Insights: Making the Holidays Matter

Share this:

Yes, it’s that season again. The holidays are here. As much as tradition is important, it is also essential to make this time matter to you. Ask yourself, if you look back over this holiday time, what would you like to have experienced? What did you tell yourself last year would be different this year?

Maybe it is more time relaxing and being present to what is truly important. Maybe it is about partaking more in the many amazing opportunities Newport Beach has to offer.  Many people can only imagine spending the holidays here. These are some of the exciting activities you can look at enjoying over the next month.

I just had an entertaining evening at Laguna Culinary Arts with Chef Kim, who instructed us in making lemon soufflé with raspberry sauce, gluten free chocolate torte, pumpkin flan, and chocolate shortcakes with brandied cherries. I was pretty full after that.

Pelican Hill art tour
Pelican Hill art tour

In December they are offering a cooking class entitled “Chocolate,” and one called “Vegan Holiday,” along with many others.

Pelican Hill also offers their own culinary academy. How about “French Classics” or a Christmas family feast by the Coliseum Pool, or their New Year’s five course menu with Executive Chef Sous Chef Arnaud. What a treat.

Or you could have breakfast with Santa on December 21 at one of their acclaimed restaurants. Then each week Pelican Hill offers Wednesday evening Art and Olives Walking Tour, which concludes with an olive oil tasting by resort chefs.

Balboa Bay Resort not only has a tree lighting ceremony on December 1, but also Holiday Afternoon Tea in the library offered from December 1 through 23.

The Island Hotel has a gingerbread sailboat that is in the lobby for viewing—it contains 400 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of brown sugar and 300 pounds of royal icing. The sailboat was christened November 25 with a chocolate champagne bottle!

If you want the real deal, there is always the Christmas Boat Parade. There are many ways to see this, including walking the streets

Christmas Boat Parade
Christmas Boat Parade

around Balboa Island where you not only get to see the boats but also the amazing houses all lit up. This year it is running from December 18 through 22. If you are interested you can actually get a lawn seat outside of the Boy Scouts Sea Base on PCH for a nominal fee. Just bring your blanket and they provide the chair.

A hidden gem is the free weekly entertainment at Crystal Coast Shopping Center near the Starbucks. The website has more information on artists. Grab a cut of coffee and some dinner from one of the local restaurants—it’s a wonderful evening.

December 8 is jammed packed with gingerbread house decorating at Pelican Hill, the 17th annual Balboa Island Holiday Home Walking Tour (tickets are $25), and the 35th Annual Corona Del Mar Christmas Walk. Take your pick, or do them all. Again, go to

Go visit Fashion Island, where you can have your photo taken with Santa, enjoy the display of lights on the centerpiece tree, or just enjoy the ambiance of the holiday shoppers. Consume some peppermint cocoa or hot gingerbread at one of the cafés.

Do not forget about Rogers Garden—stroll the grounds and enjoy their beautiful display of plants and lights.

Now, that you have eaten, been entertained and had lots of fun, time to give back. Think about how you could make one person’s, one family’s or one charity’s holidays just a little brighter.

Enjoy the season, do not stress over the small stuff, and remember that it is about enjoying your time with people and giving back; it is less about what you are buying for who, what your house looks like and how much you spend.

Keep this time in perspective, and it will have more meaning than any gift that you will receive or give.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at [email protected] or

Share this: