You can feel it in the air. But that’s just the start. The holidays are officially here and these are the ways you know it.

1. You’re prepared to put on a snowsuit and galoshes the size of Antarctica because come flurries, hail or a seismic shift, you will NOT miss Lincoln Park Zoolights this year.Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Festival

photo: courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo

2. Your ballerina-in-training is twirling around the house in preparation for her performance in the Chicago Cultural Center’s Dance-Along Nutcracker.


photo: courtesy of City of Chicago

3. The city and ‘burbs are coming alive with twinkling lights, gorgeous decorations and a swelling of holiday cheer. And, for the first time since 1888, you can break out the menorahs and dreidels at the same time. (Let’s hear it for Thanksgivukkah.)


photo: sean toyer on flickr creative commons

4. You’ve slept with your laptop so you could be the first to sign up for a winter break kids’ camp. This year, you’re getting first dibs at Kids Science Labs, baby!


photo: courtesy of Kids Science Labs

5. You’re planning to make a meal of the candy supplies on hand at The Art Institute’s Build Your Own Gingerbread House event.


photo: courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago

6. Your kids begged to go see “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.” And once you got there, you realized you’d have a mutiny on your hands if you didn’t buy the shiny noses.


photo: Kelly Aiglon

7. Between the holiday shindigs being thrown by NPN, Bump Club and the bajillion meet-ups you’re in, your social calendar is fuller than Santa’s belly after an all-you-can-eat buffet.


photo: courtesy of Julia Franzosa

8. The lights on top of the John Hancock Building are glowing red and green. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy — until you realize it’s 11 degrees.


photo: anneh632 on flickr creative commons

9. You went to Building Blocks Toy Store to buy a Rainbow Loom and left with one … plus puzzles, games, scooters, a few odd superhero capes and a lifetime supply of Thomas the Tank Engines.


photo: courtesy of Building Blocks

10. Your kids actually beg to go grocery shopping at Mariano’s with you. You’re tickled pink. And then you realize their true motivation: to indulge in all the free samples.


photo: courtesy of Mariano’s

11. You’ve bribed the Santa at Macy’s with a gift certificate to Giordano’s in order to get your kids an extra two minutes of lap time. (Anything for the perfect holiday card photo.)

Macy's Believe Launch - Chicago

photo: courtesy of Macy’s

What do you think is a sign that the holidays have come to Chicago? Let us know in the Comments section below.

— Jo Aaron & Kelly Aiglon

Now that the holidays have arrived, click here to find what family events and activities are going on in Chicago.