Besides the tree in Union Square and holiday lights strung up around the neighborhood there’s one sure way to know it’s Christmastime in the Bay: when Santa arrives by boat. This weekend from Hyde St. Pier to the snowy streets (yep! snow!) of Novato we’ve packaged up a whole ho-ho-host of activities to stay in a wintery mood.

Holiday Crafts Day

Photo credit: Randall Museum

San Francisco

Holiday Craft Fair at the Randall Museum
Get crafty and make presents and decorations for the winter holidays this year. The Randall Museum is devoting a whole day to teaching kids and their families how to create one-of-a-kind hand-made gifts and items to decorate their homes that will brighten the holidays without breaking the bank. Learn how to roll your own beeswax candles, make handmade scented gift soaps, build a wooden train, create a candy house and more. Sat., 10 a.m.-2p.m. San Francisco. Free (some low fees for crafts). All Ages. Event details.

History for Half-Pints: Holiday Edition
December’s California Historical Society kids event features holiday craft stations, light snacks, and a fun Yosemite-themed dress up area. Make festive banners, cards, and add to the California Historical Society’s Yosemite Build art project. Sat., noon-4 p.m. San Francisco. Free for kids, members, and anyone who RSVPs. Otherwise, $5/door. All Ages. Event details.

Maritime Holiday Festival
Head to Hyde Street Pier to see Santa arrive by boat! From 3 – 4: 45 p.m. music, refreshments, and a visit from Santa. Then at 6 p.m. the park’s costumed Living History players will help transport your entire family back to Christmas, 1901. Take a lamplit tour where you can meet and greet the Captain and crew of the historic Balcutha, rub elbows with the passengers of the Eureka ferryboat dressed in their holiday best, and hob nob with the glitterati of San Francisco’s past aboard the Ark houseboat. This portion of the event does require a reservation, so lease call 415-447-5000 to hold your spot. Sat., 3-4:45 and 6-9 p.m. San Francisco. $5/adult for day event; free for ages 16 and under; night event is free for all. All ages. Event details.

Mark Froehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets
This Nutcracker redux is just 50 minutes long and is designed just for families with young children. It’s the Nutcracker, in a nutshell! Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. San Francisco. $18-$28. 2 and up. Event details.

East Bay

OMCA’s Friday Nights
Take your kids out for a night on the town right in the heart of Oakland: this family friendly museum stays open late Friday nights so you can dance, eat, and explore. Enjoy a hands-on holiday card making workshop from 5 to 8 p.m., food trucks, live and DJ’d music and general revelry, California-style. Fri., 5-9 p.m. Oakland. $7.50/adult; children 18 and under are free. All Ages. Event details.

Sticky Art Lab’s Holiday Craft Sale
This day long event includes paper crafts, glass stenciling, kaleidoscope making, demos and crafts for sale. The event is free, workshops have a fee. Visit here to register online for workshops. Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Berkeley. Free. All Ages. Event details.

Oakland Youth Chorus Concert
Kids will love the songs including tunes from India, South Africa-Zulu, Russia, and Croatia, all sung by singers age 5 to 18, all from local elementary, middle, and high-schools. The 3 p.m. concert is kids 5-8. 3rd through 5th graders perform at the 6 p.m. concert. Sat., 3 & 6 p.m. Oakland. $20/adult $5/child 5-10; children 4 and under are free. All Ages.Event details


Pillar Point Harbor Boat Decorating Contest
Don a warm Christmas sweater and head over to the Pillar Point Harbor to check out the boats trimmed to the brim with holiday lights and other decor. See which boat will win the contest, and enjoy live entertainment, plus treats and hot cider courtesy of local business. And if that doesn’t float your boat, Santa will be there for photo ops with the tots. Sat., 6-9 p.m. Half Moon Bay. Free. All Ages. Event details.

Nutcracker Puppet Show at Gamble Gardens
Introduce your littles to the holiday tradition of The Nutcracker as performed by master puppeteer, Randal Metz of The Puppet Company. Light refreshments will be served and reservations are required. Sun., noon, 1:30 & 3 p.m. Palo Alto. $15. All Ages. Event details.

Holiday Movie Night at HMB Ritz Carlton
This luxe holiday happening will please the whole family–the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay is hosting Holiday Movie Night at the Gazebo Lawn. Bring a blanket, because this evening is alfresco. Appetizers and drinks will be available for purchase throughout the show from the Ocean Terrace. This Sunday’s feature is The Polar Express. Sun., 30 minutes after sunset. Half Moon Bay. $10. All Ages. Event details.

South Bay

Children’s Holiday Festival at History Park
Santa arrives by historic trolley and there will be music, caroling, and the Snow Queen leading a story time! There will be crafting: making holiday gifts, decorations, and ornaments, and all the historic buildings decorated for the holidays. Story time starts at 1 p.m. and Santa arrives at 2 p.m. Bring your camera! Sat., noon-4 p.m. San Jose. $5/children 2 and under (and members) are free. All Ages. Event details.

Beethoven’s 244th Birthday Celebration
Head to the 5th floor of the San Jose library for an afternoon of refreshments, talks, and music in honor of Ludwig van Beethoven. Fri., 1-5 p.m. San Jose. Free. All Ages. Event details.

Academy of Classical Ballet’s Winter Wonderland
An original ballet, A Winter Wonderland celebrate the beauty of the season and the holiday spirit. After the show, there’s a Snowman Soiree where you can meet the cast members (limited tickets). Sun., 1 & 5 p.m. Campbell. $15; $5/snowman soiree. All Ages. Event details.

Marin County

2nd Friday Art Walk
Do some holiday shopping while you sip on wine and check out the open galleries between G Street and Lincoln. Enjoy refreshments, hear live music, purchase one-of-a-kind jewelry and crafts, and art and activities by and for local kids. Fri., 5-8 p.m. San Rafael. Free. All Ages. Event details. 

Holiday Ornament Making with Author Leuyen Pham
Diesel, A Bookstore in Larkspur welcomes LeUyen Pham who will read from her new holiday book, The Twelve Days of Christmas. After the reading, join in the fun as she shows you how to make an ornament of your own to take home. Fri., 5-6 p.m. Larkspur. Free. 5-8. Event details.

Teddy Bear Tea with La Petit Jardin
Get those clip on ties and pretty little bows out and head to Le Petit Jardin’s annual holiday Teddy Bear Tea. Enjoy a traditional tea service including cocoa, tea, finger sandwiches and holiday cookies along with holiday music, fireside story time, and a professional photo seating. Be sure and bring your child’s favorite Teddy Bear or stuffie pal. The Story of the First Christmas will be presented in English and in French. This event is free, but please RSVP to Sat.,11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. San Anselmo. Free. All ages. Event details.

Let it Snow, Novato!
It’s downtown Novato’s holiday extravaganza and snow will transform the city streets into a winter wonderland. Sleds will be available, free of charge. Santa and Mrs. Clause will arrive by fire truck at 11:30 a.m. and kids can pose for pics with the pair. Free candy canes and balloons, a coloring contest, face painting, and lots of hot chocolate to warm up those hands after a snowball fight! Live music, and horse-drawn carriage rides cap off this frigid festival. Sat., 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Novato. Free. All Ages. Event details.

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~Amber Guetebier