Before Santa makes his way to town (P.S. stay off the 405), we want to help you get you in the holiday spirit from the very first day of December. And while palm trees and sunny skies make LA feel like anything but Christmas (at least when it comes to Rockwellian-standards), we’ve found plenty of ways to get you and the whole gang in a most festive mood. Scroll down and discover 24 ways, for the next 24 days, to make December totally jolly-filled with activities the whole family can enjoy.

photo: Pitchoun! Bakery

Dec. 1st: Kick off the holiday season with wintry fun at Bai’s Holiday Ice Skating Rink in Pershing Square. After the kids jump, spin and twirl themselves silly, head across the street to Pitchoun! for some well-deserved hot chocolate and Yule logs. Don’t forget to explore the reading nook and nuzzle up by the fireplace to read kids books in English and French—Joyeux Noël!

Dec. 2nd: Join the merriment at the Candy Cane Hunt in Pasadena and search for over a thousand hidden candy canes! End the day at Shop Merci Milo in Highland Park where kiddos gather for story time and treats.

Dec. 3rd: From home decor, kids clothing, jewelry, beauty, and apothecary goods there’s something for everyone on your list at Unique LA. Shopping isn’t the only attraction here; kids (under 12 are free) can take part in super cool DIY projects.

Dec. 4th: Thinking of those in need? Share goodwill and gifts with underserved children and teens in LA County via Sparks of Love. Drop off unwrapped toys or sports equipment at any local fire station, now until Dec. 24th.

photo: LA ZOO LIGHTS/Jamie Pham

Dec. 5th: Spend the afternoon with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the rest of Santa’s loyal companions at the special exhibit “Reindeer Romp at the LA Zoo.” At the reindeer village, kids will learn exciting tidbits about Santa’s furry pals. Make sure to stay for the nighttime show, LA Zoo Lights. That’s when the animals take refuge and the holiday lights take center stage.

Dec. 6th:It’s Holiday Time in PaleyLand” welcomes children of all ages to watch holiday TV classics and participate in a day full of festive fun. We hear the organizers provide hot cocoa and that Santa even stops by to visit the kids (check online for his schedule). Advanced ticket purchase isn’t required at this free event (which takes place every Wed-Sun until Jan. 7th). Just show up and feel the joy!

Dec. 7th: Jump into the morning, feet first, and dance until the jingle bells rock. Au Fudge (restaurant/creative space) invites your little ones to celebrate the season with a “Toddler Twist” class full of holiday cheer. Recommended for ages 18 months-5 years. Admission also includes an open play session.

This evening, Downtown Culver City lights up its eco-friendly tree: A 22-foot artificial Rocky Mountain pine with over 7,500 LED lights. Though this tree won’t smell quite like Christmas, the aroma of hot cider, cocoa, and freshly baked cookies definitely will. Enjoy the complimentary goodies and free two-hour parking in nearby municipal lots.

Dec. 8th: Baby, it’s cold (below 70) outside! Load the kiddos into the car with cozy blankets, snacks, and your favorite Christmas playlist and cruise over to neighborhoods like Woodland Hills, Torrance, and Pasadena where homes are decked out in dazzling holiday lights.

Dec. 9th: Embrace this multi-cultural festival and let the holiday spirit move you at the Trio of Holiday Celebrations on Pico in honor of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa that features food, music, and kid’s crafts inspired by all three traditions. And of course, it wouldn’t be a holiday jubilee without photo ops with Santa!

photo: Marina Del Rey Visitors Bureau

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Snow Wonder in Marina Del Rey has got you covered, literally, in snow. Join this sea-loving community as Burton Chace Park converts into “a winter wonderland with over 80 tons of real snow, used to make a sledding hill and snow-kissed pine forest.” The festivities continue that evening with a Holiday Boat Parade where guests can watch from the park or from Fisherman’s Village.

Dec. 10th: For those observing the Festival of Lights, the Skirball is hosting a celebration that explores the themes of Hanukkah through the rich traditions of Los Angeles’s Latin American communities. Enjoy art-making, musical performances and learn Latin dances like salsa, cumbia, and mambo.

photo: Christina A. via Yelp

Dec. 11th: Looking for something that shines almost as bright as Rudolph’s nose? Bundle up and visit the glistening Venice Canals for an evening stroll filled with seasonal lights on houses that line the waterway.

