Sorry if not all of this is timely. I was having computer challenges getting it up.
Now is the time to plan and schedule in some fun, family time before the outside demands of the season sap your energy, time and money. Christmas is full of memory-making moments as well as teachable moments, take advantage of them. For example, the materialism we are surrounded with at this time of year is a great springboard for conversations about kindness, giving, and remembering those less fortunate than ourselves. All of the lights remind us that God sent Christ as light into a dark and lost world, giving gifts reminds us of the gift that God gave us, the use of evergreens reminds us of everlasting life…and so it goes. So take the time this Christmas to make some great memories and to infuse the traditions your family uses with meaning.
I’ve begun a list of things you can do, and I’m sure all of you can add many more. Some are basic, but bear being repeating, others are unique to our locale. Most are free. For those of you with elementary school children, you may choose to put all schoolwork but math on hold over December and really entire into the spirit of things. We always did this and I don’t feel they missed out on anything. Read Christmas books, make cards and gifts, write songs, and spend a lot of time with family. Your child’s education won’t suffer and the lessons learned will stay with them throughout their lives.
So here we go….
-Bake Christmas cookies and share them with an elderly neighbor.
-Listen to Christmas music.
-Make special Christmas cards for all your far away relatives.
-Be one of Santa’s elves and perform an act of kindness for someone who isn’t expecting it.
-Buy a role of brown shipping paper and let your kids decorate their own, personal wrapping paper.
-Memorize the Christmas story from Luke 2.
-Rewrite the Night Before Christmas…but make it about your family.
-Legend has it that on Christmas Eve, all animals are granted the ability to speak until daybreak.
Eve Bunting’s book Night Tree could inspire your children to prepare appropriate goodies: pinecones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed, popcorn and cranberry garlands, orange and apple slices suspended from pipe cleaners and decorate their own night tree. (We will be doing this activity in our Elementary Science class.)
-Read Christmas books…don’t have any…the library is free.
-String popcorn for your tree.
-Invite over another family, pop some popcorn and watch a Christmas movie.
-Make a thermos of hot chocolate and drive around and look at lights.
-Take a walk and collect items to make a wreath…if you are feeling really inspired drive up to Idyllwild and collect some greenery and mistletoe to decorate your home with.
-Try to make a gingerbread house…just remember the fun is in the process even if the end result is less than satisfactory:)
-Make green and red paper chains to decorate the kids rooms.
-Get out the tape and construction paper and let your kids decorate their bedroom doors for the season.
-Together as a family choose a family, person, or cause to help out this holiday season.
-Build a fire in the fireplace (after hanging the stockings), turn out the lights and roast some marshmallows…don’t have a fireplace…you can still roast mini marshmallows over candles…I know, we’ve done it.
-Attend a special Christmas Service at your church.
-Take a basket of homemade muffins to the fire or police station to say thank you.
-Encourage your kids to perform their own Christmas Pageant.
-Learn all of the verses to an old Christmas Carol.
-Join the group Advent Conspiracy.org whose goal is to help people worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all.
-Start of tradition of having your kids create an ornament from a photo that they have taken this year. Over the years examining these will become favorite holiday tradition.
-Make a Jesse Tree. Somewhere in your home put up a tree, either a small real one, or a construction paper one…and each day leading up to Christmas make an ornament to add to the tree that tells the story of how Jesus came to be our savior. For details check out this website: http://www.crivoice.org/jesse.html
So here a is a list of places to go around Southern Calif for fun Christmas activities, and many of these are free. If you come across something fun let me know and I’ll post more ideas on the website. I’m just going to give you the basics, if one of these sounds like something you want to pursue the details are all on the web.
The Festival of Lights in Riverside is a great tradition and enjoying it is free. The Festival centers around the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside. You can stroll the area to see the spectacular lights, listen to the strolling carolers, take a horse drawn carriage ride, and go outdoor ice skating. There are special food booths set up, and the stores on the promenade are open and decorated.
Hunt Park in Riverside also has a Holiday Festival on Dec. 15 from 9 in the morning to midnight. There are lights, activities for the kids, food and fun. The park is located at 4015 Jackson St.
If you are looking for a shopping alternative away from the mall you can check out the Christmas Craft Village at Knotts Berry Farm. During the week the cost is $8 for adults and $2 for kids. Along with the decorations, visit to Santa, and shopping, you can also see two Christmas plays and watch Snoopy’s Christmas on Ice. The plays being presented this year are ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Gift of Magi’.
Also Knotts Berry Farm will also be having their annual Toys for Tots drive. If you bring an unwrapped toy worth $10 or more on Dec. 6,7,13,14,20, or 21 you get free entrance into the park. It’s a little more crowded on those days, but it’s all for a good cause.
Balboa Park in San Diego has their December Nights on Dec. 5th and 6th. There are all sorts of special concerts, activities, and decorations to enjoy. All of the Museums are free that evening from 5-9.
Other options in Balboa Park are the Old Globe Theater’s production of ‘The Grinch’. Tickets start at $30 for adults. This is a Broadway caliber production with fantastic sets and costumes.
Dec. 21 in Balboa Park at the Spreckel’s Organ Pavilion there will be a Christmas Sing a Long at 2:00 in the afternoon. A fun day to relax at the park, enjoy the outdoors and some Christmas music, all for free.
The Newport Boat Parade is only one of many Christmas Boat Parades this season, however this parade as been voted into the Top 10 Christmas light shows in the nation by the New York Times. The parade is going on Dec. 17th to the 21st. The route has changed some this year, but it can be viewed from several public beaches. Check out the route online.
For a fantastic local light experience you can head down to 44001 Terraza Ct. in Temecula. A great light show set to music.
For the music lovers among us the California Philharmonic will be presenting ‘Christmas with the Maestro‘ at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Tickets range from $29-$88.
Griffith Park in LA offers several fun Christmas events. Among them you can ride the train through travel town to visit Santa…check online for times. Griffith Park also hosts a Holiday Lights
Festival. You can stroll along the displays until Dec. 7th, and after that it becomes a drive through event.
Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, located at 2201 S. “A” St., has a Santa Train available Dec 6, 7, 13, and 14. There are Christmas activities for the whole family both weekends. Entry to the Railway museum is free, but there is a fee to ride the trains.
Other events in Perris, if you want to keep it close to home, include a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 5th. A Holiday Boat Parade and Car Show at Lake Perris on Dec. 6, A Christmas Parade on Dec. 13th, and Christmas with Santa on Dec. 20th.
Nuevo has it’s own Tree Lighting on Dec. 6th.