December is jam packed with fun activities for families and kids. You and your family can attend Santa's Flight Academy at the Short Hills Mall, a Gingerbread House Contest or West Orange’s Holiday Open House and Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, go behind the scenes for Giraffe Tours at the Turtle Back Zoo or see the Holiday Lights Show and much more. Your little ones are invited to attend some storytimes, a fun movement class, check out the Winter Wonderland Stuffed Animal Workshop, sit on Santa’s lap and more. There are also some fun activities for kids in kindergarten through the teenage years like playing D&D or chess, making a Christmas Countdown Calendar, participating in the Williams Sonoma Jr. Chef: Gingerbread House Decorating workshop and more. Adults may want to do some painting and sipping at A Sip of Art or learning to bake showstopper Holiday Cookies

If 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 The Goddard School in West Orange. #ThingstodowithKidsGoddardSchoolWONJ

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 West Orange Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

 

FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

 

Chess Club on Dec. 5 at 4 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Players of all ages and abilities welcome.

Christmas Countdown Calendar on Dec. 7 from 9 am – 12 pm at Home Depot (902 Murray Rd, East Hanover, NJ)

Create your own countdown to the holidays and have a blast with your child while doing it. Kids will develop hands-on skills with sanding, nailing and applying stickers. With help from their parents and store associates, children will make a merry memory this holiday season. All Kids Workshop attendees must be accompanied by a parent or adult at all times. All kids get to keep their craft, receive a FREE certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron and a commemorative pin, while supplies last.

Winter Wonderland Stuffed Animal Workshop on Dec. 7, from 2-3 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Build your own plush stuffed polar pal at the library as part of West Orange's Holiday Open House event! Supplies are limited, please register children individually to participate. Sign up here.

Gingerbread House Contest on Dec. 7 from 3-5 pm at Turtle Back Zoo (Berson Education Center, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

Essex County Turtle Back Zoo (TBZ) is hosting the 2019 Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread House Contest in collaboration with the Essex County Environmental Center. The public is invited to come and create gingerbread homes or habitat and enter these creations into the contest. House construction is free for those intending to enter the contest. There will be a $10 fee for those who choose to take their gingerbread creation home. All slots are filled, but you can register for the waiting list here. Gingerbread houses that are entered into the contest will be moved to the Essex County Environmental Center for display between December 11 - 21. Registrations may be made by an individual or by a team, but each registration represents the construction of one gingerbread house only. Registrations are free only for those entering the Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread House Contest. Some materials will be provided; however, participants are encouraged to bring their own items. Dec. 7 is the last day to register for the contest. Advance registration for the contest is required. Call 973.731.5800 ext 103 to register. The event does not include admission into the zoo before 5pm. NOTE: Zoo admission is free after 5 pm for the holiday lights spectacular event at turtle back zoo. The awards ceremony for the contest will be announced on the Essex County Environmental Center website.

Exodus Supreme Presents: Holiday Reggae on Dec. 7 at 3:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Selah Jendavi will present a two-piece band with songs from R&B, Reggae, Latin, House and oldies.

A Holiday Celebration with the Frost Kings on Dec. 8 at 3:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

The Frost Kings is a Swing, R&B, and Blues band that will be performing.

Jester Jim on Dec. 9 from 6-8 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Jester Jim is not your ordinary juggling show. Jester Jim will leave kids and adults talking about his antics for weeks. Register at wopl.org or by calling 973-736-0198

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.

Mayor's Sunshine Fund Toy Drive 2019 is Running NOW- Through Dec. 13 from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm (see drop off details below)

The public is invited to donated new and unwrapped toys for children ages 10 and under. The toys will be donated to West Orange families in need during the holiday season. Please drop items off at Town Hall, Mayor's Office Room 106 or Senior Services Room 207 from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. After hours, please drop toys off to Timothy Groves Police Substation, 92 Washington St., West Orange. For more information, please call Laura or Noelia at 973-325-4105.

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.

