Places to see and ways to make it fun and easy.

Are you ready for the season of hosting, baking, entertaining and cleaning? If you live right here at the most beautiful of winter wonderlands you will be looking for convenient and close shopping as well as entertainment for you and your guests.
Do you shop first or start baking? Celebrating the holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas requires easy appetizers, fabulous meals, and eye-catching deserts. If I can make dazzling desserts, believe me you can, too. My overall dessert menu is three easy ingredients or semi-homemade. The real key is the “pan”!
In the next few weeks deciding to re-organize any room may not be the best decision but you may want to spruce up your home for guests in order to make it festive. Adding new linens to your bed and bath, and a few scented candles will make your home retreat ready. Don't go overboard. Add a few touches, close the door, and don’t revisit.

Hostess with the Mostest
Now that your home is in order, it's time to put a list together. Shopping and preparation doesn’t have to be a chore. A list is a great way to feel accomplished as you cross off each item. If turkey is your usual Thanksgiving meal, there are many options. You can actually visit a farm to order your turkey, or give them a call to reserve one. Having a farm-fresh turkey is the most honest form of fresh to your table. Order as soon as you know how many you will be serving — the earlier the better. Bechard Farms, just 25 minutes north of Springfield, enjoys showing families around the farm. Be sure to call for hours of operation and check them out online. They’ve also got chicken, beef, lamb and pork to choose from if you’d rather do something a little untraditional.
What about a ham from Burgers’ Smokehouse in California, Mo. It has been a family-owned business since 1927. Just under a three hour drive, you can take a tour of the original Ham House and museum but it will make you very hungry. Thankfully you can order lunch and then pick up your ham on the way out the door. Visiting Burgers’ is a great experience for the whole family. They don’t just sell hams, but many of the additions to make a great meal, from appetizers to sides. While you are there, they have a gift shop with items that appeal to most of the adults on your gift list. Be sure and preview the online catalog.
If you find yourself in a pinch at the last minute, you can purchase that fresh turkey right off of Amazon —  includes free shipping and arrives in a couple days. 
A treat you don’t want to miss, in any season, is exploring Mennonite Country. Drive north on Highway 5 from Sunrise Beach to Versailles and enjoy the beautiful countryside reflecting the reason we live here. Your destination is Weaver’s Country Market. They have everything you need to host a dinner party, including your main entrée and desert. Walnuts and pecans are available in quantities reasonably priced for your holiday baking. Other shops in the area provide home-grown fruits and vegetables, and fresh pies and other desserts. There are more than 80 in the area. You can find a map of each spot at Weaver’s to direct you to other locations.
During weekend of November 15 & 16, the community will host a holiday open house. Call any local store in Versailles for information. It’s a great time for gift shopping!
If you’d rather let someone else do all of the work, there are plenty of Thanksgiving buffets offered at many Lake area restaurants and larger hotels in the Lake area. They always have a huge spread of holiday favorites, seafood and desserts making it easy to indulge without having to lift a finger. Just think … you won’t even have to do the dishes.
A Thanksgiving tradition for some is to serve others less fortunate through a local shelter or church. Your local chamber of commerce could point you in the right direction to those in need this holiday season.

Deck the Halls
Following Thanksgiving by 26 days is Christmas. Sure you have your “old standby artificial tree,” but how about a live one this year? Ozark Valley Christmas Tree Farm, about three hours from Osage Beach, is open during the season from November 29-December 24. What a great tradition with your family, friends and grandchildren. It really is more than just a place to buy a tree, it is a whole day of fun. Bring your gift list, they have a fabulous shop. The kids can make crafts in the barn and you can also have the annual family picture taken. Enjoy hot chocolate and a sweet treat (don’t forget, extra sweets for the unexpected company) and Christmas lights. Oh, of course, don't forget to pick out a tree. Check online for times.
If you love a beautifully-decorated tree but not all the hassle of decorating it, attend the Gala of Trees at Wobbly Boots November 20-23. The trees are decorated by local businesses and volunteers and range from elegant to fun (like a tree decorated with dozens of tiny bottles of liquor). The highest bidder in this silent auction gets to take their tree home to show off to their guests.

Festive Events
On December 7, the Camdenton Area Chamber of Commerce provides a holiday event not to be missed. Have you ever run with elves? Now is your chance. A 5K will begin with registration at 7:15 a.m. with the run starting at 8 a.m. Register early to get your Elk T-shirt and hat, or you can sport your own holiday attire as you race across the finish line. Following the race, join in on the community celebration on the courthouse lawn. Christmas on the Square is a tradition with games, free hotdogs and cookies along with a cup of hot chocolate. There will be a petting zoo for the children and a special time for cookie decorating. Visitors from the North Pole include the Grinch, Mrs. Claus, and of course, Santa.
What better way to try out those new clubs Santa brought, (even if you bought them yourself), is at the Golf Club at Deer Chase. They play any day the temperature is above 40 degrees from November through February. Who says you can’t play in the winter? Call Spencer and ask him to hook you up with one of the Two-Person Scramble Leagues.

Cheers to a New Year!
Right behind Christmas is New Year's. Invite friends in for appetizers and a wine tasting. Locally, the Lake offers seven wineries and vineyards to visit. Any of them are happy to share with you a selection for your event. Some even offer shuttle service in the Lake area. For the winter schedule, be sure to check with the winery of your choice.
Bring in 2020 at one of the many festive celebrations hosted around the Lake. There are several New Year’s Eve Packages from a one or two night stay at The Lodge of the Four Seasons. The Regalia Hotel & Conference Center is offering special room rates, dinner, dancing and a 1 a.m. breakfast. Margaritaville Lake Resort has a special Ballroom Package where you can dance the night away to live music, an open bar, dinner buffet and Midnight champagne toast. Tucker Shucker's on the Bagnell Dam Strip always has dinner, champagne and an open bar on New Years Eve. Call for pricing and additional information.
Between all of the entertaining, make sure to keep a stress-free attitude about it all and spend some time relaxing and enjoying the holiday season. Right after the New Year, is a great time to visit one of Missouri’s small-town B&B’s for a weekend away. You just might need it.
 Celebrate the Season
1. Visit a Christmas tree farm: The Ozark Valley Christmas Tree Farm in Southwest City, Cole’s Tree Farm in Lebanon, Timberview Tree Farm in Hartsburg, Huffman’s Flowers of the Field Garden Center in St. James.
2. Buy a fresh turkey or other main dish from a supplier.
3. Run with the elves at Christmas on the Square
4. Play in a winter golf league at Deer Chase.  
5. Bring in the New Year at one of the Lake’s celebrations.
6. Every November, Steps Dance Studio hosts a production of “The Nutcracker” at School of the Osage.
7. Get into the holiday spirit at Main Street Music Hall. With lots of shows held in November and December, Christmas on Main Street is an annual tradition.