Where to Find Santa in Seattle

(Pacific Place)

The jolly old elf is easy to spot when you’re not looking for him, but can be difficult to find when you are! Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered for some of the best places to find him. This year will see a few changes. This will be the last year to see Santa at the downtown Macy’s store due to its upcoming closure and sadly, Santa will not be visiting Northgate Mall (although kids can drop off letters to Santa there). While many of the places listed below offer professional photos, don’t feel pressured to purchase any. These Santas are pros with a motivation to share cheer. They will give your child the same attention that they will be giving to paying customers. With that said, some locations offers some really nice photos that families will treasure for years to come. And, so are even offering free photos.

Here is where Santa will be hanging out now through Christmas Eve. Although the hours listed do not include the times when he will be busy feeding the reindeer. If you’d rather skip the line, check out the location’s websites for information on how you can schedule a time.

Westfield Southcenter Mall

2800 Southcenter Mall, Seattle 98188 – (206) 246-0423 – More info >>>

Westfield Southcenter Mall is offering a special “Storytime with Mr. & Mrs. Claus on December 7 from 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Mr. & Mrs. Claus will read holiday classics and sing carols. Kids will also enjoy cookie decorating and crafts. Tickets are donation based. All proceeds will benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital. More info >>>

Santa’s meet-and-greet times:

  • Dec. 4-7: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m
  • Dec. 8: 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 10-13: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 14: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 15: 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 16-19: 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 20-21: 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 22-23: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 24 – 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Anko

19500 Alderwood Mall Pkwy, Lynnwood, 98036
12650 Totem Lake Blvd. NE, Totem Lake, 98034
15840 1st Ave. S., Burien, 98148

Anko is hosting free meet-and-greets with Santa including a complimentary photo (one per family) that will be sent instantly by email after your visit on Sunday December 15. Santa will be there from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Walk-ins are also accepted. Sign up here: Lynnwood store, Totem Lake store or Burien store.

Macy’s Downtown Seattle

300 Pine St., Seattle, 98181 – (206) 506-6915 – More info >>>

If this place is a tradition for your family, you’ll want to sign up for a spot soon!

  • Dec. 4-13: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 14: 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 15-19: 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 20-22: 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 23: 7:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Nordstrom Downtown Seattle

500 Pine St. Seattle, WA 98101 – (206) 628-2111 – More info >>>

Nordstrom’s Santa Lane’s hours vary from the regular store hours so we recommend that you call the store ahead of time before you visit. However, to give you a ballpark, here are the store’s hours for the season:

  • Dec. 4-6: 9:30 a.m.- 9 p.m.
  • Dec. 7: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • Dec. 8: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Dec. 9-12: 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • Dec. 13-14: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Dec. 15: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 16-21: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Dec. 22: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 23: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Pacific Place

600 Pine St., Seattle, WA  98101 – (206) 405-2655 – More info >>>

Due to all of the construction makeover of this mall, Pacific Place is introducing a new Santa Claus experience for their guests that will be different than the traditional sit-down portrait experience. Each weekend Santa Claus will be at the mall to greet shoppers and stroll the center on every floor, plus he will sit in his holiday ornament chair from time to time located on Level 2 near the holiday pop-up store, Wishes Toys and Games. Guests can take photos, selfies or just visit with the big guy with their wish lists.

  • Dec. 6-7: 4-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 8: 2-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 13-14: 4-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 15: 2-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 20-21: 4-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 22: 2-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 23-24: 1-6 p.m.

Bellevue Square

575 Bellevue Square, Bellevue 98004 – (800) 934-6489 – More info >>>

  • Dec. 4-7: 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 8: 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 9-14: 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 15: 10:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 16-23: 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Alderwood Mall

3000 184th St. SW, Lynnwood, 98037 – (425) 967-8994 – More info >>>

  • Dec. 4-7: 10:00 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 8: 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 9-14: 10:00 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 15-23: 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Town Center at Lake Forest Park

17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park 98155 – – More info >>>

  • Dec. 4-6: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 7: 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 8: 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 9-12: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 13-14: 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 15: 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 16-23: 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m
  • Dec. 24: 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

University Village

2623 NE University Village St., Seattle 98105 – – More info >>>

Every Monday this season, University Village will be offering Pet Photos with Santa! Bring your pet for a picture with Santa and a percentage of sales will benefit Seattle Humane.

