Disclosure: Diary of a First Time Mom is proud to partner with Denny’s as a #DennysDiners Blogger Ambassador. Stay tuned for exclusive content and menu news. Although we’re being compensated in some form, all opinion remain our own.


Dear Diary,

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially here in Pittsburgh where snow and temperatures are falling. And schedules are starting to fill up with tree trimming parties, holiday light displays, Christmas craft markets and Santa spottings. Between shopping for Shopkins and Calico Critters and volunteering at our free store, the jam packed calendar doesn’t leave much time for relaxation. So, this holiday season I’m making a list, checking it twice and nixing cooking!

Christmas Gifts

On busy weekends, we’ll head to Denny’s to eat holiday favorites and get into a merry mood. The greatest part–Denny’s is open everyday, including Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year. Just call ahead, since participation and hours may vary. In fact, Christmas Day is one of the restaurants busiest times of the year.


If you’re too tired to cook, you can still celebrate the season with a comforting meal now through January 9th. One of our favorite festive treats is the New Rudolph™ Pancake Breakfast–Inspired by the lovable character featured in the classic TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Denny’s fluffy buttermilk pancake includes turkey bacon antlers and is topped with vanilla cream and chocolate eyes and nose. The Rudolph Pancake Breakfast is also served with two eggs and hash browns.


With the extra time, you can check out Pittsburgh’s holidays happenings. Here are our top three picks.

Holiday Market in Pittsburgh

The 5th Annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market™ is bringing an old-time tradition to a modern downtown now through Christmas Eve. Shopper can stroll through a holiday village, featuring Alpine-style wooden chalets. There are daily live performances and visits by Santa Claus himself. And if you bring a donation for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, your kids will receive a complimentary photo with Old Saint Nick! If you visit in the evening, there is a choreographed, musical light show.

Overly’s Country Christmas in Laurel Highlands

Overly’s Country Christmas is a wonderful way to make your family’s spirit merry and bright! You can check out the beautiful light display while walking through the Christmas Village. You can sing Christmas carols around the bonfire, marvel over the model train display and even ride on a horse-drawn carriage now through New Year’s Day.

 Kennywood Holiday Lights in West Mifflin

Kennywood Park welcomes guests with a 90-foot tall Christmas tree—the tallest tree on record in Pennsylvania. Visitors can explore the park’s light display, experience The Polar Express: A 4-D Experience and view a display of miniature gingerbread homes. Kids can write a letter to Santa in the penny arcade and listen to Celebrity Readings of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Plus, people can climb aboard nearly a dozen rides.

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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