WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • Wide mouth glass vase: I use 6″ x 6″ cylinders as I like to put multiple bulbs into a single container. I enjoy using glass as I find it fascinating to watch the roots grow, but as long as it holds water, you can pretty much use anything.
  • Any of the following, according to your preference: pea gravel, sea glass, glass gemstones, marbles, or even something that you already have on hand. You can find these items in The Dollar Store, 99 Cents Only Store, craft stores or garden centers.
  • Paperwhite bulbs: I used 7 bulbs in each cylinder vase, for a total of 14 bulbs. I purchased them prepackaged for the first time this year, but I don’t think I’ll do this again as the bulbs were all different sizes and one of them was dried out. Usually, I purchase them from a bulk bin so I can pick bulbs of similar size, check for firmness and confirm that they haven’t been damaged. I’ve purchased them in the past at Walter Anderson’s, Grounded: Modern Furniture and Gifts, Mission Hills Nursery and Armstrong Nurseries. They’re approximately $1.50-$1.75 per bulb.
  • Water
  • Vodka or gin: No, we’re not having cocktails! I got my bottle of vodka on sale at Von’s and will be able to use this bottle for years as we don’t drink vodka. You can’t use beer or wine as the plants don’t like sugar – they only like the hard stuff.
  • Scissors or paring knife
  • Festive ribbon: This one is optional, but I think ribbon always looks pretty wrapped around the vase! I decided to keep it simple this year, so no ribbon.

PROCESS

Clean your glass vessel. Mine always get a little dusty sitting on the shelf. Once your vessel is clean, place clean pea gravel inside of it. There’s really no wrong way to do this. I fill my containers to just slightly over halfway to give the bulbs plenty of room to spread their roots, but I’ve also seen people put just a few rocks in the bottom. 

Next, carefully scrape the old roots off the bottom of the bulbs with the edge of a knife or scissors. I did this over the garbage disposal so that I could just shred the stuff later. Scraping the bottom is a new trick I learned this year from one of the staff at Grounded in Encinitas. I tested it on one of the bulbs and it had roots starting the very next day! I was shocked. It would have taken up to a week the way I used to do it. In the past, I’ve even had bulbs that haven’t sprouted at all.

Before scraping the roots

After scraping the roots

Now, fill the container with water until it just covers the pebbles and place the root side (rounded side) down on top of the rocks. I stuff them tightly into the vase and make sure all of the bottoms touch the water. The spout protruding from the top of the bulb will eventually straighten as it starts to grow.

In approximately one week, carefully dump the water from the container and begin watering the bulbs with a mixture of one-part vodka or gin to seven-parts water. Again, just water to where it covers the pebbles. (I would NOT feed the vodka mixture to your other houseplants.) The vodka is to stop the paperwhites from becoming lanky. Instead of a height of 30 inches where they’ll flop over, the vodka will help them stop at a height of around 16 inches. I learned this awesome tip from the Grumpy Gardner (Steve Bender) of Southern Living Magazine. Side note: Steve Bender is hilarious when it comes to all things gardening! I love reading his articles. Google him if you are looking for a giggle (and who doesn’t need a good giggle these days?)

In four to six weeks, you’ll have an amazing show of the most intoxicating scented blossoms! I’ve been told the bulbs won’t rebloom once they’ve been forced. I’ve never questioned this wisdom; thus, I have never tried planting them after they’ve been forced. My garden just isn’t large enough to experiment so instead they go into the green bin after they’re done blooming. Then I wash the rocks and place them in a sealed container so I don’t have to wash them again next year!

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PUBLIC EVENTS

Botanic Wonderland at Botanical Garden | 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas
Enjoy a dazzling evening in nature with Holiday Nights in the Garden throughout December. Highlights include lighted animal displays, laser lighting and fire pits. Open from 5 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 2-6, 9-13. 16-23 and 26-30. Reservations required and ticket prices range from $7 to $18. www.sdbgarden.org/botanicwonderland.htm  

Enchanted Village: A Drive-Thru Holiday Experience | 12526 Campo Road, Spring Valley
The Noah Homes’ Enchanted Village: A Drive-Thru Holiday Experience puts guests in the driver’s seat for holiday cheer. Experience interactive displays and a drive-through lighted tunnel featuring over 100,00 lights. You can even get your picture taken (from a safe distance) with St. Nick. $65 per car. 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 18-23.
www.enchantedvillage.org