  • Dec. 4-5: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 6-7: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 8: 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 9-14: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 15: 10:00 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Dec. 16-21: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 22: 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 23: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Everett Mall

1402 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett, 98208 – (425) 355-1771 – More info >>>

  • Dec. 4-13: 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 14: 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 15: 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 16-20: 10:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 21-23: 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Redmond Town Center

7525 166th Ave. N.E., Redmond, WA 98052 – (425) 869-2640 – More info >>>

Brick and Mortar Books will be offering a free Santa Story Time on December 10 and 17 at 9:45 a.m.

  • Dec. 4-7: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 8: 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 9-13: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m
  • Dec. 14-15: 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 16-20: 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 21: 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 22-23: 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 24: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Planning for an Epic Game Night

Eat, work, sleep. Rinse and repeat. As adults, it’s easy to fall into a rut doing the same old things over and over again even during our free time. We’re so focused on the tasks before us that we forget to have fun. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work to have fun, but do you ever stop and think about how easy it was for us as kids to create our own fun with just a rock and stick? It’s high time for a game night. Here’s how.

Below we’ve laid the groundwork to create a simple night of fun and hi-jinx. Many of the items needed can be purchased locally at Anko at one of their stores (in Lynnwood, Burien, Bellevue, Kirkland or Mill Creek) or online. They rotate their products frequently so you might not find the exact same items we did. Other suggestions are mentioned as well.

Planning the Night

Don’t overthink it. Some of the best experiences come from the simplest plans:

  1. Invite a few friends.
  2. Set the mood.
  3. Plan the games.
  4. Provide the refreshments.

That’s about it. Just keep it simple. Sure, there’s a bit more to it like cleaning the house and buying supplies, but that’s expected. Just be sure to divide the tasks between you and your significant other. If the process become stressful, you’re doing it wrong.

Invite a few friends

We often think of parties with a large group of friends, but while more may be merrier, it’s also a lot more work and can become a lot more expensive. Think smaller. Then again, not too small. Consider inviting four couples over and if one couple bails at the last minute, you still have a good size group.

Set the Mood

Make it casual affair. No need for crazy decorations unless you want to. Set up “photo booth” with props for fun. We found a cheap set at Anko for $3 that included paper cut-outs of a crown, unicorn horn, bunny ears, sunglasses and more. Fill a few small metal buckets with M&M’s or Skittles and put them in strategic places your living room for easy access and let the games begin.

Plan the games

As hosts, we naturally want to be accommodating to our guests, but you need to have some kind of plan in place. Don’t make the mistake of just asking, “So, what games would you guys like to play?” Your guests don’t really want to be the ones to make the decision. At the very least, offer two games for them to decide on. From Bunko to classic card games, just about anything will work. Although, avoid games that take a long time to play or are overly complicated. Better yet, why not come up with a twist of old favorites or try something new? Here are some suggestions.

Bingo Potluck

Have each guest bring an item from home that they no longer want wrapped in a plain brown paper bag. These will be used as the prizes for those who get a “Bingo.” The odder the item the more fun the game is. (This is fun game to play after Christmas when you have silly stuff you got as gifts but don’t know what to do with them, but it can be played any time of the year.) Don’t have a Bingo game set? You can purchase a cheap one at your local department store. Use your M&M’s or Skittles as markers.

Jackbox TV

Jackbox Games offers fun party game experiences using your video game system and your guests’ cell phones. The website offers a variety of games that are easy to understand, simple to execute and don’t take a long time to play. Show off your trivia knowledge, creativity and humor with games like Word Spud, Lie Swatter, Fibbage, Drawful, Trivia Murder Party and more. Many games can be played with up to ten players and even spectators will have fun.

Chalkboard Rumble

Set up a large A-frame chalkboard in the center of the room. Give every guest a few slips of paper and a pen. Choose a theme (movie titles, song titles, things found in the house, etc.) and have your guests write some titles or items on the slips of paper. Place all the slips into a pail. Then, divide into two teams. Pick a member on each team to go first. One player picks a slip and shares it with the other player. On a count of three, both draw clues to the answer on their side of the chalkboard without speaking while their team shouts out answers. First team to guess the right answer wins the round and scores a point. The team that wins the game can celebrate their win by launching confetti poppers.

