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December GoList: 25 Best Things To Do in NJ for the Holidays

The month of December is like one big jolly holiday. Santa's making his rounds via planes and trains, and even underwater. Local towns and Jersey's favorite haunts are glowing with holiday lights. Plus, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Eve round out the month-long festivities. 

If you and your kids are eager to celebrate the season, you're in luck—there are so many wonderful events and activities happening throughout the state every day this month. You'll find plenty of free things to do, as well as activities just for little ones. You can have breakfast with Santa, catch a seasonal show, and see at least one of the spectacular light displays around NJ.

We know you’re busy with things like shopping, baking, and figuring out what the heck to do with your Elf on the Shelf, so we’ve sorted through all of this month's happenings and picked 25 of our favorites.

For even more ideas, check out our Holiday Guide and Event Calendar. And sign up for our FREE newsletters so you can have our picks delivered directly to your inbox!

Happy Holidays!

December GoList: The Best Things To Do with Philly Kids This Month

The holiday season has officially arrived. Everywhere you look, folks are decorating their houses, the air is getting colder, hats and mittens have come out of hiding, and the scent of evergreens are in the air! This month is full of holiday shows as well as breakfast, photos, and even train rides with Santa, and more. Have fun and enjoy a happy and warm holiday season!

Be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter to see our weekly roundups of events as well!

Best Hot Chocolate Spots Around Manhattan

A cup of molten chocolaty goodness is one of the best ways to thaw out and warm up—in fact, it's one of the best things about winter and the holiday season.

We took on the heinous job of running around Manhattan taste-testing hot chocolate (don't say we've never done anything for you) and narrowed it down to nearly two dozen of our favorites. These spots are definitely worth the brief trip out into the cold, so read on for our recommendations for cafes and restaurants that have turned hot cocoa sipping into an experience not to be missed.

By the way, we've also rounded up our favorite Brooklyn hot cocoa cafes and those in Queens. Find more great eats in our NYC Restaurant Guide for Families.

Bring on the Christmas Cheer with 5 Free Holiday Activities in Washington DC

The great thing about Washington, DC is so many of the things to do in the city are free. From more than 20 museums to the zoo to great holiday happenings, activities abound in the capitol city that don't break the bank. 

Looking for some of the best ways to enjoy the season without blowing your holiday budget? Get the scoop here on the best holiday activities for kids and families in Washington, DC. (Keep in mind that when it comes to the holiday events on our list, free might mean you don’t need to reserve tickets ahead of time, but it also means you should expect crowds during peak times, such as weekends).

And don't forget to keep the good times going after the holidays with our list of must-do winter activities in the area.

Holiday Volunteering Opportunities for Houston Families

Many children worry about whether they are on Santa’s naughty or nice list. One way to help your little elves feel confident about their spot on the nice list is to encourage them to volunteer. Volunteering as a family is a great way to teach children that the holidays are about more than just presents while also creating a meaningful family holiday tradition. The holiday season is a busy time for many families with so much shopping, cooking, and socializing to do, not to mention all the exciting winter festivals and other seasonal events, so we’ve rounded up a variety of easy ways your family can volunteer locally or through national organizations.

100 Things To Do in Chicago with Kids Before They Grow Up

Chicago is home to so many incredible parks, playgrounds, museums, and things to do with kids that one childhood doesn't seem like enough time to fit them all in—though who could blame you for trying? That's why we rounded up this list of great things to do with kids in Chi-town. Whether it's racing with your toddler through the sprinklers at Mary Bartelme Park, wowing your preschooler at the Field Museum, gliding with your grade-schooler on the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, or taking in engineering marvels with your tween at the Chicago Architecture Center, take advantage of everything this beautiful city has to offer kids of all ages. We're also big fans of FREE fun, so we included as much of that as possible.

Whether you're a local or a visitor to the Windy City, we hope you can use this list to make some great new memories with your kids. Now I'm off to scarf some Chicago-style hot dogs at Portillo's.

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Farms Near NYC

Is there anything that smells better than a fresh Christmas tree? Spark a new family holiday tradition this year and head to one of these cut-your-own tree farms within an hour's drive of Midtown Manhattan, so kids (and parents!) can fulfill that lumberjack fantasy and still have time to deck the halls.

You can find a 12-foot tree for just $55 at one of the nearby New Jersey Christmas tree farms, gulp down a free cup of hot cider at another in Westchester, or do a little birding at a Connecticut tree farm situated in an Audubon nature sanctuary. Nearby Long Island is packed with pretty family tree farms, too. Read on for our top 10 picks for New York families.

Looking for more holiday day trips? We have a few to recommend for local families.

Where To Donate Toys for the Holidays: Toys for Tots, Spark of Love, and More

The holidays can be a particularly rough time to be in need, and this year's terrible fire season has put far more families in this position than usual. Showing our kids how the community rallies is important. We can make time to volunteer with our kids—a great holiday tradition—and kids can also experience the joy of giving by passing along some of last year's gifts, sharing the old with someone new before finding out what Santa delivers this season. When we pursue the parental thrill of buying super-cool toys, wrapping them, and making our kids' day on Christmas or Hanukkah, maybe we could add just one more for a child in need. We know of some great places to bring both kinds of toy donations—new and gently used—to spread around some of that holiday joy.

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