Holidays at Legoland California Resort | One LEGOLAND Drive, Carlsbad
Marvel at a 30-foot Christmas tree made out of Legos, and decorated in hundreds of Lego ornaments, which will come to life each evening during a Holiday Light Show synced to music. Snap photos in front of a life-size model of Lego Santa, build Lego reindeer and holiday ornaments, and participate in socially-distanced meet and greets with characters like Santa, the Toy Soldier and Gingerbread Man. Tickets are required and must be purchased online. Happening Nov. 20-29; Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 18-31; Jan. 1-10, 2021.
www.legoland.com/california/things-to-do/seasonal-events/holidays-at-legoland

Holidays In Your Car in Del Mar | 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar
Head to Del Mar Fairgrounds for a large-scale, drive-through holiday light experience. The family-friendly show features more than one million LED lights, as well as holograms and projection mapping animated to holiday music. Tickets are only available to buy online for $45 (car with up to four people) or $64 (cars with five or more people) with a 45-minute time slot between 5 and 9 p.m.
www.holidaysinyourcar.com

Holiday Market & Trail at Petco Park | 100 Park Boulevard, East Village
Peruse a one-way, socially-distanced trail at Petco Park’s Gallagher Square and enjoy local and European-themed artisan shops, lighting displays, seasonal characters, food and drinks and unique gifts at the Holiday Market & Trail at Petco Park. Dec. 3- 6 and Dec. 9-23.
www.padres.com/holiday

Northern Lights in Escondido | 340 North Escondido Boulevard, Escondido
California Center for the Arts, Escondido invites guests to a self-guided tour of its outdoor venue decked out in lights, blow-up figurines and large LED Christmas trees. The non-ticketed public event is free. Open through Jan. 3, 2021.
www.artcenter.org/northern-lights-2020/

Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Lights and Sights Tour | 4010 Twiggs Street, Old Town
A safe way to see some of San Diego’s seasonal sights? The Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Lights and Sights Tour takes guests on a tour of festive lights throughout Old Town, Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Balboa Park and more, while conductors share fun holiday facts and traditions. Dec. 3-24 and Dec. 26-30. www.trolleytours.com

NEIGHBORHOOD HAPPENINGS

Bankers Hill
The holidays are lit at the Forward House in Bankers Hill, where homeowner John Olbrich has been decorating his home and de-lighting the neighborhood since 1998. Lights are displayed from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. through New Year’s. Located at First and Ivy in Bankers Hill.

Clairemont
Jamar Drive, Jamar Court, Lana Lane and Lana Drive have decorated for the holiday season. This semi-circular route off Mt Abernathy Drive behind Madison High School is consistently rated as one of the best Christmas displays in San Diego County.

El Cajon
“Jingle Bell Hill,” also known as “Pepper Drive Lights,” is El Cajon’s own winter wonderland. West entrance is at Pepper and Rockview drives and east entrance is at Pepper and Lindenwood drives.

Lakeside
Take the Riverford exit on Highway 67 to “Tinsel Town,” where more than 20 homes on Paseo Palmas Drive participate. Cross streets are Palm Row and Paseo Palmas.

Mission Hills
Santa’s elves have placed a special mailbox where kids can drop off their Christmas wish lists and have them sent to the North Pole. Bring letters to 2163 Guy Street between 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Saturday through Christmas. Families can also see lights and take pictures with elves.

Poway
Hickory Street turns into “Candy Cane Lane” for the holidays. Most lights stay up until Christmas, and some continue to shine until New Year’s Day.

Rancho Penasquitos
“Christmas Card Lane” on Oviedo Street is a beloved North County spot. More than 200 houses participate in the festivities.

Santee
“Starlight Circle” is located at East and West Glendon Circle.

Tierrasanta
Since 2006, Randy and Brandon Schimka have hosted a holiday lights display (synchronized to music on FM 106.1) at their home at 5306 Belardo Dr. in Tierrasanta. Lights will display from Nov. 28 through Dec. 27.

