Holidays in Portland: Zoo Lights + A Giveaway!

Holidays in Portland: Zoo Lights + A Giveaway!

What are your favorite holiday traditions? My little family have begun traditions over the past few years that I hope will last our lifetime and possibly end up as traditions my kids keep with their kids someday. One of my favorite holiday traditions that we try to do every year is visiting Oregon Zoo’s Zoo Lights. This year the whole family attended and I got to share my joy of holiday lights and zoo animals with two very excited little guys! Read on to see my tips for an enjoyable #ZooLightsPDX experience, cute photos of kiddos, and a chance to win a package of 4 tickets to this year’s Zoo Lights!

This post is sponsored, all opinions are my own. To learn more about my posting policies regarding sponsored posts please visit my policies page. As always, thank you for reading more about the companies that help support this blog. 

Holiday Events in PDX - Oregon Zoo's Zoo Lights at A Well Crafted Party

Holiday Events in PDX - Oregon Zoo's Zoo Lights at A Well Crafted Party

If you were following my Instastories or Snapchat last week you might have seen my very, very excited posts about Zoo Lights. I just can’t help it. I LOVE the feeling that this season brings and the twinkly lights just push it over the moon for me. Don’t even get me started on how I feel about Santa and snow this season. Heart eyes all day long.

Tips for Making the Most out of Your Zoo Lights Experience

Plan your trip— Zoo Lights this year has some pretty great hours and fun extra opportunities. Plan your trip to make the most of your budget and experience. ZooLights is open 5 PM to 8 PM on Value Nights and 5PM to 9PM all other nights. ZooLights is open 7 days a week until January 1st with the exception of December 24th and 25th. Zoo Members get discounts on food purchases, gift store purchases, the carousel, and train.

Take advantage of Zoo Value Nights: Monday through Thursday November 28th through December 15th tickets are $9.95 (adults), $7.95 (seniors), and $4.95 (youth) with $1.50 off with proof of Trimet fare.


Tip: Take public transportation! While we had no problems with parking on a Thursday night and found that the parking fee was reasonable… I do recommend taking public transportation. Public transportation can drop you right off at the zoo and will give you a discount for your tickets. If the parking lot is full there is a parking shuttle from the overflow parking area, but it can mean some waiting in the cold. Might as well do a park and ride and make your trip less of a hassle.


Holiday Events in PDX - Oregon Zoo's Zoo Lights at A Well Crafted Party

Holiday Events in PDX - Oregon Zoo's Zoo Lights at A Well Crafted Party

Dress appropriately— It is Oregon in winter. It often rains and up where the zoo is located is often cooler than other areas of Portland. Dress for cold weather. We have gone to zoo lights for nearly 5 years now and I think this was the first year that we REALLY dressed for it. We had many layers on, a blanket for the kiddo in his stroller, and outerwear that was rain resistant. Thankfully we barely got a drizzle while there, but I was glad that we were prepared.

Holiday Events in PDX - Oregon Zoo's Zoo Lights at A Well Crafted Party


Get tickets for the Zoo Train— Maybe it is just because I have two little boys who love trains… but, this was my favorite part of the whole trip. The trains are decorated and drive through the zoo where you get to see the lights all while in a comfortable little cart. I had been waiting for huge lines at the train, but was pleasantly surprised to find that they gave us tickets for certain times which meant that when we went to the train we had a less than 5 minute wait!

Holiday Events in PDX - Oregon Zoo's Zoo Lights at A Well Crafted Party


Get your family photo in the tunnel of lights! There are so many great photo opportunities at Zoo Lights, but this is my favorite. I am so glad that it is a staple in the zoo light decorations and comes back year after year.

Win 4 Tickets to Oregon Zoo’s Zoo Lights 2016

Must be 18+ years of age or older, and a US resident to enter to win. Winner will be notified via email, so please leave a valid email address within your comment on with Rafflecopter. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to winning email to claim their prize. If they do not respond a new winner will be chosen. Upon confirmation, tickets will be placed in will call at the zoo under the winner’s name. Tickets are valid for one-time use from completion of contest through the last night of ZooLights (January 1, 2017). Visit the Zoo Website for more information about ZooLights. Value of four tickets is $59.80. No cash value. Non-transferrable.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanksgiving Potlucks & Free Thanksgiving Printables

Thanksgiving Potlucks & Free Thanksgiving Printables

I had the pleasure of participating in a pre-Thanksgiving potluck of sorts and share tips for the Ultimate Oregon Thanksgiving on The Simple Kitchen with Missy Maki this past weekend. Check out the two hour show for tips and LOTS of laughs. (I’m sharing tips in hour 1!) It would be a fun listen while you’re prepping your bird this Thanksgiving.

Ultimate Thanksgiving with Missy Maki The Simple Kitchen

We had a star line up for the Ultimate Oregon Thanksgiving show including Ryan from Aria Gin, Bee from The Spicy Bee, Marlynn from Urban Bliss Life, Melissa from, Lindsay from Rosemarried, myself, and Missy Maki from The Simple Kitchen and Missy Maki Cooks. We all brought in foods and beverages to sample while speaking about Thanksgiving for two hours! A wonderful time was had by all.

The whole show was full of fantastic tips and really interesting double entendres! We discovered that you really can’t speak about the Thanksgiving meal without some funny double meanings.


