Stroll through the festive light display with a steamy cup of cocoa
Off The Strip is celebrating the holiday season with a 30-days of stories counting down to the big day Dec. 25! Our #WYD Holiday Guide features all the best places to go, experiences to have, festive displays, party destinations, holiday cocktails and dinners—plus where to shop local and cool ways to give back! Check out the features »
Ethel M Chocolate Factory’s Botanical Garden “makes the season bright” once again in Henderson. The Factory’s 28th Annual Holiday Cactus Garden invites guests to their magical light display, which is running from November 5 until January 2. The festive light attraction is open nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
For groups of 6 people or less, it only costs a minimum donation of $5. Plus, the entry fee benefits local non-profit organizations in Nevada. From the whimsical lights to the rich hot cocoa, here are 7 delightful details about Holiday Cactus Garden.
1. Christmas Cactus Garden
The cactus is the unofficial Christmas tree of Las Vegas. For the 28th time, the holiday garden enchants guests with over a million gleaming lights spanning three-acres. The display includes a variety of twinkling decor including penguins, elves, snowflakes, peacocks and more.
Archways beam a heavenly glow and a glittery gazebo is the perfect spot for a photo op. Whether guests visit with their friends, families or significant other, the attraction features countless opportunities for Insta-worthy moments.
2. It’s Santa, Baby!
Where do you fall on Old Saint Nick’s Christmas list? One way to find out is by taking a trip down to see him at the Holiday Garden. In his velvety red suit, Mr. Claus sits off to the side of the garden. Families may gather around with the jolly fellow to take pictures. Surrounding Santa, there is a cozy scene with a faux fireplace, a Christmas tree and sparkling home decor. He sits on a magical throne where he poses for photos with guests.
Kris Kringle will be spreading cheer at the garden nightly through December 23. Wearing his warm satin suit along with a cotton-like beard, he looks like he stepped right out of an old-fashioned Coca Cola commercial.
3. Sip on the Best Hot Cocoa
Have you heard the rumors? Everyone says that Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory serves the best hot cocoa in town. On a cold December evening, there’s nothing quite as sweet as a sip of rich hot chocolate.
Their cup of cocoa is unlike any other. It is made with “100 percent gourmet chocolate shavings.” And visitors stopping by may roam around their candy store to catch a a glimpse of how they create their gourmet goodies. To make the experience extra merry, sprinkle pieces of Ethel M’s Peppermint Bark atop your dollop of whip cream.
4. Benefit Local Charities
This time of year can be hard for underserved families, which is why it’s wonderful that the $5 donation benefits two local non-profit organizations: Three Square Food Bank and HELP of Southern Nevada.
In Southern Nevada, Three Square Food Bank is the only food bank. The non-profit aims to create “a hunger-free community.” In 2019, the charity supplied over 41 million meals and during the pandemic they distributed many meals to food insecure families. From childhood nutrition to senior citizen hunger, they serve the community with a variety of programs.
HELP of Southern Nevada is a non-profit on a mission to “help people help themselves.” For families and individuals striving for self-sufficiency, they provide ways for locals to “overcome barriers” with “direct services, training and referral to community resources.” Adult Housing, Behavioral Health Services and Homeless Response Teams are just a few of the operations they run to better lives in the valley.
‘Tis the season of giving, which makes this a great way to spend time with the family and pay it forward to those who are in need.
5. Shop For Holiday Gifts
Custom chocolate boxes are a sweet treat to give a loved one. Guests may purchase a shiny tin to store their assortment of goodies. If you’re craving a crunchy candy, their modern twist on Pecan Brittle is one of their bestsellers. Each piece of brittle is drizzled in Ethel M’s mouthwatering chocolate.
The candy shop even offers business gifts. Whether it’s for an office party or a restaurant staff potluck, Ethel M’s also offers gift baskets or sets with enough chocolate bites to feed a village. Check their Holiday Catalog to find “festive gifts” under $25 like a 5-piece candy box filled with “Milk and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels.” And it doesn’t hurt that the glossy bows and shimmery wrapping paper are almost too pretty to open.
6. Sign-Up for Sweet Offers
Looking for a deal to save a few bucks? Ethel M’s website says guests that subscribe to their newsletter and join their VIP List get a discount. When you are on this special Christmas list and spend over $50 on presents, you receive $10 off.
If splurging on chocolate boxes isn’t the plan this year, it’s still worth getting on the list because they send out news, offers and more. And they mention something about wanting to know your birthday, which is always a good sign when it comes to specials. I’m winking, you just can’t see it.
7. Reserve a Tasting Experience
After snapping photos for Instagram in the holiday garden, it is the perfect time to get a taste of Ethel M’s freshly made sweet treats. When guests book a tasting experience, they learn all about how the chocolate is made, sourced and the delicate flavors hinted in every piece of candy. The Chocolate Tasting Experiences are about 30 to 45 minutes long depending on the course.
For those who have a fondness for both wine and chocolate, try the Chocolate and Wine option, which is for individuals with a sweet tooth that are 21-years-old and up. All tastings come with “an honorary chocolatier certificate” plus a 15 percent off bargain that’s redeemable only on the same day you attend. But don’t be late. Aspiring chocolatiers that arrive after the class has already started must reschedule.
Looking for a simple way to sample the goods? Attend the daily Premium Chocolate Tasting. This experience is fitting for all ages. The tasting runs daily at five different times: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
Adults cost $20, adults over 21 including the wine cost $30, students cost $15, children ages 13 and under cost $10 and group pricing are also available.
I can’t think of a better way to spend the holiday season than walking through a maze of lights while sipping a rich cup of cocoa.
Ethel M Chocolate Factory Botanical Garden is located on 2 Cactus Garden Drive, Henderson, Nevada 89014.