mother Nature there, too. Pinecones are a natural way to add texture to your décor, and they're plentiful during this time of year.

Go Green

Natural greenery is another easy way to liven up your decorations. Just about any craft store should have an abundance of garlands, wreaths, and other greenery. Add this to your mantle, drape it from your curtains, or just about anywhere you're decorating for a refreshing pop of color.

Think Outside the Box

Of course you'll hang your ornaments and put up the wreaths, but think outside the box to really take your decorations to the next level. Got a nice metal watering pot you use in the summer? It'll make a perfect container for a bouquet of wintry flowers! Think of what else you could use around your house to add some variety to your décor.

Remember to Look Up

Light fixtures go mostly unnoticed until they need a new bulb. Give your guests a reason to look up by decorating your light fixtures! A wrapping of garland or even a few ornaments can make a big difference.

Mail's Here!

While you're decorating outside, take some extra material and spruce up your mailbox. It's a great way to catch your neighbors' eyes and bring some holiday cheer to your local postal worker, too!

Candy Canes are for More than Eating

Candy canes are a Christmastime staple, but these little treats make for a handy piece of décor, too. Hang them on your tree, hook them on a decorative candy dish, or mix them in with your garlands and wreaths throughout the house.

Cookies for Santa

Everyone knows to get the best gifts, you've got to bake some delicious cookies for the big man in red himself. And while Santa sure loves a plate of cute Christmas cookies, it can also add a sense of homeliness to your décor – and your guests will love snacking on them, too! Just don't tell Santa.


Is there anything that says Christmas quite like getting the family dressed up and paying a visit to jolly old St. Nick? We don't think so, which is why we've compiled this list of where to see Santa Claus in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Whether it's a classic photo op in the mall or breakfast with Santa at a local restaurant, there are plenty of ways to make Christmas memories this December.

Where to see Santa in Jacksonville

11/2-12/24: Photos with Santa at the Avenues Mall

Time to put the finishing touches on those Christmas lists and get your best sweater on, because Santa has his sleigh parked at the Avenues Mall from now until Christmas Eve. Head here to check his schedule and reserve your time!

12/15-12/16: Seven Bridges Breakfast with Santa

Head to Seven Bridges in Jacksonville and grab breakfast with Santa! In addition to a tasty meal, kids get a gift bag of goodies and a personal visit with Santa. Professional photo services will also be available.

12/15: Embassy Suites Jacksonville Breakfast with Santa

From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Santa will be at the Embassy Suites in the Southside/Mandarin area of Jacksonville. In addition to enjoying a tasty breakfast buffet, you can bring Toys for Tots donations – and children 12 and under who donate a new, unwrapped toy get in for free.

11/10-12/24: Photos with Santa at the St. Johns Town Center

Santa will be waiting between Tory Burch and Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics. Don't miss your chance to meet the big guy!

Select Dates in December: Santa at WinterFEST

Every year, fun park Adventure Landing transforms into WinterFEST, a frosty destination with ice skating and a 130-foot ice slide. And on select dates throughout December, Santa himself will be onsite! Check here to see when Santa is at the park and plan your trip to WinterFEST.

12/3-12/21: Photos with Santa at the Orange Park Mall

Santa's set up shop at the Orange Park Mall in front of JCPenney through December 21. Reserve your spot here and ensure you don't miss out on your chance to give Santa your Christmas list in person!

12/1-12/29: Santa Claus in the Courtyard, Beaches Town Center

Who says Santa doesn't like the beach? You'll find him at the Beaches Town Center every Saturday before Christmas from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where to see Santa in St. Augustine

12/8-12/23: Conch House Breakfast with Santa

Arts and crafts, delicious breakfast buffet, and a visit with Santa – this is what you'll get at Conch House's Breakfast with Santa event. Call them at (904) 829-8646 to reserve your time. Tables will fill up fast!

11/23-12/23: Santa at the St. Augustine Outlets

Head to the food court at the St. Augustine Outlets for a free visit with Santa. Make a donation to the local organizations acting as Santa's helpful elves and you might even find a spot on the nice list!

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