Volunteer and Donate as a Family in NYC This Holiday Season

During the holiday season, families gather to enjoy delicious meals, exchange gifts and celebrate the year gone by. But for a number of underprivileged New Yorkers, the holiday season can be a particularly difficult time. Volunteering is a wonderful way to help those in need, and an ideal opportunity to teach children the true spirit of the season.

We've rounded up some of our favorite kid-friendly volunteering opportunities. No matter where in the tristate area you live, the age of your children, or your family's interests, chances are there is a program to fulfill your holiday volunteering desires.

Find Tutors in NYC and NJ with the New GooRoo App

A new NYC-based app, GooRoo, is connecting students (and their parents) with pre-screened tutors. It launched last spring from its home base on the Upper West Side, drawing on tutors from Columbia University, but has since expanded into all five boroughs, and more recently, Northern New Jersey, with tutors serving Bergen County, Jersey City, and Hoboken.

It’s a time-saver for busy parents, because each tutor has been interviewed in-person about his or her teaching style and passed a background check. Parents can peruse tutor ratings, pictures, and even videos. Read on for our review of this new app, and be sure to peruse the NYC Classes Guide or NJ Classes Guide to find more local enrichment options for your kids.

DIY Holiday Crafts and Present Making Classes near Philly

The holidays are just around the corner, and nothing says "I love you" quite like a homemade gift. Treat your loved ones and family members to something really special with an awesome DIY gift that will blow them away! Or, make something special for your own home- like a wreath or ornament. The family bonding time alone is worth it, and you'll have something beautiful (or delicious) to bring home. Check out some of these great classes and workshops being offered in the area this month to learn how to make something unique.

Restaurants Open on Christmas Day in Houston

Gathering around the table with family and friends to enjoy a festive meal is a hallmark of the holiday season, and one that is often enjoyed multiple times throughout the November and December months due to Thanksgiving and Christmas occurring in rapid succession. However, having two big holidays so close together can become overwhelming for even the most dedicated cook, and there's no shame in needing a break from the kitchen come Christmas Day (and no judgment on our part if you treated yourself to a Thanksgiving dinner out, too!). We've rounded up a variety of restaurants around Houston that are opening their doors on Christmas Day, spanning everything from fancy brunches to low-key diners, so you can take a break from the kitchen and enjoy a meal out with the family. And don't forget to check out our holiday guide for more events and things to do during the season.

Weekday Picks: Boat Parade of Lights, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, Dec. 5-9

Celebrating the holidays around here can have a uniquely Southern California vibe. Take boat parades, for instance. There are precious few other places in the country that can offer bedecked boats parading around harbors and waterways to the delight of families watching from the shore, or taking a cruise on the water for a closer view. Dana Point launches the first parade of the season this week, promptly followed by 10 more local holiday boat parades.

Another advantage we have here is the ability to see big-name stars in local theater productions. Lythgoe Family Productions opens two shows this week featuring the traditional British holiday panto style, in which classic tales are infused with slapstick comedy, song and dance, exaggerated characters, topical humor and lots of audience participation. Joely Fisher and Cozi Zuehlsdorff open in Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight at Laguna Playhouse this week, and Lauren Taylor, Alex Newell, and Morgan Fairchild star in A Cinderella Christmas at Pasadena Playhouse. 

As always, there are plenty more ideas to be found on the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar, as well as our monthly picks in our December GoList. Here are some of our favorite holiday and non-holiday related events this week.

Westchester's Winter Wonderland at Kensico Dam Plaza: A Holiday Carnival for Families

The Westchester Winter Wonderland at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla has returned for its third year, and we recently returned to check out the full experience. We have some tips for this year's fun winter carnival, which will be open on select dates through January 2.

Check out our Event Calendar for more holiday hooplah, and be sure to sign up for our FREE newsletters to keep up with all family-friendly Westchester happenings. 

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Weekday Picks for Boston Kids: Santa, Antarctica, and Clara, Dec 5-9

After an eventful weekend of seeing José Mateo Ballet Theatre's magical performance of The Nutcracker, noshing our way through the Boston Public Market, and checking out the winter wonderland that has recently popped up in City Hall Plaza (pictured), we're not sure we want to go back to the weekday routine. But go back we must, so we've picked a few happenings this week that take us out of the doldrums and drop us into Antarctica, the North Pole, and the Land of Sweets. Our Event Calendar is also bursting with festive holiday events this time of year, so we highly recommend checking it out in addition to our picks below if you're looking for a mid-week escape.

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