Holidays in Marin

Marin on Ice

Our annual guide to Christmas and holiday events for families in Marin and the Bay Area

Sponsored by Marin on Ice.

Just in Time for the Holidays: Best Kids' Books 2015 from Diesel

December 6, 2015

Diva and FleaThe holidays are here, and great books always make fantastic gifts for kids! Clare Doornbos, the children's book expert at Diesel bookstore in Larkspur, saves us all a lot of time and stress by highlighting her picks for best kids' books in 2015.

You can join Clare for storytime at the bookstore every Thursday morning at 10:30 am, where she reads classics, new kids' books, and hidden treasures. It's perfect for families with children 5 and under. Diesel is located in Marin Country Mart at 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle in Larkspur. For more information about Diesel and a complete schedule of events, visit or call the store at (415) 785-8177.

Board Books

Through the Town by Craig Shuttlewood
A sweet rhyming journey through a jolly cartoon town. There's an indented line which runs through the board book which you can trace with your finger. So, you and your little one get a really interactive experience.

50 Years of Family Tradition at Larsen’s Christmas Tree Farm

December 5, 2015

Larsen's Christmas Tree Farm Petaluma Every year we love to pay a visit to Larsen’s Christmas Tree Farm in Petaluma. With its beautiful country setting, acres of green trees, and festive holiday spirit, it’s really a fun place for a December family outing. This year, Larsen’s celebrates 50 years of making the holidays bright for Bay Area families!

Like many places in rural Petaluma, Larsen’s Christmas Tree Farm began life as a chicken farm started by the Larsen family back in 1918. In 1963, the first Christmas trees were planted, and the choose-and-cut tree farm was opened to the public for the 1965 holiday season by Bob and Marilyn Larsen. Bob and Marilyn still live on the property, but now their grandson Richard runs the farm.

Stapleton Ballet's Nutcracker: A Marin Holiday Tradition

November 30, 2015

Stapleton Ballet NutcrackerThe Stapleton Ballet's annual production of the Nutcracker has been a Marin County tradition for 27 years, and it returns to Marin Center in San Rafael this holiday season for performances on Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6 only.

With over 250 talented dancers from San Anselmo's Stapleton School of the Performing Arts as well as professional guest stars, a visit to this production marks the start of the holiday season for many Marin families.This production features inspired dancing, stunning imagery and beautifully crafted sets and costumes. The timeless tale of Clara and her wondrous adventure with the Nutcracker opens with the lavish Victorian holiday party, featuring exquisite, period-authentic costumes created in 2013. The captivating, mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer makes a grand entrance, weaving his magic into the festivities and placing a spell on Clara’s wooden toy.

ODC/Dance's The Velveteen Rabbit is a Holiday Family Favorite. Win Tickets!

November 24, 2015

ODC/Dance Velveteen RabbitODC/Dance's adaptation of the classic children's story The Velveteen Rabbit has been a holiday tradition in the Bay Area for 29 years. With music, dance, and powerful narrative, ODC/Dance tells this classic tale of a well-worn stuffed rabbit who become real, and the little boy who loves him.

This popular production brims with wit, festive costumes, colorful characters—including the 10-foot-tall Nana, a skin-horse, toy soldiers, a crocodile, dolls, and a pack of "real" rabbits, and, of course, plenty of holiday cheer. The Velveteen Rabbit features ODC's renowned company of dancers, 10 young dancers from the ODC school, a score by Benjamin Britten. This production is suitable for children ages 3 and up. Running time is 90 minutes, including one intermission.

San Francisco Symphony's "Charlie Brown Christmas" Is a Holiday Treat!

December 21, 2014

A Charlie Brown Christmas—Live! SF SymphonyThe San Francisco Symphony always presents wonderful family concerts for holidays. We've always really enjoyed their offerings, and this year was no exception! This season's family holiday program is A Charlie Brown Christmas—Live! and we were lucky enough to attend a performance this Saturday. The classic Christmas special A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of our family favorites, too, so we were really excited to experience this concert.

