Dozens of things to do for you and your whole family.

When it comes to Christmas, kids have a singular focus: It's all about the presents. They start their wish lists in late August, add to them as the toy ads hit a fever pitch around Halloween, and by mid-December, they're about to burst with the anticipation of it all. In the meantime, we parents are busy making our lists, checking them twice, braving the mall, cooking, preparing, and baking treats galore. So it's easy to see how the best part of the holidays –the giving part-can get lost in the shuffle.

The holidays are chock full of opportunities to give back, and it's easy to get the kids involved. It can be as simple as tossing a few coins in the red Salvation Army kettle at the supermarket. So let kids do the coin-tossing and be sure to wish those bell-ringers a happy holiday. Smile at shoppers around you-no matter how Grinchy they may seem and when masking allows. Strike up a conversation with the checkout person at the store.

Then roll a bit extra giving into your regular holiday routine:

Baking cookies for the class party? Make an extra batch for your school's office staff or your neighbors. Then, drop them off with a handmade card.

Practicing carols for the school performance? Grab a few friends and arrange to share your songs with the residents at a local nursing home.

Out shopping? Pick up some warm gloves to donate to a local homeless shelter like Union Station in Pasadena. Or, let your kids choose a toy to donate to kids through Toys for Tots.

Then, think a little bigger.

Send a little holiday cheer to a veteran or military family in the community through the Red Cross Holiday Mail For Heroes program and honor someone you love at the same time. It's super easy. You and your kids choose a gift from the list of needed items on the Red Cross website. Indicate that the donation is in the name of your loved one. You can then send an ecard right from the Red Cross website when you finalize the gift.

It's a tradition for many to unwrap a pair of warm, cozy new pajamas on Christmas morning. So add a kid in need to your PJ purchasing list this year. The Pajama program provides cozy new pajamas and bedtime books to kids in need, many of whom are waiting to be adopted. One fun way to get new PJs to kids is to host a pajama party. Simply download the toolkit, invite some friends over (in PJ's, of course!) and ask them to bring a pair of new PJs and a new book to donate. Then, warm up some hot cocoa and pop in a holiday movie.

If your child is obsessed with animals - and whether a new puppy is on the list or not - they can gift one themselves. Heifer International allows for animal donations to third-world families. Kids will have fun choosing a flock of chicks, a goat, a sheep, a rabbit, or even honeybees to give. In addition, you can get a few other families in on the action to provide a water buffalo or a cow, providing good food and income for a family in need.

Last but not least, kids are notorious for outgrowing their coats just as the weather gets cold. So instead of tossing that old coat, donate it to Burlington Coat Factory's Warm Coats Warm Hearts Coat Drive. Simply bring your gently used coats to any location, and they'll get them into the hands of a person who needs them.

It just takes a little time and tweaks to your traditions to make giving the focus of your holiday celebrations. Before you know it, the getting part of the holidays seems a lot less important.


Happy Holidays!

Julie Ward

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Nights of Lights and Wonder in Arcadia

The LA County Arboretum in Arcadia hosts the internationally acclaimed Lightscape event happening through January 16, 2022. Your family can wander through the Winter Cathedral and experience the Fire Garden and more. It's an unforgettable holiday event for everyone. Check out the site for tickets and details.


L.A. Zoo Lights

L.A. Zoo Lights is back from November 19 till January 9, 2022! The most fun you can have in a zoo after dark features even more glowing animals, the world's largest illuminated pop-up storybook, a disco ball forest, and a twinkling tunnel filled with dynamic, colorful swirls. Tickets required. See the site for more details.


Winter Frolic at Kidspace

The first annual Winter Frolic opened on November 19 and is Kidspace's biggest winter celebration ever! Winter Frolic includes some really unique activities we haven't seen before. And that's saying a lot given how long we've been publishing the orange cat! Our favorite is the Sock Skating Rink, a perfect take on a winter tradition for those of us who can't ice skate. Kids can go "ice fishing" in the interpretive Arroyo and build a fantastical winter sculpture with sparkling "ice blocks." There's even more, including skating under the lights on Friday and Saturday evenings.

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the orange cat bookshop
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe and other great books featured in previous issues are available from our online book shop. And, if that wasn't good enough, every purchase supports a local, independent book store.
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Crafting with Tiff and Tosh

Join the Pasadena Library online for some all-ages crafting fun. You'll learn new crafts all year round. The crafting fun happens on every-other Monday on Instagram Live from 3:00 PM till 3:30 PM.



Winter Stories

Celebrate the first day of winter with stories, songs, fingerplays, and the librarians at the Santa Catalina Branch Library on December 21, from 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM. Best for little ones ages 3-5 years old.



Afternoon Games

The whole family is invited to the Villa Parke Community Center Branch Library to play games, from board games to giant dominos. The fun happens on December 21, from 2:00 PM till 4:00 PM.



33rd Annual Kwanzaa Celebration

Everyone is welcome to register for a virtual celebration of Kwanzaa with the La Pintoresca Branch Library on December 28, from 11:00 AM till 12:15 PM. In addition to enjoying music and stories, a Kwanzaa kinara children's craft is available for pickup at the library on December 27 through 30. Registration is required, and spots are limited.



Family Fun Films

Villa Parke Community Center Branch Library is queuing a movie good for the whole family on Thursdays from 3:30 PM till 5:30 PM. Call the library at 626-744-6510 for the specific title.



Video Game Club

Your Teen (age 14-19) can stop into the Hastings Branch Library Meeting Room on December 30 from 4:00 PM till 6:00 PM for some gaming fun on the Nintendo Switch. They can make new friends and learn fair play every week. No registration is required. Must play well with others.

Santa Photos and Gingerbread House Making

Schedule a photo with Santa and take some family time to make a gingerbread house with the holiday elves at One Colorado through December 24. See the site for details and registration.

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NOTE: Story times are subject to change. Please check the sites. Recorded story times are generally available on library YouTube channels.

Teen Inspiration

Check out Altadena Library's Teen Instagram account for BTWN TiTLES, their biweekly posts of book reviews, creativity experiments, and more.

Pasadena Public Library regular storytimes:

Social Media Storytime: Preschool on Mondays at 10:30 - 10:50 AM on Facebook Live and Thursday at 3:00 - 3:20 PM on Instagram Live


Social Media Storytime: Toddler on Tuesdays at 10:30 - 10:50 AM on Instagram Live


Chinese Mandarin Storytime on Wednesdays at 3:00 PM on Instagram Live


Social Media Storytime: Hora de Cuento en Español on Wednesdays at 4:00 - 4:20 PM on Facebook Live


Social Media Storytime: ASL (American Sign Language) on Friday at 4:00 - 4:20 PM on Instagram Live

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