From the Visit Anaheim Sales Team


The holiday season is all about making memories! From tamale-making, local boat parades to childhood memories of mom’s mouthwatering desserts, the Visit Anaheim sales team shares some favorite holiday traditions and recollections.

From our homes to yours, we wish you and your loved ones a season full of warmth and joy with traditions that create fun, new memories.



Julie Rice's Holiday Traditions

Every year we typically try to get a memorable Christmas ornament for our tree. Typically, the theme of our tree reflects our hobbies in nature, and of course our dogs. Currently we have a black Lab – Ozzy, and a Brittany Spaniel – Charlie. Most times the Lab ornaments are sold out, and Brittany’s are a hard breed to find. One of our good friends surprised us with this ornament of both our boys – which we absolutely love. Sometimes the best gifts are the unexpected ones.


― Julie Rice
Director, Convention Sales
Northeastern Region


One of my favorite holiday traditions is taking a family holiday photo with our fur babies! It’s such a special way to share holiday joy and make memories that will last a lifetime!


― Kerensa Summers
Manager, Meeting Sales
Southwest Region


Kerensa Summers' Holiday Traditions

Ah, the Holidays. Fond memories of past good times! One of my favorite family traditions was helping my Mom with baking of all our Christmas cookies. She had some good ones! Some of my favorites to this very day are the Lemon Butter Snow Bars, Merry Cherry Cheesecake Bars and her amazing fudge! (Now you know where I get my sweet tooth from).

Kimberly Mladenik's Holiday TraditionsKimberly Mladenik's Holiday Traditions

Another of my favorite traditions is that we would always order pizza on Christmas Eve (since my Mom was prepping for Christmas Dinner). Also on Christmas Eve, we would get to try one baked holiday treat and open one item from our “stocking” (that was hung by the chimney with care) before heading to Midnight Mass.


― Kimberly Mladenik
Director, Convention Sales
Mid-Atlantic Region


Julia O'Brien's Holiday Traditions

The holidays are my absolute favorite time of year and my neighborhood in Aliso Viejo makes it extra special! Christmas lights are strung from house to house and festive decorations adorn all the homes. We love bundling our son in his wagon, brewing some hot cocoa, turning on some holiday music and strolling our neighborhood to enjoy all the holiday cheer. Tanaka Farms in Irvine also has one of our favorites for a family outing – Hikari – A Festival of Lights, with one million twinkling lights decorating the farm.

Another not to miss holiday tradition for our family is the Newport Beach boat parade, where we watch beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks, and canoes sail along the harbor. Wishing you a joyous and healthy holiday season!


― Julia O'Brien
Director, Convention Sales
Southern Region


Gina McQuade's Holiday Traditions

  • Football!!!! We are a family divided… we love watching the 49ers and the Seahawks!!
  • Viewing the Newport Beach Parade of Lights Boat Parade, from the water, on a Hornblower yacht will definitely get you in the mood for the Holidays.
  • Making Gingerbread houses with my two grandsons. It’s a mess but I love every minute of it!!!
  • Christmas Eve singing Christmas Carols throughout our neighborhood on a double-decker bus with family and friends only to stop at the end of the evening at my house for some yummy Italian beef and a visit from Santa Claus… nothing better!!



Italian Beef Recipe

Junior Tauvaa's Holiday Traditions

My childhood tradition has continued on with our kids… The night before Thanksgiving, we always have burgers and fries for dinner. Lately, it has become an In-N-Out dinner the night before Thanksgiving.

For Christmas, we have made it a tradition for our kids to donate a least 5 of their toys each to shelters or homeless kids.


― Junior Tauvaa
Chief Sales Officer


Lora Stanley's Holiday TraditionsThe Stanley’s love to shop! When our two daughters come home for the holidays, we go to Oak Brook Mall and split up to do our shopping and meet for dinner with our packages at Wildfire Restaurant. Occasionally, we stop to visit with Santa!

We celebrate Christmas Eve with a traditional meatless dinner and are a little more casual on Christmas Day. We wake up in our Christmas pajamas, open presents and go to mass. Afterwards, we all make our favorite appetizers and graze all afternoon with friends and family. My favorite holiday appetizer is Mushroom Stuffed Baked Brie, and the recipe is below.



Mushroom Stuff Baked Brie Recipe

Mariles Krok's Holiday Traditions

Mariles Krok's Holiday TraditionsA couple of traditions that I do every year with friends and family include: 

Tamale Making! Every year, I take my friends and clients to a local restaurant that offers tamale-making classes. It's a great way to spend some quality time, wind down, have a spicy mango margarita, chips, salsa and tacos, while learning how to make tamales. The restaurant even steams the tamales for you while you eat dinner. The experience is about 2-3 hours and is always a great time with friends and customers alike. 

Another tradition is walking through Sleepy Hollow. It’s a neighborhood not far from where I live where there are blocks and blocks of houses that decorate their houses whimsically themed to get everyone in the holiday spirit! Some houses even offer hot cocoa and candy canes. You can opt to either walk through, or drive with your windows down, blasting Holiday music.

Last but not least, a favorite holiday pastime is baking! Every year, I make 3-4 different kinds of cookies, 3 kinds of fudge and make small care packages that I send to family that live out of state.



Virginia Fudge Recipe
(a family favorite)

Quincy Smith's Holiday Traditions

We used to go to midnight mass every year for Christmas and then get back home and open presents, so it’s like 2:00 in the morning and we would still be up. When we were growing up, it was so fun because we were opening our gifts hours before our friends would!


― Quincy Smith
Manager, Meeting Sales
Midwest Region


For my wife and I, our favorite Holiday time tradition is escaping the cold month of December and flying out to Hawai’i! It has been our tradition for over 5 years now and would not have it any other way. We love experiencing a tropical Christmas time with Santa in flip flops and sandcastles instead of snowmen. Mele Kalikimaka!


― Isaac Gutierrez
Manager, Meeting Sales
Northwest Region


Isaac Gutierrez's Holiday Traditions