Winter Break Camps in Marin and Beyond

December 6, 2016

studio 4 artLooking for something fun for the kids to do over the upcoming winter break? Check out some of the great winter day camps here in Marin and the Bay Area.

  • Andrew's Day Camp
    Location: 400 Tamal Plaza, Corte Madera
    Dates: December 23–January 6
    Cost: $75 per day; extended care $10 hr
    Ages: kindergarten and up
    Andrew's Camp offers games, crafts, sports and more. Camps take place from 9 am–5 pm with extended care from 8–9 am and 5–6 pm. ABring lunch and snack. For more info,call (415) 446-8946 or  visit their website.

Eight Ways for Families to Give Back This Holiday Season

December 6, 2016

Giant Turkey Town Center Corte Madera SF-Marin Food BankTeach your children that the holiday season isn't just about getting gifts, but about giving back to our community, too. Here are 8 ways that families can give back, from donations of food and toys to serving a meal for the needy. If you have a favorite cause worth supporting this holiday season, please let us know.

Drop Off Food for the SF-Marin Food Bank

The SF-Marin Food Bank works to end hunger in Marin and San Francisco by providing food to families in need. You can drop off non-perishable food donations at various locations throughout Marin County, including the World's Largest Turkey at Town Center Corte Madera (through the end of November) and the SF-Marin Food Bank warehouse in Bel Marin Keys. Items like canned tuna and meat, peanut butter, soup, chili, canned beans, canned fruits and veggies, cereal, and granola are all needed. Learn more here.

Participate in Holiday Share at Novato Human Needs Center

Help the Novato Human Needs Center provide gifts to 150 families and their children in Novato via its Holiday Share program. The Center's gift wish list includes $25 gift cards from Target and Safeway, new children's books in English or Spanish, and cash donations of all amounts. Learn more here.

Dream Circle Holiday Concert at the Bay Area Discovery Museum this Weekend

December 6, 2016

Dream CircleCome and celebrate the holiday season with four of Marin's best loved kids entertainers: Tim Cain, Miss Kitty, Christopher Smith, and Cindy Cohen, accompanied by Peter Penhallow and the Dream Circle Band, for this year's Dream Circle Holiday Concert at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. The concert takes place this Saturday, December 10, 2016 with two performances at 10:30 and 11:45 am.

Bring the entire family ages 1 and up to sing and dance at this delightful and uplifting seasonal celebration featuring songs for a wide range of winter holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Chinese New Year. Dream Circle is indeed a dream lineup of the superstars of local children’s entertainertainment!

Make Your Own Holiday Gingerbread House

December 5, 2016

Gingerbread House

Every year we create a gingerbread house using the nice kit sold by Trader Joe's, but last year, after constructing a house from the kit, my daughter decided she wanted to take our gingerbread house building experience a step further and create another one—this time from scratch! Fortunately, as we found out, it's easy to do and fun.

First thing you have to do is come up with a design for your house. We created a template for a basic gingerbread house that's simple to create and put together. (You can download our template, formatted for two letter-size sheets of paper; get page one here and page two here.) You can embellish and elaborate on this little house and make it your own special creation.

December Classes and Programs at Parents Place Marin

December 5, 2016

Interfaith families Parents Place in San Rafael has been a valuable resource for countless Marin County parents and families. They offer a wide variety of programs and classes for parents and children throughout the year. Here are a few of the classes they are offering for the month of December.

Terrific Toddlers and Twos (1–3 years)

Wednesday, December 7, 7–9 pm
Acquire a developmental understanding of how best to support your little ones and preserve your sanity! We will talk about setting limits, guiding behavior, developing social skills, understanding tantrums, and more. With Bonnie Romanow, childhood development specialist. $45. Register here.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

December 5, 2016

Hiking with Kids: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

I know it sounds a little strange, but a great hike that's perfect for kids can be found on the grounds of the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District in northern San Rafael, at the complex of trails and fire roads near the district's treatment plants off of Smith Ranch Road, near McInnis Park. The gravel trails here are wide and flat, and are perfect for off-road strollers and bikes. The paths wind atop levees through the wetlands bordering San Pablo Bay, and offer amazing views of Marin.

A wide variety of birds make their homes out here, and we've seen white pelicans, Canada geese (plenty of them), mallards, cormorants, turkey vultures, several kinds of egrets, black-crowned night herons, red-wing blackbirds, and others. It's kind of a "who's who" of local avian wildlife, so make sure you bring your binoculars!

The Rombeiro Christmas House in Novato: You Have to See It to Believe It!

December 4, 2016

 The Rombeiros' Christmas House Novato

Every December, Marin's power grid is yet again put to the test by the annual unveiling of the Rombeiro Christmas House on Devonshire Drive in Novato. Sure, every neighborhood has its decorated houses, but the Rombeiro house is a different thing altogether. Edmundo Rombeiro and his family have been putting together this Christmas house to end all Christmas houses for the past 24 years, and every year it gets bigger and more outrageous.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for December 2, 3 & 4

December 2, 2016

Sebastopol Christmas Tree FarmCheck out our guide to North Bay Christmas tree farms and lots here.

