Christmas staycation: Peppermint Park at the Hilton Anatole is a great gift for the family

Getting that traditional picture of your little one with Santa can be a hassle, truly. But with Christmas at the Anatole Featuring Peppermint Park, the Hilton Anatole offers a way for parents to win this tricky holiday ritual: Santa comes to you, at your table, during Breakfast with Santa. Genius.

Similar to what the hotel has done with its Jade Waters waterpark in the summer, its winter retreat is an appealing staycation during the holidays. It's basically a Christmas theme park that goes well beyond sitting in Santa's lap at a local mall.

Beginning at 5 p.m. on the selected nights, families can take part in an array of activities including Christmas-themed carnival games, ornament painting, cookie decorating and even letter writing for those kids who want to make extra sure Santa has his eyes on their potential prizes. Goodies including cider and hot chocolate (with toppings such as M&M's and Butterfinger) are available for purchase as you stroll through the festively lit greenspace resting between the hotel and the Jade Waters resort area.

Later in the evening, families are encouraged to dress in Christmas pajamas and visit the Grand Ballroom for a holiday movie. This movie is a part of the Breakfast with Santa hotel package ($24 for kids, $53 for adults) that can be reserved as an upgrade to an existing hotel reservation for that night.

Jack O'Brien, 4, visits with Santa at Peppermint Park.

The next morning, it's Breakfast with Santa, the most convenient, hassle-free Santa visit anywhere in town. After a breakfast buffet, including an omelet station and chocolate chip pancakes made right in front of you, the jolly bearded man himself strolls to each table to make sure he has everyone's wishlist just right.

Take advantage of the late checkout times and stop in for the early show at Geppetto's Marionette Theater, which shows off a cast of 60 hand-carved marionettes.

Christmas vacation? More like Christmas staycation.

Christmas at the Anatole featuring Peppermint Park: Dec. 8-10, Dec. 15-23 and Dec. 26-30. Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas. Peppermint Park pass only (no hotel room package): $29.95 to $49.95 per person. Breakfast with Santa tickets (no hotel room package) $24 to $53 per person. Hotel package prices vary depending on package.

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