Weekend Family Fun: Holiday Crafts, Winter Festivals, Theater, Santa and More

Another weekend is here! If you’re looking for some fun and family-friendly things to do, check out some of these activities happening in and around town!

We’ve posted some of our favorite holiday shows and holiday light displays already, so they won’t appear here. In case you missed those articles, you can read our round up of holiday shows for kids here and our round up of holiday light displays here.

Montclair History Center will host Sugarplums and St. Nick: Children’s Holiday Tours on Friday from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Crane House & Historic YWCA (110 Orange Road, Montclair). On this family tour, guests will learn how children celebrated the holidays in days gone by while enjoying the holiday decorations artfully designed by the Garden Club of Montclair. Join Education Manager Susanne Costa and Museum Coordinator Natalie Fontana-Rivera and go through the rooms on the first floor of the Crane House and Historic YWCA sharing stories about how Christmas has changed over the years. Tickets are $10 per person.

Frelinghuysen Arboretum (353 East Hanover Avenue, Morris Township) will host Festival of Trees on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Tour the Frelinghuysen Arboretum’s Mansion decorated for the holidays in this first annual Festival of Trees. Enjoy trees decorated by scouts, families, floral designers and garden clubs in this outing for the family. Cost is $10 per person. Preregistration is required.

Curtain Up Studios will present Shrek Jr at StageWorks at Studio 237 (237 Hamburg Turnpike, Pompton Lakes) this weekend. Beauty is in the eye of the ogre in Shrek The Musical JR., based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film and fantastic Broadway musical.  It’s a “big bright beautiful world” as everyone’s favorite ogre, Shrek, leads a cast of fairytale misfits on an adventure to rescue a princess and find true acceptance.  Part romance and part twisted fairy tale, Shrek JR. is an irreverently fun show with a powerful message for the whole family. Performances will be Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Tickets are $22.

Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint (575 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove) will host Santa Reads Twas the Night Before Christmas on Saturday at 10:00 AM. The big guy is BACK! Santa reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as part of continuing the truly one-of-a-kind Cedar Grove, NJ, tradition, now in its 4th year! Join in for this unique, exciting, and free event for the whole family – and please bring some canned or non-perishable food for the food drive.

Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center (247 Southern Blvd, Chatham) will host Family Nature Stroll on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Bring the whole family out on this guided hike to learn about the wildlife along the trails of the GSOEC. There’s always something new to discover, no matter the season! Cost is $3 per child. Preregistration is required.

On Saturday, the Montclair Public Library (50 South Fullerton Avenue, Montclair) will host Flamenco Para Los Niños on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Admission Nation presents Flamenco, the riveting Spanish dance form with colorful costumes and rhythmic sounds. Children and their families will explore Spain’s rich heritage of Flamenco in this interactive multigenerational program. Registration is required.

The Clairidge (486 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair) will present A Christmas Story on Saturday at 11:00 AM as part of their Holiday Movie December. It’s the final days before Christmas in early 1940s Cleveland, and 9-year-old Ralphie wants one thing from Santa Clause more than anything else: a Red Ryder Carbine Action Air Rifle. As he trudges through the snow to school, faces the neighborhood bully and visits a malevolent department store Santa Clause, Ralphie connives, conspires and campaigns for the most fabulous Christmas present ever in this heartwarming, hysterical and sweetly nostalgic holiday film.

The Museum of Early Trades & Crafts (23 Main Street, Madison) will host Book Arts Roundtable Holiday Paper Crafts Workshop on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Make one, or make them all. Join METC and the Book Arts Roundtable for this holiday paper craft workshop. Participants will be crafting an accordion book with pockets and tags for the pockets, card and tag making, a gift box made from playing cards, and a simple paper ornament. This workshop is best for 1st grade and up. Pre-registration is required. This activity is free.

On Saturday, Cornerstone Montclair (198 Bellevue Avenue, Montclair) and Kerry Magro will host a Sensory and Autism Friendly Santa event. All children are welcome at this event. It is designed to be especially welcoming to children with autism and other challenges. Families will have the chance to meet Santa without long lines, in a quiet and calm environment. A limited number of children will be in the room with Santa at one time. Kids can get as close to Santa as they want or keep their distance. Parents may take their own pictures (there will not be a professional photographer at the event). Your $5 admission fee includes family time with Santa and a $5 coupon to The General Store at Cornerstone Montclair, located on the first floor of the building. Choose the 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM, or 12:30 PM time slot.

