Giving Back: Holiday Toy Drives in Houston

The holidays are in full swing, and kids everywhere are dreaming of toys they want and are counting down the days until it's time to open presents. However, the holiday season is as much about giving as it is about receiving, and during this time parents have a unique window of opportunity to teach children the importance of volunteering and giving back to those in need. One way to do this is by donating toys to a local holiday toy drive, and we've rounded up several organizations in and around Houston that are dedicated to bringing holiday cheer to families unable to afford gifts this holiday season.

Weekday Fun: Gingerbread Art, Tree Lightings, Broadway Deals

The week ahead in NYC promises lots of festive family fun starting with FREE mini performances by Broadway stars and continuing with festive tree lightings and two not-to-be-missed holiday productions: The Yorkville Nutcracker and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

As you ponder the perfect holiday gift for your loved ones, remember Kids Night on Broadway tickets go on sale this Tuesday! Mark your calendar for this fantastic deal—but one ticket and receive a FREE ticket for a child 18 and under. As you can image, participating shows sell out fast. Speaking of great deals, don't forget the upcoming Readers Night for Mother Africa: My Home at the New Victory Theater on Saturday, December 10. Score discounted tickets to this circus spectacular and enjoy pre-show activities with the Mommy Poppins squad.

Our top picks for the coming week are highlighted below. As always, keep our December GoList close, as well as our 25 FREE holiday events roundup and Events Calendar, all chock-full of happenings around town this holiday season, including Christmas lights and pictures with Santa.

Weekday Picks: Santa and His Reindeer, Holiday Shows, and The Polar Express

It’s officially the holiday season around Long Island and this week, there are loads to do if you’re in the holiday spirit. Hicks Nurseries has several fun holiday-themed activities for the family, including meeting Santa and his reindeer and seeing their show, Christmas Animated Story.

But even if you aren’t yet in the holiday frame of mind, there’s no shortage of activities to keep big and little ones engaged, including theater performances, open play, and The Polar Express. 

To keep on top of all Long Island events happening this week, check out our full calendar guide. And don't miss any fun holiday festivities: bookmark our 2016 Holiday Fun Guide today!

Weekday Picks for Philly Kids: Planetariums, Holiday Lights, Santa Sightings, December 5-9

The holidays are in full swing, as Philly families can tell from our jam-packed events calendar. From train rides to Nutcracker performances to light shows, there is so much to do. We have picked some of our favorites for the week ahead.

View the beautiful holiday lights at Shady Brook Farms, Herr's Snack Factory, or one of the many venues throughout the Philly area. Gaze into the night sky at the Franklin Institute's Night Skies in the Observatory or West Chester University's Public Planetarium Show. Visit Barnes and Noble at Neshaminy Mall for its Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball, have pictures with Santa at King of Prussia, or experience Adventure to Santa at Cherry Hill Mall. Or, bundle up and head to the Ambler Train Station and welcome Santa to Ambler as he arrives by train.

Keep up with holiday fun by following us on FacebookInstagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

CHILL at the Queen Mary in Long Beach: An Icy Holiday Tradition

We're fortunate in the Southland to have a wonderful variety of traditional holiday events each season; LA families can take in Christmas lights, boat parades, Nutcracker performances, and even outdoor ice skating rinks. Add to that a holiday entertainment experience adjacent to the Southland's most famous cruise ship, The Queen Mary. For the past four years our warm blooded kids have been able to CHILL from Thanksgiving into the New Year, and we don't mean the kind you do with a board in hand. CHILL is a day's worth of holiday themed activities and photo ops—and a great reason for a family drive to Long Beach.

Annual Festival of Trees at the Wadsworth Atheneum: Parent Review

It's that time of year when twinkling lights and shiny bulbs are everywhere.  But I'll bet you have never seen a unique bevy of Christmas trees like the ones you will see at the Festival of Trees at the Wadsworth Atheneum.  This annual event has been going for 43 years (I know!), and was established by the Women's Committee of the Museum as a fundraiser.

Every year, my family and I make our trek into Hartford. It's a great opportunity for my boys to be exposed to some amazing artists and to see the beautiful decorated trees people have created.

Holiday Strolls and Tree Lighting Events in the Hartford Area

One of the best things about living in Connecticut is the small-town feel our communities work so hard to capture. This sentiment can especially be felt around the holidays when people come together. So even if you don't live in these towns in Hartford County, you are welcome and encouraged to celebrate the season at these events.  Check out our Holiday Guide and our list of Holiday Light Shows for even more tips on fun ways to celebrate the season.

Holiday Light Shows in Fairfield County

There is something magical about a holiday light display.  I have so many fun memories of bundling up in the backseat and driving around town searching for the best Christmas lights.  I am happy to say that this is a tradition that I have continued with my daughter.  

New Haven may have its Fantasy of Lights, but there's plenty to see in Fairfield County.  It's not clear whether billionaire Paul Tudor Jones will have his elaborate light display in Greenwich this year (watch this space for updates!), but there are many other local options, including a contestant on ABC's "Great Christmas Light Fight."

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