This month is full of free and cheap things to do with your family from holiday tree and menorah lightings to crafting events that are perfect for the whole crew. Scroll through and pick some of your favorites for your December calendar!

Visit Emperor Norton's Holiday Bazaar

Kick off the holiday season and visit the brand-new Salesforce Tower. Emperor Norton’s Holiday Bazaar will deliver a magical experience with classic holiday décor, cozy spots to relax and connect, and opportunities to shop for unique, handmade gifts—all paired with the soul-warming food and drink that Off The Grid is known for. Daily through Dec. 24. Event details



Illuminate SF Festival of Lights

Now in its seventh year, this urban lights festival offers 44 eco-friendly displays that are all accessible by public transportation within San Francisco's 49 square miles. Pick a neighborhood to explore and follow the map to see the light installations there. Through Jan. 1. Event details

photo: Asian Art Museum

Family Fun Day at the Asian Art Museum

Visit the museum for free and explore the special exhibition Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan where you can write a letter to a friend. Dec. 1. Event details

photo: iStock

Children's Reading Room at Salesforce Park

Join this impromptu story time with classic picture books to borrow and enjoy while in the park. Daily. Event details

Photo Opp With Black Santa & Mrs. C

Head to Jack London Square to visit the Black Santa pop-up and take photos with Black Santa and Mrs. C. Sat.-Sun. through Dec. 24. Event details

photo: Holiday Circle of Lights

Visit the Holiday Circle of Lights

Hundreds of tiny bright lights outlining the buildings and trees provide the perfect backdrop for this enchanting exhibition at the Mountain View Cemetery. Daily through Jan. 1. Event details

Nights of Lights Holiday Spectacular

Come see the magic of a synchronized holiday tree and fountain light show on Hillsdale Shopping Center’s new outdoor plaza. Santa Claus is expected to make an arrival in the newly developed North Block to begin the festivities. Dec. 6. Event details

photo: Glenda Bates

Tip Top Tots: Music, Movement, Bikes

Tip Top Bike Shop is pleased to once again host our music program for children aged 0-6 years and their caregivers. Join us for a fun and interactive musical experience with some of the Bay Area's best children's musician's and music educators. Dec. 6, 10 a.m. Event details.

Free Fridays at Ardenwood and the East Bay county parks

To celebrate the Park District’s 85th Anniversary, park entrance and fees for day use parking, swimming, dogs, horse trailers, boat launching and fishing permits will all be waived. 

More info:

Santa's Wonderland Comes to Bass Pro

Santa’s Wonderland returns to Bass Pro Shops and families are invited to enjoy this magical Christmas village offering free photos with Santa and free family holiday activities including fun crafts and games. Features include rustic Christmas cabins, holiday characters and live elves set amongst a dazzling backdrop of snow-covered hills and illuminated Christmas trees. The Santa’s Wonderland Christmas village offers remote control trucks, laser/foam toy arcade, Lincoln Logs building area and much more. Kids can also spend time at one of the activity tables where they can write a letter to Santa, color and do fun crafts, all for free.

More info: 

photo: California's Great America

Get Your Free Pre-K Pass from Great America

Kids ages 3-5 can sign up for a free pass that will get them into California's Great America for the remainder of 2019 and all of 2020 as well. 

More info:

photo: Home Depot

Make Your Own Christmas Countdown Calendar at Home Depot

Create your own countdown to the holidays, and have a blast with your child while doing it. Kids develop hands-on skills with sanding, nailing and applying stickers. With help from parents and store associates, your child will make a merry memory this holiday season. Dec. 7. Event details

photo: Kate Loweth

Saturday Science at the Randall

Drop by the Randall Museum’s Science Studio and discover the wonders of science. From building rockets to making polymers, the project-based activities explore a different science topic each week.

More info:

Gingerbread House Showcase in Petaluma

A three-day holiday event for the whole community, featuring a gingerbread house showcase and competition. Enter your gingerbread creation for a chance to win! Showcase opens on Friday, festivities wrap on Sunday with a big bash. Dec. 13-15. Event details

—Kate Loweth


Holidays on Stage: Festive Theater Performances for All Ages

All Aboard! Magical Holiday Train Rides

Chop Chop! The Best U-Cut Tree Farms