Tweens & Teens

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. Don't miss out, this Sunday is the last day of the festival.

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.

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

The tree is trimmed; the presents are wrapped, and the cookies are baked and boxed. Hmm. Now, what to make for Christmas dinner. Our suggestion? Reservations. That’s right. Many Southland restaurants will be open and happy to serve you on Christmas Day. You’ve already done so much to get ready for the holidays. Instead of once again slaving over that hot stove, pile your family and out-of-town guests into the car and give yourself the gift of dining out. That way you can kick back and enjoy the day!

The Best Holiday Train Displays In and Around Westchester

Train displays have become as much a part of the holiday season as the Nutcracker and holiday tree lightings. They are so festive and fun, it’s no wonder families look forward to them each year.

The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden is a sure crowd pleaser for all ages; however, there are other train shows in Westchester and the Hudson Valley, and we’ve rounded up several local options to celebrate locomotion for the holidays. Read on for more info about holiday train shows in and around Westchester. (Looking for a "real" Polar Express? We have details on that too!) 

10 Fun Things to Do on Christmas Eve in Houston

Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the Christmas season. I know a lot of people have holiday traditions that they enjoy throughout the month of December, like seeing a favorite play or visiting the same Santa for photos each year, while others have special activities reserved for Christmas Day, like enjoying a meal out with family or driving around to see the holiday lights and displays one last time. But to me there's always been something magical about the night before Christmas. Growing up, that was the day we opened all of our presents from family members, attended the candlelight church service, and listened to Christmas carols while sipping hot chocolate and eating holiday treats, so I guess it's no surprise that I find myself wanting to make the day just as special in our house now that I have my own family. Luckily, there are no shortage of fun things to do with the kids on Christmas Eve, and we've rounded up 10 of the best activities you can enjoy at home and around the Houston area this year.

18 Hanukkah Celebrations for Kids in LA and Orange County

However you spell it—Hanukkah, Hanukka, Hannukah, Chanukah, or Channuka—SoCal is a great place to be for the Festival of Lights. Home to a Jewish population larger than that of Jerusalem, Los Angeles is all about "lighting candles, wearing sandals, by the sea" (at least, that's why Tom Leher spent Hanukkah in Santa Monica). Giant menorahs light up open spaces from The OC to the Valley. Two of the season's biggest events are at the Skirball Center and the Shalom Institute, but these major festivals are just the tip of the dreidel; local events and candle lightings burn the sunset oil all week long...

Weekend Fun for CT Kids: Nutcracker, Museums, and Visits with Santa, December 10-11

Sadly, both my children have hung up their dancing shoes, but we still get our ballet fix at least once a year with one of the fantastic productions of The Nutcracker offered across Connecticut. This weekend's offerings include performances the New Haven Ballet, the Danbury Symphony Orchestra, the Hartt School, the New England Ballet Company, the Eastern Connecticut Ballet Company, and the Connecticut Dance School, among many others.  "Scenes from the Nutcracker" is a terrific option for younger audiences, as the abbreviated performance lasts about an hour and children are invited to sit down in front to be close to the action (and interact with the dancers following the show).

If you're starting to feel the pinch of this spendy season, there are quite a few free events on offer this weekend, including Santa's Workshop at Wickham Park, a free screening of The Polar Express in Stamford, and a fun visit with Santa at the Seymour Land Trust (food donations are welcome at most of these events—double check with the venues for specific needs).

As always, we continue to update the Mommy Poppins Family Events Calendar with family-friendly activities around the state. Be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletters and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Have a wonderful weekend!

The Best Museums for Kids in Northern New Jersey

When bad weather hits, a trip to a museum can be a great cure for cabin fever. With winter upon us, it's time to check out a few local gems that offer kids hands-on art and science exploration. At these northern New Jersey museums, kids can study the stars at a planetarium, learn about dinosaurs that once roamed modern-day New Jersey, create their own works of art, meet animals, make music, and much more. They're guaranteed to learn something—and get nice and tired in the process. Read on for five of our favorite spots in northern New Jersey, and be sure to check out our roundup of museums in central and southern New Jersey, too. 

Christmas Trains: All Aboard the Polar Express for Kids in LA, Ventura, & Orange County

Trains in Los Angeles are more or less novelties all year round, which means they hold onto that wonderful Thomas-the-Tank-Engine, Polar-Express mystique far longer for LA kids than for urban kids who take the A train regularly. And for anyone who loves trains, Christmas trains offer the ultimate "old world charm" rail experience. Add an appearance by Santa Claus and a few Christmas trees, and you have a recipe for a memorable holiday experience. All aboard the Santa Express!

Inexpensive Birthday Party Room Rentals for NYC Kids

Few suburban comforts make me jealous, but the ability to host a home birthday party is one. Fear not: There are inexpensive party rooms available to rent in NYC; you just have to know where to look.

Keep in mind, buying an all-inclusive package can get pricey, especially if you want to invite your child's entire class. These spots all require DIY inventiveness, but you'll be rewarded with a special day that won't (totally) break the budget. Read on for inspiration and where to find a party spot near you, or check out our party directory for more local venues and entertainers.

10 Best Holiday Things To Do with Kids in the Hudson Valley

There are only so many weekends left in December left to celebrate the holiday season, which can put some pressure on parents. Just which family fun is worth the trip and your time? Fret not, for Mommy Poppins has come up with a list of our 10 favorite things to do with kids in the Lower Hudson Valley during the holiday season. 

We’ve already told you our favorite things to do with kids in Westchester during the holidays, and now we’re going to turn our attention to the rest of the area. All of these family-friendly attractions are worth the drive and are a great way to explore the counties around Westchester. Check out our Holiday Guide for more Christmas and Hanukkah fun, or our Event Calendar for the latest doings. Be sure to follow us on Facebook to share what you’ve done!   

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