I was born on December 25th. And, well, when it comes to Holiday gifts, let’s just say I have… thoughts. Did I grow up getting a Christmas present AND a birthday present? You’d think. As someone who is at least 35 gifts short at this point in life, I figured I’d take matters into my own hands and make a list of the best gifts at Universal Orlando Resort this holiday season. Oh, and by gifts I don’t just mean “stuff” (although we looooove the stuff!). Think of the best present you’ve ever gotten. More often than not, what makes it so special is the meaning behind the gift itself, right? So, below you’ll find my best ideas for a really stellar, experiential gift. And because the Christmas baby in me can’t help but want to go big when it comes to gift-giving, I added some suggestions on complementary “extra little somethings” if you really want to go all out. Happy Holidays (and happy birthday to me)!
The Big One: Universal’s Holiday Tour
As someone who wishes December 25th was all about her, nothing screams exclusiveness as my ultimate dream experience at Universal: the Holiday Tour. Getting someone you love a spot on this four-and-a-half hour guided tour through the most beloved holiday experiences across the theme parks not only says, “I love you”, but most importantly it says, “I love spending time with you.” You get to explore the parks alongside the people who know you best and with whom you can absolutely be yourself. Plus you get to eat cookies, meet Santa, get an after-hours showing of The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, hang out with the Grinch and Max, and even get reserved seating for The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular (and that’s not even all of the perks). I know you’re like “Andrezza, I’m in, say no more!”… but I do want you to say more by telling me all about that experience in the comments below!
That extra little something: Matching Apparel
I mean, are you really going on an exclusive tour around Universal with your friends and family and not wearing matching holiday shirts (and hats)? I didn’t think so. Surprise your party with apparel before starting the tour (you can order them online beforehand!) — they’ll laugh, they’ll get emotional, they’ll take loads of pictures (super on-brand with the most joyous season of all).
The Big One: An Ollivanders Wand
If you’re dreaming of casting your spells throughout the cobblestoned streets of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley or around the snow-capped roofs in Hogsmeade village, make sure to stop by Ollivanders Wand Shop this holiday season. Few moments say it’s the most
wonderful magical time of the year quite like finding your perfect wand. Once you have your essential wizarding tool, you can practice casting spells throughout the two lands with your loved ones by your side.
That extra little something: A Butterbeer… Ornament
Ah, Butterbeer — you can enjoy it hot, cold, frozen and, finally, on your Christmas tree! YES, there’s a Butterbeer ornament at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And it’s a great way of saying, “I’ll always remember our first Butterbeer.”
Holiday Shopper Tip: If the wizard or witch you’re gifting isn’t in your party, head over to the Owl Post Packaging Services in front of Dervish and Banges in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade and send a letter letting them know you’re thinking of them. Conveying your regards is two-fold: not only will it be the most beautiful Christmas wish under the tree, it’s also any wizard’s or witch’s dream to get a delivery from the wizarding world.
The Big One: Tree Hunt
This time of year is all about family reunions and bonding. Surprise your crew with a tree-themed scavenger hunt, sponsored by Earl the Squirrel Tree Farm. Let’s be honest, a scavenger hunt — or a tree hunt in this case — is the ultimate team work activity because it makes your entire party work together toward an ultimate prize (and YES that should count as an extra gift!) For this fun holiday game, you have to purchase the official Holiday Tree Hunt brochure and locate 15 themed trees throughout the theme parks and Universal CityWalk. Each tree has a hidden item and when you’ve found them all, turn in the brochure for a special ornament prize. Think of it this way: you’re not only providing your party with an awesome adventure for all ages, you’re also giving them the gift of spending time together.
You can purchase the brochure in select locations at the theme parks and at Universal CityWalk.
That extra little something: Personalized Ornament
Every year I add a new ornament to my tree. And it usually represents something important that happened in my life since I last decked the halls. This habit helps me tell the story of my life in a visual, fun, and meaningful way, and makes this, “little extra something” my favorite one on this list. Whether you’re bringing someone special to the theme parks for the first time, or you’ve been saving forever to take this vacation, or you’re just a proud UOAP, eternalize this visit with an ornament. Once you’ve been able to pick the design you want (not an easy task!), an extremely talented Universal Team Member will personalize it on the spot for you.
The Big One: The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast
Since the ultimate idea of this guide is to help you create memories with the people you love, you can’t skip breakfast with the Grinch… that’s whos you thought I meant when I said “people you love”, right?
Sure, you could head to any of my favorite morning meal spots at Universal, but let’s face it, you can do that all year long. The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast, however, is a Holiday-exclusive. You’ll get to meet and greet some of your favorite Dr. Seuss characters while you share a helping of green eggs and ham with your party.
PRO TIP: Don’t steal everyone’s Christmas and risk not getting a spot at the table, so make reservations beforehand! Like now.
Theme Park admission is required.
That extra little something: Grinch Merchandise
As snarky as breakfast conversation must’ve gone, you’ll wish that moment around the table with family would have lasted forever — well, maybe not forever, since the Grinch isn’t exactly pleasant. But you can freeze that moment in time by framing the photo you downloaded as part of The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast package in a Grinch frame. And because you love anything-themed (come on, I saw y’all wearing matching Grinch shirts for breakfast too!), it makes perfect sense to go all out on green merchandise!
The Big One: A Universal Orlando Resort Hotel Stay
For the record, this will ALWAYS be a great gift — holiday season or not. Spending your vacation at any of the eight Universal hotels (there’s one for every budget!) is a gift in itself: the pools, the bed (oh, those beds), the food, the view, the quick water taxi/shuttle ride to the parks… I can keep going. Plus, you get several hotel perks that help make your stay as seamless as possible, such as Early Park Admission and Universal Express Unlimited Passes for guests staying at one of the Premier resorts. But choosing this specific time of the year to book a stay is even more magical — the decorations alone are awe-inspiring. Whether you’re looking to celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, ring in the New Year or simply get away with the family (or by yourself, why not?) you can find unique Holiday offerings, from special menus to special events.
That extra little something: Gift Cards
This will come as a surprise to a total of zero people, but here it is: my love language is gift-giving. Which is why I’m not a huge fan of gift cards — they can come off as too impersonal to me. I do make one exception though, and that is the Universal Orlando Resort gift card. First of all, you can use it anywhere on property — at the parks, at Universal CityWalk, and at the hotels. It’s good for food, drinks, merchandise… Heck, you can even use it to book a spa day at Mandara Spa at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. So, besides wrapping an amazing hotel stay under the tree, you’re also tying it with a cute little gift-card-bow.
Holiday Shopper Tip: Why carry your holiday shopping around the theme parks all day when it can be in your hotel waiting for you? That’s right, you can get all your in-park purchases delivered to your hotel — don’t think I don’t see all the merch you got using your gift card!
The truth is it doesn’t matter what you buy or how much you spend — the tradition of exchanging gifts is all about showing your friends and family how much you care. What did you end up getting? Any other great ideas we should add to the list? Let us know in the comments below or on our social media accounts! Happy Holidays!