Preschoolers

6 Places in NYC Where Kids Can Make You Holiday Gifts (That You Really Want!)

This is the time of year when you want to embrace your inner craft goddess and sit down with your junior craft gods and goddesses to crank out some amazing homemade gifts for family, friends, teachers and other special folks. This is also the time of year when you have less time to do this sort of stuff than you usually do and maybe, just maybe, you even wish to be the recipient of said gift.  So, what to do? Visit one of the many craft emporiums in NYC where they have everything (materials, know how, time, space, etc.) needed to make the perfect handmade gift this holiday season.  

And for more cool holiday activity and gift ideas, check out our Holiday Guide.

Gift Ideas: 10 Experience Gifts for New York City Kids

Holidays are here and the last thing you need are more plastic dinosaurs or toys that need batteries. Time to re-think the gifts you give. Put a new spin on gift-giving this year and try to give non-tangible items such as lessons and special outings. Experience gifts teach your children the value of making memories. Added bonus: your holidays will be “greener” (something we all can put on our list of resolutions). You can even get your kids on board with this idea by suggesting ways they can give you experience gifts like cleaning the kitchen or a nice dinner alone.

5 Cool Cookbooks for Parents and Kids

Give your kids mac and cheese and they get a meal. Teach your kids to cook interesting things and hopefully they’ll make dinner when they’re teenagers. While looking through cookbooks for this round-up, I discovered that a lot of them are joint efforts between family members. It’s not surprising. I love sharing cooking tips and tricks with my food-forward 11-year-old son, and visa versa. He once pronounced a dish I’d made, salmon and vegetables in parchment, "Really good, but it would be better with capers." We tried it his way the next time. He was right. His first cookbook was one of the Roald Dahl Revolting Recipes cookbooks, and it remains a favorite to peruse and use. In that vein, we offer some additional cookbooks with an extra ingredient.
 

Holiday Traditions 2010: Christmas Department Store Windows Walk

Click here to see the amazing 2014 Department Store Holiday Windows.

Remember this: your children's holiday memories won't be about the toys they get under the tree, they're going to be about the wonderful holiday traditions that your family shared. One of these traditions should be going to see the department store holiday window displays. These festive holiday windows are a great way to get into the holiday spirit and this simply magical experience is completely free.

 

Lots of people like to do the Holiday Windows Walk on Christmas Eve, but it's also a great way to walk off your Thanksgiving turkey because the crowds tend to be smaller when the stores are closed (and before the RockefellerCenter tree is lit.) We've rounded up the best ones for kids plus some other great holiday stops to visit while you're in the neighborhood.

Gingerbread House Decorating and Holiday Cooking Classes for NYC Kids

Family holiday traditions often seem to revolve around food: cooking special meals, baking holiday cookies and creating gingerbread houses. These family moments create those warm memories that children will look back on with nostalgia. But if your inner Martha is on vacation, consider taking your kids to a holiday cooking class instead (or joining in on one with them!)

Several kids' cooking “schools” are offering classes in November and December, teaching holiday staples like sweet potato pie, cocoa and gingerbread house construction. Classes for toddlers through tweens could whet your child's appetite for culinary greatness—or just a really good sugar cookie. Instruction doesn't come cheap: the classes range from $30 to $95 per child. Then again, every holiday host knows eager kitchen help is priceless.

New Museum Exhibit for Kids - Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age

Walk with early man among some of the largest mammals to ever live on earth.  This winter, the aptly named mammoth and their smaller but still pretty huge kin, the mastodon, are explored in detail at the Liberty Science Center in the fascinating exhibit Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age. Read on to find out why this exhibit is worth the trip.
 

 

Toys: The Inside Story at the Long Island Children's Museum

Ever wonder just how that Hokey Pokey Elmo actually wiggles and dances?  No, it isn’t just the batteries.  The answer to this and many other toy functionality questions can be answered with a visit to the Long Island Children’s Museum where Toys: The Inside Story is currently on exhibit.  The exhibit is fun for parents, full of classic toys like Etch a Sketch, jacks in the box and other toys from our childhood as well as an engaging experience for kids where they can learn and experiment with gears, circuits and pulleys – all while playing with their favorite toys.  By the way, a rotating cam and follower makes Elmo dance.

Go Out on a Limb at the Brooklyn Children's Museum

My 2 ½ year old son was addicted to acorns last year. Luckily, he only wanted to gather them. He preferred ones with “tops on them” and loved trips to the park to beef up his collection. This year, he’s more into sticks, leaves and tree stumps. I knew the exhibit Out on A Limb: Adventures in Nature and Art at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum would be right up his alley (and a great way to spend a rainy day!).

From what I’d read about Out on a Limb, I expected a bunch of tree-like structures that kids could climb with actual houses to play in. Once we entered the exhibit, I realized I hadn’t used my imagination enough. Tree-houses were clearly the inspiration, but Out on a Limb takes their meaning to a new, more whimsical level.

Easy Homemade Halloween Costumes, Ideas for Slacker Moms

I am not usually a slacker mom, but last Halloween it happened:  two days before my son’s annual school Halloween parade he had no costume to wear!  I had known what he wanted to be since August but just couldn’t find it.  As Halloween drew closer I enlisted the help of my friends, their spouses and even some of their parents, but no one could find a whale costume any where in the city or even online.  And, making a whale, well, it was beyond my limited crafting capabilities.  I took him to the Halloween stores to pick something else out but it for him it was whale or bust.  The night before the parade in a moment of exhaustion and desperation, I suggested the ultimate slacker mom Halloween costume, “how about dressing as a ghost?”  

Halloween is just a few days away.  Do you have your costume ready?  Read on for fun and spooky last minute DIY costumes, including the infamous ghost costume (it isn’t as easy as you would think.)

Little Kids Go Wild for ZooZoo

Wow! Is all I can say about the production of ZooZoo my family and I recently saw at the New Victory Theater.  ZooZoo is a unique play without sets, dialogue, or real props.  Unless you consider fantastic, realistic looking animal “costumes” a prop.  Mood setting music, lighting and maybe even a little magic bring a family of polar bears, three frogs, a cat trapped inside a paper bag and musical chairs playing penguins to life.  Every minute of the one hour performance was engaging and hysterical -- my son (as well as all the other kids and most of the adults in the theater) were laughing out loud through the whole show! It's here till October 24, 2010 and tickets are still available.  Don’t miss it.  

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