CBUS Dads’ Holidays Activities and Traditions

CBUS Dads blogger Mike Liddy checked out the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival with his kids

We’re in the home stretch before the holidays. You may be off work, and the kids may be home from school. Regardless, you may also be looking for some activities that don’t include going to the mall to best maximize this special time of the year.

We polled our CBUS Dads for some of their holiday traditions and go-to activities that may be a little less mainstream than the ones that are typically top of mind:

The Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival is a unique holiday experience. The Ohio Expo Center & State Fairgrounds are decked out with almost 40 displays of traditional (and some non-traditional) Chinese lantern displays all lit up. There are tons of fun things for the kids: a Finding Nemo display, a Christmas display, huge dragons, and tons of pandas. But, the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival also has flowers, fruits and a long walk through the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Don’t miss the performances, the shopping and the food either. The paths can be a little difficult to navigate with a stroller, but they’ve placed hard plastic matting over the grassy areas to make it a little easier to traverse. The Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival goes until January 2, so there’s plenty of time to experience it, even if you can’t squeeze it in before the big one.
-Mike Liddy, Contributor


The older I get, the more I can relate to Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation. It’s easy to get caught up in the holidays, putting a ton of pressure on ourselves to make the holidays super special for our kids. I can’t be the only that’s been here, right? Each year, Erika and I dig for the holiday event that our kids will remember forever. However, there’s one simple tradition that we look forward to every year. On Christmas Eve morning, we go out for breakfast, just the four of us. In the midst of rushing and endless family gatherings, there’s something awesome about just having a simple breakfast together. The location is flexible, but the last two years (and probably this year) we hit up DK Diner in Grandview. The diner atmosphere allows for sweatpants and they always have fresh donuts. Sure, the big Christmas events are awesome, but I encourage you to find a few simple Christmas traditions as well.
-Billy Fischer, Contributor

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Every year, the Farkas family takes an afternoon to make Christmas cookies. I’ve done this for 40 years; the only exception was when I was two months old, and I think that seems like a fair excuse. Making cookie with the kids is pure chaos. Aprons don’t help. Eggs end up broken in wrong places. Often, the weight of the frosting on top of the cookie far eclipses the weight of the actual cookie. The end product won’t end up on the Food Network, but I appreciate it more than any Bobby Flay product.
-Dan Farkas, Contributor

My family and I are reserving December 23 for a Christmas day spent downtown. Every year we try to stroll through State Auto’s Christmas Corner that includes a historic life-sized Nativity display. We are also going to stop by the brand spanking new Main Library for the Huntington Holiday Train, which we’ve never checked out before. Both activities should captivate our energetic two-year-old. From there, we’ll grab a bite, aiming for somewhere with that warm, hearty fare that seems appropriate on a cold day. Maybe Press Grill or Jack’s Diner.
-Steve Michalovich, Contributor

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For the past several years my family have grabbed dinner at Milestone 229 or Columbus Brewing Company a few days before Christmas and then walked our fullness off through Bicentennial Park to see and enjoy the holiday lights at the forefront of our wonderful city skyline. This pleasant hike has recently expanded to include Columbus Commons since that area is also a “can’t miss” now in terms of a beautiful downtown holiday spectacle. To add to the mystique and nostalgia of the holidays here in Columbus, I then take my family on a stroll through the State Auto nativity display to enjoy their reaction to this wonderful scene as I used to experience when I was a child.
-Steve Swift, Contributor




We also caught wind of a Christmas Cave a couple hours south of town. Has anyone been there and would recommend?

Grocery Shopping and Survival

Whenever possibly, CBUS Dads blogger Steven Michalovich tries to do his grocery shopping at Kroger during happy hour.

Just when I felt I could survive a trip to the store with my daughter, sure enough, we had another kid.

I remember the first time I braved a trip to the grocery store with both kiddos like it was yesterday. It was only a few months ago, but a few months can feel like a few hours when you’re a parent.

Like many good Ohioans, we are loyal to Cincinnati-based Kroger. We weren’t intentional about the day of the week, but our first trip as a family of four to Kroger was on a Friday afternoon. If you shop at Kroger, you may know that they do happy hour on Fridays. It may sound lame, but they offer full glasses of wine for a quarter. That’s right, 25 cents. Goes without saying, but I highly recommend you do your Kroger shopping during happy hour. It makes the whining and mischief much easier to tolerate.

The happy hour is strategically located as you enter the store. I could sense that the next hour of my life could be better served with a little booze, so I quickly scooped up a glass for me and my wife, and we proceeded in.

Kroger does a great job catering to kids. Starting in the produce section, they offer free bananas for children. We always make this our first stop, because a banana will keep a two-year-old busy and peaceful for about seven minutes.

Kroger also offers free cookies from the bakery. When we first started taking kids grocery shopping, the first order of business was to get that free cookie. As our daughter has grown, we dangle the cookie as the carrot for good behavior. She is well aware that a trip to the store equals a cookie for her, so she is more apt to behave and listen knowing a cookie is the reward.

My toddler is going through a phase where she loves to “help Daddy” (let’s hope this continues for the next 30 years). Giving her assignments like pulling items from our list off shelves and putting them in the cart, keep her happy and agreeable most of the time.

None of the above even accounts for our infant. Hopefully you catch yours right when they’re ready for a nap, but anyone who’s had a newborn baby knows there’s no planning when they’ll want to cozy up for a snooze.

Children, of all ages, will always be a challenge in stores, and no amount of cheap wine will change that. When it’s just me and the kids doing the grocery shopping, my wife likes to add to the challenge by sending me on an endless quest for three different kinds of nutrition bars that are all conveniently scattered in different aisles of the store.

In my short time as a dad, I’ve learned getting through any errand requires a savvy combination of distraction, motivation, inclusion, and shameless bribery. This saga will never end, so if you have any tips for how you get through your shopping adventures with kids in toe, please share them here.

Side note: the following picture was posted exactly two years ago today. A day after I turned 30. One of the early trips to Kroger with children.



By Steven Michalovich, Contributor