The best American cities for Christmas celebrations

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas…" That's right, we are just days away from Santa's special day. The holidays are indeed upon us, and joy and good cheer are evident from sea to shining sea. Families unite, friends reconnect, and traditions of the Christmas spirit are once again top of mind. The magic of the season means different things to different folks, but the sentiment of peace and happiness is the thread that connects us all.

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While the togetherness and symbolism of Christmas is important and cherished, much of what the holiday brings out is celebration. Gifts are purchased, parties are thrown, and food and drink are plentiful. And Americans are not shy about spending lavishly this time of year. As per the personal finance website, WalletHub, "In 2017, Americans plan to spend up to $682 billion over the holidays, according to the National Retail Federation. That's an increase of up to 4 percent from a year ago.

That is a lot of loot to shell out to make the season bright. Yet, somehow, the thrill of the season brings out the big spenders in us all. We want to have fun, impress and delight our friends and family, and truly make it a season of giving. People make do with what is available in their local area, but some cities across the U.S. are more Christmas-friendly than others. Be it stores for the best gifts, restaurants offering Christmas specials and parties, and other seasonal events and activities nearby, where you live can make Christmas even better.

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WalletHub's recent report on the best places for Christmas compared the 100 biggest American cities to determine which were the most affordable and fun when it comes to Christmas festivities. Their expert methodology used 29 key indicators to rank these cities accordingly. Considerations such as price per Christmas party ticket, number of Christmas tree farms per capita, number of gift shops per capita, number of toy and hobby shops per capita, online giving per capita, and so on were evaluated and weighed. The outcome of WalletHub's findings resulted in their 1 to 100 list of the best places for Christmas this year.

So, which cities made WalletHub's "nice" list? The top 10 best cities for Christmas are:

1.Chicago, IL

2.San Francisco, CA

3.Pittsburgh, PA

4.New York, NY

5.Seattle, WA

6.Orlando, FL

7.Atlanta, GA

8.Washington, DC

9.Las Vegas, NV

10.Portland, OR

Do you live in one of these super-Christmas-friendly cities and feel the spirit come Christmastime? Chicago, which came in as #1, may be best known as the "windy city" but as per WalletHub, it ought to be dubbed the "Christmas city" instead!

Number six, Orlando, must be a favorite for all the "good girls and boys." This city boasts the most toy stores and hobby shops per capita. And ironically enough, Miami is the city with the most Christmas tree farms per capita. Palm trees are pretty, but they just don't serve justice to all those glitzy ornaments!

While Durham, NC did not rank in the top 10 – this city was #49 – WalletHub concluded that this is the place to party inexpensively, with the lowest average price per Christmas party ticket. With all the dough you've spent on gifts, who has much left for celebrating? Unless you live in Durham, of course.

For the full 100-city ranking, please check out the full report. You can also get insight into WalletHub's methodology as well as expert tips for celebrating the holidays on a budget.

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Have a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a prosperous New Year. And no matter where you celebrate, have fun, be responsible, and spread the love!

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Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

It's not that I'm bad at it, I just feel so overwhelmed. When my house is clean, I feel much more in control and motivated, and right now it's far from it. When I was venting about my cleaning woes the other day, my friend recommended Handy.

Handy allows you to book local professional cleaners and sign up for monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly plans. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works for you with availability 7 days a week from 7am-11pm. So to get me in the right headspace to tackle my goals, I'm going to be signing up for Handy. I'm looking forward to letting the experts take over.

Although having people in your home may sound a bit strange right now, Handy has rolled out the Handy Safety Standard to help promote the health and safety of the customers and professionals who use their platform. Some of these measures include requiring Pros to wear face coverings during bookings and mandatory daily in-app check-ups to verify they are in good health before claiming a booking. They even have a section on their site dedicated to keeping customers and professionals updated on the latest CDC health and safety guidance.

To top everything off, all of the Cleaning Pros booked through Handy are vetted and background checked. And you can even check out each Pro's ratings and reviews before you book.

Once my house is in order, the fresh feeling will have a domino effect on so many other areas of my life:

✔ Read More

Lying on my cozy couch without inhaling all the dust I'd chosen to ignore, despite my clear uptick in sneezing the last few months. My reading list is chock-full of thrillers and fantasy. And with my new clean slate, I've even added some books about organization.