Montclair Make Music will host a Pre-Make Music Winter Event on Saturday from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM at 60 South Fullerton Avenue, Montclair. The Mutant Toy Workshop at Hackncraft is free. Join in and make “Mutant Toys” for Make Music Winter using circuit bending.

Newark Museum of Art (49 Washington Street, Newark) will host Community Day: Winter Wonderland on Saturday from 12:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Celebrate holidays from around the world at this festive family favorite! Winter Wonderland is back with more seasonal performances and activities, including acapella singers, step dancing, and gift making. Local vendors will be on hand to fulfill all your holiday shopping needs as you immerse yourself in multicultural joy. Visit the website for a full schedule of performances, activities, and planetarium shows.

Montclair Center BID is partnering with The Wellmont Theater and Pharmacie Bar+Kitchen to celebrate shopping small all season. The Winter Wonderland at Wellmont Arts Plaza (5 Seymour Street, Montclair) on Saturdays through December 17 will run from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Special guests include Hula Hooping Elf, Elsa, and The Grinch. Children can also enjoy music and activity tables. Visit the website for a schedule and list of tables.

Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center (247 Southern Blvd, Chatham) will host All About Bald Eagles on Saturday from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM. This activity is for children ages 7 and up. During this time of year, bald eagles from far up north begin to migrate south to parts of New Jersey where water is not frozen. Become an eagle expert as you learn all about the bald eagle and its conservation success story. At the end, attendees will build a life-sized bald eagle nest! Cost is $12 per person. Preregistration is required.

The Montclair Public Library (50 South Fullerton Avenue, Montclair) will host Winter Drop-in Crafts for children in kindergarten through 3rd grade on Saturday from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Stop in for a fun winter craft while supplies last. No registration is required.

South Orange Downtown will host Hometown Holiday on Saturday. From 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM at Spiotta Park (20-32 Village Plaza, South Orange) enjoy a number of holiday activities, including crafts and holiday games, letters to Santa, an education station provided by the South Orange Public Library, and photos with Santa. At 5:00 PM, Santa will lead the way to the Annual Tree Lighting in front of 76 South Orange Avenue, where there will be a performance by the Columbia High School Choir.

The Summit Playhouse (10 New England Avenue, Summit) will present Beauty and the Beast Jr. this weekend. Based on the original Broadway production and the Academy Award-winning motion picture. The classic story tells of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity. Performances will be Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM. This show is recommended for ages 4+. Tickets are $20.

Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center (247 Southern Blvd, Chatham) will host Hoot Hoot Hooray for Littles on Sunday from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. This program is for children ages 2 to 5 with an adult. Enjoy a fun owl-themed story and a walk on the trails to hunt for some of the owl neighbors. Participants will also learn about their unique adaptations and how they will spend their winter. Cost is $7 per child. Preregistration is required.

Turtle Back Zoo (560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange) will host Turtle Back Zoo Explorers for children ages to 5 on Sunday at 10:00 AM. Join in for movement, stories, games, and crafts, in interactive, science-based lessons to learn about the wonderful and fascinating world of animals. Cost is $30 per child.

Newark Museum of Art (49 Washington Avenue, Newark) will also host December Family Sundays on Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Activities include a MakerSPACE for kids of all ages, which is a fun interactive area where kids play, tinker, and create on their own. There’s a Family Drop-In: Snow Globes for kids ages 5-10, where they can watch how snow falls year-round by making a snow globe. Check the website for scheduling.

Montclair Art Museum (3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair) will host Sunday Studio: Mythical Human Hybrids with Emily Kenselaar, with sessions at 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM. Visit the museum each Sunday for a fun family art-making activity inspired by the current exhibitions. Explore materials, learn new techniques, and meet other community members while enjoying creative time with your family. Each week features a different project. This program is aimed at families with children ages 5-12, but all are welcome. Inspired by the exhibition Lori Field: Tiger Tarot, families this week will create their own mythical human hybrid creatures with articulating parts using collage and hinge construction techniques. This program is free with museum admission. Advance registration is required.