Provide the Refreshments

Remember, this isn’t a formal dinner party. Simple desserts are the way to go and we’ve got a few tricks to make them extra special.

Gourmet Cupcakes

Yes, you COULD purchase expensive cupcakes for $4 each or you can make them yourself. No really. First, we recommend purchasing silicone baking cups instead of using the old-fashioned paper liners. They look nice and can be used over and over again. Be sure to spray them with a little cooking spray and place them in a regular cupcake pan, so they keep their shape.

Use a reliable cake mix like Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist cake mix. Each box makes 24 cupcakes so you’ll have plenty to share. Then skip the canned frosting and make your own. We highly recommend Tom Douglas’ Vanilla Bean Buttercream frosting recipe found in The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. It takes awhile to make, but it is SO much better than what passes as buttercream on the store shelves.

Now to get creative. Just a few additions will make these cakes into something super special. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make mocha cupcakes by adding a few teaspoons of instant coffee into a chocolate cake batter.
  • Throw in a few mini chocolate chips into a white cake mix just before backing.
  • Top frosted cupcakes with a little caramel ice cream topping and a pinch of salt.
  • Tint frosting with green food coloring and add a teaspoon of mint extract.
  • Make lemon cupcakes and top with fresh strawberry slices.

Mini Apple Pies

Easy as…well, you know…purchase little pie plate tins ($3.50 for 4 at Anko!) and Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust dough. Cut the dough to fit the small pie plates. Fill with your favorite apple pie filling recipe and top with a crumb topping. Top with vanilla bean ice cream for the full experience.

Cocktails or Mocktails

We found six packs of “milk bottles” that are perfect for party cocktails. We recommend using a clear beverage like a light rum, vodka or soda and make then sparkle with colorful fruit-infused ice cubes. Before your party, fill your ice cube trays with fruits and juices. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ice cubes made with berries and cran-raspberry juice. Serve with lemon-lime soda or seltzer water.
  • Ice cubes made with mint leaves, lime juice and simple syrup. Serve with light rum.
  • Ice cubes made with strawberries or raspberries and water. Serve with lemonade.

Of course, what really makes it are those nifty bendy straws with mustaches and lips!

Hotel Indigo in Everett

Introducing Everett’s Hotel Indigo

Everett's Hotel Indigo
Everett’s newest hotel, Hotel Indigo (InterContinental Hotels Group )

After years of talk and construction, Everett’s 65-acre Waterfront Place Project is starting to take shape. The new “neighborhood” will eventually feature up to 660 housing units, ten restaurants and a variety of shops and business. One of the area’s first completed projects is the new boutique hotel, Hotel Indigo. The new InterContinental Hotels Group property will no doubt become a destination location for travelers and locals alike thanks to its beautiful views of the Port of Everett marina and Puget Sound.

There are only 67 Hotel Indigo boutique hotels in the United States and the Everett location is the only one in the chain located in Washington State.

On a recent tour of the property, I learned that instead of just being another hotel in the chain of IHG Hotels, each location must have its own story of sorts and actually blend in with the surrounding area. This new location share plenty of Everett’s waterfront history. You can see evidence of this everywhere you look from the porthole windows to the vintage lights. There is a nautical theme throughout the place, but it is done is a tasteful, un-kitschy way.

A room at Hotel Indigo in Everett
(Hotel Indigo)

Of Hotel Indigo’s 142 room, 119 of them feature water views. The floors are lined with wood-like tiles (a subtle nod to Everett’s former lumber mill) and the walls decorated with more nautical touches. Whether staying for work or a local vacation, the rooms are equipped to make one’s stay a pleasurable one with a spa-like bathroom with cozy robes, coffee maker, mini refrigerator, flat screen TV and stereo. Every guest is offered a free morning newspaper and internet service.

The hotel features many of the amenities you would expect but with a few extra nice touches. The business center is open 24/7 and so is the large on-site fitness room featuring three treadmills, two elliptical machines, an recumbent bike, a universal weight machine and entertainment options to make your workout an enjoyable one.

Next door you’ll find a large indoor saline swimming pool with plenty of windows to light up the room, but high enough to protect your privacy and not make you feel like you are on display.

Fido will appreciate walks along the 3.5 mile trail and you might want to take advantage of the paddleboat rentals and complimentary ferry trips to Jetty Island during the summer months.

