LongIsland.com's 2013 December Guide: Festive Family Fun, the Hottest Holiday Happenings, & More!


Hanukkah has already begun, and Christmas only a few weeks away - it’s time to start thinking about how to make the most out of the holiday season!

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Just as locals begin to clean up after their Thanksgiving dinners, and recuperate from stuffing themselves with tasty turkey, savory sides, perfect pies and other mouthwatering goodies, December is beginning, and it’s already time to start thinking about the next round of holiday celebrations! This year, Thanksgiving fell as late as possible in November, meaning there’s almost no break between Turkey Day, and getting into gear for Christmas & Hanukkah!

Since 1870, Christmas Day has been observed as a federal holiday and celebrated by many locals. Some of the popular customs include such as gift-giving, the traditional putting up and decorating Christmas trees with the family, as well as making a list for the man dressed in red, Santa Claus. With so many holiday festivities happening all month long, it’s hard not to automatically think of Christmas when you’re looking to find the best fun this December - and luckily, there are plenty of Christmas-oriented things to do. Additionally, you won’t want to miss out on the Hanukkah celebrations and a variety of entertaining activities happening here on LI for everyone to enjoy this month.

November 27th marked the first day of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish celebration in commemoration of the rededication during 200 BC of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew, and the observance dates are based of the Hebrew Calendar, which is why the holiday typically falls sometime in late November or early December. Hanukkah is also often called the Festival of Lights hence the lighting of the menorah. This year, many of the Hanukkah festivities began in November because of the holiday’s early arrival, however, there are still tons of fun activities happening around Long Island to celebrate the Festival of Lights, and Jewish traditions.

Today, local businesses and residents get into the spirit of the season by continuing these customs and decorating their homes and store windows with festive lights. Lights of all types of colors that can sure bring in some holiday cheer.

December not only represents the Christmas holiday but also marks the official start of the winter season. So, it’s time to take out the hot chocolate and get some marshmallows because you sure will need it with all the winter fun coming your way!

How ever you decide to enjoy this holiday season, check out LongIsland.com’s 2013 December Guide: Holiday Shopping, Christmas & more for all the exclusive gift fairs, Santa visits, and some holiday fun for the whole family to make the most of the remaining year.

The GSSC’s 10th Annual Light Show at Camp Edey
1500 Lakeview Avenue, Bayport, NY 11705
Monday, December 2nd - Monday, December 30th - 5 PM to 9 PM (Closed on the 24th & 25th)

The Girl Scouts of Suffolk County present their 10th Annual Holiday Light Show with Long Island’s largest and brightest holiday light spectacular. Drive through a mile-long wooded trail filled with dazzling light displays and holiday vignettes. After the show, warm up at the Holiday Village, where you can take photos with Santa, visit the Hall of Trees, and enjoy hot cocoa and snacks. Proceeds benefit Girl Scout programs and outreach services, so come out and celebrate the holiday season while supporting a great cause this year. Monday-Thursday: $12 per car & Friday-Sunday: $15 per car.

Tree Lightings
Christmas Tree Lightings will be happening all over Long Island throughout the season. Check out some of the free Christmas tree lightings near you. For a full list of all the Christmas tree lightings on Long Island, click here.

  • Ronkonkoma Tree Lighting
    Raynor Beach Park, Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
    Sunday, December 1st - 2 PM

    Bring the entire family to be entertained by local singers and Santa who will arrive by fire truck and be escorted by horses. There will be gifts and prizes for the children and hot chocolate!
  • Tree Lighting Festival at The Life Lutheran Church
    1 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury, NY 11568
    Sunday, December 8th - 2 PM to 6 PM

    The annual Tree Lighting Festival, hosted by The Life Lutheran Church features a Christmas music Extravaganza with a live performance by the internationally acclaimed duo, Lost and Found, followed by choirs, dancers, and a whole lot of fun.  At 5 p.m. guests are invited to move to the adjoining courtyard and gather around The Life’s 75-foot Oriental spruce bedecked with a spectacular luminous display of 8,000 lights. Food and beverages will also be available, including hot homemade soups, baked goods, hot dogs, cotton candy, specialty coffees and hot chocolate.
  • Rockefeller Tree Lighting
    30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY
    Wednesday, December 4th - 7 PM to 9 PM

    The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a worldwide symbol of the holidays in New York City. Tens of thousands will crowd the sidewalks for the event and hundreds of millions will watch it live across the globe. The Tree will remain lit and can be viewed until 11pm on January 7th, 2014.

Holiday Gift Shopping
In case you missed the deals from Black Friday and other holiday fairs, there are still plenty more fairs left for you to catch up on your Christmas shopping list.

