It’s the most wonderful time of the year and there’s so much to do in the local area. You and your family can visit the Camuso Holiday Display in Livingston; Make Rice Krispies Treats at Macy’s at the Short Hills Mall; Learn all About Edison's Christmas Lights at the West Orange Library; Meet MMA Champion Dustin Poirier at Robert Graham at the Short Hills Mall; attend a Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the Caldwell Public Library; and enjoy Storytime with Mrs. Claus at the Turtle Back Zoo. You can also have Breakfast with Santa and enjoy Horse and Buggy Rides at Crane's Mill at West Caldwell; enjoy the Annual Holiday Train Exhibit at the Roseland Public Library; see Gingerbread Houses on Display at the Essex Environmental Center; take in the Livingston Symphony Orchestra: Happy Birthday, Beethoven Concert; attend Santa's Flight Academy at the Short Hills Mall; have photos taken with Santa at the Livingston Mall and so much more.

f you are looking to participate in fun activities and more this week, please enjoy this list of “Things to Do with Kids” in and around town, brought to you by British Swim School. #ThingstodowithKidsLivingston

Note: If you attend any of these events, partake in any of the ideas shared below, or just have a great picture of your kid(s) that you’d like featured, please send photos to jackie.eventscolumn@gmail.com. In addition, please send any events you’d like added to this column to the same email address.

Sign Up for Livingston Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

 

FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

 

Santa's Flight Academy through Dec. 24 in Grand Court at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

The public is invited to come visit Santa at Santa’s Flight Academy, a personalized holiday adventure. Each visiting cadet receives a flight crew badge then, as an elite member of Santa’s flight crew, is fitted with a virtual flight suit. From there, the cadet partners with a helpful elf to inspect and power Santa’s sleigh using a series of interactive stations. The visit culminates with a snowfall dance party and, of course, time with Santa. Santa’s Flight Academy is free to all with a variety of optional photo packages to purchase. Each package includes a complimentary Lovepop card.

It's Santa Photo Time at the Livingston Mall until Dec. 24 (click the link below for available days and times) at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston, NJ) (RSVP below for details)

Reserve your FastPass and skip the line to see Santa here.

Holiday Music Series through Dec. 24 from 1-4 pm, every Sat and Sun. at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Shop to the festive sounds of the season during The Mall at Short Hills' Holiday Music Series. Enjoy performances from pianists and long-time favorite March of the Wooden Soldiers and Cobblestone Carolers strolling the center.

Holiday Lights at the Zoo Through Dec. 31, from 5 – 9 pm at Turtle Back Zoo (Berson Education Center, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

The lights will be available for viewing throughout December. Click here for the full schedule. Celebrate the season of giving by bringing donations of non-perishable food items, new toys, and gently used coats.

Gingerbread Houses on Display from Dec. 11-21 at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Essex County Turtle Back Zoo (TBZ) recently hosted the 2019 Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread House Contest in collaboration with the Essex County Environmental Center. Now, the Gingerbread houses that were entered into the contest are now on display.

Sweet Gestures: Gift Making at Macy's with Rice Krispies Treats on Dec. 11 from 4-6 pm at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

The public is invited to come and customize holiday-themed Rice Krispies Treats into ornaments, wreaths, snowflakes, hearts and more with a choice of tasty treat toppings like frosting, sprinkles and more. Guests will go home with a special box of treats to share as a gift or enjoy at their own holiday celebration.

Stuffed Animal Sleepover at the Caldwell Public Library on Dec. 11 at 6 pm (268 Bloomfield Ave, Caldwell)

Children and their stuffed animal friends are invited to visit the library for a before-bed storytime program. Every stuffed animal who attends the program is also invited to stay at the library overnight, with their child's permission. Children can pick their stuffed animal (or doll) up the next morning! We'll be sure to take and post pictures of the fun the stuffed animals have too!

Holiday Story and Snack Program Featuring How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Caldwell Public Library on Dec. 12 at 4-5 pm (268 Bloomfield Ave, Caldwell)

Children ages 5-10 are invited to enjoy a reading of Dr. Seuss's classic tale How the Grinch Stole Christmas and then do a fun Grinch food craft presented by Evelyn from ShopRite of West Caldwell.

