Does your holiday gift giving routine look like this: (1) Plan ahead (2) Come up with a per-person budget (3) Make a list (4) ResearchColumbus Zoo Wildlights the best deals (5) Brave the traffic & crowds (6) Wrap each and every little thing (7) Wait for Christmas morning (8) Watch the kids rip everything open an average of 2.5 minutes (9) Wait an hour and find them sitting in front of the television (again)?!  Sound familiar? Ever wonder if there isn't a better way?  Well, yes, actually there is.

Give them an experience. Forget the hours invested in finding the perfect plastic thing that is going to bring them to tears of gratitude. (Sorry to break it to you, but that's not going to happen.)  Instead, take them away and engage them ... body, mind and soul in an activity that is fun for everyone.  And, yes, it just so happens that we have something in mind. 

We know money is tight and that everyone is looking for a great value. (We also know how hard it is to please a kid.) So, the Dublin Convention & Visitors Bureau has created a "Kids Go Free Columbus Zoo Wildlights" getaway package that offers a VERY affordable family fun escape filled with all the magic of the season.

The all-inclusive package (which starts around $100) offers free kids admission to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (voted the #1 Zoo in the nation), discounted overnight accommodations at a choice of seven Dublin hotels and free kids meals at 10 Dublin-area restaurants. (Participating restaurants include the Dublin Village Tavern, Digger & Finch, Boston Market, Mary Kelley’s, Graeters Ice Cream, J. Liu, Sunny Street Cafe, Max & Erma’s, Hoggy’s and Menchie’s.) 

Want more? Many of the hotels offer extras like free breakfast for your clan, complimentary shuttle to the Zoo (saving you the $5 parking fee) and/or a welcome gift for the kids.  Not bad, huh?  You build your own package online (, customizing it to your preferences. Want an indoor pool? Check. Looking for a spa or workout facility? Check. Seeking an evening manager's reception? Check.

That's right. You get all that AND the main attraction ... Wildlights!  The 22nd year of Wildlights includes Santa’s Reindeer Corral, a Christmas Light Show, photos with Santa and the Magical Timbernacle Forest Chorus in a Very Beary Royal Holiday. The chorus includes 29 melodious animatronic arbors in the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost.  This year the chorus will be playing tribute to the Disney Princesses.

Now, admit it.  You feel better just THINKING about this gift-giving option (versus the other temporary plastic purgatory). Give them the gift of your time this holiday season. We guarantee those memories will last much longer than the plastic stuff.  The “Kids Go Free -- Columbus Zoo Wildlights Getaway” package is available through January 1 and can be booked at  Questions? 800/245-8387.

-Post by Mary