Thanksgiving is behind us and the holiday season has officially begun! If that leaves you feeling even the tiniest bit overwhelmed, don’t worry as we’ve got December all planned out for you. Scroll down this list, pick an activity and get ready to make some memories this month!
Go back in time to Victorian London at The Great Dickens Fair
At this annual event, the three-acre Cow Palace is filled with over 800 Victorian characters from waltzing royals to scrappy chimney-sweeps. Watch Shakespearean dramas with swordplay and quirky characters or Father Christmas in his own holiday show. Dress the kids as street urchins and join in the dancing and merriment. Kids will especially love this year's expanded children's area with the coolest merry-go-round and games like throwing old shoes at wooden cats. The fairy house station is a great place to create your own magical wonderland (for an additional fee) while parents can sit back and enjoy a hot toddy. The Dickens Fair occurs Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 17. dickensfair.com
Plan a theater day
In addition to tons of Nutcracker performances, December is totally packed with shows that will entertain anyone. Head to San Francisco for Disney's Aladdin or erase all your humbug vibes with the holiday favorite, A Christmas Carol. Head down the peninsula to the Hillbarn Theatre where little orphan Annie will steal your heart. San Jose plays host to the truly unique performance, JOY! A Holiday Show, that incorporates gymnasts, a capella singers, talented dancers and tons of audience interaction
Get those holiday photos done!
It's really not too late to get a darling shot of your family taken and holiday cards ordered for your friends and family far and wide. Minted is piloting their new program, Photo-Op by Minted, in the Bay Area and it's pretty much every parent's dream. For $100 you can book a photographer to come to your home (or meet them at an agreed-upon location) and they will take photos of your family in the style that you choose. A few days after the photo shoot you get 10 expertly-retouched images, ready for download. Plus, the service includes complimentary card styling to take literally all of the work off your plate. Feeling less stressed already?
Celebrate the sounds of the season with the SF Symphony
December is the perfect month to introduce the kids to the San Francisco Symphony as their holiday schedule is just packed with family-friendly events. December 6 kicks it off with Cirque de la Symphonie, a night that combines music and acrobatics. Then on December 10, Zachary Quinto narrates the timeless musical fable of a boy and his animal friends, Peter and the Wolf with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra accompanying. The beloved holiday movie Home Alone is projected on the big screen while the score is performed by the San Francisco Symphony and carols sung live by three children’s choruses (Dec. 16, 17 & 20). With singers, dancers and actors performing in front of an animated background, and Vince Guaraldi’s timeless music performed live by the Symphony, A Charlie Brown Christmas: LIVE! brings this beloved holiday classic to life (Dec. 21-24).
Spend some time in Downtown San Jose
This year's Christmas in the Park is even bigger than ever with a Guinness World Record 600 lit trees! Get your photos taken with Santa, enjoy holiday dance and singing performances and hop aboard the rides. Then glide over to Downtown Ice for ice skating under the palm trees. End your day at the daily Seasons of Hope performances at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph (7:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 12-23).
Explore the Curious Contraptions at the Exploratorium
If the weather outside is frightful, it's the perfect time to head to Pier 15's Exploratorium where you can literally spend the whole day exploring and not see all that there is in this massive building. Kids love running in circles in the tornado and learning about how sound waves behave. Through January 28, you can see the mechanical sculptures known as automata at the Curious Contraptions exhibit. Each sculpture performs an absurd miniature drama reflecting its maker's worldview and sense of humor. The kids will be mesmerized!
If you leave in the evening, check out the Buckyball light exhibit just outside, brought to you by Illuminate SF. This 25-foot sculpture includes over 4,500 LED nodes arranged in a series of pentagons and hexagons.
Play tourist at Fisherman's Wharf
Swing by Ghiradelli Square and grab some chocolate at the famous chocolate factory. (Pro tip: samples are given out at each of Ghiradelli Chocolate's five entrances so visit them all for a pocket full of sweets!) Walk through Fisherman's Wharf and welcome the start of crab season with some tasty eats. Visit the sea lions at Pier 39 and learn all about this amazing animal at the visitor center there. End your night by popping on your complimentary Santa hat and touring the city lights aboard the Classic Cable Car Holiday Nights and Sights tour.
What plans are you most excited for in December? Let us know!