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Bright Lights, Boise City: Winter Garden a Glow Returns to Idaho Botanical Garden

Through January 8, 2012

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Tips to avoid a family holiday meltdown: No. 1: Take a Goldilocks approach to alcohol—not too much, not too little, but just right. No. 2: Keep telling yourself that you're not 13 years old, and that you and your siblings shouldn't act like you are. No. 3: diversions, diversions, diversions.

And there's no better holiday diversion than heading to Idaho Botanical Garden for the 15th annual Winter Garden Aglow. From Thanksgiving weekend through the new year, the garden is decked out with more than 250,000 lights—basically if something stood still for more than a minute, volunteers put a string of lights on it.

In addition to immersing yourself in a glowing, technicolored world, you can also participate in numerous activities and entertainment throughout the event's run. Visitors can always warm up with free hot cocoa, cider and cookies, but there will also be a rotating roster of food vendors on site.

The Southern Idaho Garden Railway Society has set up a G-scale model train in the English Garden, which will be on display through Saturday, Dec. 31, and various community choirs will sing--including performances on Wednesday, Dec. 21, through Friday, Dec. 23.

And what holiday event would be complete without Santa, who will be in the garden from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21, through Friday, Dec. 23. He'll be joined by Prancer the reindeer on Thursday, Dec. 22, and Friday, Dec. 23. Check out a full schedule of events online.

Winter Garden Aglow is open daily—including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve—and families can save on admission by coming on Mondays, when a carpool discount of $20 per car (no more than six people) is available. There's also a $1 discount with a military ID.