New Jersey

Holiday Giving in New Jersey: Volunteering for Families

Looking for new ways to connect as a family this holiday season? Volunteering together can spark the joy of giving in children of all ages. 

Holiday time is full of family traditions like carving turkeys, sharing gifts, and ringing in the New Year. It's also a great time to inspire your kids to give back. Create new family traditions this year by contributing to a favorite charity or reaching out to those in need. From the youngest kids coloring holiday greeting cards to teenagers serving Thanksgiving dinners, we've got the low-down on family-friendly holiday volunteering in New Jersey. 

A Dozen Must-Do Holiday Activities for New Jersey Kids

There are five weekends from December 1 to January 1, and hundreds of ways to fill them. Overwhelmed by the possibilities? If you’re looking for fun activities the kids will love that don’t cost an arm and a leg, look no further than our list of the best family outings worth adding to your busy December to-do list. From holiday light shows to breakfast with Santa, we’ve compiled 12 great memory-making activities for this month.

Check out our full calendar of events and our holiday guide for more options.

Best Nutcrackers and Holiday Shows for New Jersey Kids

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year for lots of things, including performances. Over the next several weeks, New Jersey theaters will come alive with dancing sugar plum fairies, singing reindeer, and more than a few Christmas ghosts. 

This season, you can dance and sing along with the Laurie Berkner Band or listen to the world-famous Vienna Boys' Choir. Beloved characters such as Charlie Brown, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Garfield take the stage in musicals based on animated holiday specials. 

Annie brings Broadway talent to NJ in an all-star production at the Paper Mill Playhouse (OK, this one isn't technically a holiday show, but the story takes place at Christmastime, and it's a classic). And Ebeneezer Scrooge gets spooked into a change of heart in several productions of A Christmas Carol at theaters throughout the state, including McCarter Theatre and the Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College, plus kid-friendly musical versions at Paper Mill and BergenPAC.

If your child is nuts about The Nutcracker, you don't have to go to New York City to see a great production—there are several top-notch companies performing the holiday fave right here in NJ, including American Repertory Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, and Moscow Ballet. For a sweet twist on the classic, don't miss the Hip Hop Nutcracker at NJPAC. 

Read on for a list of the best productions happening this holiday season.

New Grammy Museum in NJ Offers Hands-on Musical Fun for Kids

Rocking out is encouraged at the new GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Strutting onstage, playing electronic instruments, and singing karaoke-style are part of the fun at this new museum celebrating pop music's biggest stars, including many with New Jersey roots. An electronic jam session may be the coolest way for kids to spend a rainy day

Where To Have Breakfast with Santa in New Jersey

Ho, ho, ho! It’s that time of year when Santa Claus starts making his list and checking it twice. If your kids are looking to spend a little QT with the Big Guy, then a breakfast with Santa might be for you. At these events, kids can enjoy some delicious food and share their holiday wish lists with St. Nick. And of course, there will be time for photos, too. Read on for our roundup of breakfast events happening this season.

Want more time with Santa? Book your ticket on a Christmas train ride. And for more seasonal activities, check out our Holiday Fun Guide.

Weekend Fun: Open Cockpit, Mini Maker Faire, Santa Sightings

The second weekend of November brings more fall fun, and plenty of performances, too. You can take a guided hike at the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum in Short Hills or catch Stony Hill Farms' amazing sea turtle rescue–themed corn maze before it closes. Young crafters and builders can pick up some new ideas at Barnes & Noble's third annual Mini Maker Faire, and aviation enthusiasts can inspect antique aircraft at the final Open Cockpit Weekend of the year.

Characters coming to the stage this weekend include the Cat in the Hat and Junie B. Jones, as well as the talented critters of Popovich Comedy Pet Theater. And Santa kicks off the holiday season at Storybook Land at the annual Christmas Fantasy with Lights Parade.

Read on for more things to do this weekend, and be sure to check our Event Calendar for a full listing of happenings this weekend and beyond. 

Lyndhurst Municipal Park: A Playground for NJ Kids of all Ages

Squeeze in some outdoor recreation before the winter hits by spending the day at Lyndhurst Municipal Park. This sprawling park sits parallel to the Lyndhurst train station, offering parents who commute into Hoboken or NYC a great junction to say goodbye to their little ones or greet them at the end of a busy day. Live out of town? Ride the rails with your kiddos and make a day trip out of it.

The park features an amazing playground with equipment for kids of all ages. During the summer months, the neighboring splash pad is a great way to cool off!

National Geographic's Interactive Ocean Odyssey Makes Waves in Times Square

A new experience is making a major splash in Times Square. National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey takes visitors on a virtual underwater journey beneath the Pacific Ocean, unlike anything we've ever seen before. Using breathtaking state-of-the-art technology, lighting, and audio effects, the self-guided walk-through journey explores different areas of a wondrous undersea world including coral reefs, kelp forests, and open ocean expanses.

Ocean Odyssey opened in mid-October, and my family and I couldn't wait to go. The visit left us awestruck and eager to return. It's a fantastic destination for all ages, filled with stunning visuals and interesting facts about ocean wildlife and habitats, human impact, and what each of us can do to help keep our oceans beautiful and clean—all without getting wet! Read on for more about this amazing new experience, plus what you need to know before visiting with kids.

10 Indoor Party Spots with Mega Playgrounds for NJ Kids' Birthdays

Looking for the perfect party spot for your winter baby? We've rounded up the most action-packed indoor birthday party locations for your cold-weather celebrations. Whether your birthday child wants to jump and bounce, climb, dance, play laser tag, or even take a spin on an amusement ride, New Jersey has a party place for it. Read on for 10 of our favorites.  

For more party planning ideas, check out our Guide to NJ Kids' Parties, where you'll find everything from top party places for preschoolers to bakeries that make amazing birthday cakes.

25 Free Events for New Jersey Kids in November

November has arrived, and there’s so much to be thankful for—including free events! Get in the Thanksgiving spirit with fun and free holiday craft events, such as Marlboro Library’s Turkey Puppets and Colts Neck Library’s Be Thankful Craft. Look for free entertainment during November’s many school closings, such as No-School-Day Matinee during the NJEA Convention.

Free holiday light celebrations kick off later in the month, including events at Sea Isle City and Red Bank. And for the little ones, there are free storytimes nearly every day off the week.

Read on for this month's picks, and don't forget to check out our Event Calendar and November GoList for more free and low-cost adventures.

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