Winter break is just around the corner, which means the kids are home for a whole two weeks! That can feel like a lifetime when you’re the ones watching them. But have no fear, we have holiday events to keep them happy and entertained (for a few hours at least!). Due to a recent influx of younger families, Silicon Valley has expanded its list of Christmas events with a fair share just for the little ones. Activities are indoors and outdoors and range from the traditional Santa Photos and Nutcracker showings to unique events such as the Grinch-mas! in Palo Alto and The Elves and the Shoemaker performance in Redwood City. Here are our top picks that you and your children are sure to love. Happy Holidays!
Holiday Tree Lighting
When: Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Fremont Park located at Santa Cruz Avenue and University Drive, Menlo Park
Putting up your Charlie Brown tree can be fun, but seeing the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce light up their 50-foot tree is an event! Rain or shine, this holiday tree lighting is always a festive occasion. Come enjoy free hot cocoa, mingle with your fellow community members, and if you’ve been good boys and girls, Santa may even make a special appearance.
When: Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. — 3 p.m.
Where: Allied Arts Guild located at 75 Arbor Rd, Menlo Park
A walk always helps kids release their energy and what’s better than a Christmas-themed walk? Take your kids to the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, a beautiful garden oasis that houses unique shops, artists’ studios, and the Blue Garden Cafe. There they can roam free (sort of, you still should keep an eye on them) and see the available handcrafted pillows, quilts, jewelry, paper art and more. They may even find you a perfect Christmas gift.
Raggedy Ann and Andy at the Museum
When: Dec. 3 from 12–4 p.m.
Where: Los Altos History Museum located at 51 S. San Antonio Rd, Los Altos
Raggedy Ann is the world’s most popular doll sold in the U.S. so you can bet a handsome sum that your kids will ask to go to this exhibit. The exhibit showcases over 60 dolls collected in the last 40 years by longtime museum volunteer Diane Simmons. Tour with your kids through this inspiring and nostalgic museum and reach the upper gallery to see the final display of a beautiful Christmas tree decorated with — what else? — more Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. For more information and additional dates, click here.
When: Dec. 4 at 1 p.m.
Where: Fox Theatre located at 2215 Broadway St, Redwood City
Besides receiving presents, families going to see The Nutcracker will surely be the other Christmas tradition that can stand the test of time. This holiday classic performed at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City is the Bay Area’s most family-friendly Nutcracker performance. With its reduced run time of 1.5 hours and humorous scenes of soldiers battling cowboys and mice, this performance will be sure to keep the kids (and Dad!) awake and on the edge of their seats. The cast includes 100 local dancers in roles from gingerbread dogs to chocolate cats alongside professional dancers starring in lead roles of Sugar Plum, Cavalier, Snow Pas and Arabian. For additional dates and tickets, click here.
The Elves and the Shoemaker
When: Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. — 12 p.m.
Where: Canada College Main Theatre located at 4200 Farm Hill Blvd, Redwood City
Originally written in the German Grimm’s Fairy Tales in 1812, this heartwarming story has been replicated and retold for over two centuries. It was made into a film in 1935 and has since become a popular holiday tradition to see. If you’re not feeling the holiday spirit, come see this hilarious performance. It will remind you of the power of kindness and good deeds and hopefully bring a bit of Christmas cheer into your holiday. For additional dates and tickets, click here.
When: Dec. 10 from 10:30 a.m. — 12 p.m.
Where: Gamble Garden’s Carriage House located at 1431 Waverly St, Palo Alto
The Grinch might seem scary at first, but not in Palo Alto. Here at the historic Gamble Garden, volunteer and chair of children’s events Deanna Wong is making her Grinch-mas! a day to remember.
“I try and do a different theme every year,” says Wong. “Last year was Frozen. This year with the Grinch there’s an educational aspect. The Grinch will read excerpts from Dr. Seuss books, talk about good deeds and ask the kids what good things they’re going to do for the community or for their parents this holiday.”
Along with the Grinch’s appearance, Gamble Garden will have face painting, refreshments and the Green Sale for adults, which features terrific deals on holiday plants. The two-and-a-half acre property, which is a popular destination for weddings, also includes rose, formal herb and wisteria gardens and offers tours of the main house. And before you go, Wong has one more surprise.
“I’m trying to buy a book for each kid,” says Wong. “We’ll have the Grinch autograph them and then they can take it home and read it or read it to their parents. I just want to encourage them to keep reading.”
Aw! We think our own hearts grew three times their size just hearing that. Purchase tickets here.
Twas the Night Before Christmas
When: Dec. 11 from 1–2:20 p.m.
Where: Woodside Performing Arts Center located at 199 Churchill Ave, Woodside
We know, it’s confusing. Twas the Night Before Christmas is on Dec. 11. But just go with it. This magical and colorful show, in its 12th season, includes Santa and his reindeer sleigh, dancing mice, twirling toys and is brought to you by the Dancers Repertory Theatre and a cast of over 150 dance students. If you’re looking for an alternative to The Nutcracker with the same level of charm and liveliness, this original holiday dance is the perfect remedy. See additional dates and purchase tickets here.
Santa Photos at Stanford Shopping Center
When: Dec. 14 5–8 p.m.
Where: Stanford Shopping Center located at 660 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto
There’s just something special about meeting Santa and not the least bit odd that he can afford so much time away from the North Pole when it’s his busiest time of the year. But the kids won’t care — all they want to do is tell him their Christmas list and snap a picture. Beat the rush by coming a few hours early and squeezing in some Christmas shopping before Santa arrives. See additional dates here.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
When: Dec. 16 from 7–8 p.m.
Where: Palo Alto Children’s Theatre located at 1305 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto
Yes, this story is actually about winter coming to a close but it’s still a beautiful fantasy for children of all ages. With talking creatures in the snowy, magical land of Narnia and the thrilling story of the bravery of four young children against an evil ice queen, the kids will be enraptured from beginning to end. And if they’re curious after the performance is over, why not buy them the Chronicles of Narnia series as a Christmas present? That way they can enjoy six more adventures of this enchanting story. For additional dates and tickets, click here.
3rd Annual Holiday Sing-Along
When: Dec. 18 from 1:30–2:30 p.m.
Where: Mountain View Library located at 585 Franklin St, Mtn. View
Tired of having Christmas songs pounded in your head every time you walk into a store? Turn the tables around at the Mountain View Library and join Linda Gibson for her third sing-along featuring all holiday songs. Back by popular demand, Gibson uses the accordion, guitar and various other instruments to bring holiday spirit to all populations. She currently volunteers at Elderday, plays for the Dances of Universal Peace and is a part of the band Shady Characters.