Holidays in Marin

Marin on Ice

Our annual guide to Christmas and holiday events for families in Marin and the Bay Area

Sponsored by Marin on Ice.

San Francisco Symphony's "Charlie Brown Christmas" Is a Holiday Treat!

December 21, 2014

A Charlie Brown Christmas—Live! SF SymphonyThe San Francisco Symphony always presents wonderful family concerts for holidays. We've always really enjoyed their offerings, and this year was no exception! This season's family holiday program is A Charlie Brown Christmas—Live! and we were lucky enough to attend a performance this Saturday. The classic Christmas special A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of our family favorites, too, so we were really excited to experience this concert.

Concerts begin with a family friendly reception in the lobbies of Davies Symphony Hall. If you go, make sure you get there early to meet Peanuts characters, pose for pictures in Lucy's psychiatry booth and Snoopy's dog house, take in the amazing decorations, and listen to some holiday music. Drinks, including hot chocolate and Shirley Temples, and snacks are available for purchase, too. Our kids loved "Candyland", where you could buy a box and stuff it with as much holiday candy as you could for $5. (No, they didn't eat it all in one sitting.)

'Tis the Season for Science at the California Academy of Sciences

December 20, 2014

Cal AcademyThis winter break, take in some holiday cheer and meet some real live reindeer at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Through Sunday, January 4, you can take in not only classic Cal Academy sights like the giant T-Rex skeleton, aquarium, planetarium, rain forest, and African hall, but special winter-themed programming and attractions as well as part of its "'Tis the Season for Science" lineup.

Visit with Willow and Yukon, a pair of live, six-year-old reindeer, in the east garden and learn about how they live in their cold northern homeland. Then, step inside the Snowman Theater to see Roaming with Reindeer, a family-friendly show that explores what life on the tundra is like for these amazing creatures.

While you're there, you'll also enjoy indoor snow flurries, caroling special holiday performances, and more. You can even meet "Santa Claude", the Academy's albino alligator mascot, and watch "Scuba Santa" at work in the Steinhart Aquarium.

Get Crafty and Create Your Own Holiday Cards With Buttons

December 15, 2014

Button holiday craft cardsMy kids have always loved to make their own cards for special occasions, and the holidays are no exception! This year, we made these cute cards using colored plastic buttons as decorations. Get different sizes of buttons and make Christmas trees, candy canes, snowmen, snowflakes, and any other design you can think of.

The results really are delightful, and they're easy enough for any child to make, with an adult's help, of course. Because you made the cards yourselves they are a neat keepsake craft, too.

To make these holiday cards, you'll need:

Rainy Day Holiday Fun: Easy Playdough Snowmen

December 11, 2014

Playdough snowmanKids love sculpting with Play-Doh, and it's easy to make at home for a fun rainy day activity. You probably have all of the ingredients sitting in your pantry right now!

We whipped up a batch of white "snow-dough" to make some cute holiday snowman decorations. It was an easy and fun craft for the kids to make. This recipe makes quite a bit of dough—equivalent to two large cans of Play-Doh. If you don't need that much, feel free to cut recipe in half.

To make your own snow-dough, you'll need:

Hottest Holiday Toys for Kids 2014: Ages 9+

December 6, 2014

birds glitter boardsFor our Holiday guide to the hottest toys this season, the toy experts at Five Little Monkeys, a great local independent toy store with locations in Novato, Albany, Walnut Creek, and Burlingame, put together this list, based on what kids seem most excited about, what is showing up at birthday parties, what parents are asking for, and staff favorites!

We've also reviewed the top picks for babies and toddlers, kids ages 3 to 5, and kids ages 6 to 8.

Ages 9+ Indoor Fun

Birds Glitter Boards
A set to create fantastic sparkly pictures of birds surrounded by wonderful patterns. Use this set to create pictures of different birds surrounded by wonderful patterns, brought to life by the sequins. Designed for older children, this kit is a great way of encouraging them to be creative. $19.99

Old Fashioned Jam Thumbprint Cookies

December 2, 2014

jam thumbprint cookiesThese old-fashioned jam thumbprint cookies are probably my favorite Christmas cookie from my childhood. I remember my mom making these buttery treats every holiday season, and of course I remember eating them, too.

While my mom's thumbprint cookies were rolled in chopped walnuts, I've also seen them covered in coconut, too. I decided to do a taste test and we decided that the coconut ones are our favorite, although the walnut versions are delicious too.

I followed a suggestion in the Ina Garten recipe for these and finished the cookies with an egg wash. I thought the step was kind of unusual for cookies, but it really made a difference in texture and appearance. You can use any jam you like in these; I used raspberry preserves and orange marmalade.

