A lot about Christmas is unintentionally frightening. If the memory of getting plopped down on a stranger's lap in a shopping mall makes you shudder, the house at 7611 Falmouth in Prairie Village will give you odd dreams for weeks. If you can't see it from its electric glow, you'll know it by the small crowd gathered outside on the lawn. The garage of this little yellow house has been transformed into Santa's Workshop, manned by dozens of popping, whirring, glassy-eyed animatronic elves armed with hammers. They stare out at you with a vague, smiling menace. One reindeer, eyes closed and head lolling, appears to be asleep except for that hoof moving back and forth.
There's a nativity scene with an appropriately haggard Mary and child, and one window opens and closes as Santa leers down upon children brave enough to get close.
Haunted houses? Bah, humbug. Wait until Christmas, when it gets really scary.-- Nadia Pflaum
It's not as offensive as it sounds ... really. We just want to provide hints to people who long to sled but scoff at paying for a piece of plastic with a handle on it. Cover a broken-down cardboard box with a trash bag (the poor man's weatherproofing), and you've got yourself the ghettoest sled there ever was. It totally works -- even when there's no snow. (We aren't meteorologists, and we realize that there might not be a flake on the ground by the time you read this.) Slick as can be, the thing glides over leaf mounds and all. With a little resourcefulness, we bet you can figure out a way to make your own handle. Be careful, kids. -- Gina Kaufmann
At 57th Street and Brookside Boulevard, the snow falls just like everywhere else, but the surface it covers is steep, hilly and slick. We can't predict the weather, but we do know that snow is all anyone needs to enjoy a day of sledding, a pursuit that works as well with newfangled plastic saucers as it does with an old-fashioned wooden sleigh. Known as Suicide Hill, the sledding wonderland stretches across a city block, with everything from kiddy slopes to extreme sledding represented. With dozens of doting parents, hyperactive children and surly teenagers skidding across fresh powder, the hills quickly become an ice-slick track, complete with ramps, double hills and jumps that can leave a sledder facedown. Be sure to bring boots to climb back to the top. Winter insulation is equally important, especially when racing down a 70-degree angle with nothing but a piece of plastic between you and your doom.-- Chris Sebela