  • 2nd Annual Nassau County Holiday Craft and Gift Show at Tri County Bazaar Mall
    3041 Hempstead Tpke, 1st Floor Mezzanine, Levittown, NY 11756
    Friday, November 29th - Sunday, December 29th - 10 AM

    Come for a festive and fun filled day for a free family shopping event. A unique destination where consumers can interact with and buy directly from the source.  Emerging and established artisans and high quality craft and gift vendors offer their handmade and hand picked items at recognizable savings that they want to share with you!
  • Holiday Fair at Rapid Fire Arena
    225 Montauk Highway, Moriches, NY 11955
    Saturday, December 7th - 12 PM to 5 PM

    Get a start on your holiday shopping early with crafts, food, jewelry, home goods, candles, pocketbooks, paintings by a pig, bounce house and more!
  • Christmas Fair at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Islip
    754 Montauk Hwy, Islip, NY 11751
    Saturday, December 7th - 10 AM to 3 PM

    The Christmas Fair will feature crafts, Christmas items, a raffle auction, baked goods, a cookie walk for children and much more!  Wreaths and trees will be available for purchase. There may even be a visit from Santa!
  • Holiday Fair at the Bethany Congregational Church
    100 Main Street, East Rockaway, NY 11518
    Saturday, December 7th -10 AM to 4 PM

    The Holiday Fair will feature homemade crafts and ornaments, gift items, toys, raffles, jewelry, homemade dog biscuits and much more!  Enjoy a "lunch cafe" with homemade soups to take home and a "sweet shoppe" on the entire lower floor with lots of goodies!  
  • Christmas Boutique at Our Lady of Lourdes School
    76 Park Blvd, Malverne, NY 11565
    Sunday, December 8th - 10 AM to 4 PM

    Come shop for the holidays and get everything you need to complete your holiday shopping from hostess and teacher gifts to items for the whole family! Everything from jewelry and Christmas decorations to accessories and housewares will be for sale.
  • Holiday Craft Fair at Our Lady of Grace Church
    666 Albin Avenue, West Babylon, NY 11704
    Sunday, December 8th - 8 AM to 3 PM

    The holiday craft fair will include vendors, raffles, Chinese Auction and more.  Food will be available on site. Don't miss this opportunity to find a unique gift for that special someone on your list.  All proceeds will benefit the Faith Formation Program.
  • Holiday Boutique and Craft Fair at Central High School
    135 Fletcher Avenue, Valley Stream, NY 11580
    Saturday, December 14th - 10 AM to 4 PM

    Shop around from different vendors for unique craft goods, retail goods, local merchants, designer goods, elegant party dresses & gowns, fresh holiday wreaths and so much more. There will be a show for kids, face painting, henna and temporary tattoos, holiday gifts, baked goods, outer wears, hats, gloves and scarves sets, gold, silver, crystal, beaded and hand crafted jewelry, holiday themed goods, knitted and crochet items, men and women watches, scenic decorated glassware, pet items, caricatures, girls accessories, boys and girl scouts, toys, local talent performances, holiday music and much more.
  • Holiday Craft and Gift Fair at Newfield High School
    145 Marshall Drive, Selden, NY 11784
    Saturday, December 21st - Sunday, December 22nd - 10 AM to 5 PM

    With over 200 exhibitors, catch up on the christmas shopping with a variety of crafts and gifts to choose from.


  • East Hampton Village Santa Parade FREE
    Main Street, East Hampton, NY 11937
    Saturday, December 7th - 10 AM to 12 PM

    Celebrate the holidays with locals and see Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves!

Meeting Santa Claus
Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa Claus will be checking his list to see whether you were naughty or nice this year as he is coming to town. Give Santa a visit who will be all across Long Island to taking pictures! Check out some places he will be visiting. If you can’t get enough of seeing Santa, check out our full list of places to meet Santa this year.

  • Bayville Adventure Park’s Winter Wonderland
    8 Bayville Avenue, Bayville, NY 11709
    Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 22
    $12 before 5 PM/ $15 after 5 PM

    Come down to Bayville Adventure Park and walk the Winter Wonderland and meet Santa! The outdoor mini golf and rope-bridge climbing areas will be open weather permitting. Fridays: 6-10 PM; Saturdays: 12-10 PM; Sundays: 12-9 PM.
  • Holiday Festival at Stony Brook Village Center FREE
    Main Street on the Harbor, Stony Brook, NY 11790
    Sunday, December 8th - 1 PM to 6 PM

    Join the festivities of the holiday and enjoy live music, visit the petting zoo, over 70 individually decorated trees along the pathways throughout Stony Brook Village Center, and of course, the holidays would not be complete without a visit from Santa Claus, who will arrive at 2 p.m. on a horse-drawn carriage to listen to children’s wishes until 5 p.m. Santa will also be on hand to throw the switch illuminating the holiday tree on the Village Green at 5:30 p.m.
  • Santa Visits Roosevelt Field Mall
    630 Old Country Road, Garden City, NY 11530
    Monday, December 2nd - Tuesday, December 24th - 9 AM