Ultimate Thanksgiving with Missy Maki The Simple Kitchen

Ultimate Thanksgiving with Missy Maki The Simple Kitchen

Thanksgiving Tips from our Simple Kitchen Show:

There are a TON of tips on the Thanksgiving show, but the ones below are some of my favorite for having a stress-free potluck Thanksgiving:


Erin from BakeryBingo and Meredith from Martha Chartreuse called in and shared their party planning tips for hosting a holiday Friendsgiving brunch. One of the tips that really hit home was the tip to stay organized with all who are participating online through Google Docs. I also love the many different online potluck planning sites (like Perfect Potluck) for organizing your holiday meal.

Ultimate Thanksgiving with Missy Maki The Simple Kitchen

Appetizers & Drinks

When people arrive and you are in the kitchen trying to get everything done and on the table hot you will want to have something to occupy your guests time. Absolutely put them to help if you have something to do, but more often or not you just need people out of the way! A batch cocktail and delicious appetizer will help keep guests busy.

Appetizer ideas:

  • – Lindsey shared details on her Brussels Sprouts and Shallot Dip that sounds (and looks) out of this world delish
  • – A beautiful charcuterie plate will WOW a crowed and keep everyone coming back for more. The above platter was created by the lovely Melissa of and it was a show stopper to say the least. Check out her tips on creating your own charcuterie platter.

Drink ideas: 

Main Meal:

  • – Flip your turkey. You don’t want to let the turkey breast get dry!
  • – MASH your potatoes with a potato masher so that there are still some yummy chunks in there.
  • – DO NOT stuff your bird with your stuffing. Make the stuffing a delicious side. (This Sourdough Stuffing with Andouille from The Spicy Bee would fit nicely at your Thanksgiving table!)


  • – Keep it simple with a yummy holiday bark. It is easy to eat and isn’t too filling.
  • – Go ahead and buy that store made pie crust to save time. It’ll be okay. (Though, if you really want to make your own here are my tips on making the perfect pie crust!)


Thanksgiving Potluck Tips

Free Printable Thanksgiving Potluck Cards

While I am a fan of all food, I am also a fan of hosting a dinner party where everyone can feel comfortable eating and enjoying themselves within their own dietary restrictions. In a potluck situation it can be difficult to know what is in each dish. I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want to pull out an epi pen during Thanksgiving! These free printable Thanksgiving Potluck cards are an easy way for guests to know exactly what they are eating without having to find out and question each person who brought in a dish. Simply had each person a card and pen when they arrive and ask that they label their wonderful contribution for the safety and enjoyment of all attendees!

Free Printable Thanksgiving Potluck Cards

Listen to the recording of The Simple Kitchen’s Ultimate Oregon Thanksgiving show for more tips on hosting Thanksgiving!


Have a happy, happy Thanksgiving!

DIY Table Runner for Thanksgiving Table

DIY Table Runner for Thanksgiving Table

I have been looking for ways to incorporate my son into my hobbies (aka parties) so that we are spending more time together and so that I nurture his creativity. We had a ton of fun together creating the paintings for our Halloween party. When thinking about how I was going to decorate the Thanksgiving table this year I wanted to work on something together that would give him a little ownership to the meal and table. A little paper and paint and we had a plan– a DIY Table Runner! Paper table runners are a great way to set the holiday table because you don’t really have to worry about spills ruining your good linens. Kids can draw on the runner when bored and waiting for the rest of the party to finish their food. It is just a win win.

Involve your kiddo in decorating the holiday table with this easy DIY watercolor table runner. - A Well Crafted Party

DIY Table Runner with Watercolor Paints & Paper

I have a pretty good selection of every day craft supplies in my house. However, the one supply that I like to keep in stock that may not be in the average household is a large roll of butcher paper. I currently have a large roll of white paper and a large roll of black paper. I often find a use for large paper rolls whether it be a craft project or a last minute wrapping need. Below is a short list of supplies that I used when my son and I created this watercolor DIY table runner.


(Links below are affiliate links to products I use and would suggest!)

DIY Table Runner Project - Perfect project to do with your kids! - A Well Crafted Party



This was such an easy project and it really didn’t take too much time or effort. Use the steps below to create your own DIY Table Runner.

  1. Cut paper to length of table or desired length/width (you could also make great little place mats or wrapping paper with this same method!)
  2. Decide on a color scheme for this project. If you choose a lot of different colors then you are likely to get a pretty muddy mess. I like to choose colors that are shade variations. This project we took blue, green, white, and black paints to create different shades of blue-green. NOTE: Test out your desired color scheme on a scrap piece of paper so that you don’t have to waste the larger sheet if you don’t like the final look.
  3. Paint in varying directions in large swatches. We really wanted the runner to look organic and a tad messy. This makes this project great for kids as it doesn’t require a lot of precision. Vary the amount of water on your brush to mix up the water color look with a bolder dry brush effect. My son really could have done this whole thing by himself with just me guiding him on when to switch colors so that they didn’t clump up all in one area.
  4. Once you have the amount of coverage that you like let the paper dry. Water colors dry extremely fast. I think ours took about 10 minutes to dry once completed.
  5. Fold the sides of the paper under for a seamless look.
  6. DONE! Set your table and enjoy!


DIY Table Runner Project - Perfect project to do with your kids! - A Well Crafted Party


What else could you use this method of painting for in your home?

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