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Family Christmas Tree Farm | 300 Pepper Drive, El Cajon
This ten-acre, family-owned farm in El Cajon offers an array of native California Monterey Pine trees. In addition to the u-chop experience, there’s an abundance of pre-cut tree varieties (Douglas, Grand, Noble & Nordman Fir) as well as potted trees and wreaths to choose from.
www.familychristmastreefarm.com

Highland Valley Christmas Tree Farm | 18425 Highland Valley Road, Ramona
Tree cutting and wine from Principe di Tricase Winery in Ramona! Families can stroll through the groves to find the prettiest tree to cut and take home. In addition to cutting your tree, they offer shaking, drilling and netting for free. 10% off for military families, firefighters and senior citizens.
www.pineandwine.com

Mountain Valley Ranch | 842 Highway 78, Ramona 92065
Mountain Valley Ranch is a great spot for families, as there are usually several animals on-site for the kids to pet (including goats and horses). Though they aren’t u-pick, they carry a variety of trees including Noble Firs, Douglas Fir, and Grand Firs.
www.mountainvalleyranch.com

Mr. Jingle’s Christmas Trees | 6710 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla
Mr. Jingle’s is a second-generation family-owned business that provides a fun one-stop shop for all things Christmas: along with five different tree types, they also carry fresh garland, wreaths, and other decorations.
www.mrjingleschristmastrees.com

Myrtle Creek Botanical Gardens & Nursery |2940 Reche Road, Fallbrook
Pop in to this gorgeous botanical garden in Fallbrook and make an afternoon out of picking your perfect pine. Their charming gift shop also has some unique holiday gifts.
www.discovermyrtlecreek.com

Pine Tree Acres | 620 Haverford Road, Ramona
Pine Tree Acres is a full-service Christmas tree farm that’s been in business for more than 25 years in the Ramona area. Choose from a variety of Noble Fir, Grand Fir, Fraser Fir and Nordman trees to take home this Christmas season; or cut your very own Monterey Pine for a fun family activity.

Pinery Christmas Trees | Various Locations
Pinery Trees is the largest independent retailer of Christmas rrees in Southern California. You can either bring the family to one of their San Diego locations, or order online and let them deliver directly to your home. Pinery has six locations in San Diego: Bonita, Del Mar, Mission Valley, Rancho Bernardo, Murrieta, and Vista.
www.pinerychristmastrees.com

 

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Boston New Music Festival | Oct. 29-Nov. 15
Over two weeks, Boston’s leading new music ensembles present the finest in new music with coordinated virtual concerts.
www.bostonnewmusicfestival.org

Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival | Oct. 31-Nov. 8
Film programs, guest speakers, and author events begin on October 31 and unique content will be released daily throughout the festival.
www.banffcentre.ca

Texas Book Festival | Oct. 31-Nov. 15
Two full weeks of free virtual sessions, including programming for adults, young adults, middle-grade readers, and children! The 2020 Texas Teen Book Festival will also take place during the two-week virtual festival, featuring conversations with acclaimed Young Adult authors aimed at teenage readers.
www.texasbookfestival.org

Dia de Muertos Festival Seattle | Nov. 1
The festival continues to preserve the celebration for new generations to explore and understand its meaning in depth. The celebration is full of color, sounds, scents of incense, and marigold flowers.
www.seattlecenter.com
 
Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival | Nov. 5-15
Movie fans and film industry professionals alike gather every November for this amazing five-day event that showcases around 100 American and International films deemed to be the best in their genre. Guests may attend seminars, visit with celebrity guests and attend other special events. 
www.rehobothfilm.com

LA Tequila Fest | Nov. 6 
Help turn 2020 around one shot at a time, join for a night of premium tequila tasting, entertainment, giveaways, celebrity guests, and more all from the comfort of your home!
www.latequilafest.com

Moab Folk Festival | Nov. 6-7
Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman, Jonathan Byrd and Dromedary, Sloan Wainwright, Kenny White, David Olney, Ferron, Harry Manx, Peter Mulvey, Cheryl Wheeler, Ellis, John Fullbright, Mark Erelli, Penny & Sparrow, Hubby Jenkins, and May Erlewine.
www.moabfolkfestival.com

NOLA Film Festival | Nov. 6-22
Showcasing 160+ films virtually on our streaming channel + open-air screenings of a selection of films from the program on two outdoor screens at the Lafitte Greenway between November 6-16.
www.neworleansfilmsociety.org

International Indian Cultural Festival | Nov. 7
The goal of the IICF 2020 is to preserve and foster the Indian Culture in an international setting. There will be music, songs, dance, kids activities and networking. 
https://iicfestival.smartsociety.org

Tyron Beer Festival | Nov. 7
Zoom into Tryon, North Carolina for the 9th annual Beer Fest! Ticket price includes a mixed 12-pack of beer, merch and access to online entertainment. 
www.downtowntryon.org

