By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 22, 2022 at 1:02 PM

Snuggle up with some holiday cheer as OnMilwaukee shares stories of everything merry and bright in the spirit of the season.

The OnMilwaukee Ho Ho Holiday Guide is brought to you by Educators Credit Union, Harley-Davidson Museum and MillerCoors

It’s officially time for the jolliest holiday bar experience this side of the North Pole. Santa Camp is back. And this year, Santa Claus is bringing all his glittery lights and elf magic to not just one, but ALL THREE Camp Bar locations, ensuring that more folks have access to a giant dose of holiday cheer.

That means you can gather beneath the festive lights, sing along to holiday tunes and enjoy holiday inspired libations at Camp Bar Shorewood, 4044 N. Oakland Ave.; Camp Bar Tosa, 6600 W. North Ave.; and Camp Bar Third Ward, 525 E. Menomonee St.

As for those holiday spirits, all of Santa Camp's usual festive themed cocktails are back, from the Angry Elf and Naughtier Spice to Gin & Tidings and Santa Panties.

And – thanks to resolution of supply chain issues in Ice Cream Land – there will also be deliciously refreshing ice cream drinks once again, including The Grinch, White Christmas and Reindeer Games.

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But that’s not all. This year, Santa Camp will be the hub for a series of festive events – from a family friendly pre-holiday bash to caroloke, Christmas movie trivia and an Ugly Sweater bash – which will take you all the way through the holiday season.

Nov. 27: Countdown to Christmas

Bring the kiddos out for this family friendly celebration, which features plenty of opportunities to make cherished holiday memories. 

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Countdown to Christmas takes place on Nov. 27 from noon to 4 p.m. at Camp Bar Tosa (and Birch, the adjoining event space). 

During the event, families can get into the spirit by enjoying Camp Bar’s festive decorations, listening to holiday tunes and taking part in family-friendly activities including build-your-own ornament and reindeer hat stations. Black Twig Bakery will also be onsite selling holiday treats, including gingerbread house kits.

Guests are encouraged to come decked out in their holiday best to take advantage of the onsite photo booth, as well as the opportunity to take family portraits with Santa Claus. 

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For the second year in a row, there will also be a special red mailbox where kids can drop off their pre-written letters to Santa Claus, which will be delivered directly to the North Pole. To participate, just download a paper copy of the letter template (for a $10 fee), fill it out and bring it to Countdown to Christmas.

Every child who sends a letter to Santa will receive a personalized Nice List certificate along with a letter (festooned in glittery North Pole snow) from Santa Claus himself.

It’s a magical experience that’s sure to offer up treasured holiday memories for years to come. Plus, $1 from each letter submitted will be donated to the Make A Wish Foundation.

Caroloke, trivia & ugly sweaters

The party, however, does not end there. In fact, there's something for everyone this holiday season, from crooners and chanteuses to movie nerds and folks that just have terrible taste in sweaters.

Dec. 7: Caroloke
If you live for the moment when radio stations transition to holiday music just so you can belt out your favorite holiday tunes while driving, you’re going to want to get in on Camp Bar’s Caroloke Night, a festive karaoke-style sing-along which takes place at Camp Bar in both Tosa and Shorewood on Dec. 7 beginning at 8 p.m..

Whether you’re living for the chance to perform your best Lizzo impression or working up a multi-faceted holiday act to perform with your besties, you’re sure to find yourself jingling all the way home.

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Dec. 14: Christmas Movie Trivia
Then again, maybe your talents lie in identifying all the characters’ names from “Home Alone,” remembering crazy scenes from “Elf” or reciting lines from just about every holiday movie ever made.  

In that case, you’ll want to mark Dec. 14 on your calendar. Starting at 8 p.m. (at both the Tosa and Shorewood locations), Quizmaster Trivia will be testing out the bounds of your knowledge with an extra jolly round of Christmas movie trivia.

Dec. 21: Ultimate Ugly Sweater Party
Prefer to see if you can out-ugly your fellow Campers? Pull out your most hideously festive attire and head over to Camp Bar’s pre-holiday Ultimate Ugly Sweater Parties.

The festivities will take place Dec. 21 starting at 8 p.m. at all three Camp Bar locations. But you’d better start planning now. After all, there will be prizes for the ugliest get-up as well as an award for fan favorite ugly sweater.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.