Learn all About Edison's Christmas Lights on Dec. 12 at 7 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Mike Brick, board member of Friends of Edison and secretary of the West Orange Downtown Alliance invites people of all ages to come and discover more about Thomas Edison, our most famous citizen. Edison invented Christmas lights in 1880. Come to the library and hear about the Christmas lights we take for granted.

Livingston Advisory Committee for Disabilities (LACD) & Santa Visit at the Camuso Holiday Display on Dec. 13 from 4:30 - 6 pm at Memorial Oval & Park (Robert H. Harp Drive, Livingston)

The LACD is holding its annual event for people with special needs and their families at the Camuso Holiday Display! Free refreshments will be served. There will be a special guest appearance by Santa!

Meet MMA Champion Dustin Poirier at Robert Graham on Dec. 13 from 4-6 pm at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Robert Graham invites the public to an exclusive meet and greet with MMA champion Dustin Poirier. Guests will enjoy refreshments, shop the latest collections, and enter for the chance to win a pair of gloves autographed by Dustin.

Storytime With Mrs. Claus at Turtle Back Zoo on Dec. 13, 20 at 5:30 - 6:30 pm; Dec. 14, 15, 21, 22 at 3:30pm, 5 pm and 6 pm; and Dec. 16 – 19 at 6 pm (Berson Education Center, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

Children ages 12 and younger (kids under 2 are free), and their parents or guardians, are invited to participate in an event consisting of a holiday story read by Mrs. Claus. They will also meet one of Mrs. Claus’ animal friends. Light refreshments and a holiday cookie are included with the ticket. Purchase a ticket here. Ticket does not include admission into the Zoo before 4 pm. Admission into the Zoo after 5 pm is free.

Breakfast with Santa, Horse and Buggy Rides at Crane's Mill at West Caldwell on Dec. 14 from 10 am -12 pm (459 Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell)

Bring your kids and grandkids for a morning of holiday fun for the whole family! Enjoy breakfast and snacks, take your picture with Santa, take a horse and carriage ride and more! This year, non-perishable food items for Camden’s families in need are being collected. Items needed include canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, jelly, pasta, sauce, tuna, cereal, boxed potatoes and rice, mac and cheese, or any shelf-stable, nutritious food you can spare. There will be a big box near the entrance for food donations.

Brunch with Santa and U.S. Marines to benefit Toys for Tots on Dec. 14 from 10 am – 1 pm at Capital Craft East Hanover (138-B Route 10 West, East Hanover)

The public is invited to visit with Santa and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves where families will donate at least one brand new UNWRAPPED toy, suitable for a boy or girl, that will be given to a child in need this Christmas. Children will give the toy to Santa, have their picture taken, and receive a small gift. The need for toys is greater than ever this year, facing an overwhelming 200,000 requests in Northern NJ alone. With your help, we can make it happen!

Annual Holiday Train Exhibit on Dec. 14 from 1-4 pm at the Roseland Public Library (20 Roseland Ave, Roseland, New Jersey)

All aboard! It's time once again for one of Roseland's favorite holiday traditions .... the Friends of the Roseland Free Public Library are happy to once again sponsor our Annual Holiday Train Exhibit! Roseland's own Bill "Mr. Conductor" Cinque brings his intricate holiday train exhibit, filled with moving trains, working lights, and other quaint details, to our community room for your viewing pleasure. Exhibit open during select days and times

Camuso Holiday Display (Special Livingston Fire/First Aid Night) on Dec. 14 at 7 pm until closing at Memorial Oval & Park (Robert H. Harp Drive, Livingston) – NOTE: The display is open nightly, barring bad weather

If you haven’t visited the Camuso display in Livingston where 100s of animatronics come to life delighting people of all ages – it’s a must during the holiday season. Open nightly, on the 14th, kids will see a Fire Truck and Ambulance at the display from our local organizations; there will be kids crafts sponsored by LFD and LFAS; Clydesdale Horse and Carriage Rides; a Petting Zoo; as well as Open House Christmas tours of the Historic Force Home. Santa will be visiting too! Click here for details.

