Truly experience the holidays

IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, there are more people on your holiday gift list than ideas about what to give them. Then I stress, overbuy and question the gifts I’ve selected. While tangible gifts often bring joy, there are times when offering an experience may be more meaningful. Last year, my husband gave me a yoga retreat, which I just returned from. It opened me to the possibilities of giving experiences. The gift was more than deepening my yoga skills in a beautiful location. It included the months of anticipation before the event, time on my calendar for just me and meeting new friends. From that experience, I created lasting memories and learned life lessons. It was a thoughtfully selected gift that will last forever. Our staff was inspired to revamp our own gift guide to include experiential ideas in all price points (page 20) with something to wrap. And if it’s been a minute since you’ve spent a whole day in downtown Decatur, we have a plan for a perfect day of shopping, savoring and self-care (page 7). We’ll never tell if you “r and d” (research and duplicate) these ideas and need to hide this issue from your special someone. The holidays wouldn’t be the same without sharing our homes with people we love. We went out of the box and back to nature with décor and traditions from experts at Les Fleurs Partout and Trinity Mercantile & Design (page 16). I’m excited to take in the destressing tips from our wellness advisor, Wendy Watkins (page 28), on choosing carefully from the wonderful events available (page 32). The holiday season is also a time to reconnect with the community. Act intentionally and truly experience the holidays by volunteering with a local organization. Seek inspiration from Amaya Bennett, a Decatur High School student who’s doing more in our community than I could even dream of. I’m sure you’ll be as inspired as I am (page 31). Let’s really experience this holiday

Natalie Gregory

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Mark Your Calendar

A Christmas Carol

November 1 - December 24

The beloved Dickens classic comes alive in this Broadway-scale production with beautiful live music and an all-star Atlanta cast. On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge, an old man well-known for his miserly ways, is visited by ghosts offering him a chance at a better future. See the Alliance’s 30th annual production of A Christmas Carol at its new home, The Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre. Tickets at

Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden Lights Holiday Lights

November 16 - January 11

The electrical extravaganza features spectacular light displays throughout the garden. Don’t miss the new high-tech Nature's Wonders, illuminating the world's natural phenomena through countless strands of synchronized dancing lights strung high over Storza Woods. Explore the Walk of Flames and Tunnel of Light along with favorites such as the Orchestral Orbs, Glittering Galaxy, Radiant Rainforest and Model Trains that continue to make the exhibition a must-see holiday tradition. Tickets at


Winter Wonderland

November 22 - January 12

Prepare to ooh and aah over two floors of twinkling, decorated trees showcasing celebrations around the world in the enchanting Winter Wonderland exhibition at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Twinkling with lights, glimmering with color and shining with a variety of cultural objects, a variety of decorated trees and displays recognize the diversity of celebrations, holidays, traditions and events from around the world. Tickets at

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

Friday, November 29, 7:30pm

A holiday mash-up for the whole family, the Hip Hop Nutcracker is back and better than ever. Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, enjoy a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky's timeless music. A unique and joyful event, this evening-length production is performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, and a violinist. A highlight is MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop's founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set. Tickets at

Santa on the Square at Small Business Saturday

Saturday, November 30, 10am - 3pm

Join Santa for milk and cookies on the Decatur square. The event is free, but reservations are requested so there are enough cookies, milk and cocoa for all. Be sure to bring your gift list, as there are special perks for supporting local businesses. As part of “Shop Small,” bring your purchases to the tent on the square to have them expertly gift-wrapped at no charge. Also, bring your retail receipts totaling $200 or more to the tent or the Decatur Visitors Center to receive a free $20 gift certificate from one of many local restaurants. Find more details at

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

November 30 - December 1

Cirque Dreams Holidaze lights up the season with its popular and electrifying stage spectacular. This critically acclaimed extravaganza is a Broadway musical and new cirque adventure wrapped into the ultimate holiday gift for the entire family. More than 300 imaginative costumes, 20 world-class astonishing acts, the finest singers, original music and seasonal favorites celebrate Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s in a two-hour breathtaking spectacle. Tickets at

Tree Lighting

Thursday, December 5, 7pm

Join your neighbors on the plaza for this Decatur tradition. Enjoy holiday carols, hot cocoa and “snow.” At 7 p.m. sharp, Santa himself flips the switch to light the tree on the eastern end of the MARTA plaza (Church Street side). Details at

Bonfire & Roast on the Square

Thursday, December 12, 7-8pm

Roast a marshmallow (or two) around a roaring bonfire with neighbors and friends. Register for this free event at so there will be plenty of marshmallows for everyone. Event is hosted by the Decatur Business Association and supervised by the Decatur Fire Department. Details at

Decatur Holiday Marketplace

December 13 & 14

Now in its 28th year, this annual tradition benefits the Clairemont Elementary School PTA. Each year, thousands of visitors visit Clairemont Elementary School and shop for handmade goods from over one hundred regional artisans and crafters while also enjoying local food and live music. Details at

Avondale Estates Christmas Tour of Homes

Sunday, December 15

Tour the town during the 27th Annual Avondale Estates Christmas Tour of Homes. Park at Avondale First Baptist Church and catch the trolley or bus for a two-hour tour of six homes on Sunday, December 15. Sponsored by the Avondale Swim and Tennis Club, afternoon and evening trolleys are available. Get advance tickets at Finders Keepers Furnishings, Garage Door Studio or Avondale City Hall. Reserve trolley ahead by contacting Margaret Lunsford at Details at

Druid Hills Dance: Home for the Holidays

Saturday, December 21, 2pm and 6pm

Join Druid Hills Dance Center for a festive performance of holiday-themed dances telling the story of Clara and her magical journey. Watch toys come to life and snowflakes dance through the forest while celebrating various holiday cultures from around the globe. Tickets and more at

Grand Menorah Lighting

Sunday, December 29, 6pm - 8pm

Join in the Chanukah celebration on the Decatur square and participate in the festival of lights. Enjoy hot drinks, latkes, music and photos with Mr. Dreidel. has the details.

Holiday 2019 DL Exclusives

Great Gifts from Simple to Splurge

Happy Everything!