Los Angeles

25 Christmas Movies to Fill Your Family with Holiday Cheer

 Is your house brimming with the magic of Christmas and the holiday season? When the tree has been trimmed, and all the gifts have been wrapped, it's time to put the kids into those Christmas jammies to snuggle up with the perfect family Christmas movie. Don’t let picking the wrong festive flick turn you into a Grinch.

Unlike the naughty list, this holiday movie list is filled with positive messages, classic tales, and just the right amount of seasonal cheer. So, pop some popcorn and enjoy a family movie night with one of these Christmas classics perfect for kids. 

Must-See Holiday Light Shows Worth Paying or Driving for this Christmas

An after-dinner drive to take in one of LA's classic neighborhood holiday light displays is a treat all families should indulge in. It's an easy, cheap way to get in the Christmas spirit (or just enjoy someone else's). Of course, counting on other people to decorate their lawns is only so reliable. To be sure of a full evening of light and good cheer, sometimes it's worth splurging on a pay-to-play light display. Several local destinations indulge us in our desire to see grand-scale holiday lights, from Zoo Lights to walks in the woods. The bigger the group you can round up, the more festive—but also the more expensive it can get. It helps to know which of LA's big public light shows are worth the ticket price this holiday season.

Best Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina with Kids

Warm, charming, and packed with history, Charleston, South Carolina, regularly tops the lists of America’s most visit-worthy cities, and it’s easy to see why. Beautiful beaches and waterways, leafy streets and parks, gorgeous architecture, and a thriving cultural scene mean there’s always something to see and do. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Charleston is one of the best food cities in the country.

Best of all, Charleston is especially fun to visit with kids. It’s easy to get around, the weather is almost always nice (even though the summer months can be sticky and humid), and the overall vibe is incredibly welcoming to families. Our family has been vacationing in Charleston and the neighboring barrier islands for over a decade: Here are the things we love to do, the places we love to eat or stay at, and—just as important—what we’d recommend skipping with children in tow.

December GoList: Best Holiday Events and Activities for LA and OC Kids

Thanksgiving is behind us, and the daily, backward-counting dose of chocolate known as Advent begins. Suddenly we have barely three weeks left to squeeze every bit of holiday fun out of this city that we possibly can—with a week left over to decide whether we should try to celebrate New Year's Eve with our kids, or elusively without them. There are amazing holiday light displays to take in and loads of free holiday extravaganzas. There are Santa photos to snap, trees to light, and Nutcrackers to see; and Hanukkah looms large on the lit horizon, too. In short, no matter how hard you try to do it all, there is more epic fun stuff going on than anyone could possibly do in a month. If you had to choose, though, below are the dozen December events we suggest you make time for.

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Hanukkah, CicLAvia, and Santa Breakfasts

Oh Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah. And another. And another. It's no surprise that a holiday that extends over eight crazy nights has an abundance of menorah lighting festivals. You're going to need a lot of matches, a few LEGO bricks, napkins, and maybe some Dramamine

Christmas-celebrating kids are getting plenty of action of their own this weekend. Since it's, say what now, December, those advent calendars are officially fair game. Plus, we are launching into the month-long lead-up to the big day, starting with more Santa breakfasts than you can shake a stick (or break a leg) at. And tree lightings. Also Christmas trains. And ships. Lotsa Christmas going on out there.

Fear not parents: you're not getting left out in the cold. Besides getting to foot the bill for all of the above (yay!) there is fun to be had this weekend that will definitely appeal to you. No word on whether Santa's putting a new SUV under the tree for you, but a Momma can dream, and maybe test drive a few favored models at the LA Auto Show. You can push the limits of reality at the latest VR experience and pummel your friends and family with pancakes. You can pet a snow leopard... no, scratch that. No snow leopard petting at the Snow Leopard Festival. (Mildly disappointing but all things considered probably for the best.)

Keep reading for our best picks for the weekend, whatever you are celebrating.

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.

Party City Opens Toy City Pop-up with Hot Holiday Toys

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and the folks behind Party City are offering tired parents one more shopping outlet in 2018. Toy City, a seasonal pop-up similar to the Halloween City shops also owned by Party City, opened this fall with about 50 locations across the country. Expect to find some of the season's hottest toy items, from LOL dolls to Legos, at Toy City.

A number of the Toy City locations opened within former Halloween City stores and have been busy converting the shelves from spider webs and broomsticks to Play-Doh and Transformers. 

Breakfast with Santa Claus: Where LA Kids Can Share a Bagel with Father Christmas

Doing lunch might work for some LA types, but Santa Claus does breakfast. So before you take a train with Santa, see The Nutcracker with Santa, do some holiday shopping with Santa, wave to Santa on a boat, call Santa on the phone, or take funky LA photos with Santa, first you, your kids, AND Santa all need a good breakfast. The holidays are a busy time of year after all.

Most (though not all) of the events below require reservations, and some fill up surprisingly early. It's worth making the effort, though, if for no other reason than to see how good some people's table manners can be when the man at the head of the table is wearing a red suit and wielding a list.

18 Restaurants Open on Christmas Day in Los Angeles and Orange Country

The tree is trimmed, the presents wrapped, and the cookies baked and boxed. Hmm. Now, what to make for Christmas dinner. Our suggestion? Reservations. That’s right. Many Southland restaurants are open and happy to serve you on Christmas Day. You’ve already done so much to get ready for the holidays—instead of holing up in the kitchen, pile your family and out-of-town guests into the car and give yourself the gift of dining out. That way you all get to enjoy the day!

30 Best Vacation Ideas for Families Who Want to Avoid Winter

Ready to ditch your winter blues for a family-friendly vacation in climates warmer than here? 

From perpetually wet feet to relentlessly bundling (and unbundling) your kids with layer upon layer, the need to escape grows for many parents as the winter season drags on—and on. Even those families who don't live with the finicky four-season cycle might prefer their vacation with a side of palm trees, rather than fur-trimmed snow boots. So whether you're seeking to escape the cold or just don't want to vacation in it, we've rounded up more than two dozen of our favorite warm-weather destinations that beckon you to shed your parka and bask in the sun.

Read on to find great all-inclusive resorts, beaches, and charming cities teeming with culture that might not offer bathing suit weather in January but certainly no snow!

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