Stay Home for the Holidays
With holiday travel looking a little less realistic, here are some great options for Woodstock residents considering a "staycation."
Whether it's close encounters of the TSA kind or the nationwide belt tightening over the past couple of years, the holiday vacation scene is very different than it used to be.
Even before the hot topic of full body scanners and privacy rights came into focus, stricter safety regulations in general meant longer lines at the security check point. Meanwhile, flight costs in general were certainly not lowering, regardless of the economic stress of passengers.
"You got to have the money to fly," said Jenny Fitts of Marietta. "And it's getting more expensive without as many benefits. It would be nice if I could afford to go see my family for the holidays more often. Or more often anytime, for that matter. "
Fitts's family lives mostly in Colorado, and will not be able to spend Christmas with her, this year.
Nikki McCarty of Alpharetta has understandably strong feelings about the developments in air travel.
"I dislike being treated like cattle in coach, but having to pay around $300 to fly just about anywhere. I am also opposed to the new TSA screening methods. Oh, and having to pay to check one suitcase annoys me," she said.
Airlines aren't the only contributor to grounded holidays. Sometimes the destination is just as costly. After hotel rooms, trips to the gas station and mementos from the journey are all factored in, the sticker shock can be overwhelming.
Jon Fretz, spending his first Christmas in a new apartment in Acworth, explained, "I like to think that the most expensive part of a vacation is the traveling, but in all reality I probably spend far less on the gas or plane ticket than I do on the hotel, the food and the souvenirs."
Fretz will be staying close to home this holiday season, largely because of how much of his family lives in the area, but says money still plays a part in the festivities.
"My Christmas plans haven't changed much, the only exception being fewer presents for everyone on my list, due to a lack of expendable income this year."
Still, no matter what the bank account looks like, it's hard to let the holidays pass by without celebrating. This is especially true for those who might be foregoing time with their family as a result of limited cash flow.
If you find yourself tightening the belt this holiday season, or simply can't bear the thought of being herded through the nearest airport, why not have a look at some of the "staycation" options in Woodstock and its surrounding areas?
A staycation, literally meaning a vacation at home, affords would-be travelers all of the fun and holiday spirit they crave without ever leaving town, making it a simpler, safer, more affordable alternative to packing up your belongings and journeying across the country. Luckily, northeast Georgia has plenty to offer.
For the adventurous family, Allatoona Landing Marina hosts year-round camping for up to six people at a single campsite, a journey that comes with miles of scenic views to get your mind on relaxing. Enjoy a hike around the forested grounds, a walk along the chilly winter shore, or simply gather with loved ones by the fire and focus exclusively on each other.
Then again, the idea of roughing it in the cold doesn't appeal to everybody. Elise Frazier of Marietta isn't one to spend her vacations in the cold, and although she keeps an eye on what things cost as much as the next woman, the time of year comes into play with her travel plans as well.
"I'm staying local. I prefer to travel in warmer weather," Frazier said.
Anyone of Frazier's disposition toward the temperature will be happy to hear that there are also plenty of indoor activities in Woodstock this December. Beverly's Day Spa is advertising deals and price drops on their indulgent treatments all month long. Discounts on already affordable hair, skin and massage packages mean someone gets more for the money, which is what a staycation should be all about.
The historic Magnolia Thomas Restaurant is taking reservations for its traditional Christmas Eve feast, a five-course meal with guest's choice of entree, set against the backdrop of a roaring fireplace, meticulous holiday decor and the pleasant setting of the building itself.
For lighter but equally enjoyable snacking, Tea Leaves & Thyme is just up the street, ready to serve you and your companions a proper English tea that's bound to put anybody in the spirit.
If Christmas wouldn't feel right without certain time-honored traditions, fret not, because Georgia is up to the task of giving your holiday a very Dickens backdrop. The community theater crowd will be happy to hear that more than one December-appropriate performance has found its way to The Peach State.
Roswell's Kudzu Playhouse is putting on their adaptation of A Christmas Carol, the immortal story of a man whose unseemly holiday behavior prompts visits from three insightful ghosts, come to warn him about the path he's on. Performances occur once daily until Dec. 24.
Finally, if the name of the game this year is savings, there are still staycation options back home in Woodstock.
A drive through town in the midst of the city's Christmas Decorating Contest ought to satisfy both the young and young at heart. Residents and businesses all over town have been challenged to create themed displays that catch the eye, and with awards available in five separate categories, there's sure to be some spectacular competition. Viewing what these designers have come up with won't cost a cent.
Blue Skies Laughter Yoga Club may be just the ticket if this time of year feels more stressful than others. Classes are completely free, held every Wednesday, and are a healthy, joyful way to refocus and clear your head without clearing your wallet.
Even with all of these options for pampering, entertainment or relaxation available, perhaps the most obvious way to staycation is already right in front of you. Holiday crafts such as decorating a gingerbread house, building DIY ornaments for the tree, or watching Christmas movies with loved ones have all become traditions in their own right for many families. Sugar cookies are easy and inexpensive; whip up a batch and color them in with frosting, sprinkles or dragées. A wire hanger and a few old ornaments can quickly become a stunning wreath. There are countless ways to save a buck and create a memory.
The expression "comforts of home" is rarely more relevant than at this time of year. The holiday season, whatever your faith, is a perfect time for enjoying special, simple moments with those who mean the most to you, and you'll never need to break the bank for that.
McCarty put it beautifully when she explained, "The holidays are all about spending time with the people I love. I can buy things for others, or get presents at any time of the year, but around the holidays everyone finds time to celebrate the people who bring joy to our lives. "