You may not realize it, but did you know that the holidays are just around the corner? Have you started thinking of how you are going to spend the holidays?

Have you figured out who’s going to be hosting Christmas this year? Is it you? Are you going to have family coming to stay with you? Are you going to be the one that will be decorating the house and putting up the tree, cooking the turkey and spending endless hours trying to get your house ready for it to be destroyed within minutes of their arrival? Have you thought of where everyone is going to sleep? Does everyone get along with each other?

Families all want to spend the holidays together but with families both near in far and so many family members, we all know it’s getting more and more difficult to bring everyone together and it causes so much stress on everyone.

Bringing your family together for the holidays by taking a trip makes Christmas easy. No cooking or cleaning, no decorating a tree, no figuring out where everyone is going to sleep, and everyone gets to have their own space.

A recent survey was taken, asking adults and children alike, “Do you remember everything you received for Christmas?”

The answer was always no, but you would remember that Christmas when everyone went on a trip together and made memories that you will talk about for years to come.

While they say there’s “nothing like home for the holidays,” sometimes it’s fun to mix things up. From grandparents, to siblings of all ages, we are seeing more families wanting to make “memories” for Christmas rather than receiving gifts that they either don’t like or forget about in the months to come.

What we are seeing more of, is families gathering all together for the holiday’s by meeting each other at Walt Disney World or even taking a cruise together or even going to an all-inclusive resort!

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For parents of younger children, Christmas is especially challenging because we want to experience that special feeling of seeing our kids rip open brightly wrapped gifts and watch the joy on their faces. Remember the Disney Commercial when the parents surprise the family with a trip to Walt Disney World? The look on their faces and the excitement they felt? Some of the best presents don’t fit under a tree.

Here are just a few reasons why you may want to spend Christmas at Walt Disney World.

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The Magic Kingdom is definitely one of the places to be on Christmas Day. Prior to the holiday you can enjoy Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. And, on Christmas Day, the entire park is one big party with all the amazing holiday decorations and Christmas themed parades and fireworks.

The Disney characters dress up in holiday garb for meet-and-greets throughout the theme park. You’ll experience “Snow” flurries on Main Street, U.S.A. brrr! Delicious holiday treats - cookies, hot cocoa, apple slices and apple juice, and unlimited use of popular Magic Kingdom attractions.

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And for all of those who have little princesses: each evening, Cinderella’s Castle is transformed into a sparkling wonder. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Cinderella and her prince and Fairy Godmother work their magic to bring thousands of twinkling lights to life.

It really is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and Walt Disney World is the most wonderful place to celebrate the holidays. Disney goes all out for Christmas.

And, just announced, now there’s even more of a reason to visit Walt Disney World for Christmas where you can “Unwrap the Magic of Christmas at Walt Disney World” -- starting at $199 a person per night for a family of four.

This package includes: a five-night stay at a value, moderate, deluxe hotel, a Four-Day Park Hopper Ticket, exclusive nighttime access to Animal Kingdom on Dec. 21 and a special showing of Rivers of Light as well as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets for Dec. 22.

And, you can reserve spots for Epcot nighttime show, plus a $50 per person Epcot Dine Promo Card for select Epcot restaurants for Dec. 23 or 24. Plus, receive a special holiday gift that will be delivered to your resort room on Dec. 25. The catch is that this package is only good for Specific Date Range for check-in on Dec. 21 - Check-out on Dec. 26 and has to be booked by: Oct. 26. The rates are based on availability!

Why you may want to consider a cruise?

This is one of the easiest trips to plan for a family. The reason is because you only have three things that you have to decide on… destination, date and cruise line! Plus, a cruise can accommodate the entire family, both young and old, near and far.

Once you’re on board the ship, family members can be as active or as relaxed as they wish, stay together, or go off independently. Plus, your parents or in-laws can easily get one-on-one time with their grandchildren without a hassle.

Royal Caribbean loves the Christmas holiday, which you’ll see reflected in everything they do. The entire ship is decked out in red and green décor and your winter wonderland is complete with a merry tree-lighting event. Families with kids will love the many crafts and activities throughout their journey to keep the little ones happy. Children can even send letters straight to the North Pole.

Adult passengers will also enjoy the many themed nights and activities. Test your knowledge during a fun trivia contest or race with your team to complete a scavenger hunt. Of course, no December is complete without an ugly sweater Christmas party — they’ll have one of those too! Feel right at home with the merriment of the season during your Christmas cruise.

One of the best things about Christmas on a cruise ship is the variety of tropical destinations you can set sail to. Royal Caribbean has a variety of cruises to help you rejoice.

What a better way to celebrate the holidays with your family and friends than on a Christmas holiday cruise. Sail to the islands of the Caribbean where the skies are always blue and the waters are crystal clear.

Walt Disney World or taking a cruise isn’t what you are looking for, and you had rather be soaking up some sun at an all-inclusive resort for the holidays, these resorts are like cruise ships on land.

This type of Christmas vacation allows you to swap sleds and snow boots for snorkels and paddle boards. You also have some “me time” while the kids play. There is plenty of holiday spirit to be found throughout the Caribbean, along with warmth, glistening water, exotic beverages, all your food, activities, and entertainment. It’s also perfect for a multi-generational family holiday!

Christmas is a special time for families, friends and loved ones to come together. It also affords a rare opportunity to freeze such social gatherings in time by building long-lasting memories that will be talked about for years to come. Start a new tradition this year and focus on the joy of the season in Paradise and creating a Christmas that everyone will remember forever and find the perfect Christmas present – not under the tree, but the memories made the perfect present.

Now is the time to start planning Christmas as time comes nearer to that time, things will be sold out with limited availability, so have that conversation now with your family!

Plus, if you book now, you have a few months to make payments on your trip. Don’t let Christmas slip up on you. Make this the Christmas that you and your family will be talking about for years to come.

Barbara May is owner of Travel Leaders. For more information on planning your Christmas vacation, give Travel Leaders a call at 901- 853-6200 or 901-377-6600. Travel Leaders main location is at 2765 Wolf Creek Parkway, Ste. 104 (next door to David’s Bridal), Memphis, TN 38133 and in Collierville by appointment only.

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