The Spectator’s Unofficial Guide to the Holiday Season

The Spectator Staff



Say “Freeze” For Christmas Photos

Elise Wang
Director of Photography

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so grab your camera and your friends and family!

First of all, take advantage of the fact that there are Christmas lights everywhere! Whether they’re wrapped around an evergreen or decking the halls, lights create that festive warmth and coziness. You can take a string of yellow or rainbow lights, wrap them around your shoulders, and bring the camera in for your close-up. To create the infamous bokeh effect, also known as that deliciously blurry haze of lights in the background, focus on the object or person closest to the camera.

Also, venture out into the city—Seattle becomes a winter wonderland around the holidays…minus the snow.

Hop over to Westlake Park and take a spin on the old-fashioned holiday carousel, then head over to Pike Place Market. There you’ll find mini neon trees, thousands of lights, and a massive Christmas tree next to the iconic red neon sign.

We all have those embarrassing childhood photos with mall Santa’s, but the Seattle Aquarium gives you the chance to have a unique photo op with ole’ St. Nick. In the Window on Washington Water exhibit, you’ll find Diving Santa posing in the 120,000-gallon tank, but you can stay dry and snap your pictures from the outside.

But baby, it’s cold outside, so if making the trek into frigid weather isn’t ideal, there are plenty of opportunities to snap some great pics indoors. Pull on your matching pajama sets or put up some mistletoe with someone special.



Christmas Lights Around the City

Michelle Newblom

As college students, we don’t have the opportunity to hang Christmas lights and put up festive decorations. For one, many students reside in the dorms—and while it’s fun to cram all your holiday cheer into a square room—it can’t really be admired from the outside. Off-campus students don’t have this luxury either if they’re in apartments.

Even students with houses find it difficult to string lights or decorate the yard when they’ll be going home for Christmas halfway through December. But for me at least, Christmas lights are one of my favorite parts of the holiday, and even if you don’t have your own to admire, there’s plenty around Seattle.

Hop in a car with your friends, grab some hot cocoa, and start cruising these popular locations:

Family Christmas Spectacular in West Seattle (3908 S.W. Charleston) runs every night starting Dec. 1 until the new year. Flip your car radio to 101.9 and enjoy the stunning light show synchronized to some popular Christmas tunes.

Head up north to Mountlake Terrace (ending on 42nd Pl. W.) to ogle at this 25-house neighborhood’s light display. It’s a great opportunity to stay cozied up in the car and admire the lights with the heater blasting.

Keep going north, and you won’t be disappointed in Woodinville Wonderland (23620 N.E. 183rd St). This display has two 48-minute shows that are full of songs and jokes. If you’ve layered up, feel free to get out of the car and roam around, enjoying the show from the speakers on the lawn.

The Evergreen Church in Bothell (3429 240th St. S.E.) features over 500,000 lights synchronized to Christmas music—all which can be enjoyed from the warmth of the provided heat lamps. Christmas cookies and cocoa are provided inside, and you can even pose for a holiday picture.

Festive Treats and Family Meals

Kaela Takei
Staff Writer

The smell of freshly baked breads, the comforting sight of dad’s homemade Korean short ribs, and the first batch of Mom’s gluten-free apple coffee cake sitting on the table just waiting to be sliced.


As the holidays approach, family traditions and cooking emerge from all different sides of my family. For me, I can’t get through the holiday season without making a batch of my Grandma’s homemade chocolate- covered nut trees. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at her house baking and preparing for family meals. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, she would have all of our favorite treats for us to enjoy. Her counters were always decorated with her edible Christmas town—made out of chocolate covered nut trees, graham crackers cottages, powdered sugar snow, and marshmallow candy snowmen.

My family and I spend hours in the kitchen together every year cooking our favorite meals. With me and all my siblings scattered across the U.S. at college, it’s always fun to come home and reconnect in the kitchen. It’s always been one of my favorite things, being jam-packed in our kitchen, bumping into each other and yelling for different ingredients. Through all of the chaos, we’re able to eventually sit down and enjoy all the wonderful foods we’ve created together, as a family.

The holidays will always be one of my favorite times of year. Not only because it brings everyone together, but because we’re able to create something memorable and enjoyable amongst all of the crazy, separate lives.

Rain & Coffee Shops… Typical

Josh Merchant
News Editor

Not to be a walking stereotype, but one of the things I love most about Seattle is the cozy poorly-lit coffee shops where you can sit, watching the rain pour.

The holidays can be difficult at home for a lot of people—myself included. I often feel anxious without any homework to do, and it can be tough to find alone-time with my parents and siblings hovering over my head. That being said, those cozy coffee shops can be a wonderful escape to sit and relax—especially when it’s miserable to be outside in the first place.

When it comes to Capitol Hill, there’s an abundance of choices for coffee shops. Some of my favorites are Victrola, Stumptown, and Capitol Coffee Works. The environment of these cafés is really nice—it’s often quiet, there are big windows to look through when it’s raining, and the coffee is really good.

I find that when I sit and read in a coffee shop, I can focus on a book (or whatever other quiet activity I want), and I can really allow myself to fully relax. I can dull down the restlessness, distract my mind from the oncoming stresses of the new year, and immerse myself in writing, reading, or otherwise expressing the creative needs I haven’t been able to fully indulge in since September.



Make a House a Home

Frances Divinagracia
Managing Editor

Even with all these awesome ideas, there are still some of you out there that would rather stay inside for the wintertime—myself included. For me, there is absolutely nothing better than relaxing and being in the comfort of my own home when it starts getting a little chilly out there.

When I think of winter, I think of Christmas, and when I think of Christmas, I think of ABC Family’s (well, I guess Freeform’s now) 25 Days of Christmas. I’m sure a majority of us have heard of this television special, but I think it is so underrated. There is nothing I look forward to more than spending my winter breaks on the couch tuning into it. Cozied up with a peppermint hot chocolate and watching classics like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Santa Clause,” and “A Christmas Carol” is the way to go.

I also really love doing something as simple as reading a book and having my favorite Christmas albums playing in the background. Michael Bublé is a CLASSIC but I also highly recommend listening to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for some soft, instrumental holiday tunes.

The most heartwarming, and my most favorite indoor winter activity, is making gingerbread houses with friends or family. There is something so tender, warm, and comforting about creating a tiny edible home. I’m not too big on gingerbread, so I like to substitute it for graham crackers, but the gumdrops, candy canes, and frosting remain the same. And being a little competitive with whoever I’m making them with always brings some Christmas spirit into it!

Enchant Christmas

Jacqueline Lewis
Copy Chief

Walk in with a full wallet; leave with a full heart. Enchant Christmas at Safeco Field is a guaranteed way to get into the Christmas spirit. With a cute Christmas Market circling around half the perimeter of the stadium and the world’s largest Christmas light maze going off on the field, it’s your one-stop over-stimulation Christmas station. A Vancouver-based lighting company came in over the last few months and transformed the field into a sparkly, twinkling wonderland, featuring one-story reindeer and many Instagrammable moments.

I bought my ticket about a month ago, and went on opening weekend, and it certainly lived up to my hopes and dreams. The ticket price is steep, but there are discounted nights on Tuesday and a discounted student ticket price nightly to help ease the pain. You’re going to want to skate on the ice trail (not ice rink, but a trail, located within the maze and equipped with light-up evergreen arches, which is going to be an extra $10 for skate rentals. With some budgeting and sensible footwear, it’s impossible to leave without having a jolly good time.

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