Concerts begin with a family friendly reception in the lobbies of Davies Symphony Hall. If you go, make sure you get there early to meet Peanuts characters, pose for pictures in Lucy's psychiatry booth and Snoopy's dog house, take in the amazing decorations, and listen to some holiday music. Drinks, including hot chocolate and Shirley Temples, and snacks are available for purchase, too. Our kids loved "Candyland", where you could buy a box and stuff it with as much holiday candy as you could for $5. (No, they didn't eat it all in one sitting.)

Get Crafty and Create Your Own Holiday Cards With Buttons

December 15, 2014

Button holiday craft cardsMy kids have always loved to make their own cards for special occasions, and the holidays are no exception! This year, we made these cute cards using colored plastic buttons as decorations. Get different sizes of buttons and make Christmas trees, candy canes, snowmen, snowflakes, and any other design you can think of.

The results really are delightful, and they're easy enough for any child to make, with an adult's help, of course. Because you made the cards yourselves they are a neat keepsake craft, too.

To make these holiday cards, you'll need:

Rainy Day Holiday Fun: Easy Playdough Snowmen

December 11, 2014

Playdough snowmanKids love sculpting with Play-Doh, and it's easy to make at home for a fun rainy day activity. You probably have all of the ingredients sitting in your pantry right now!

We whipped up a batch of white "snow-dough" to make some cute holiday snowman decorations. It was an easy and fun craft for the kids to make. This recipe makes quite a bit of dough—equivalent to two large cans of Play-Doh. If you don't need that much, feel free to cut recipe in half.

To make your own snow-dough, you'll need:

Hottest Holiday Toys for Kids 2014: Ages 9+

December 6, 2014

birds glitter boardsFor our Holiday guide to the hottest toys this season, the toy experts at Five Little Monkeys, a great local independent toy store with locations in Novato, Albany, Walnut Creek, and Burlingame, put together this list, based on what kids seem most excited about, what is showing up at birthday parties, what parents are asking for, and staff favorites!

We've also reviewed the top picks for babies and toddlers, kids ages 3 to 5, and kids ages 6 to 8.

Ages 9+ Indoor Fun

Birds Glitter Boards
A set to create fantastic sparkly pictures of birds surrounded by wonderful patterns. Use this set to create pictures of different birds surrounded by wonderful patterns, brought to life by the sequins. Designed for older children, this kit is a great way of encouraging them to be creative. $19.99

Old Fashioned Jam Thumbprint Cookies

December 2, 2014

jam thumbprint cookiesThese old-fashioned jam thumbprint cookies are probably my favorite Christmas cookie from my childhood. I remember my mom making these buttery treats every holiday season, and of course I remember eating them, too.

While my mom's thumbprint cookies were rolled in chopped walnuts, I've also seen them covered in coconut, too. I decided to do a taste test and we decided that the coconut ones are our favorite, although the walnut versions are delicious too.

I followed a suggestion in the Ina Garten recipe for these and finished the cookies with an egg wash. I thought the step was kind of unusual for cookies, but it really made a difference in texture and appearance. You can use any jam you like in these; I used raspberry preserves and orange marmalade.


Hottest Holiday Toys for Kids 2014: Ages 6 to 8

December 1, 2014

plushcraft hedgehogFor our Holiday guide to the hottest toys this season, the toy experts at Five Little Monkeys, a great local independent toy store with locations in Novato, Albany, Walnut Creek, and Burlingame, put together this list, based on what kids seem most excited about, what is showing up at birthday parties, what parents are asking for, and staff favorites!

We've also reviewed the top picks for babies and toddlers and kids ages 3 to 5.

Ages 6 to 8 Indoor Fun

Plushcraft Hedgehog
A plush, personal pillow? Perfect! Especially when kids can say, “I made it myself!” Here’s a sweet little fabric-by-number craft project with no sewing required. Over 320 brightly colored fabric pieces are ready to be punched into the pillow with an easy-to-master stylus wand. Kids can rest on their accomplishment! $17.99