Ingredients

Hottest Holiday Toys for Kids 2014: Ages 6 to 8

December 1, 2014

plushcraft hedgehogFor our Holiday guide to the hottest toys this season, the toy experts at Five Little Monkeys, a great local independent toy store with locations in Novato, Albany, Walnut Creek, and Burlingame, put together this list, based on what kids seem most excited about, what is showing up at birthday parties, what parents are asking for, and staff favorites!

We've also reviewed the top picks for babies and toddlers and kids ages 3 to 5.

Ages 6 to 8 Indoor Fun

Plushcraft Hedgehog
A plush, personal pillow? Perfect! Especially when kids can say, “I made it myself!” Here’s a sweet little fabric-by-number craft project with no sewing required. Over 320 brightly colored fabric pieces are ready to be punched into the pillow with an easy-to-master stylus wand. Kids can rest on their accomplishment! $17.99

Hottest Holiday Toys for Kids 2014: Ages 4 to 5

November 26, 2014

All-in-1 EaselFor our Holiday guide to the hottest toys this season, the toy experts at Five Little Monkeys, a great local independent toy store with locations in Novato, Albany, Walnut Creek, and Burlingame, put together this list, based on what kids seem most excited about, what is showing up at birthday parties, what parents are asking for, and staff favorites!

We've reviewed the top picks for babies and toddlers on Monday; today, we'll look at indoor fun and active play toys for ages 4 to 5.

Ages 4 to 5 Indoor Fun

All-in-1 Easel
Forget the floor, the kitchen table or–gasp!–the walls. Every little artist needs a proper wooden easel. Adjustable to grow with your pint-sized Picasso, this beauty is double-sided for communal creativity, combining a blackboard and magnetic whiteboard. The top dowel holds a roll of paper nearly 19' long, and three paint pots fit into the bottom shelf. What a work of art! $79.99

Lottie Snow Queen
Lottie is thrilled to receive a party invitation to the Lottieville Masked Ball. Inspired by one of her favorite stories, Lottie decides to dress as a Snow Queen. Wearing a silver, sparkly mask and a magnificent ice blue and frosty white gown studded with silver snowflakes will any of her friends recognize her? $19.99

Hottest Holiday Toys for Kids 2014: Babies & Toddlers

November 24, 2014

fold & go trampolineThanksgiving is nearly here and of course so are the Holidays! As many parents know, finding the perfect gifts for kids can be a challenge, especially when it comes to toys. The toy experts at Five Little Monkeys, a great local independent toy store with locations in Novato, Albany, Walnut Creek, and Burlingame, filled us in again this year to the hottest toys for this Holiday season. Five Little Monkeys' picks are based on what kids seem most excited about, what is showing up at birthday parties, what parents are asking for, and staff favorites!

We've broken down their recommendations into lists for various age groups. First, we'll look at the most popular toys this year for babies and toddlers. Tomorrow, we'll look at toys for ages 4 to 5.

Baby (0 to 1 year)

Bead Maze by Whoozit
Beads on the run! Wooden bead run activity toy features 3 colorful bead runs, rotating gears, mini wooden Whoozit that glides on track, fabric cords and a discovery mirror. Water-based non-toxic finish. $29.99

Preserve Memories in Clay with Ceramic Hand and Foot Prints for Babies and Kids in Marin

September 23, 2014

Piggy Print ceramic handprintOne of my most cherished keepsakes is a ceramic oval embossed with the hand prints of my kids. We did it a few years ago with Shawna O'Conner and her wonderful Your Piggy Prints. It's beautiful, and I'm really happy that we made it. After all, the kids will never be that little again! (We profiled Shawna in an article here.)

With the holidays coming up, and since your kids aren't getting any younger, why not create one yourselves? Needless to say these ceramic hand and foot print pieces make fantastic gifts for moms, dads, and grandparents, so go make one now and avoid the holiday rush.

Here's where you can make this unique and priceless clay hand or foot print craft in Marin and southern Sonoma counties.

Your Piggy Prints

San Rafael 94903
(415) 595-8446
www.yourpiggyprints.com

Run by Marin mom Shawna O'Connor, Your Piggy Prints creates beautiful ceramic keepsakes. Contact Shawna at (415) 595-8446 or shawna@yourpiggyprints.com to make an appointment in her home studio in San Rafael. She also appears at events throughout Marin. Prices range from $25 for an ornament or magnet to $90 for a quad print of any four prints in one piece.