Dec. 12th: Let’s get baking, scientists! At the Discovery Cube LA, kids investigate the science behind Gingerbread. Who knew it takes “heat, math, engineering and other important components to bake and create” these beloved goodies?

Dec. 13th: Is there a budding filmmaker in your brood? Sign up (with your children) for Kids Hour workshops at your local Apple Store and learn how to capture the memories of the holiday season.

Dec. 14th: Poppy Store, at Brentwood Country Mart, hosts a half-hour puppet show featuring large marionettes in a performance entitled Santa’s New Sleigh. Little ones will jump with glee and bubble over with excitement during this marvelous spectacle.

photo: Red Tricycle LA

Dec. 15th: Now through Jan. 7th, take a drive to Descanso Gardens and revel in “Enchanted: Forest of Light.” This interactive experience features incredible lighting displays along a one-mile stretch that includes some of the most treasured areas of the gardens.

Dec. 16th: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” The Holiday Sing-Along program for families at the Walt Disney Concert Hall offers two performances today, which include classics by the Angeles Chorale. Kids will fa-la-la-la all night long with this ensemble.

Hop over to the newest Rabbit Ladders outpost, Winter Wonderland, to do a little shopping at this impossibly chic kids store. Stay for the Point’s Holiday Block Party and toy drive benefitting Children’s Hospital LA.

Dec. 17th: Dylan’s Candy Bar at The Grove hosts their annual Gingerbread House Decorating event today where kids of all ages can come to play with (and eat) mounds of scrumptious candy. After you bedeck your gingerbread house, go check out all the lights at The Grove, explore Santa’s house, and don’t forget to watch the magical snowfall that evening.

Dec. 18th: Parents will delight in Langham’s Signature Afternoon Teddy Bear Tea. While kids savor petite sandwiches, cookies, hot chocolate, and other yummy treats at this long-standing tradition, everyone will enjoy a puppet show, storytelling, and photos with Santa. All guests are asked to bring an unwrapped, packaged gift for donation to a local children’s charity.

Dec. 19th: All aboard the Holiday Light Festival choo-choo train! This magical train ride captivates little ones as they coast along the tracks and observe tens of thousands of decorative lights.

photo: Duff’s Cakemix

Dec. 20th: Bring your mini bakers to Duff’s Holiday Cupcake Decorating event suitable for all ages. Little ones have a blast choosing colors, rolling out fondant and licking buttercream. These tasty cupcakes are just as much fun to make as they are to eat!

Dec. 21st: Enjoy a turkey or ham dinner with Santa aboard the Fillmore and Western train. Encourage kids to bring their wish list to share with Mr. Claus.

Dec. 22nd: Have you checked off everyone on your list? Don’t forget to leave a little treat for Santa! Among classic cookies like chocolate chip and sugar, Milk Jar Cookies features a festive treat perfect for old St. Nick: a peppermint bark cookie with crushed candy cane and white chocolate chips. Kids will love picking out the sweets while you’ll love grabbing a few bottles of Broguiere’s delicious eggnog.

Dec. 23rd: FIGat7th Kids Club welcomes your children ages 3 plus to a free arts and crafts workshop where they’ll assemble holiday snowball ornaments using jewels, sparkles, and much more. Before you leave the complex, make sure you stop by Pazzo Gelato to sample seasonal flavors. It may be December, but ice cream is absolutely enjoyable year-round.

photo: Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration

Dec. 24th: The 58th annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration, seeks to honor the diverse cultures we have here at home. During this free event, local artists and community groups perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Kids can groove to the sounds of Chinese Dragon music, West African drums, and popular holiday songs. The three-hour show is broadcast and streamed live, so if you can’t make it to the theater, you can definitely watch from the comfort of your home.

Dec. 25th: Take the day off. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!


Enjoying the holiday season? Let us know where you go to catch the Christmas spirit in the comments!

 —Janelle Connor