    Visit and take a photo with Santa while taking care your holiday shopping at the Roosevelt Field Mall. See event listing for specific dates and times.
  • Santa at The Smith Haven Mall
    313 Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove, NY 11755
    Monday, December 2nd - Tuesday, December 24th - 10 AM

    Bring home with photos with Santa from the Smith Haven Mall. See event listing for specific dates and times.
  • Santa at The Walt Whitman Mall
    160 Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station, NY 11746
    Monday, December 2nd -  Tuesday, December 24th - 10 AM

    Santa will be at the Walt Whitman Mall to take photos. See event listing for specific dates and times.

Pick Your Own Christmas Tree
Many Christmas lovers prefer fake trees that can be reused each year while others prefer the fresh scent of evergreen and pine in their homes from a fresh tree. Christmas Tree Farms across Long Island are stocking up on the greens. You can either pick out your own tree that is already cut from the ground. Some places allow you to pick out your own Christmas tree and even cut it down yourself! Check out our Finding The Perfect Life Christmas Tree guide for the best ways to pick out a tree, maintain it and where to get one!

Give Back To Those In Need
Many charities host events and fundraisers to help collect toys, clothes, food and other items to donate to those in need especially during the holidays. There are countless ways to give back. Toys For Tots is a large toy drive directed toward children for Christmas. Check out some toy drives that you can participate in.

  • Toy Drive at The Watermill FREE
    711 Smithtown Bypass, Smithtown, NY 11787
    Monday, December 2nd - 6:30 PM to 8 PM

    Bring an unwrapped toy for donation and stay for a fun filled evening including photos with Santa, desserts and activities for children of all ages!
  • Toy Drive at The Fox Hollow FREE
    7725 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, NY 11797
    Monday, December 9th - 6:30 PM to 8 PM

    Bring an unwrapped toy for donation and stay for a fun filled evening with activities including photos with Santa, desserts and crafts compliments of the Fox Hollow. A local Marine will be honored for their service and a tree lighting will complete the evening.

Splendid Seasonal Things To Do
The holidays can sure be exhausting. Check out some more relaxing and fun events to help you relax and enjoy the beauty of the season.

  • 18th Annual Charles Dickens Festival FREE
    Main Street, Port Jefferson Village, NY 11777
    631 473-1414
    Friday, December 6th - Sunday, December 8th - 6 PM to 8 PM

    Enjoy a fun-filled day with family and friends  featuring Reindeer viewing and an old fashioned radio show with all the sounds and performers of the era, carriage rides, Santa’s workshop, house tours, Gingerbread house contest, a parade and more!
  • Gingerbread Competition at Port Jefferson Masonic Temple
    312 Main Street, Port Jefferson, NY 11777
    Friday, December 6th - Sunday, December 8th - 3 PM to 9 PM

    Create your own custom gingerbread house and have it put on display at the historic Port Jefferson Masonic Temple throughout the entire Por Jefferson Dickens Festival weekend. Port Jefferson Village transforms into a town out of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Entries will be judged for their creativity, execution and originality by a panel of judges which includes celebrated local artists and chefs. There will be fabulous prizes awarded for adult, teen and children’s categories.
  • Annual Cookie Exchange
    17 Meeting House Lane, Southampton, NY 11969
    Thursday, December 12th - 4 PM to 5 PM

    Swap dozens of cookies and recipes with others and enjoy cider or wine with cheese and crackers as well!
  • Make a Holiday Cookie House at Rogers Mansion
    17 Meeting House Lane, Southampton, NY 11969
    Saturday, December 14th - 11 AM to 12 PM
    $5 per child

    Come make a holiday cookie house using your creativity. Light refreshments will be served. For children ages 7-12. Reservation for space required.

With tons of things to do this holiday season, be sure to check out our events calendar for a look at all the events happening near you!

Budget-Friendly Things To Do With the Whole Family for the Holidays
The holiday season sure can take a toll on your funds from shopping for gifts for your loved ones. The kids will be getting off from school for the holiday so here are some cheap things to do with the kids during the break:

  • Go to the Movies
    Cozy up inside the movie theatres to watch a movie that you have been wanting to see while munching on some butter-filled popcorn. With several new movies coming out to theatres in December, some are even holiday related!
  • Go Ice Skating
    Go to your local rink to show off your figure eights with family and friends.
  • Visit the Local Library
    When your winter break begins, why not head over to the local library to pick out a new book to read - you’ve got the extra time, so why not indulge in a good read and a mug of hot cocoa!     

And don’t forget, it’s not too early to start making plans for ringing in the New Year! Keep posted for LongIsland.com’s 2013 New Year’s Eve Guide to come out mid-December.