Holiday Open House and Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 7 from 9 am – 8 pm (Main St. and Township Hall, 66 Main St., West Orange) – click here for all details

The public is invited to attend the Holiday Open House, which will consist of many events that will mostly take place at Washington Elementary School (see other locations below): Breakfast & Pictures with Santa – 9 am to 12 pm (bring your camera and take pictures with Santa) click here to reserve your spot (children are $7; adults are $10); Holiday Arts & Craft Show – 10 am to 4 pm; Guided Trolley Rides (click for schedule and details here) – 10 am to 4 pm (Last Ride is at 3:30 pm); Joe Fagan Eagle Rock Tour – 10 am to 4 p.m. (Last Ride is at 3:30 pm); Stuff an Animal Hour at WO Public Library (46 Main Street) – 2-3 pm; and Tree Lighting (Township Hall 66 Main St.).

Behind the Scenes Giraffe Tours, on Dec. 7-8, 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.

Second Chance Toys Drop Off or Shop on Dec. 8 1-3 pm West Orange Environmental Center, (590 Mt. Pleasant Ave.)

Residents can 'shop' for free and take what they like before delivery to the charitable organizations affiliated with Second Chance Toys. All toys will be cleaned and disinfected by Sterile Space Germ Police. Residents are also invited to donate gently used plastic toys to Second Chance Toys.

 

FUN FOR LITTLE KIDS

 

Monica + Andy Movement Class with the Little Moving Artist on Dec. 4 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. 5 and 10 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. 

Little Explorers Winter Nature Program for Kids ages 2 to 5 (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. 10, 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. 10, 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)

Storytime and Activities Featuring The Polar Express on Dec. 6 at 7 pm at Barnes and Noble the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

All aboard! Come in your PJs for a magical evening at the Barnes and Noble annual Storytime of the beloved holiday favorite, The Polar Express. Hot chocolate and cookies to follow. Storytime and

Activities Featuring How the Grinch Stole Christmas! On Dec. 7 at 11 am at Barnes and Noble the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

Even the grinchiest of grinches can't deny this heartwarming classic! Enjoy Storytime and activities, and receive a free Advent calendar, while supplies last. Plus, guests will receive a coupon for a grilled cheese sandwich with milk or juice for $4.

Indigo Kids Presents: Grinch-Mas! On Dec. 7 and 8 at 11 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Join Indigo as they celebrate Grinch-mas this season and grow our hearts three sizes. Kids will enjoy storytime, fun Grinch activities, and have their photo taken with the Grinch himself.

Baby & Me Storytime Featuring Pop-Up Peekaboo! Baby Dinosaur on Dec. 8 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.

Williams Sonoma Jr. Chef: Gingerbread House Decorating on Dec. 8 at 11 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

In this super-fun class, kids ages 8-13 will get to decorate their very own gingerbread house, then take it home to show off to family and friends. The cost of $30 per child includes a Gingerbread House Decorating Kit. Please call (973) 467-3641 to reserve a spot.

Cookies with Santa on Dec. 7 from 1:30 – 3 pm at Garibaldi Hall (621a Eagle Rock Avenue, Roseland, which is next to the Essex County Environmental Center)

The Essex County Leader’s Association is hosting Cookies with Santa. This year, Santa encourages everyone in Essex County to visit his workshop in Garibaldi Hall to have their Family Pictures taken with him. And, he wants to make sure you bring your pet along for a true family photo. The only thing Santa likes better than the upcoming Holidays are hot chocolate, juice and cookies, which will be served at the event. An audience with Santa for the whole family is priceless, but this afternoon event is only $10 per family of 4. Additional family members are $2 each and pets are free! Santa loves pets! And what luck, while your picture is being prepared, Santa’s favorite Elves will be with there to help the kiddos write and decorate letters to leave for Santa on Christmas Eve. But don’t forget the plate of goodies he will need that night – so be sure you’re ready for Santa by purchasing some goodies from the Bake Sale table because Santa loves goodies! For this event, you just can’t ho-ho-hold out until the last minute -Santa will be so excited to know you are bringing your family and pets to see him! Contact Chrystine Gaffney, cg709@njaes.rutgers.edu to sign up for a seat.

