Have a Magical Holiday Experience at HGTV’s Santa HQ

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of HGTV Santa HQ and Reach Orb, but all opinions expressed here are mine.

The holiday bustle is happening. The gifts are being purchased. Everyone is moving so fast, and I am wishing that time would standstill. The kids are getting bigger. The oldest is now taller than our refrigerator; the youngest can now microwave eggs, and my daughter is borrowing my lipgloss. I look at them all, and I think about how lucky I am, and I try my best not to cry.

This weekend we embarked on our yearly tradition to see Santa. The high schooler told me this isn’t happening when he can drive. The middle child was excited and looked for a dress that matched mine, and the youngest hates to dress up, but he did find pants with green on them. The husband came along to enjoy watching our kids with me.

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We drove to HGTV’s Santa HQ at Tyson’s Corner Center in the north court. We got out of the car and took a picture of where we were parked because my short term memory is broken. Then my husband grabbed my hand the same way he grabs my heart with his smile. He began to tell us jokes, and his laughter bellows throughout the mall. The kids were embarrassed, and I was glad for once I wasn’t the embarrassing parent. I laugh with him and perhaps at him, but I was joyful that this man that walked beside me is my forever.

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We walked through the mall, and I told the kids it was a Santa or bust moment. We could look later, but I had to know what was on their lists. We came to a stop at the Santa HQ display by HGTV. We waited in line because I forgot you could register online to have a 30-minute reservation window. I suggest you do this. It is very easy to schedule a time when you purchase their Santa Fast Pass. You can select the date, and they will give you a 30-minute window of time to use Fast Pass, pre-pay online, upgrade a package by adding a family photo weeks/days in advance, and opt-in to receive text reminders about your Fast Pass window. Spend less time in line. Purchase Fast Pass today!

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We did have fun in the line, but it cost me a lot of money because our kids all of a sudden had tons of ideas about what they wanted from us and Santa.

Then, we were invited to step into a virtual workshop that leads us to the big guy in red.

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You first get to find out if you are naughty or nice! It turns out all three kids were nice. That was true at that moment it wouldn’t have proven true in the car.

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The next thing we had to do was make dancing elves even the oldest got into making one. They take your picture, and then the computer generates an image of an elf dancing. You can’t help but play along.

The younger kids made elf selfies. The interactive experiences are so easy, but if you need help, the staff is right there to guide you. They were fabulous and helped to make sure our experience was memorable.

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The next room allowed for even more fun. My kids were able to use iPads to see what Santa was up to and an interactive game that my husband and son enjoyed.

Everything led up to the best moment of all when the kids met Santa. The magic, laughs, and the good nature of their Santa wasn’t lost on any of us. We were all allowed to pile in for a family photo.

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We printed out the photo, and it was so cute I decided to ditch making cards this year, and I plan just to send out a wallet size picture of us. I hope your family also has a tradition. I know that this is something I look forward to doing each year.

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These are some tips to make your experience magical.

1. Plan ahead and sign up early.

2. Bring an unwrapped toy if you can to donate for the HGTV’s Help Through Holiday Giving program. In past years, HGTV’s Help Through Holiday Giving has collected more than 66,000 toys benefiting local organizations such as Forgotten Angel Tree, Salvation Army Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, and Spark of Love Stuff a Bus.

3. Be prepared to have some fun and make memories.

Have a meaningful holiday experience at an HGTV’s Santa HQ near you. You and your kids can have an immersive, interactive holiday experience with the use of state-of-the-art digital technology.

HGTV Santa HQ features:

? Traditional photo opportunities with Santa Claus, with a variety of photo packages families can choose from.
? Guests can visit HGTV Santa HQ’s Elf Academy, a new, family-friendly experience that features interactive technology to enhance the entire HGTV Santa HQ visit.
? The Elf Academy includes the Magic Mirror: Guests can transform into one of Santa’s elves and virtually try on various elf outfits, and Elf-ID: Guests can create their very own customized Elf-ID card using the new Elf-ID app and a “selfie”.
? Magic Mirror: Guests can transform into one of Santa’s elves and virtually try on various elf outfits.
? Elf-ID: Guests can create their very own customized Elf-ID card using the new Elf-ID app and a “selfie”.
? Elf-Ray Vision: Guests can explore Santa’s Observatory through the use of tablets. Areas within Santa HQ trigger an augmented reality experience for guests.
? Naughty or Nice Meter: Visitors can stand next to an interactive board to find out which of Santa’s lists – Naughty or Nice – they made.

Santa HQ is presented at 15 of Macerich’s top properties, set in some of the most attractive and densely populated U.S. markets including: California, Arizona, Chicago, Metro New York, and the Washington, D.C. corridor.