5 Within 50: Pandemic-Safe Family Activities

Honestly, it’s probably more fun than waiting in line to sit on a random guy’s lap anyway.

Margaritaville’s Lakeside Lights Spectacular

7000 Lanier Islands Parkway | Buford

The erstwhile Lake Lanier Islands Magical Night of Lights has gotten a Margaritaville-style makeover! The nearly-30-year-old drive-thru light show has been reimagined into Margaritaville’s Lakeside Lights Spectacular – an amazing three-quarter mile magical (socially distanced) walk through lakefront lighting extravaganza. The redesign allows for a more interactive experience; guests can enjoy the lights at their own pace, enjoy hot chocolate, sing along with holiday tunes and even snap a photo for the family Christmas card. Illuminated tunnels and a gigantic three-story wall of lights are just two of the illuminating displays to look forward to! Lakeside Lights Spectacular opens nightly beginning on November 20, and shifts to weekends only January 5 through February 21.

Rustigian Family Lights

1670 Johnstown Trace | Suwanee

If you’re crying over the loss of Magical Night of Lights, lower your standards a bit (only in size, not spectacle), pack the family into the old front-wheel drive sleigh, and head to the Rustigians’ house in Suwanee. The family puts together a Clark Griswold-worthy light show in their own yard, complete with synchronized holiday music (tune in to 107.3 FM). The shows typically run continuously from 7:00 until 10:00 p.m. Follow their Facebook page for up-to-date light show info.

North Gwinnett Co-Op Holiday Programs

4395 Commerce Drive | Buford

While COVID germs appear to be pretty equal opportunity, the already-disadvantaged community has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. The North Gwinnett Co-Op has experienced record-high attendance this year, and have already distributed over two times the amount of food as 2019. The Co-Op’s holiday programs cover a range of needs and offer a variety of ways to get your family involved. Are you a foodie family? Pack a holiday meal box for another family to enjoy. Have kids? Let them sponsor a child their own age with Christmas presents. Missing Grandpa as he socially distances? Sponsor a local senior citizen. Have adult children and miss the toy aisle? Participate in the toy drive!

Art on a Limb in Gnome-vember

City of Suwanee Parks & Trails

The City of Suwanee’s beloved Art on a Limb program is traditionally held in May, but when we went searching for the hidden art pieces in the spring, we came up empty handed. Turns out, this year’s chosen art pieces – adorable gnomes, created by Tannery Row artist Judy Isaak – were responsibly quarantining (#StayGnome). Being naturally adept at social distancing, the gnomes politely requested that Art on a Limb be moved to November Gnome-vember. Get your family outside and start hangin’ with your gnomies – two gnomes will be placed in Suwanee parks and along trails each day in the month of November for people to find and keep.

Holiday Happenings with the Aurora Theatre


Though we all look forward to the end of the pandemic, you have to be impressed with the creativity and ingenuity people have shown to keep their business models relevant and profitable. Case in point: the Aurora Theatre, who created a sound stage in their studio theatre and assembled actors, musicians, a director and a small film crew – safely distanced and with health precautions – to film This Wonderful Life (the stage adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life), which will begin streaming December 17. For $25, you’ll receive one viewing at the time of your choosing in the best seat in the house for the entire family! If you’re feeling good about socially distanced, outdoor live shows, you can also catch the Aurora’s traditional Christmas Canteen at The Bowl at Sugar Hill.