The hotel’s own unique “seafood-forward” restaurant, Jetty Bar & Grille, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring an outstanding culinary team lead by Chef Andrew Cross. While you may not know him by name, Cross is no stranger to the hospitality businesses. His impressive resume includes stints at the Semiamoo Resort, Canon Whiskey restaurant and Canlis.

As is most of hotel, the restaurant is lined with large windows which presents incredible views of the sunset each night. One wall is decorated with large vintage black and white photos of the Everett marina. The lights that hang overhead are reminiscent of crab pots. The space feels larger than it really is with its clean and modern layout.

Cross’ menu promises the freshest seafood from local sources including Lummi Island Wild and Taylor Shellfish, “with a focus on approachable seafood dishes inspired by the Salish Sea,” says the hotel’s press release. Guests can look forward to trying Scuttlebutt beer-battered halibut and chips, Miso Glazed Black Cod (with ginger-edamame hummus, caramelized onions, grilled bok choy and savory broth), Blackened Salmon Sliders (grilled salmon stuffed inside buttery brioche bread with spicy pineapple slaw), Deviled Eggs (made with smoked salmon caviar!), Lummi Island smoked salmon chowder (made with yukon gold potatoes and a smoked tomato crème fraiche), and a variety of local oysters on the half shell.

During our last visit, my wife and I chose “turf” over “surf” which seemed wrong when dining a seafood restaurant, but it turned out to be a great decision. Beginning our meal with slices of fresh bread and butter, I had the Bone-In Thick Cut Pork Chop which was served with spaetzle, roasted mushrooms and amazing caramelized apples which I enjoyed with a glass of Cranberry Cider. My wife chose a Mushroom Risotto (which was stuffed with five or six different types of mushrooms) and side of roasted vegetables. We both ended up bringing boxes of leftovers home with us. Other choices include a 14 oz. New York Prime Steak (with crispy duck fat potatoes and grilled rapini) and Hanger Steak Frites (garlic fries, arugula, pickled onions and chimichurri sauce).

When the weather is nicer, guests can enjoy small bites alongside handcrafted cocktails on the outdoor patio and locals will appreciate the Jetty Grill Express food service window selling “to-go” dishes. With the recent and unexpected closure of Monte Cristo Hotel wedding venue in downtown, Hotel Indigo has been busy filling its 8,000 square feet of indoor event space with many weddings. It also offers another 5,000 square feet of outdoor space, which will be nice when the weather is warmer.

For more information, visit Hotel Indigo’s website or call 425-217-2772 to make reservations for dinner at the Jetty Bar & Grille.

(All photos were taken by the author except where noted.)

Target Disney Store Lake Stevens Washington

Disney Comes to Lake Stevens

The new Disney Store within the Lake Stevens Target store.

With little fanfare, a new mini Disney Store opened within the Lake Stevens Target store today. It is one of the 25 Target stores to receive a Disney presence and the only one in Washington state. So far. Disney plans to open 40 more locations in Targets by October 2020.

The Lake Stevens in store store is located near the toy section of the store with another section dedicated to Frozen 2 merchandise near the store’s entryway and a few other displays set up throughout.

Frozen 2 is a big deal at Target in Lake Stevens.
Frozen 2 is a big deal at Target in Lake Stevens.

When the new partnership was announced in August, the two companies stated that each location will stock about 450 items, many of which are usually only available at dedicated Disney Stores. Most of these items sell at $20 or less, but the prices actually range from $2 to $200.

The Lake Stevens store features a little bit of everything including coffee mugs, t-shirts, Christmas sweaters, ornaments, toys and lots of stuffed Olafs. Items found here feature characters from Disney’s wide range of animated hits, TV shows and movies. I suspect that the merchandise will change a lot throughout the year with each new Disney project coming to the big and small screen. Gentle Disney music plays in the area and a TV screen features clips of Disney movies.

The Disney/Target combo is an interesting experiment and from what I saw today, many young shoppers give the place a big thumbs up. Is it worth going out of your way for? That depends. There’s a lot here, but I didn’t see anything spectacular. If you live near a “regular” Disney Store, I would say to just shop there. The prices appeared to be the same as what you would find elsewhere too. Now, when and if the items go on sale, that might be a different story.