While New Year’s Eve is usually a party for adults (at least those who can still stay up until midnight, anyhow), it can also be a fun celebration for the whole family. New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate the old and welcome the new, and just about everyone can appreciate that, even children.
We usually like to have some friends and family over to celebrate the old year and cheer in the new one. During the course of the evening we take a moment to go around the room and recount happy and positive things that have happened throughout the year, as well as what our expectations are for the New Year.
We like to serve festive social foods like fondue, and open a bottle or two bubbly as well as some sparkling apple cider like Martinelli's. A festive champagne flute of sparkling cider is fun to sip and welcome by children and adults who aren’t drinking alike.
Living in the Bay Area, it's unlikely that we're going to get a white Christmas, or much snow at any time during the winter for that matter. Fortunately, Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and all the snow play fun you could possibly want are just a few hours away.
Our favorite mountain destination is Northstar California Resort near Truckee, but there are numerous ski resorts and snow play areas around Lake Tahoe to suit anyone's taste and budget.
Here's our guide to places to ski, snowboard, tube, sled, and play in the snow around Tahoe. We're tried to focus on spots that offer not only skiing and snowboarding, but tubing, snow play, and other winter activities, as well. If we've omitted your favorite, please let us know!
Due to this season's early snowfall, many resorts and ski areas are already open, especially larger operations like Northstar and Heavenly that make their own snow. Most others are tentatively scheduled to open by mid to late December. Make sure you check before you go, as opening dates are dependent on snowfall and weather; we've included website links and phone numbers.
Gingerbread is one of my favorite holiday treats, and nothing makes the house smell like Christmas more than a batch of gingerbread cookies baking in the oven. If you're like me and simply can't get enough gingerbread during the holidays (or any time of year, for that matter) try making these gingerbread waffles for breakfast or a holiday brunch. They're subtly sweet and spicy and can even be used for dessert (try topping them with some good quality vanilla ice cream).
Don't worry if you don't have all the spices that this recipe calls for in your pantry. Ginger and cinnamon are the mandatory ones, and feel free to add something else, like a little cardamom or allspice, to make things more interesting. Try serving these waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream, but they're also good with butter and maple syrup.
While listening to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Olive the dog hears the mondegreen "Olive, the other reindeer" (instead of "All of the other reindeer"), and decides that she, in fact is the reindeer in question. So begins the contemporary Christmas classic Olive, the Other Reindeer(40 pages, Chronicle Books, 1997) by local author and illustrator team Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold.
Olive undertakes an arduous journey—involving no fewer than two buses—to the North Pole and assists Santa Claus using the talents that come naturally to a Jack Russell Terrier. Olive, the Other Reindeer pairs Walsh's charming, funny, and inspiring story with Seibold's cool retro style illustrations, in a book that both children and adults will love. For what it's worth, the book is far different, much simpler, and in our opinion better than the animated Christmas special that's based on it.
During the holidays, we're indundated with Christmas-themed movies and TV specials of all different kinds. Being something of a family of movie buffs, we decided to put together our list of favorite holiday movies. Here's what we think is worth repeat watching each December.
Based on the picture book of the same name by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman is short 27-minute animated film that tells the story of a young boy who builds a snowman on Christmas Eve, only to find that it comes to life later on that night and takes him on a magical journey to the North Pole.
There’s no dialogue to speak of, except for some introductory narration by David Bowie (yes, David Bowie). The Snowman, with its musical interlude featuring the haunting song Walking in the Air, beautiful animation, and messages of friendship and loss, is a true classic. Your kids will love it, and I challenge any parent not to get choked up by the end.
(The San Francisco Symphony accompanies a screening The Snowman this Saturday, December 22, at Davies Symphony Hall. Learn more about it here.)
This holiday season, why not give the gift of fresh organic produce? This Christmas, our friends at Bloomfield Farms, a family-run certified organic farm outside Petaluma, are offering CSA gift certificates for you to give to family, friends, and colleagues. It's the perfect gift for a family that enjoys delicious, healthy, and locally grown food!
Bloomfield Farms is also offering an "80 for 80" holiday special—80 pounds of certified organic, dry-farmed Yukon Gold potatoes for $80. Yes, this is a large amount of potatoes, but the price is much lower than what you'll pay at a market like Whole Foods for the same thing (Bloomfield Farms supplies Whole Foods in addition to a number of other local grocery stores).
Go in with friends and neighbors and split up a bag! After all, it wouldn't be the holidays without mashed potatoes, would it?
The 1982 animated film The Snowman is one of our favorite holiday classics, and it's even more magical when accompanied by a live orchestra and choir. It's a great way to introduce kids to the symphony, too. We're giving away four tickets to the San Francisco Symphony's performance of The Snowman this Saturday, December 22! This special performance also includes holiday favorites and sing-alongs that the whole family will love.
The Snowman is a 26-minute animated film that tells the tale of a young boy's magical friendship with a snowman who comes to life on Christmas Eve. For this performance, the film will be accompanied by the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Donata Cabrera, and Pacific Boychoir.
To enter to win, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "SNOWMAN" in the subject line by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, December 18, 2012. We'll choose a random winner on Wednesday. Read our complete contest and giveaway rules here.
This holiday season, Marin Mommies is partnering with local Marin County business Dhana EcoKids and other community organizations to help promote the Gift of T.L.C—Thoughts, Love, and Care. All kids are invited to send an original doodle to the children impacted by Hurricane Sandy this holiday season, including those from the New Jersey town of Lavellete, which was especially hard-hit by the storm, and whose residents are only being allowed to move back home this weekend!
So go ahead, make a child's day and share your thoughts, love and care and doodle the Gift of T.L.C. on a plain piece of paper. Make sure you sign your kid’s first name, age, city, and state on the front of the paper with the doodle. Submissions can be a photo of the doodle, the original paper, or a scanned image of the doodle.
Kids are encouraged to send up to three doodles of their creation. Please send them via email to TLC@DhanaEcoKids.com, or post it on the Dhana Eco Kids Facebook page, or mail it to Dhana EcoKids, P.O. Box 1634, Mill Valley, CA 94942. All doodle submissions must be received by Monday, December 17, 2012 to be part of this wonderful campaign.
When you're making the rounds at Marinwood's amazing decorated Christmas houses, like the Bear House and the Mickey Mouse House, it's kind of easy to overlook Linda's Snow Village. Linda's Snow Village isn't so much a decorated house as a unique holiday display set up in front of a home on Miller Creek Road (near Quietwood Drive).
It's a definite holiday must-see, though, so make sure you don't miss it when you're in the area. 2010 was rumored to be its final season, but to our delight we've found it up and running again the past two years!
You can find Linda's Snow Village on the east side of Miller Creek Road. Spot the elf holding the colorful sign and you're there. The Snow Village itself is in a sort of white wooden hut or kiosk in the driveway. It's hard to miss, as it's pretty big and it's wrapped in colored Christmas lights. Inside the kiosk you'll find hundreds—maybe thousands—of little lighted buildings, cars, figurines, animals, an HO-scale model train, and even a flying saucer, all arranged in a sort of mid-century snowy winter wonderland. It's mesmerising and fascinating and definitely a change of pace from the more ornate holiday houses.