Livingston Symphony Orchestra: Happy Birthday, Beethoven! On Dec. 14 at 7:30 pm at Livingston High School (30 Robert H. Harp Drive, Livingston)

The Livingston Symphony Orchestra presents “Happy Birthday, Beethoven!" -- an all-Beethoven program which includes his dramatic “Leonore Overture No. 3,” lyrical “Romance in F for Violin and Orchestra,” and iconic “Symphony No. 5 in C Minor.” Tickets are available at the door or by calling (973) 980-1809. There will be a meet and greet opportunity with orchestra members and Maestro Anthony LaGruth after the performance.

 

FUN FOR LITTLE KIDS

 

Boogie Woogie Babies: Ages 6 months - 2 years on Dec. 11 at 10:30 am at the Livingston Library (10 Robert Harp. Dr., Livingston, NJ)

Babies and caregivers will sing songs, play, and dance. Parents/caregivers and children should dress in comfortable exercise clothes.

Monica + Andy Movement Class with the Little Moving Artist on Dec. 11 at 10:30 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Monica + Andy invites kids from ages 2-4 years to a Movement Class with The Little Moving Artist, every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Get ready for the silliest, most energetic movement class around! Join the Little Moving Artist team in this 45-minute whimsical, imaginative movement class that incorporates dancing, imagery, music, sensory props and costumes. Your child will ice skate on paper plates, tap dance on bubble wrap, take part in an ultimate snowball fight, bug hunt, fly with superhero capes and wings, freeze dance, and more. They promise lots of smiles and happy exhaustion! Drop-ins: $10, Family: $15.

Storytime at Barnes and Noble on Dec. 12 and 17 at 10 am at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

Children will embark on an exciting adventure as they are introduced to some of your childhood favorites, as well as some you may not have heard before. 

Toddler Yoga & More (Age 12-23 mos) o Dec. 12 at 10:30 am at the Livingston Library (10 Robert Harp. Dr., Livingston, NJ)

Toddlers ages 12-23 months and caregivers are invited to come and learn poses to aid baby’s gross and fine motor skill development, improve muscle strength and promote parent/child bonding. The class is taught by Sarah Elbell, Dpt, Pt, CIMI.

Zumbini wth Alli at Monica + Andy on Dec. 12 & 19 at 10:45 - 11:15 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Join Monica + Andy for a fun morning of Zumbini with Alli - the ultimate bonding experience. For children ages 0-4 and their caregivers, Zumbini combines music and movement to create the ultimate bonding experience! Sing, dance and play together while developing your little one’s social, cognitive, emotional and motor skills. The fee is $20/class.

Little Explorers Winter Nature Program for Kids ages 2 to 5 on Dec. 12, 17 (See schedule below) at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Children love to explore nature and observe all the natural wonders around them. Participants will take magnifiers and their imaginations into the wooded wetland to investigate what winter means to the forest plants and animals around the Environmental Center. Participants should come dressed for the weather since they will be spending time outside. Advance registration is required. Please call 973.228.8776. The fee is $12 per child/session. See schedule below:

  • Toddlers (age 2): on Tuesdays, Dec.17; January 7, 14, 21; February 4, 11, 18, 25 (10 to 11 am)
  • Tots (age 3) on Thursdays, Dec. 12, 19; January 9, 16, 23; February 6, 13, 20, 27 (1 to 2 pm)
  • Pre-K (ages 4-5) on Tuesdays, Dec. 17; January 7, 14, 21; February 4, 11, 18, 25 (1 to 2 pm) OR Thursdays, Dec. 5, 12, 19; January 9, 16, 23; February 6, 13, 20, 27 (10 to 11 am)

Forest Friends Club on Dec. 12 at 4 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Children ages 5 years and up are invited to come and explore the forest using nets, binoculars, magnifiers, and microscopes to investigate nature in our wooded wetland habitat. The program aims to foster an ethic of stewardship and to offer an opportunity to take part in hands-on conservation projects. Advance registration is required; call 973.228.8776. The fee is $10 per child, per session.

Family Holiday Gift Making on Dec. 14 from 11 am to 1 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland)

People of all ages are invited to stop by for some family fun. Guests will choose from making a picture frame wreath/or decorating individual picture frames, a garden stepping stone, or holiday tree ornaments. Individual family members can work on their own projects or work together to create something for someone special. At the time of registration, please inform the staff how many people will be attending, as well as how many will be making a holiday gift. Pre-registration is required; call 973.228.8776. There is a fee of $30 per family (up to two adults and two children) or $10 per child, $12 per adult.

