While many families spend Christmas Eve doing last-minute shopping, wrapping presents or visiting with friends and relatives, others may be looking for ways to occupy the kids while they anxiously await Santa's arrival. To keep everyone busy and entertained, we've compiled a list of 12 activities on Long Island for the whole family to enjoy. Some are holiday-themed, while others are fun no matter what your affiliation. Take your pick and enjoy this special time with your family. And for more seasonal fun, be sure to check out our Holiday Guide.
1. Go skating. The Rinx in Port Jefferson, Superior Ice Rink in Kings Park, Newbridge Arena in Bellmore and the ice rink at Tanger Outlets in Deer Park are all open. United Skates of America is also open on Christmas Eve for indoor roller skating.
2. Spend the day at a science camp. The Center for Science Teaching & Learning in Rockville Centre is hosting a hands-on nature camp for kids ages 4-12. Activities include arts & crafts, shows and science experiments.
3. Take the kids bowling. AMF Bowling Centers across the Island are open on Christmas Eve. Call your local alley directly for operating hours.
4. Visit with Santa. The big guy in red is still holding court at several area malls. Check out our post on places to meet Santa for times and locations. While Santa has left Hicks Nurseries, you can still stop by to see their animated Christmas story and enjoy holiday music and hot chocolate.
5. Catch a holiday show. Theatre Three on Main Street in Port Jefferson is featuring two family-friendly holiday shows on Christmas Eve. Choose from Barnaby Saves Christmas at 11am or A Christmas Carol at 3pm.
6. Visit a specialty store to find a truly unique gift. Willis Hobbies in Mineola offers a tremendous array of model trains and an entire floor dedicated to remote-controlled aircraft. Dollhouse Alley features a huge selection of houses and accessories for the miniature enthusiast. Visit Milleridge Village to find unique toys, retro gifts, delicious sweets and everything Christmas at the Christmas Shoppe. And St. James General Store sells Victorian-era artifacts, old books and children's toys, many locally-made.
7. Drop in for Open Play. Once Upon a Treetop in Plainview is open from 10am to 3pm on Christmas Eve. Let the kids run around so they'll sleep well that night!
8. Check out the holiday light displays. Long Island is in full glow for the holidays this time of year. Read over our guide to the Island's most spectacular light displays, load up the family in the car with mugs of hot chocolate and take a ride to check 'em all out.
9. Visit a Museum. The Children's Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton will remain open until 2pm. The Long Island Children's Museum in Garden City will be open from 10am-3pm.
10. Make homemade ornaments. Draw a picture of something special that happened this year, then pull out the construction paper, scissors, markers and glue and get creative. Young kids can make hand-print ornaments that you can use to track their growth from year to year.
11. Cut your own Christmas tree. If you haven't picked out a tree yet, there's still time! Check out our guide to cut-your-own Christmas Tree Farms. Several locations remain open until Christmas Eve.
12. Track Santa with NORAD. See Kris Kringle during the day, and then track his progress online at night as he travels around the world bringing presents to all good little boys and girls. Just make sure your kids go to bed before he hits Long Island!
Originally posted on December 18, 2012.