There's also holiday ice skating at numerous locations throughout the Bay Area, as well as opportunities to visit with Santa Claus at local shopping centers and to visit Marin's amazing lighted holiday houses! 

Friday, December 2

  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair
    Cow Palace, San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–7 pm

    The Dickens Fair runs on weekends through December 20. Experience Victorian London with hundreds of costumed players, shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts and Christmas treasures, dining, and pubs. Meet Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Jules Verne, David Copperfield, Charles Darwin, and 700 costumed characters. Of course, Father Christmas himself will be on hand to join in the fun. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square
    San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–11:30 pm

    Union Square, San Francisco's main shopping district, gets into the ice skating spirit during the holiday season with an outdoor ice rink sponsored by Safeway. 90-minute sessions start on every even hour. Admission: $11 for adults, 7 children 8 and under. Skate rental $6. Information: (415) 781-2688 or visit their website.
  • Marin Center Holiday Craft and Boutique Sale
    Marin Center, San Rafael
    Friday–Sunday, 11 am–8 pm

    Join us for some holiday cheer and shop artfully at the Marin Center’s Holiday Craft and Art Fair. With original artworks, crafts, jewelry, woodworks, silk scarves and more by some 35 hand-selected local artists there’s something for everyone on your holiday list. With over 700 items priced from $5 to $250, you can take home something special for the art lovers in your family while supporting the true creative culture of Marin! Shop till you drop and support your local artists! Free admission. Location: Marin Center Exhibit Hall, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
    Friday, 11 am, Saturday, 1 & 4 pm and Sunday, 2 pm

    Bring the family for this beloved Bay Area holiday tradition. ODC/Dance enlivens Margery Williams’ classic tale of a well-worn nursery rabbit that becomes real. Told though music, dance and a powerful narrative, The Velveteen Rabbit celebrates the unique relationship between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit, and the enduring power of love. Tickets range from $15 to $75. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 2
    –10 pm, Saturday, noon–10 pm, Sunday, noon–9 pm
    This Saturday, Marin on Ice opens for another season of outdoor ice skating at San Rafael's Northgate Mall, where it runs through January 11. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 6,300 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental and "Skate Buddies" are available for beginners. For more info, visit their website.
  • Presidio Community Tree Lighting
    San Francisco Presidio Main Post
    Friday, 5:30–7 pm
    Light the tree and sing holiday classics along with the Golden Gate Carolers. Light refreshments and kids activities will follow in the Presidio Community YMCA gymnasium (63 Funston Avenue). After the tree lighting, don’t miss the lantern-lit evening forest walk, which will start at 6:15 pm. Meet in the Presidio Community YMCA gym. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Crafts Faire
    Margaret Todd Senior Center, Novato
    Friday. 6–9 pm and Saturday, 10 am–4 pm
    Shop for handmade holiday crafts at Novato's Margaret Todd Senior Center. Free admission. Location: 1560 Hill Road, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Dickens Family Victorian Holiday Party
    Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 6:30 pm

    Partake in a holiday treat as you go back in time to Victorian England and meet Charles Dickens, listen to him read from his famous works, watch his characters come alive (look out for Scrooge), meet and greet the true Father Christmas, play Victorian parlor games, dance and sing with our Victorian family and make traditional holiday crafts. Light food and drink will be served. A true family event. Tickets: $12 adults, $9 children. Order tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online here. Location: 1408 Mission Avenue, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 7 pm, Sunday, 2 pm

    The Disney (and Broadway!) favorite gets the Berkeley Playhouse makeover as founding Associate Artistic Director Kimberly Dooley helms this all new production featuring a diverse and multigenerational cast of dozens. Featuring some of Disney’s most popular songs and characters, you won’t want to miss this magical musical adventure guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Tickets: $25–40. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, December 3

  • Polar Express Train Ride
    Santa Cruz
    Saturday & Sunday, various times

    The Polar Express Train Ride departs from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, complete with dancing chefs, singing elves, and a special gift from Santa Claus himself—a silver sleigh bell. Don't forget to wear your pajamas while you enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and a reading of The Polar Express while on board. First-class tickets still available for rides this weekend. For more info and tickets, call (877) 726-7245 or visit their website.

ARTifact Opens New Art School in Downtown Corte Madera

December 1, 2016

ARTifact Corte MaderaMarin Mommies presents a sponsored shout-out from ARTifact in Corte Madera.

ARTifact, a local leading children’s art school, has expanded to a new location in downtown Corte Madera, at 121 Corte Madera Avenue. The children’s art school has been operating in San Francisco for over seven years, serving thousands of students and families from around the Bay Area. “Many families live north of the city, so it was a natural decision to open the second location in the heart of Marin County” says Lauren Sharp, the founder.

The Corte Madera location will offer the same art enrichment programs that ARTifact has become known for: weekly Art Exploration programs for kids Pre-K/Preschool (2.5–6 years old) and After-School programs for K–12 (6–12 years old). The team of teachers also plans to host Summer Camps later in the year.

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