I'm Lisa Kirk, a wife, mama, writer, and founder. Since 2010, Something Pretty has been home to my favorite memories, reflections, and inspirations. Thanks so much for reading!

Activities for Our First Christmas in Raleigh


For the very first time, we aren’t traveling for Christmas! We usually take advantage of Dave’s company shutdown over the holidays by taking a longer trip (usually close to two weeks) to see one of our families, but knowing I’d be in my third trimester by Christmas this year, we made the decision early-on to stay closer to home. While it’s going to be very strange to be away from everyone, Dave and I have grown really excited about waking up in our own bed on Christmas morning! As it turns out, staying home marks so many sweet firsts: the first holiday in our new home, our first Christmas Mass at our beloved church, and our first chance to experience the full holiday season in Raleigh. We’ve started a few traditions over the years that we’ve been able to take with us on our travels, but this year, we’re loving creating new Christmas traditions that are more tied to the city we love calling home!

This post is going up a little late since, as you may have seen, Something Pretty has a fresh new look! I’ve spent the last few weeks refining everything with the amazing women at With Grace & Gold and couldn’t be more excited about how it turned out. So, while some of these activity dates have passed, I still want them on record for future reference :)

Attend The Nutcracker at Carolina Ballet. This is one of my all-time favorite traditions, but it’s one we don’t always prioritize in our budget, especially since we’re usually spending a good chunk of change on travel. This year, we actually asked for tickets as a Christmas gift from Dave’s parents. They generously gifted them to us on Cyber Monday when Carolina Ballet ran a 50% off discount on select performances–such a great deal!!

Check out the Christmas decor at the historic homes in Oakwood (possibly on the Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour). I love wandering around through Oakwood and can’t wait to see it decked out for Christmas!

Pick out a Christmas tree at a local farm. The only real tree we’ve bought in the past was for the first Christmas we were in our old house/Charlie’s first Christmas when we couldn’t resist, even though we only got to enjoy it for a week or two in early December. This year, we picked up a tree from a local farm less than 15 minutes from our house, and were excited to support a family business over the holidays. Fun fact: North Carolina grows the second-highest number of Christmas trees in the country!

Shop (and eat pierogi!) at the St. Nicholas European Christmas Market. Dave, in particular, has a special place in his heart for European Christmas markets (or, more appropriately, Advent markets), and this is the closest thing we’ve found in town. The local Byzantine church organizes it and we had so much fun attending a few years ago! Go on the first day for the best selection of gift items or on the second day for food.

Order holiday treats from Yellow Dog Bread Co. Unlike Christmas, we’ve been home almost every Easter, and ordering an Easter treat from Yellow Dog has become a fun mini tradition. Supporting a local bakery during the holidays makes me feel more deeply ingrained in the community, and I’m pretty excited to check out their Christmas menu! They also have the most adorably Instagrammable gingerbread lattes, which I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist :)

Venture to Chapel Hill to see the Christmas decorations at The Carolina Inn. We used to frequent The Carolina Inn multiple times a year during my Southern Weddings days, but it has been a while since we made it over there. It’s absolutely worth the drive to see their gorgeous Christmas decorations. This year, we got to enjoy a fabulous wedding there, but next year, I’d love to do a Christmas-y afternoon tea!

Browse the boutiques in Cameron Village or North Hills. I do 99% of my shopping online these days, but love popping into brick-and-mortar stores when they’re decorated for the holidays. This would be such a fun way to spend a Saturday morning with a friend.

Fellow Raleighites, is there anything else I need to squeeze into this weekend or add to my list for next year? And no matter where you live, I’d love to hear one of your favorite local Christmas traditions!






  1. Dana says:

    We got a small tree too and it’s been so fun decorating for Christmas together! We drove 2 hours to a Christmas market with an underwhelming 10 vendors. Classic Missouri! But still will be a fun memory!

  2. Kristen says:

    Similar to hitting North Hills and Cameron Village – spending a morning hitting the shops in downtown Raleigh is so fun in December! Often they’ll have out treats and mimosas to entice shoppers in too! And the past few years a local model train enthusiast group has put up their model train set at Union Station in downtown in December which is super fun to bring the kiddos to see! https://www.ncbytrain.org/stations/raleigh/Pages/north-raleigh-model-railroad.aspx

    • Lisa says:

      Oooh, that’s a great idea! I’m in downtown Raleigh all the time, but rarely to shop, so that would be a fun change for me :) We went to see the model trains a few weeks ago and Charlie loved it! :)


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