It's truly Chrismakuh this year... As Hanukkah starts on December 22nd, I am over the moon excited to have a legitimate joining of my two favorite holidays, which Seth Cohen and I like to refer to as Chrismukkah. For me, this is a way to honor both sides of my family's heritage, but also a reminder that the holidays are actually very individualized for each person. I know for many of us the holidays center around our own religious beliefs, but for me, it's a time to honor the traditions from my childhood I most enjoyed, time with the people I love and celebrating life really. Having a holiday that so many of us participate in one way or another is essentially a way we join together, even if we have different reasons behind what we do. I believe it's one of the most unifying seasons in this country and the rest of the world. And to me that is so special and so exciting. Of course nothing is perfect, and I have written extensively about just that for many years now, but one of the main ways I deal with that is about attempting to really value how I spend my time and maintaining a consciousness around taking care of myself. 

Each year I try to find an evening in December to become a tourist again and walk around the famous Rodeo Drive because let's be honest, Beverly Hills just has to do everything bigger, brighter and better than you. And they do just that for the holiday season. With every glamorous storefront decorated beautifully and some of the prettiest lights and displays, I have to give credit where credit is due. My plan is to grab a hot cup of something from Ladurée in a cozy big, slightly unnecessary coat, and walk all over the downtown area. Some of my favorites from past years is the big red bow on Cartier, the done up staircase at 2 Rodeo Drive and of course the Santa sled that often hangs across Wilshire Blvd. It's a marvelous display of festiveness and I just can't get enough. After a brisk walk around I usually stop at Nate'n Al's Deli or head the Fountain Coffee Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel (also the home of the famed pink jacketed Nutcrackers). More about Rodeo Drive's Holiday Celebrations here

It's safe to say this event has become a staple in my annual holiday celebrations, where the tree lined storefronts host the community with sales and treats. For anyone not familiar, Montana Avenue is a nice little street with retail and restaurants in Santa Monica, a place I tend to frequent fairly often. What I love most about it is it's proximity to Brentwood, it's quiet, laid back vibe and of course, all the places I have come to love. Caffé Luxxe, Sweet Lady Jane and Forma, to name a few, which is where I usually make a reservation for the night of this event, so my friends and I can enjoy a delicious, cheese induced, pasta dinner after perusing the street for free cookies and mulled wine. To be clear, only one real estate agency tends serve the mulled wine, however most shops offer something for kids and of course, the adult still trying to grab complimentary sweets when possible. More info about the event here. 


Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills & Christmas Tree Land in Pasadena

This is a perfect activity for little kids, given you won't have to leave your car. I found this lovely little drive through street, properly referred to as Candy Cane Lane, one year when my mother was visiting for the holidays. A friend of mine who grew up in LA had told us about it, a gathering of a few streets which according to my friend, residents are required to decorate their houses for the holiday, just to keep up with the standard set by the outwardly festive community. It's only a few streets but it's a nice little activity, especially if you live anywhere close to the 405 freeway and or live in the San Fernando Valley. So we grabbed some Starbucks and purchased homemade cookies being sold in support of a veteran's charity and rolled on through. More recently, a tour guide at the Huntington Gardens, another absolutely beautiful place I might add, told me about a similar drive in Pasadena. It's a pristine, deodar cedar tree lined street, perfectly lit for the holidays. I have not yet been, which is odd given I have spent every Christmas in California in Pasadena! So my recommendation of course is to pack the car with warm drinks and perhaps something sweet. Christmas music optional, but my pick would likely be a classic; *NSYNC's Home for Christmas

Beverly Hills Menorah Lighting at Two Rodeo Drive, December 29th 

Every year I try to attend this event as it makes me happy to see how welcoming the city of Beverly Hills is to the Jewish community that tends to make up a very significant portion of the population here and in the rest of Los Angeles. This year the ceremony is taking place at the end of Hanukkah, which is a bit disappointing, however I will likely still attend because it's such a beautiful celebration of perseverance. Usually there's a Rabbi who will lead the event and light the large menorah, reminding us of why we celebrate and the importance of traditions like these. I also can't remember a year in which there weren't delicious latkes given out, so that in itself is enough to look forward to! 

I have only been once, however, it was really fun. I had hot chocolate (that I might have added a little Bailey's to) and toured the zoo at night, fully decorated for the holidays and glowing. It was a really fun experience, even without children. I have to say Chicago's Zoo lights are a bit better, however, it's been a few years since I have been so perhaps that have stepped up their game? Definitely a must see with the little ones! 

Mason Jar Hot Cocoa Gifts

Every year I continue to give my interns and co-workers and sometimes friends these very simple DIY mason jar hot chocolate kits. They are extremely simple to make and so festive that I've stuck to the same recipe for the last seven years! You can also swap the hot cocoa mix for any type of baked good or non-perishable recipe. I typically start with a hefty layer of hot cocoa powder, then add mini marshmallows, chopped candy cane and top it off with chocolate chips or smaller pieces of chocolate if I can find them. I garnish the jar with a red or plaid ribbon and sometimes a cinnamon stick for extra flair. The tags are optional but tend to add a nice personalized touch, with space for a little message too. Here are items you will need to recreate, linked below. 


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