✔ Get Cooking

Nothing makes cooking more enjoyable than a sparkling kitchen. I'm inspired by a clean space and all the new recipes I'll be whipping up in 2021 already have me drooling.

✔ More Exercise (aka walking!)

I won't feel guilty getting out for a walk on-the-daily when I know I'm not neglecting any household chores thanks to Handy. And when I come home I'm not greeted by any reminders to clean.

You can specify exactly what you want to be cleaned before your Pro arrives and if you like them, you can request to have the same Pro come every time. I can already imagine how exciting it will be to walk into my spotless space.

I cannot wait to book my cleaning through Handy so I can get my 2021 resolutions rolling. My New Year is all about my wellness and my environment plays such a big part in it. I'm signing up for bi-weekly appointments. But their plans are super flexible and if I need, I can always change to a weekly or monthly cleaning plan — sometimes they even have bookings available as soon as the next day!

With Handy, I'm leaving that rough 2020 in the dust and jumping into 2021 feeling fresh and ready-to-go.

Update: Handy is offering a limited time discount for our readers! Follow this link today to get a special offer on your first time cleaning plan.

This perfect low-key vacation is not your average camping experience.

Locations

Atlanta, Austin & San Antonio, Boston, Charlotte & Raleigh, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh & Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, DC.

Getaway's outposts are a maximum 2-hour drive from these major cities.

getaway cabin all seasons

Why Getaway?

It's an escape for the always on. Leave your work, technology and worries at home, and lean into an experience that allows you to reconnect and center yourself in nature.

Each cabin features 1 (or 2) queen-sized bed as well as a full indoor bathroom, both heat and a/c, and reliable electricity. The kitchen is stocked with food staples and cookware and there is a fire pit and outdoor seating. All cabins are family-friendly and dogs are permitted.

getaway essentials

Booking & Price

Book through the Getaway site. Cabins fit 1 - 4 guests and cost as low as $129 a night.

Safety

Cabins are already distanced (50-150' feet apart) from one another and go through a deep disinfection process between guest stays. Check-in is contactless, and each guest accesses their cabins through a personalized key code.

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UPDATE: Plan Your Winter Escape Today With Getaway! Take $20 Off Your Stay With Code Winter20!

Given the nature of the pandemic, it can be tough to find the best ways to spend the usual festivities that New Year's Eve brings.

Luckily, if you're comfortable enough to step outside for the occasion, there are great places still open and worth visiting. Although you should always keep COVID-19 safety precautions in mind, here are three of the most stunning places to spend Near Year's Eve in the U.S.

New York City (New York)

No guide to stunning places to spend New Year's Eve in the U.S. would be complete without the presence of New York City, New York. The Times Square ball drop is a must-see annual event, though this year it will be a bit different due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the city will still be throwing an event for all to enjoy that will keep social distancing in mind and focus on bringing people together virtually.

While there might be live events for some to enjoy, none have been officially announced just yet. Even if you're enjoying the festivities virtually, there are few better places to spend this special occasion than at the tip of the NYC skyline.

New York City New Years Eve New York City New Years EveForbes

Lake Travis (Texas)

Lake Travis is a brilliant body of water in Texas that provides a versatile collection of ways to enjoy its beauty. If you'd prefer to keep your party secluded due to the pandemic, you can enjoy the evening on a boat in the waters of this lake, which is home to the famous "Devil's Cove" party destination.

If you're comfortable spending the evening in a venue that practices COVID-19 safety precautions, consider relaxing on one of the three decks on display at The Oasis. Even if you don't stick around to ring in the New Year, viewing the sunset from The Oasis is an incredible experience in itself.

Lake Travs Lake Travislaketravis.com

Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

If you're looking for a quainter way to ring in the new year, consider visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Aside from the cool weather and stunning scenery, when spending New Year's Eve in Cape Cod you can visit places such as the Belfry Inn & Bistro. This lovely location has a focus on good dining, stylish and comfortable living, and COVID-19 safety, all of which they put on display via their website.

If you'd prefer not to spend too much time in a restaurant or bar, you can indulge in the incredible appearance of areas like Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Simply wandering around the area and taking in the scenery before enjoying an intimate evening inside makes for an unforgettable adventure.

Cape Cod New Years Eve Cape Cod New Years Evebluegreenvacations.com

Due to the ever-changing nature of certain venues during the pandemic, be sure to regularly check-up on any venues you wish to visit. That way, you can remain in the loop on their availability, activities, and safety precautions upon arrival.