Baby & Me Storytime Featuring Pop-Up Peekaboo: Colors on Dec. 15 at 11 am at Barnes and Noble at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

Children ages 0-2 and their caregivers are invited for Baby & Me Storytime, where they will enjoy a book and participate in activities featuring sensory growth for little ones. Guests will receive a coupon for a free tall, hot or iced Starbucks coffee.

Musical Storytime: Hanukkah Edition on Dec. 16 at 4 pm at the Livingston Library (10 Robert Harp. Dr., Livingston, NJ)

Children ages 2-5 and their caregivers are invited to join Guitar Joe for a special Hanukkah edition of Musical Storytime. Whether or not you celebrate the holiday, you can enjoy hearing stories, singing songs, and learning the traditions related to the Jewish Festival of Lights.

 

 FUN FOR KINDERGARTEN TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL-AGED KIDS

 

Kids' Art Class for Gr. 1-3: Matisse’s Pieces on Dec. 11 at 4 pm at the Livingston Library (10 Robert Harp. Dr., Livingston, NJ)

The artwork and life of Henri Matisse will be explored through integrated storytelling and discussion. Students will have fun working with cut out paper shapes and colors to recreate their own interpretation of some of Matisse’s famous work. All ability levels are encouraged to participate. Students will leave with a finished piece of art to share with friends and family. A list of books and visual resources from the library will be provided to encourage further exploration. This class will be taught by local artist and instructor Barbara Sax. Barbara Sax taught art for 38 years and is a member of the Arts Council of Livingston. This class is for Livingston residents only.

 

FUN FOR TEENS

 

YA Book Club Featuring Scythe on Dec. 12 at 7 pm at Barnes and Noble the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

YA’s are invited to join a discussion on this month's pick, Scythe. Death gets a new look in the cult-favorite, must-read, heart-stopping Scythe, the first book in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy from bestselling author Neal Shusterman. Click here for club details.

Turning Teen: Body Basics for Girls Workshop on Dec. 15 from 2-4 pm at the Livingston Community Center (204 Hillside Ave., Livingston)

This is an educational, interactive workshop of girls (ages 8 and up) with their trusted adult. Turning Teen provides age appropriate, medically accurate information about puberty in an engaging and relaxed manner. Topics include an introduction to the body and its parts, the difference between boys and girls, physical and emotional changes that happen during puberty, introduction to menstruation, rules for body respect, body safety, and more! This class is taught by pediatrician, Dr. Abby Silverman. Register here. The fee is $60.00.

Teen Craft: Create a Paper Star Lantern (Grades 9-12) on Dec. 17 at 3:30 pm at the Livingston Library (10 Robert Harp. Dr., Livingston, NJ)

Teens are invited to come to the Teen Zone to craft a beautiful star lantern! 

 

FUN FOR ADULTS

 

Paint and Sip and MORE at A Sip of Art – Paint  on Dec. 12, 13 (8-10 pm); Kids Boredom Busters Workshop (10 am – 12 pm) (235 Prospect Ave, West Orange, NJ 07052 – in the Whole Foods Shopping Plaza located at the intersection of Prospect Ave and Eagle Rock Avenue. Located in the lower level next to MyGym)

Bring a friend, spouse, significant other – or just come by yourself for a fun and relaxing night of painting and sipping, or just painting – as that’s fine too. Not sure you can paint? No worries, there’s no previous painting skills needed. You will learn how to mix colors, what brushes to use and to how to paint – and, you will go home with a great painted memory of the experience. Choose your date and painting and register here. Prices range from $25 - $30 a class depending on painting chosen. Register here for the Kids Boredom Workshop.

Make a Holiday Snowman Ornament with Essential Oils on Dec. 16 at 7 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Adults are invited to join Jenn Forino, founder of plusoils.com, in making an ornament that acts as a natural wooden diffuser for essential oils. This workshop will start with a mini lesson teaching you how to use therapeutic essential oils for your overall health and well-being. Pre-registration is required; call 973.228.8776. The fee is $15 per adult.

