Christmas Tree Recycling in Marin

December 26, 2015

Christmas treeAs December draws to a close and the New Year begins, the time comes bid farewell to your Christmas tree. It's a sad but inevitable fact of life that your tree has to go at some point, unless you have an artificial Christmas tree, in which case you can stop reading right here.

Fortunately, your local disposal agency is usually more than happy to take your dried out old Noble Fir off your hands and do the green thing with the tree by recycling it. If for some reason you can't leave your tree out by the curb with your yard waste, you can drop it off at a number of different locations, including most fire houses, throughout Marin County.

Keep in mind that you need to remove all ornaments, lights, tinsel, and plastic tree bags from the tree before you put it out for pick up. (Don't forget to remove metal or plastic stands, too.) Here's a rundown of Christmas tree disposal details for communities in Marin:

Marin Sanitary

For Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Las Gallinas Valley, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Ross Valley (Sleepy Hollow and Oak Manor): Trees will be collected at the curb on your regular yard waste pickup day during the month of January. One pickup per residence. If trees are greater than 6 feet in length, please cut them in half. Remove all metal stands, plastic tree bags, and ornaments. Flocked trees will not be accepted.

Take a Family Hike to the Fairway Waterfall in Novato

December 24, 2015

Fairway Waterfall Novato Marin County Open Space

When it rains, we love to head outdoors and take a waterfall hike! Hikes with the family are especially fun when there's something exciting to see at the end of the trail, like a rushing waterfall. Marin's waterfalls are some of the county's hidden treasures, and are best appreciated when they're running full force in winter and spring. The Fairway Waterfall, also known as Arroyo de San Jose Waterfall, is a seasonal waterfall that can be found on a trail at the end of Fairway Drive, in Novato's Country Club neighborhood.

The trail to the Fairway waterfall is short and easy and the trailhead is conveniently located, so it's a perfect hike for kids. So bundle up, put on those puddle stompers and raincoats, and head outdoors for a waterfall hike! We've been hiking the trail after each recent rain storm this season to see if the waterfall is flowing yet, and we finally got what we were wishing for this week. There's not a huge amount of water right now, but the waterfall is definitely flowing (the photos here are of the waterfall in full flow last winter). It's only going to get bigger and better as the rainy season continues.

Where's Santa Now? NORAD Tracks Santa 2015!

December 24, 2015

NORAD Santa Tracker 2015Every Christmas, the men and women of NORAD take a break from tracking the skies and waterways of North America and instead follow Santa Claus on his annual Christmas trek around the globe. You can check out Saint Nick's progress live online at NORAD's special Santa Tracking website, You can also track Santa on a new mobile app available for iOS, Android, or Windows devices.

NORAD's tradition of tracking Santa's route started in 1955, when a local Sears store in Colorado Springs printed the wrong phone number in a Christmastime advertisement for children to call Santa. The phone number was in fact that of the CONAD (the predececessor of NORAD, which took over the tradition in 1958) operations hotline, and the staff under Colonel Harry Shoup responded with good humor and gave the children who called in updates on Santa's position.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for December 25, 26 & 27

December 23, 2015
Whale watching point reyes lighthouse
Visit Point Reyes Lighthouse this weekend for the start of whale watching season.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

You can also hit the ice at Marin on Ice or another Bay Area seasonal skating rink, which will be open during the holidays. Check out our guide to local ice skating here.

Friday, December 25 - Christmas Day

  • San Francisco Botanical Garden Free Day
    Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
    Friday, 7:30 am–4 pm

    The Botanical Garden is a living museum within Golden Gate Park and is one of the most diverse gardens in the world, offering 55 acres of both landscaped gardens and open spaces, showcasing over 8,000 different kinds of plants from around the world. Admission is free for all on Christmas Day. For more info, visit their website.
  • Community Day
    Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
    Friday, 11 am–4 pm
    The Contemporary Jewish Museum's Community Day is an admission-free, fun-for-all extravaganza that has become an annual tradition for Bay Area families. Explore the galleries, create art, and move and groove to live music! Bring your family and friends and enjoy an exciting day at the museum. Make shadow puppets, play with light theaters, and create a Wikki Stix art in the Art Studio, rock out to Alison Faith Levy and her Big Time Tot Rock Band at 1 and 2:30 pm, and enjoy a delicious menu from Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen from 11 am–3 pm. Location: 736 Mission Street San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday & Sunday, noon–9 pm; Saturday, noon–10 pm

    Hit the ice at Marin's only outdoor ice skating rink (open Christmas Day). This season's rink features 6,400 square feet of real ice. Cost: $15 per person all-day; skate rental included. Location: Oak Tree Plaza, Northgate Mall, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Rombeiro Christmas House
    Friday–Sunday, 6–10 pm

    Visit the famous Rombeiro Christmas House in Novato, featuring over 140,000 lights as well as animated figures, dioramas, and more. You can tour the inside, and they're open Christmas Day, too. Free admission (donations to offset their December PG&E bill welcome). Location: 34 Devonshire Drive, Novato.