Northwest Chocolate Festival | Nov. 7-8
During the virtual festival week we will be hosting programming from cooking demos, to chocolate tastings, as well has holiday gift ideas and exclusive interviews and workshops. 
www.nwchocolate.com

International Virtual Tea Festival | Nov. 7-8
A virtual tea experience including exclusive vendor content, vendor rooms where you can chat with vendors live, virtual tastings of their teas, showing how to prepare, how to use certain equipment, talking about where their teas come from. Depending on the ticket option you choose, you may also be able to taste samples of their teas along with their presentations!
www.teafestivals.org

Gainesville Downtown Festival/Art Show | Nov. 7-8
A virtual celebration of art, music, and entertainment. Visitors can marvel at works from over 40 of the nation’s most talented artists, who display original oils and acrylics, vibrant watercolors, captivating drawings, dazzling jewelry, decorative ceramics and vivid photography. 
https://gainesvilledowntownartfest.weebly.com

Maine Jewish Film Festival | Nov. 7-22
The Maine Jewish Film Festival is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a forum for the presentation of films to enrich, educate and entertain a diverse community about the global Jewish experience.
www.mjff.org

Future Festival | Nov. 10-12
Join 7,000 of the worlds brightest insight leaders, from Starbucks & Samsung, to Google & NASA, whove relied on Future Festival to step back, think big, and spot opportunity with fresh, data-driven insight from the #1 trend firm.
www.futurefestival.com

Petaluma Holiday Art Fest | Nov. 13
Artists and vintage sellers work all year to present some of the best Christmas shopping of the season at this Vintage and Christmas Art Show. Shop for gifts, decorations, or that perfect art piece to add to your collection. 
www.visitpetaluma.com

Southern Utah Yoga Fest | Nov. 13-14
Two full days of yoga, meditation, sound healing, lectures, music and delicious food. Over 15 different teachers and more than 20 different classes and workshops to choose from.
www.southernutahyoga.com

Babypalooza Baby Registry Expo | Nov. 13-14
Visit one-on-one with exhibitors through live feeds. Learn about products to add to your baby registry direct from the brand reps. Attend health workshops with local experts. Play baby bingo and more in the Virtual Baby Shower room. 
www.babypalooza.com

Women in Tech Festival | Nov. 13-14
Silicon Valley Forum’s annual Women in Tech Festival celebrates women in STEM, business, and leadership who work to inspire, engage, and empower other women. 
www.siliconvalleyforum.com/women-in-tech-festival

Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival | Nov. 13-21
The longest-running women’s film festival in North America honors films and filmmakers that present the world as women experience it. Showcases documentary, narrative, shorts, and animated films that are thought-provoking, enriching, and encourage both global awareness and personal growth.
www.rmwfilm.org

Snake River Storytelling Virtual Conference and Concert | Nov.14
Enjoy five incredible workshops from nationally acclaimed storytellers. Later that evening, sit back and listen to these incredible storytellers from the comfort of your own home. 
https://snakeriverstorytelling.weebly.com

Spokane Fall Folk Festival | Nov. 14-Dec. 30
Pre-recorded performances of entertainers selected from this years applicants streamed on our website and Facebook page. In keeping with our tradition of having vendors at our festivals, this years Virtual Festival will have a Festival Market Place where you can shop for unique and very special items.
www.spokanefolkfestival.org

Colorado Bridal Show | Nov. 15
Plan, shop, talk to local vendors, register for prize giveaways. Plan your wedding in one day! 
www.theexpopros.com

Saint Alphonsus Festival of Trees | Nov. 19-30
Share in the magic as we virtually display a wonderland of holiday splendor, featuring lavishly decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, and inspirational decor that are available to bid on and purchase online. The Festival of Trees wouldn’t be complete without a visit with Santa Claus. 
www.saintalphonsus.org

Applewood Virtual Art Festival | Nov. 20-21
Colorado Applewood artisans come to you virtually in the comfort and safety of your home. Shop at your leisure, connect with the artisans, and enjoy some holiday music. 
www.applewoodfestivals.com

ART on the Square Virtual Holiday Show | Nov. 21
Discover unique and original gifts for everyone on your list. Visit and chat with artists in their virtual booths. You can also shop and buy directly from each artist’s website for a stress-free holiday shopping experience. 
www.redwoodcity.org

