The holidays are almost here and there are a lot of holiday-themed activities coming up this week into next. There are also a few Vacation Day camps taking place. Since the holidays are coming up, it makes sense that most of the activities listed below are for families to do together.

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 In addition, please send any events you’d like added to this column to the same email address.

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Kidz Night Out at USA Twisterz on Dec. 21 6-10:30 pm (7 Spielman Rd., Fairfield, NJ)

Looking for some time to holiday shop without the kids? Members and non-members ages 3 and up are invited to ring in the holiday spirit with holiday-themed games, a pizza party and talent show! Make sure to send children with a water bottle. Make sure to send your children with a water bottle! Space is limited! Call or email to sign up here: (862) 702-3052 or

Parents Night Out Ornament Making Party on Dec. 21 from 5-9 pm at Guerro Martial Arts (373 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell, NJ)

This is a great opportunity to do your last-minute shopping, wrapping or even just relaxing, while your kids ages 4 and up (students of Guerro, ages 4 and up, are invited too) are in a safe and fun environment making ornaments, having a dance party and seeing a movie. Pizza and drinks will be served. Fee: $35 for 4 hours; bring a friend and receive an extra $10 off. Make sure to sign their name up too.

Holiday Vacation Art Camp on Dec. 26, 27 and 30, from 9 am to 5 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)

No School! No Problem! Join us at our Vacation Art Camp to paint, draw, craft and play the day away! Camp runs from 9 am to 5 pm, with an hour for lunch from 12-1 pm. Campers need to bring a nut-free snack, water and nut-free packed lunch. For campers ages 5-12. Space is limited. Fee: $90. Register here.




Toys and Hot Chocolate Give Away on Dec. 20, from 3-6 pm, corner of Main and Washington St., West Orange (locally known as "Tory Corner")

The public is invited to enjoy for a complimentary cup of gourmet hot chocolate and a fun toy for little ones. Whether you just stop by for the freebies, participate in the 3PM ribbon cutting of La Celeste Bakery across the street, or spend some time walking around the amazing shops, you're sure to discover some new and exciting things as you shop local. Feel free to park on the street or in the public lot next to the police substation.

It’s Jazz Night on Dec. 20 at 7 pm at Justina Falafel (184 S. Livingston Ave., Livingston, NL)

An eclectic mix of live tunes featuring compositions by Chick Corea, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Billy Strayhorn, Weather Report, Pat Metheny, and even Steely Dan will be played by BRICK and The Jazz Project Eclectic featuring Rich Falcetano on guitar, Rudy Corona on e-drums, Brian Halpin (piano, organ, vocals), Carl Scariati on fretless electric bass and- Kirk Sohr (drums). Justina is a BYOB Middle Eastern restaurant.

Christmas Stocking Family Paint & Ugly Sweater Contest on Dec. 21, at 3 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)

Family Paint & Ugly HOLIDAY Sweater Contest. Here's your chance to wear your ugly holiday sweater! Win a prize for the best UGLIEST, Holiday Sweater! Note: painting initial can be personalized. This is family friendly event, for people ages 5 and up.

Twisted Tulip Pop Up Shop on Dec. 22 at 2 pm (277 Eisenhower Parkway)

We're bringing together local creators and business owners for a curated shopping experience with the added benefit of bespoke drinks. Come by and get your last-minute holiday shopping done.

Chanukah Spectacular with the Amazing illusionist Eric Wilzig on Dec. 22 at 4 pm at Chabad at Short Hills/Millburn – Center for Jewish Life (650 South Orange Ave., Short Hills, NJ)

The public is invited to come and celebrate Chanukah with the incredible illusionist Eric Wilzig.
There will be magic, an awesome Chanukah factory, and of course, donuts and latkes. The event will end with a grand menorah lighting at 6:00 pm.

Light Up the Night at Millburn-Short Hills at Taylor Park (Millburn Township) on Dec. 22 at 5 pm

The public is invited to enjoy a community Menorah lighting celebration where they will come together in unity to create some BRIGHT LIGHT to combat all the darkness. There will be a Fire Show, live music, hot refreshments, delicious donuts and fun.

Menorah Lighting at the Livingston Mall on Dec. 23 at 4 pm (Upper Level in front of Lord & Taylor)

The public is invited for the lighting on the menorah and to enjoy treats, giveaways, and more.

Annual Lighting of West Orange Township Menorah on Dec. 23, from 4-4:30 pm, at the front lawn of Town Hall (66 Main St.)

Join Mayor Robert D. Parisi, Township of West Orange, NJ and the community for the annual lighting of the West Orange Menorah.

