The holiday season evokes joy and anticipation, but it’s also fair to say that stress and anxiety can go right along with it. When family and friends roll into town, how can you ensure that everyone is happy without losing your sanity? Here’s your guide to not only survive, but thrive this holiday season in Durham.
Estimated read time: 4 minutes
Get out of the house
One of the fastest ways to go from festive to freaking out is by staying cooped up in the house. Durham usually enjoys a mild winter filled with cold but sunny days, so bundle up and get outside.
Pose for pictures with giant holiday penguins and winter creatures at Brightleaf Square, then shop for holiday-themed decor at Parker and Otis and Morgan Imports. Upgrade family movie night at The Streets at Southpoint, where the IMAX theater shows all the latest flicks. You can also wrap up Christmas shopping at Southpoint, a shopping and entertainment district that features more than 150 retailers, including Nordstrom, Anthropologie, and Cole Haan, or enjoy family-style Italian cuisine at Maggiano’s Little Italy. If the weather simply won’t cooperate, check out family-friendly indoor activities around Durham.
Never, we repeat, never let anyone get too hangry during the holidays! When stress levels are high, it’s best to keep blood sugar stabilized with tasty, Durham-made snacks. Fill the pantry with caramel popcorn from The Mad Popper, macaroons and sweet treats from Rose’s Noodles & Sweets (pictured), and plenty of coffee from Counter Culture.
If you get sick of holiday leftovers, head to Picnic for whole-hog barbecue, tacos from Nanataco, thin crust pizza from Pizzeria Toro, or take your pick from restaurants that were voted local favorites. If you’re hosting a small group for Thanksgiving or Christmas, take advantage of a pre-made holiday meal for four from Foster’s Market, or visit Durham restaurants that’ll be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas day.
Show off the Bull City
Durham lights up both literally and figuratively during the holidays. Take the family for a walk at the American Tobacco Campus, which is beautifully decorated during the holidays.
Performances continue to fill the Bull City calendar until the New Year, including Ira David Wood III’s A Christmas Carol, which will show at DPAC from December 12–16, and The Nutcracker on December 29 and 30.
Check our event calendar for a full list of holiday events.
Skip the air mattresses this year and let family and friends bunk at a cozy bed and breakfast inn, or one of the swanky boutique hotels downtown.
If you’re in need of some extra kitchen power, consider booking a Durham Airbnb residence near your own home, or wherever you’ll have holiday meals. That way, different family members can help cook and get the meal on the table even faster.
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If you need an extra hand or more ideas, it’s time to bring in reinforcements. Head to the Durham Visitor Info Center in the heart of Downtown Durham for activity ideas, free maps, and guides. The team can also help with room blocks and itineraries for larger groups and reunions.