Saturday, December 26

  • Whale Watching at Point Reyes Lighthouse
    Point Reyes National Seashore
    Weekends, 9 am–3:30 pm

    Go see the whales out at the Point Reyes Light House and Chimney Rock. Shuttle buses leave Drakes Beach every 15–20 minutes. The cost is $7 per person. Children under 16 are free. No cars allowed at Point Reyes Light House on weekends and holidays December 26, 2015 through late March 2016. For more info, visit their website.
  • Boswick the Clown's Variety Show
    Shelton Theatre, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am

    Former Ringling Brothers Clown Boswick is famous for his antics, his playfulness and being able to make children laugh with hysterics. Join Boswick at the beautiful Shelton Theatre, just two blocks from Union Square. Boswick the Clown presents clown sketches, juggling, and story telling in an intimate setting. Your children will laugh till they're red in the face! Tickets: $15. Location: 533 Sutter Street. For more info, visit their website.
  • Experience Elephant Seals
    Elephant Seal Overlook, Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore
    Weekends, 11 am–4 pm
    Weekends and holidays, late December–March. View an elephant seal colony through binoculars and scopes. A special 30-minute slide program about elephant seals may be available at the Lifeboat Station at Chimney Rock, depending on staffing availability. Check at one of the Visitor Centers for whether the slide program is being offered. Visitors will need to take the winter shuttle bus from Drake's Beach. For more info, call (415) 669-1534 or visit their website.
  • Creek Walk to See Spawning Coho Salmon
    Samuel P Taylor Park, San Geronimo
    Saturday, 11 am–1 pm
    With the first hard rains in the watershed comes the beginning of spawning season for Coho salmon. SPAWN-trained naturalists lead creek walks to explore the majesty of the Lagunitas Creek Watershed. Tour will meet at the front Kiosk of Camp Taylor and embark on a journey to multiple creek sites in search of some of these critically endangered salmon. Tours are open to all ages and abilities. Cost: $10 per person donation requested. Register here.
  • Family Matinee: A Christmas Carol
    American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 1 pm

    Featuring a lively cast of dozens, gorgeous costumes, and those deliciously spooky ghosts, the Bay Area's favorite holiday tradition returns with a sparkling, music-infused production of A Christmas Carol. Bring your family, bring your friends, and check your "humbugs" at the door! Tickets: $50–$115. Location: 405 Geary Street, San Francisco. For more info and tickets, visit their website.

Clubhouse J Free Open House Party!

December 23, 2015

Clubhouse J at the Osher Marin JCCMarin Mommies presents a sponsored article from the Osher Marin JCC and Clubhouse J.

You and your friends are invited to the Clubhouse J FREE Open House Party on Thursday, January 7, 2016 from 3–6 pm. It takes place at the Osher Marin JCC, 200 North San Pedro Road, in San Rafael. RSVP for the Open House Party here.
The open house will include fun for all with games, a bounce house, Zumba, snacks, friends, and fun, plus it's free for everyone! Parents are welcome to enjoy a cup of Peet’s coffee from the Plaza J café and take a tour of the JCC.

About Clubhouse J

Come play with us in the Clubhouse on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school from 3 to 5:30 pm. The Clubhouse is a unique place where kids from all over Marin come to make new friends, strengthen their swim skills, explore their artistic side, Zumba to their favorite songs, try new things, and have a blast. Our experienced staff will help your Club Buddy build new relationships, spark their creativity, and ignite their imagination. Let’s unplug and rediscover the magic of PLAY.

A Family Tradition Full of Love and Thought... But No Cost

December 22, 2015

Buoncristiani christmas tree with letters Marin Mommies presents a guest article from Marin mom and photographer Danielle Buoncristiani, who shares her family's tradition of holiday letter writing. Danielle specializes in photos of families and children. Learn more about her and her photography studio, Buoncristiani Photography, at

16 years ago when we were soon to be celebrating the holiday season with our newborn son we wanted to start our own family tradition. A tradition that could be done every year and that would cost nothing but thought and love.

The tradition of holiday letter writing began. Both my husband and I wrote a letter to our 9 month old son; we told him his first words, we talked about how he changed our lives, and he heard stories of what had occurred during these months that he came into our lives. My husband and I also wrote to each other. Life gets so crazy busy that often we don’t tell the people we love what makes them so special to us, tell them why we are so proud of them, and talk about some goals for the upcoming year.

Easy Holiday Recipe: Peppermint Bark

December 22, 2015

peppermint barkIn my opinion, peppermint should be the official flavor of the holiday season! This white chocolate peppermint bark candy is a holiday staple in our house, and is quick, delicious, and kid-approved. My kids love the fact that smashing up candy canes is part of this recipe.

Peppermint bark is really easy to make, and doesn't mess the kitchen up nearly as much as making cookies does. Feel free to omit the nuts or mix in something else that you think would be tasty. My mom makes hers with both the almonds and dried cranberries.


Easy Handmade Holiday Bead Ornaments

December 22, 2015

Bead ornamentsYour kids can exercise their holiday creativity by making these easy and festive bead ornaments for the Christmas tree. They also look great attached to wrapped gifts as a little holiday extra.

These ornaments are simple to make, although the candy cane ornament is easier to put together than the star and probably a better project for younger children. All you'll need to make these are pipe cleaners, plastic beads in various colors and shapes, some ribbon, and scissors.

To create the candy canes, take a pipe cleaner and cut it in half. (We used holiday-colored red, white, and green pipe cleaners.) Slip one white bead onto the pipe cleaner and run it to the end. Bend over the last 1/4-inch or so of the pipe cleaner to hold the bead in place.

Marin Maker Kids: Spend Winter Break with an Hour of Code

December 21, 2015

Hour of Code

If your kids are looking for something fun and rewarding to do over Winter Break, why not make that screen time fun and educational by completing an Hour of Code? Hour of Code officially took place during Computer Science Education Week earlier this month, but if you missed it or just want to have more fun learning some code there are some great online resources out there for you to explore.

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