Here’s an idea for the holidays . . . yes, it really is time to start thinking about them. Forget the screens and go see what’s on stage! In between making the rounds at the local harvest festivals and pumpkin patches, fill the holiday calendars. Catching a play, ballet or choir performance is an unforgettable experience for kids — and this season’s shows are real memory creators. Start a new family tradition and check out our picks for the top kid-friendly holiday shows in and around Chicago.

photo: credit ©Amy Boyle Photography 2018

The Marriott Theatre is bringing the Victorian streets of London to Lincolnshire with Lionel Bart’s OLIVER!, featuring touching performances of audience favorites including Food, Glorious FoodAs Long as He Needs MeConsider Yourself, and the title song, Oliver! Nov. 6-Dec. 29; Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire; Event details

photo: The Nutcracker courtesy of The House Theatre

The Nutcracker
This creative reinvention of the loved tale has an original spin: It focuses on Clara’s journey to save her family, reeling from the wartime death of her brother, from the Rat King. Both funny and heartwarming, it will remind everyone about the real reason for the season. Nov. 8-Dec. 29; Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Wicker Park; Event details

photo: Corduroy, credit Austin D. Oie via flickr

A small bear’s quest for a missing button leads to the friendship of a lifetime. The department store comes to life with circus elements and physical comedy as Corduroy must stay a step ahead of the Night Watchman to be ready for Lisa when she returns to the store. Kids will learn the importance of empathy and unconditional love alongside a young girl and her mother in this sweet adaptation of the beloved book Corduroy by Don Freeman. Nov. 9-Jan. 5; Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, Streeterville; Event details.

White Christmas
Travel back to simpler times and celebrate the holidays with this heartwarming stage adaptation of White Christmas. Be enchanted by the song and dance duo Bob and Phil as they follow singing sisters Betty and Judy to their Christmas show at a quaint Vermont lodge in this family classic. Nov. 14-Dec. 22; Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Rd., Munster, IN; Event details. 

a-christmas-carol-goodman-theatrephoto: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
There are always a few versions of Marley’s thought-provoking caper across town during the holidays. The one that’s everlasting (and truly tear-jerking) is at The Goodman Theatre, which was first staged there more than 40 years ago. There is something about this timeless story, combined with the world-class actors of The Goodman, that keeps the “bah-humbugs” away. Nov. 16-Dec. 29; Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., The Loop; Event details

Mrs. Claus! A Holiday Musicalphoto: Mrs. Claus: A Holiday Musical

Mrs. Claus: A Holiday Musical
This holiday classic and audience favorite returns for its 20th consecutive year. Chicago Kids Company’s biggest and most colorful show will put children and adults alike in the holiday spirit. Join Mrs. Claus as she teams up with the new Elf Class of 2019 to find Santa’s missing list in time for Christmas. Will the Fusspots spoil the season? Can Mrs. Claus and the elves save the holidays? Nov. 5-Dec. 22;  Presented at Stahl Family Theatre, Beverly Arts Center & Pheasant Run Resort; Event details

Beauty and the Beast
Great dancing candlesticks! Kids will be dazzled by Paramount Theatre’s version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The Beast, Belle and everyone’s favorite enchanted castle characters will come to an incredible new life, ready to thrill, entertain and amaze. Nov. 13-Dec. 22; Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd, Aurora; Event details

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Get ready to fight a dragon, swim with merpeople, and find out just who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire™! Rediscover the magic of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ while the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs Patrick Doyle’s unforgettable score. Bring the family for a fun Thanksgiving outing! Nov. 29-Dec. 1; Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., The Loop; Event details.

photo: Twas the Night Before Christmas via Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s Twas the Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the Night Before… is an exhilarating new spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil can imagine. This vibrant acrobatic spectacle about the joy of sharing and friendship promises to spark lasting memories in the hearts of children and adults alike. Nov. 29-Dec. 8; Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., The Loop; Event details

photo: Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker courtesy of Cheryl Mann

Joffrey Ballet: The Nutcracker
The question isn’t if you are going to see this holiday spectacular. It’s when. Christopher Weeldon’s Nutcracker takes place in on our very own city at the turn-of-the-century, a mere months before the grand opening of the 1893 World’s Fair, as a young Marie and her mother prepare for a Christmas Eve potluck celebration. Brilliantly reimagined for a new generation, you’ll experience the magic of the season when a visit from The Great Impresario sets off a whirlwind journey of romance and adventure through a dreamlike World’s Fair. Nov. 30-Dec. 29; The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., The Loop; Event details

photo: Art Deco Nutcracker

Art Deco Nutcracker
Set in 1920s America, Alexei Kremnev’s The Art Deco Nutcracker is an upbeat yet traditional take on the much-loved holiday favorite and guaranteed entertainment for all. Familiar favorites The Sugar Plum Fairy, Mother Ginger and the Nutcracker Prince will all be on stage to tell the tale. Dec. 6-8, Studebaker Theatre, 410 S. Michigan Ave., The Loop; Event details.

The Filament Theatre Holiday Special
Now in its 8th year, the Filament Holiday Special has become a beloved tradition to kick off the holiday season. Gather friends and family for a screening of two holiday classics: A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, voiced by your favorite Filament actors with live accompaniment provided by Slap Happy Jazz Trio. Dec. 14;  Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Portage Park; Event details.

Merry Merry Chicago
Listen to the celebrated songs of the season performed by the best musicians in the city: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Arrangements both new and cherished will have you humming and singing along. Be ready for a visit from the man in red, too! Dec. 14-15 & 20-23; Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., The Loop; Event details.

photo: Tidings of Tap Chicago, credit David Harmantas

Tidings of Tap!
Tap, tap, tap on down to this tap-tastic holiday spectacular. Tidings of Tap! showcases the Christmas, Hanukkah and the winter season with some of the most amazing tap dancers in the world. Dec. 15; North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; Event details.

— Maria Chambers & Amy Bizzarri