Newark Winter Village returns this weekend and will be open Wednesday through Sundays through January 31. The much-loved holiday tradition at Mulberry Commons Park, located just outside the Prudential Center (25 Lafayette Street, Newark), has ice skating, Go-Karts, various games and activities, shopping, and cozy heated private igloos to enjoy hot cocoa and treats. There will also be many “Instagram-worthy” photo-ops available throughout the winter village. In addition to fun winter activities, visitors can shop in the stylish open-air holiday marketplace with wares from local vendors. There will be food and sweet treats to purchase, as well as hot cocoa to warm you up after a few trips around the ice rink. Admission is free, but reservations and tickets are required for Go Karts, ice skating, and private igloos.

Garden State Model Railway Club (575 High Mountain Road, North Haledon) will continue to host the 64th annual model railroad show beginning this weekend. The Garden State Model Railway Club, Incorporated is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving, expanding, and educating both model railroading and railroading. The show is fun for the whole family, and kids will especially enjoy seeing Thomas the Tank Engine. There is also a Kiddie Layout. Refreshments are available. The show will be open Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Cora Hartshorn Arboretum (324 Forest Drive South, Short Hills) will host a Cupcake Decorating Class on Sunday with sessions at 10:00 AM and 12:30 PM. Learn from a Culinary Institute of America graduate how to decorate 3 different types of holiday cupcakes. You will get to go home with your cupcakes, recipes, and piping tips to make fancy cupcakes at home. This activity is recommended for ages 7 and up. Cost is $20 for members and $24 for non-members.

On Sunday, The New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation (150 Snake Den Road, Ringwood) will host Natural Winter Wreaths from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM. Decorating for the season is always better with a DIY spirit – and natural materials! Learn some methods for creating a wreath, collect your own materials, and get creative with nature-inspired decorating. Take an easy walk to explore the local winter plants and gather materials, then return to the pavilion to create a masterpiece while sipping hot chocolate. Cost is $14. This activity is for ages 8 and up.

Reeves-Reed Arboretum (165 Hobart Avenue, Summit) will host Festival of Trees on Sunday with sessions at 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM. Enjoy this outdoor winter festival celebrating Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, and the Winte Solstice. The day’s activities will include arts and crafts, games, stories, musical entertainment, a story walk, photo opportunities with Santa, as well as food vendors and a holiday market. And don’t forget to tour the festival trees located throughout the grounds – all decorated by local non-profits, families, school and scout groups, as well as local businesses. The creativity and fun themes make this day extra special.  Vote for your favorite one! Register online. Tickets are $12. Children under 3 are free.

The Women’s Club of Glen Ridge (219 Ridgewood Avenue, Glen Ridge) will host the Annual Community Holiday Sing Along on Sunday at 4:00 PM. This event is a partnership between the WCGR Music Department and the Glen Ridge Congregational Church. Enjoy familiar songs of the season. Refreshments will be provided. Cost is $15 for adult and $5 for children 12 and under.

The Frelinghuysen Arboretum (353 East Hanover Avenue, Morris Twp) continues to host the Family Photo Scavenger Hunt. Held daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, bring your camera or phone for this month’s hunt. The teme for the December theme is “Totally Trees.” Don’t be fooled by winter! There are lots of trees with winter beauty. Use the clues and find them all in this family-friendly and fun photo scavenger hunt.  The cost is $10 per family or group of 6 or fewer. Preregistration is required.

Morris Museum (6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown) hosts Spark!Lab on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Kids experience the spark of invention in this dynamic space, where learning and play come together. Spark!Lab offers any child ages 5-12 (and accompanied by an adult), a new informal approach to hands-on learning. Created by the Smithsonian, Spark!Lab ignites kids’ ingenuity with fun, hands-on challenges. Instead of following instructions, kids tap into their natural creativity to tackle engineering and design challenges in Spark!Lab’s projects stations. For children ages 1-4, there is the Spark!Lab’s new Young Inventor Space that features and train and an exploration table filled with unique tools to spark creativity and learning.

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.