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.
Years spent at Nickelodeon prepared Roberta to launch Mommy Poppins' Los Angeles branch. She served as LA Editor for GoCityKids, National Editor for ParentsConnect, and Editor for NickMom. After two years as Mommy Poppins' LA Editor, Roberta became Editor-in-Chief at Mommy Poppins - which works out well for her son, who enjoys his role as Chief Guinea Pig for all things fun in LA and beyond.
Latest posts by Roberta
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.
Whether your holiday of choice is Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, or Kwanzaa there is a timeless joy to be found in taking a spin around the holiday light displays. And while the glammy glitz of Rodeo Drive is fun, there is a particular magic to those over-the-top holiday light displays created by someone's (if thankfully not your) next-door neighbor. Even better is a whole street made up of nothing but this kind of neighbor, and we know where a few of those are.
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.
Some of this year's events may be affected by our recent fires (most notably the festival at the Shalom Institute, typically one of the LA's biggest). But be assured that there are plenty of celebrations to fill the 8 crazy nights, including the popular event at the Skirball Center, as well as numerous local events and candle lightings to burn the sunset oil all week long.
Unlike certain other parts of the country that shall remain nameless (no need to go rubbing it in the noses of cities like, say, Boston), LA is all about outdoor activities at Christmastime - and nothing says "This is why I moved to Southern California" quite like a Christmas boat parade. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, boat owners gussy up their crafts and parade them up and down waterways for applauding spectators, who line the harbors and marinas from Dana Point to Ventura. Driving around looking at holiday lights is great; letting them float by you is even better...
Filling your house with family this week? Isn't it wonderful? And doesn't it make you just want to... get them all out of your house? We mean this, of course, in the nicest possible way. After all, this is sunny SoCal, and maybe your guests have traveled far to enjoy LA. Telling them where to go is just being a good host, right? Even if the family members in your home this Thursday are the same ones who are always there, knowing what's open could be invaluable—both for clearing the house to prepare the meal and for walking it off afterward. Our event calendar has the full listing of Thanksgiving day happenings, and our holiday guide has a few ideas, too; the suggestions below are 15 places you may not have realized have opening hours on the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!
Most of the year, most of us parents don't attempt to take our children to full-length ballet productions, but Christmas just doesn't feel like Christmas without one good Nutcracker. And if one good Nutcracker begins to make it feel a lot like Christmas, then LA, Orange, and Ventura counties are evidently hitting Uber-Christmas in the coming weeks with more than two dozen professional Nutcracker productions.
Incidentally, we've got answers to the two questions posed most often by LA parents in search of a Nutcracker Ballet for their families: Yes, there is a condensed version staged specifically for kids, offered by the Festival Ballet Theatre down in Costa Mesa or Classical Ballet Theatre in Palos Verdes; and yes, there are local productions performed with full orchestra—at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, the Broad Stage, the Dolby Theatre, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and the Grove of Anaheim. There is even the odd Nutcracker Tea or two—in case you were wondering.
And when you've had your fill of Sugarplum Fairies, we can direct you to some nifty Christmas train rides.
The Zimmer Children's Museum, the hugely popular Miracle Mile hub for the preschool set, is making a break for the beach, picking up more space and a new name along the way. Soon to be known as the Cayton Children's Museum, it will create a whole new reason to go to Santa Monica Place, that mall with the ocean view at the end of the Third Street Promenade—giving families one more reason to spend a day in the seaside suburb.