FREE Women’s Financial Wellness Workshop on Dec. 17 at 7 pm at A Sip of Art (235 Prospect Ave, West Orange, NJ 07052 – in the Whole Foods Shopping Plaza located at the intersection of Prospect Ave and Eagle Rock Avenue. Located in the lower level next to MyGym)

The public is invited to a free financial strategy workshop that is specifically designed for women who are single, married, stay-at-home, employed, and/or business owners. Come join a group of incredible women for a fun night of socializing and learning about how to take control of your money and your future. Light refreshments will be served. There will also be raffles and prizes thanks to the following event sponsors: Portraits By Michael Stahl (Michael Stahl), Fortissimo Osteria/ Pizzeria (Santo Castronovo), Songs for Seeds (Debbie Miller), Mary Kay (Maria Sabando) Juice Plus (Mandi DeGennaro), a signed copy of "Master Your Mindset the Master's Way" (Elizabeth Nader), EVER and Stella & Dot (Denise Daunt), Beachbody (Bianca Prieto), Salon D'Amour (Grace DeVivo), Vizzio's Institute of Martial Arts (Veronica Vizzio) -- with more to come! Please register in advance here.

 

HAVE FUN CELEBRATING THIS SPECIAL HOLIDAY

 

Gingerbread House Day is on December 12

Gingerbread cookies are a fun Christmas tradition and certainly deserve their own holiday! They are as fun to make with the whole family as they are to admire. Many families enjoy making gingerbread houses in the days before Christmas. You can buy kits or make gingerbread from scratch, cutting the gingerbread to size, and using frosting to glue the houses together. You can decorate them with colorful candies. Eating them is almost as much fun and making them.

Gingerbread Trivia:

  • The word gingerbread originated from the Old French word gingebras which means preserved ginger.
  • The Brothers Grimm story about Hans and Gretel inspired the creation of the gingerbread house.
  • The largest gingerbread house ever built was 60 feet by 32 feet in dimension. It was worth 35,823,400 calories.
  • Queen Elizabeth I is credited with creating the idea to make the first gingerbread man.
  • Every year, the town of Bergen, Norway creates an entire city of gingerbread house.
  • Ginger has been flavoring foods and drinks since ancient times.
  • In 992 A.D., Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis brought gingerbread to Europe and taught local Christian bakers how to make it.
  • There are some records suggesting that Christian crusaders brought gingerbread back with them after the crusades.
  • In the 1700's, making gingerbread was exclusively done by professional gingerbread bakers.
  • It wasn't until the 1800's, that we started building and decorating gingerbread houses, a tradition that originated in Germany. 
  • Queen Elizabeth I is credited with creating the idea to make the first gingerbread man.
  • In some parts of the world, gingerbread houses are popular at Easter.
  • In England, unmarried women used to eat gingerbread men believing that it would bring them good luck into finding the man of their dreams.
  • A Swedish tradition involves making a wish by eating gingerbread.
  • Gingerbread houses are very popular at Christmas parties and one of the highlights at Christmas parties is giving the okay to tear apart and eat the house.
  • Ginger helps preserve bread.
  • Ginger soothes upset stomachs – making it great after a big holiday meal.
  • Gingerbread can be sweetened by sugar, honey, or molasses.

Gingerbread House Recipes

 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…

The next time you sit down for a family dinner, toss out some of these facts to spark a lively and informative family conversation. After dinner, look up some of these dates and facts and explore the historical moments as a family.

  • On Dec. 13, 1928 – The clip-on tie was created.
  • On Dec. 15, 1791 – The Bill of Rights was enacted, amending the U.S. Constitution.
  • On Dec. 15, 1890 – Sioux Chief Sitting Bull was killed by Indian police.
  • On Dec. 15, 1944 – Glenn Miller died in a plane crash over the English Channel.
  • On Dec. 16, 1773 – Boston residents protesting British taxation threw tea overboard on a British ship. The Boston Tea Party was the beginning of the American fight for independence.
  • On Dec. 16, 1944 – The "Battle of the Bulge" began.
  • On Dec. 17, 1903 – The Wright Brothers made their first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.