San Francisco Int’l Hip Hop Dancefest | Nov. 21
The world premiere of a commissioned work by curated dance artists from around the globe. Live performances by local artists. All-time favorite past SFIHHDF performances. Appearances by special guests. Online auction.
www.sfhiphopdancefest.com

Chicago Toy & Game Fair | Nov. 21-22
North Americas largest toy & game fair open to the public with experiential and immersive events, interactive exhibits and activities for all ages! Expand your brains, have fun, discover and experience new toys and games!
www.chitag.com/fair

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade | Nov. 26
This year the celebration will shift to a television only special presentation, showcasing the Macy’s Parade’s signature mix of giant character helium balloons, fantastic floats, street performers, clowns and heralding the arrival of Santa Claus. 
www.macys.com/social/parade

Turkey Trails Virtual Race | Nov. 26
A Thanksgiving themed run that is perfect for the whole family. The fun includes great swag (designer shirt, custom medal), online results with a great running community. 
www.runsignup.com 

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NORTH COUNTY INLAND

Bates Nut Farm | Weekdays 9AM – 5:30PM and Weekends 8:30AM – 6PM
15954 Woods Valley Road – Valley Center
Masks and social distancing required; dogs are welcome if leashed. Hayrides, straw maze, petting corral, pony rides, farm zoo, boutique, and general store. Free admission; $5 parking on the weekends.

Rancho Bernardo Pumpkin Farm | Daily 9AM – 6PM until 10/16 then 9AM to 7PM
13421 Highland Valley Road – Escondido
U-pick pumpkin patch with tractor hay-wagon rides, petting zoo, and corn maze. Free parking and admission, fee for the corn maze and hay rides.

Fall Harvest 2020 | Daily 10AM – 6PM
2115 Miller Avenue – Escondido
Pumpkin picking, hayrides, vendors, antique tractors, fresh produce, and food. Free admission.

NORTH COUNTY COASTAL

Carlsbad Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze | Patch 9AM – 7PM; Haunted Corn Maze 7PM – 10:30PM
1050 Cannon Drive – Carlsbad
Beachside u-pick pumpkin patch with corn maze ($10 fee), rides, games, and food. Haunted Field of Screams.

Palomar Pumpkin Polar Palooza | Mon. – Thurs. 2PM – 8PM and Fri. – Sun. 11AM – 9PM
1200 Laurel Tree Lane – Carlsbad
Pumpkin patch with thousands of pumpkins and movie nights.

CENTRAL SAN DIEGO

PB Pumpkin Patch | Weekdays 10AM to 10PM and Weekends 8AM to 10PM
870 Garnet Avenue – Pacific Beach
Seaside pumpkin patch with the largest selection in the area.

Mr. Jack O’ Lantern | Mon. – Thurs. 11AM – 8PM; Fri. – Sat. 10AM – 9pm; Sun. 10AM – 8PM
6710 La Jolla Boulevard – La Jolla
Masks, social distancing, and COVID-19 waivers enforced with sanitation stations throughout the patch. Food, drinks, games, activities, and pumpkin carving kits for sale. Free admission.

Mission Valley Pumpkin Station | Mon. – Thurs. 11AM – 9PM and Fri. – Sun. 9AM – 9PM
1640 ½ Camino Del Rio – Mission Valley
El Paso train, petting zoo, and u-pick patch. Leashed dogs are welcome. Free admission and parking.

Coronado Pumpkin Patch
1201 First Street – Coronado
Halloween activities, food, and photo opportunities on Coronado Ferry Landing.

EAST COUNTY

Julian Farm & Orchard | Mon., Thurs., and Fri. 11AM – 5PM; Sat. – Sun. 10Am – 5PM
4381 Highway 78 – Santa Ysabel
U-pick patch featuring three acres of pumpkins. Hayrides, barnyard animal zoo, axe throwing, apple cider pressing, and more.

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch | Tues. – Sat. 10AM – 7PM
14950 El Monte Road – Lakeside
Patch with petting corral, pedal cart race track, playground, and wagon rides for $3 a person. Admission fees apply – purchase before going. Free parking.

Pumpkin Express
750 Depot Street – Campo
Pumpkin Express at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association features decorated vintage rail car rides through the mountains. Kids encouraged to wear costumes and decorate pumpkins after the train ride. Tickets between $5 and $14, every toddler and child ticket includes a pumpkin. Train rides limited to 50 passengers, and interiors sanitized between rides.

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