Chanukah with Miami at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy Rae Kushner Yeshiva on Dec. 23 at 7:15 pm (110 S. Orange Ave., Livingston, NJ – in the JKHA/RKYHS Auditorium)

Sponsored by Congregation AABJ&D, Yerachmiel Begun and The Miami Boys Choir, will be performing at Kushner.

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 until Dec. 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.

Behind the Scenes Giraffe Tours, on Nov. 30 and Dec. 21 and 22 at 2 pm, at The Turtle Back Zoo (560 Northfield Avenue West Orange NJ (Tours will take place on Saturdays and Sundays in November 2019)

The Behind the Scenes ticket provides guests with a 30 - 45 minute Behind the Scenes Tour in the Giraffe Barn; a meet and greet the Giraffe Keeper; and admission to the Zoo for the day (for non-Zoological Society members). The tours are for people ages 6 and above. Register here. The fee is $50 a person.

Chess Club on Dec. 19 at 4 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Players of all ages and abilities welcome.

STORYTIME WITH MRS. CLAUS at Turtle Back Zoo on Dec. 19 at 6 pm; 20 5:30 - 6:30 pm; December 21 and 22 at 3:30 pm, 5 pm and 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.

Camuso Holiday Display (Special Night: Santa is Coming to Town) on Dec. 21 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 21st, Santa will be there, there will be kids games and Christmas Tours of the Historic Force Home. Click here for details.

Brunch with Santa at McLoone’s Boathouse on Dec. 22 from 10 am – 3 pm (9 Cherry Lane, West Orange)

Santa Claus is coming to McLoone's Boathouse for a Sunday Brunch Buffet, to celebrate the holiday season. He will be taking photos with kids too. After brunch, take a stroll along the reservoir or visit the Turtle Back Zoo. Fees: Adults $36.95 each; and children ages 3-11 $14.95 each. Click here for the menu.




Boogie Woogie Babies on Dec. 19 from 10:30 - 11:15 am at the Livingston Library (10 Robert Harp Rd., Livingston, NJ)

Caretakers are invited bring their babies ages 6 months to 2 years for a fun Boogie Woogie Babies dance class where they will sing songs, dance and play.

Monica + Andy Movement Class with the Little Moving Artist on Dec. 24 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. 19 and 24 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. 

Storytime and Activities Featuring Construction Site on Christmas Night on Dec. 21 at 11 am at Barnes and Noble at the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

It's Christmas time at your favorite construction site! After the trucks finish their big, important job, they receive their very own Christmas surprise. Activities to follow, plus, guests will receive a coupon for a grilled cheese sandwich with milk or juice for $4.

Zumbini wth Alli at Monica + Andy on Dec. 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. 19, 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, January 7, 14, 21; February 4, 11, 18, 25 (10 to 11 am)
  • Tots (age 3) on Thursdays, January 9, 16, 23; February 6, 13, 20, 27 (1 to 2 pm)
  • Pre-K (ages 4-5) on Tuesdays, January 7, 14, 21; February 4, 11, 18, 25 (1 to 2 pm) OR Thursdays, January 9, 16, 23; February 6, 13, 20, 27 (10 to 11 am)




Winter Wildlife Explorers Camp on Dec. 23. 24 & 26, from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm, at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Campers in grades K-3 will enjoy stories, crafts, campfires and forest adventures exploring our wooded wetland forests in wintertime. For more information, call 973.228.8776. Pre-registration is required. Fee: $180 per child for all three days OR $70 per child per day.




Dungeons and Dragons: A Teen Club on Deb. 20 from 3:15-5:15 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Teens ages 13+ are invited to join a Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) adventure! Epic quests await teens who join the DnD club at the library! DnD features role-playing, storytelling, on-the-spot strategic thinking, math skills, problem-solving, and teamwork all rolled into one! 




Paint and Sip and MORE at A Sip of Art – Paint  on Dec. 20 at 8-10 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.



Look on the Bright Side Day is on Dec. 21

This day provides us with a day to teach our children to look on the bright side of things. With the current political climate and amount of anxiety we all face daily, it’s nice to stop and smell the flowers once in a while. This is a day of hope. The holidays are coming, and some of us will be with family soon, so this is a perfect day to get into a positive outlook for things to come – especially with 2020 just around the corner.

This day can be celebrated by talking with your kids about things that may have bothered them in the past and showing them how with time, things have gotten better. It is a nice way to help reinforce the message to look on the bright side.

Aside from talking, you can also draw photos and read books about being positive with your kids.



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. 21, 1620 – The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • On Dec. 19, 1843 – Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol. (1843)
  • On Dec. 21, 1937 – "Snow White" premiered at theaters.
  • On Dec. 23, 1947 – The transistor was invented by U.S. physicists John Bardeen, Walter H. Britain, and William Shockley.
  • On Dec. 24, 1818 – Franz Joseph Gruber composed "Silent Night.”