This weekend is the last one before the Christmas holiday, but don’t spend all your time shopping. Take the kiddos to see a play based on elementary children’s own stories, make a gingerbread house, celebrate the Solstice and visit Santa. Pssst: many of this weekend’s activities include “shoppable moments.”

PiratesGroupPerfphoto: Story Pirates courtesy The Curran 

San Francisco

River Otter Snow Days
Join Aquarium of the Bay’s three resident river otters in celebrating the holidays. The playful trio will enjoy seasonal treats and explore nearly 1,000 pounds of snow in the river otter habitat. This natural enrichment for the otters is a treat for all visitors to the Aquarium. It’s only happening for four days: Dec. 16, 18, 21 & 23. Don’t miss it! Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Pier 39. Included with general admission: $21.95/adult; $12.95/child 3-12; children 2 and under are free. All ages. Event details.

Story Pirates at the Curran
Story Pirates celebrates creative writing by students from coast to coast. including our own Sunnyside Elementary, in a loud, hilarious sketch comedy musical performed by professional improvisers and musicians. The entire performance is based on stories written by elementary school students, and part of the show is made up on the spot by the kids in the audience! And as an added bonus, this is part of the non-traditional programming for Curran: Under Construction so your little workers get to enter the Curran’s stage door alleyway and be seated on stage alongside the action! Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m. & 2 p.m. Union Square. $20/adults; $15/child. 3 and up. Event details.

Presidio Bike Parade: Light Up Your Bike
Decorate your bike, tricycle or scooter with festive holiday lights and join the Presidio Family Bike Parade! Join other families on a loop through the park’s beautiful Main Post. The event concludes on the Main Parade Ground where the SF Amateur Astronomers will be showcasing the night sky with powerful telescopes.Helmets are required for youth. Rain cancels this event. Advance registration appreciated, on-site registration starts at 4 p.m. and the parade begins at 5 p.m. Sat., 4-6 p.m. Presidio. Free. All ages. Event details.

A Charlie Brown Christmas with the SF Symphony
Guest conductor Randall Craig Fleischer and vocalist Jodi Benson (the original voice of Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid) will lead the young and young-at-heart on a journey through Vince Guaraldi’s score for A Charlie Brown Christmas. In this special stage show, live singers, actors, and dancers bring the beloved Christmas television special to life. Benson sings additional holiday classics with the Orchestra and Chorus followed by sing-along Christmas carols. The decked-out lobby of Davies Symphony Hall featuring kid-friendly refreshments and Peanuts-themed activities round out this musical experience that has already become a holiday tradition. Fri., 4 p.m., Sat., 2 p.m. and Sun., 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Civic Center. $30-$80. All ages. Event details.

East Bay

Habitot Gingerbread House Workshop
Kids can decorate a gingerbread house with icing and kiddo’s choice of sweet treats and candies. Then take it home to display or eat! The price for this one-hour long workshop includes admission to play time at Habitot. Please register for a session in advance. See event details. Sat., 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Berkeley. $35/house; $25/house for members. 0-6. Event details.

The Nutcracker
The Oakland Ballet Company continues a beloved East Bay holiday tradition, with its sixth annual production of Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker, live with the Oakland symphony at the beautiful Paramount Theatre. Sat., 1 p.m. & 5 p.m. and Sun., 2 p.m.  Oakland. $23-$85. All ages. Event details.


Holiday Gift Making Workshop
Each child will get to make 3 different projects including: decorating a glass ornament, framing a picture and painting on canvas. Have fun time creating gifts to give to loved ones like the grandparents, teachers and even mom and dad. Fri., 5:45-7 p.m. Redwood City. $35/child. 5-10. Event details.

Christmas Tea with Santa
Hear classic holiday stories from Santa himself as you gather with other children under the magical Christmas tree in the hotel’s library for hot cocoa, tea and a selection of special tea sandwiches, cookies and sweets. Each kid will take home a teddy bear and will share the holiday spirit with the children of The Ronald McDonald House by writing handwritten holiday notes attached to teddy bears donated by Rosewood Sand Hill. Sat., 1:30-3 p.m. Menlo Park. $75/child. All ages. Event details.

Make & Decorate a Gingerbread House
Children will love this no-baking workshop that has them making and decorating their very own gingerbread house. They will be able to follow the step-by-step instructions that take them from construction to frosting. Sat., 10-11:30 a.m. Menlo Park. $39/session plus $25 materials fee. 5-13. Event details.

Secrets of the Pescadero Marsh
Discover the secrets of the Pescadero Marsh, a 243-acre reserve, with guided walks led by State Park docents. The marsh is home to more than 200 species of birds, as well as plants and other animals like foxes, raccoons, and deer. The walk is two-hours, so wear good walking shoes, pack snacks and water, and don’t forget your binoculars! Meet at the Pescadero State Beach Parking Lot. Sun., 1 p.m. Pescadero. Free. All ages. Event details.

South Bay

Space, the Final LEGO Frontier
This interactive social workshop is perfect for your little colonists. Have fun collaborating with other kids and building a universe built of LEGOs. Fri., 1-4 p.m. Saratoga. $55. 9-12. Event details

Friends of the Dr. King Library Book Sale
This is the ultimate reader’s event, with thousands of books at serious bargain prices: From 10 a.m. -5 p.m. on Sat., it’s $1 hardcovers and $.50 softcovers, and on Sun. from 1-5 p.m., fill a bag of books for just $5. And they provide the bags! Plus all proceeds go directly back to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library community programs. Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. & Sun., 1-5 p.m. San Jose. Free. All ages. Event details.

Winter Solstice Celebration
Join Sunday Assembly Silicon Valley and San Jose Woman’s Club for an evening of food, drink, music and fun. Enjoy a buffet dinner to symbolically share in the harvest bounty, a no host bar with suggested donation of $5 for wine, beer, and a selection of seasonal cocktails and stories, songs and kids activities. Sat., 6-10 p.m. San Jose. $25/adult; $5/child 3-15; $1/child 2 and under. All ages. Event details.

Marin County

The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic has been adapted for the stage, and now you can bring your sweet princes and princesses this holiday season for a special treat. Cummins and Scoullar’s
The Little Prince is perfect adaptation full of music, perfect for audiences of all ages. Sat., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. and Sun., 11 a.m. & 1 p.m. Mill Valley. $11. All ages. Event details.

Santa Visits the Poppy Store
Santa will be visiting the Poppy Store at the Marin Country Mart so stop by and get your holiday photos with Man in Red. A professional photographer will be on site to take the photos, too, so you can wave your hands wildly trying to distract them. And while you’re there, don’t forget to check out the amazing winter market at the Mart, complete with a circus act. Sat., 10:30-2 p.m. Larkspur. Free. All ages. Event details.

Don’t forget to visit us Facebook and Instagram and show us how you and the crew #rockedtheweekend! 

—Amber Guetebier