Bella Vita jewelry

Well, here we are again, friends. We're fully into another strange holiday season, though thankfully one with a bit more certainty and normalcy. As our calendars fill up with events and activities, many of which were on hiatus in 2020, we're reminded just how much we love this season in Little Rock, and just how much we missed it last year.

But first, I want to remind you it's OK if things still feel off. They are. Give yourself some grace, stay safe, enjoy the moments you can and don't dwell on the rest. More normal days are ahead.

Now, if you're ready to welcome back the holidays with open arms (or with a mask and 6 feet of distance), here are my top ways to get into the spirit ASAP.

First things first, let's talk Little Rock pride. Apart from avoiding any shipping concerns, we know how transformative it is when a community spends its dollars locally. This year, set a challenge to do it as much as possible. Skip the grocery chain and scope out neighborhood restaurants for holiday menus. Need decor or gifts? Visit a nearby, new-to-you shop. Don't see anything you like? You can even shop locally through Etsy, just select the Little Rock filter.

Live seasonal shows are a huge part of the holidays in Little Rock and one of the things we missed most last year. Many annual favorites return to the stage this month including Ballet Arkansas' "Nutcracker Spectacular," Argenta Community Theater's "A Christmas Carol" and concerts from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Arkansas Chamber Singers and Little Rock Winds Symphony. Extra special this year is "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's first holiday show since suspending operations in spring 2020.

We love an open house, and December is full of them. Keep an eye out for area businesses, museums and institutions opening their doors to guests to celebrate the holidays, their missions and a bit of Arkansas history. Some of our favorite events include the Arkansas Governor's Mansion tour and the sweet potato pie contest at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

And of course, the holiday season and end of another year encourage us to reflect on our relationships and responsibilities to our fellow man, especially those in need. If you want to give your money, time or talents, but aren't sure where to start, check out our annual Giving Guide.