 

FUN FOR KINDERGARTEN TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL-AGED KIDS

 

Afterschool at the Turtle Back Zoo Club, on Dec. 6, at 7 pm (Berson Education Center, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange)

Turtle Back Zoo is an amazing classroom! This Out of School at the Zoo: Zoo Club for kids in grades 1-5 offers students an opportunity to participate in animal and conservation themed programs and projects that facilitate scientific literacy and life-long environmental stewardship. The program includes a visit into the Zoo or South Mountain Reservation as weather permits and a live animal presentation. Session 5 is called Animal Enrichment. Did you know that there is much more to animal health than feeding and cleaning? Not only do Zoo staff prepare healthy and varied diets, clean and maintain exhibits, but they also provide vital mental, physical, and emotional stimulation to the animals in their care.  Today, the Zoo Club will learn about animal enrichment and how it helps maintain optimal health and wellbeing of our animal ambassadors. This is the last meeting of the Afterschool Zoo Club for the fall; program will resume in Spring 2020.

Indigo Kids Presents: Grinch-Mas! On Dec. 7 and 8 at 11 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Join Indigo as they celebrate Grinch-mas this season and grow our hearts three sizes. Kids will enjoy storytime, fun Grinch activities, and have their photo taken with the Grinch himself.

Williams Sonoma Jr. Chef: Gingerbread House Decorating on Dec. 8 at 11 am at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

In this super-fun class, kids ages 8-13 will get to decorate their very own gingerbread house, then take it home to show off to family and friends. The cost of $30 per child includes a Gingerbread House Decorating Kit. Please call (973) 467-3641 to reserve a spot.

Frog Pond Club on Dec. 10, 18 at 4 pm at the Essex County Environmental Center (621B Eagle Rock Ave, Roseland) 

Children ages 5 – 9 will uncover and discover ecosystem interactions at the frog pond. They will explore with nets, magnifiers and microscopes to investigate what lives at the pond and learn from a naturalist what can be done to protect and conserve the pond inhabitants. Advance registration is required. Please call 973.228.8776. The fee is $10 per child, per session.

Speaking of Stories (Grades 4-6) on Dec. 10 at 4:30 pm at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Children in grades 4-6 are invited to participate in this book club. This week’s book is Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai.

Pilkeypalooza: Dog Man Fetch-22 Release Party on Dec. 10 at 6:30 pm at Barnes and Noble the Livingston Mall (112 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston)

Kids will enjoy games and activities to celebrate the release of Fetch-22, the newest book in the hilarious Dog Man series. The Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition features a colorable pull-out poster for the ultimate supa fan (while supplies last)!

 

FUN FOR TEENS

 

Teen Advisory Group on Dec. 4, from 7-8 pm, at the West Orange Library (46 Mt Pleasant Ave, West Orange)

Make a difference and help out at the library! You will help plan events for kids and teens and earn community service hours for coming to T.A.G. meetings.

Dungeons and Dragons: A Teen Club on Deb. 6 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! 

 

FUN FOR ADULTS

 

Williams Sonoma Cookbook Club: Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookie Perfection on Dec. 5 from 6:30 -8 pm at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills)

Want to make showstopper Holiday Cookies? Williams Sonoma has you covered! They'll share two favorite recipes from the new Martha Stewart's Cookie Perfection Cookbook! Participants will make Gingerbread Trees and Candy Cane Cookies – perfect for any Holiday Celebration. The cost of $40 per person includes a copy of Martha Stewart's Cookie Perfection. Space is limited and reservations are required by calling (973) 467-3641 to register.

Paint and Sip at A Sip of Art  on – Paint  Dec. 4 (8-10 pm); Learn to Knit on Dec 5 (8-9:30 pm); Make a Pysanky Egg on Dec. 8 (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. Sign up for a great Mindful Knitting class here, and to make Pysanky Eggs here.

 

HAVE FUN CELEBRATING THIS NATIONAL HOLIDAY

 

National Brownie Day is on Dec. 8

Brownies are delicious and therefore – deserve a holiday. It's fun and easy to enjoy this day with kids. You can select your favorite brownie recipe and bake up a batch of brownies with your little ones, sample some brownies from your local food store or bakery or get a brownie sundae at your favorite ice cream shop.

 

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. 5, 1933 – The 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition.
  • On Dec. 7, 1877 – Thomas Edison exhibited the phonograph.
  • On Dec. 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor was bombed in a surprise Japanese attack, marking the U.S. entry into WWII.
  • On Dec. 8, 1980 – John Lennon, singer, guitarist, songwriter, and poet for the Beatles, was assassinated in New York City by Mark David Chapman.
  • On Dec. 10, 1869 – Wyoming, a territory of the US, allowed women to vote and hold office.
  • On Dec. 10, 1964 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize.