Knoxville's Fantasy of Trees is an annual charity event to benefit the East Tennessee Children's Hospital that has been going on for 33 years. Local businesses and individuals design trees, holiday accessories, front porch scenes, door designs, table centerpieces all priced to sell. There is also an Adopt-a-Tree forest decorated by local school children. The event features a number of festive kids' crafts, indoor full-size carousel, entertainment by locals, and shopping.
We've been visiting Fantasy of Trees since before we had kids. It falls on Thanksgiving weekend and we consider it to be our official kick-off for the holiday season.
The main lights are kept off in the building, so walking inside feels like a magic wonderland of lights. It's fantastic for kids and big people alike! This vintage camper was obviously our favorite display of the whole show. I can't imagine why, can you?
Jasper loved this display of a toy shop and a full size Santa. Of course.
They humored me for several photos!
Proud of his ornament.
There was a roadway with PlasmaCars and Little Tikes coupes. Both kids went batcrap insane in here.
There were a few volunteers with toy gas stations where the kids could "gas up" their vehicles. Jasper stopped at least 10 times, and as he zoomed by me I'd catch bits of his narrations to himself like, "Uh oh, gotta go to the gas station again!"
Next, we started with some of the kids craft stations. This booth let the kids decorate white stuffed dogs with markers.
This one was a tad messier than I would have liked, especially considering his white shirt.
Next, they did thumbprint ornaments.
Next, we did what I thought was the coolest activity - decorating tiny Christmas trees! The kids each got to pick a teeny tiny tree with a wooden stand and decorate it with beads, ribbon curls, metallic stars, and cotton balls pulled apart for "snow." Jasper really got into this one.
Shelby basically wanted to decorate her whole tree with nothing but beads and snow!
The last activity we did was creating plastic globe ornaments. The kids stuffed the ornaments with crinkle paper and then the volunteers helped us finish them off by turning them into reindeers, Christmas trees, etc by adding eyes or antlers to the outside.
This was slow going for this little one, who wanted to place each piece of paper inside one... at... a... time...
Overally, some of the craft stations were better than others, but it was such an amazing experience for the kids and they had such a great time, so we didn't regret paying the extra money for the activity tickets, especially knowing that all the proceeds are going to a good cause.
The Gingerbread Village is always fun to explore - all the creations are designed and built by area bakers, chefs and school children and then sold for charity.
This was one of my favorites. I love the lacy railings on that 2nd story balcony!
How gorgeous is this one? The high steep roof and the piping and flooding on the roof panels is so beautiful!
Jasper wanted to ride the indoor carousel, but the line was long and their patience was thin (read: it had gone out the window half an hour earlier) so we headed home. I think they enjoyed themselves more this year, however, and we'll hopefully continue to visit the event each year in the future.
What traditions to you have for starting off the holiday season?