Some might say the year is winding down, but those people don’t live in New Orleans and have no idea how we crank it up for the holiday season. With so much to do and so many places to find information, we’ve compiled the best of the best so you and your family don’t miss out on a thing. While making to-do lists may ring of January New Year’s resolutions, we’re going to kick off the list-making early, with this list of the best Christmas treats for kids, found only here in New Orleans. Don’t let “kid-friendly” deter you – children of all ages will want to get on this action, whether they’re willing to admit it or not.
1. Celebration in the Oaks – Take the country’s largest urban park, add thousands of Christmas lights, throw in a train, a children’s theme park, amusement rides and holiday snacks, and the whole family will sing out the holiday cheer during this month-long New Orleans favorite in City Park. Celebration in the Oaks is open nightly now through January 1, except for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Admission is $7 a person and children under three get in free!
2. Monte the Lion’s Children’s Holiday Party – It may be December 15, but Santa and his elves make a special trip away from the North Pole for the day to come visit the Hotel Monteleone during Monte the Lion’s Children’s Holiday party. Mrs. Claus reads classic Christmas tales, and Santa and Rudolph make the rounds as families snack on savory treats and make their own music parade. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Monteleone event without mascot Monte the Lion, who presents each child a stuffed Monte animal. Who doesn’t love an early Christmas gift? There are two seatings at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. that are $55 per adult and $40 per child.
3. Creole Christmas at Preservation Hall – I should probably warn you that I am that person who loves, adores, hums, whistles, croons, and celebrates holiday music year round. So when everyone else finally gets on the bandwagon, I go a little hog wild. And when it comes to the Preservation Hall Jazz band, nobody celebrates the sounds of the season better. Get your New Orleans style holiday spirit on with seasonal favorites on December 24 and 31, including “Blue Christmas,” “Swinging In A Winter Wonderland,” “Bells Will Be Ringin,” and “The Dreydel Song.” Preservation Hall shows are all ages, so they are perfect opportunities for kids to get out and see live New Orleans music!
4. Teas, Teas, and More Teas – We may not have a White Christmas here in New Orleans – thank goodness, says this perpetually cold person! – but that doesn’t stop us from pulling out all the stops for the many teas held across town. Your kids can bring their favorite toy or doll to the elegant ballroom at the Tea Party for the Dolls at the Beauregard-Keyes House on Saturday, December 8, where they can see the resident dolls “at tea” and hear stories and songs as they sip and snack. Toys will also be featured at the Teddy Bear Tea at the Royal Sonesta, held every weekend in December, which has a separate special kids menu that includes hot chocolate, scones, pizza and sandwiches. There’s also an adult menu and a cash bar. And finally, even Santa needs a break, so look for him sipping his own special tea at the Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays Family Tea with Santa at Longue Vue House and Gardens on December 8.
5. Brunch with Santa and His Elves at Bourbon Orleans – No matter the season, no one brunches harder or better than New Orleans. Celebrate this year-round tradition holiday-style at the Bourbon Orleans, where brunch features Historical Characters. In addition to these characters you will find a menu that will make your belly laugh like a bowl full of jelly, including Chicken Andouille Gumbo, Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Waffle, Sausage Gravy, a po-boy station and a selection of desserts. Kids will also take home a Christmas stocking filled with candy, while adults bag two-for-one dinner certificates to Roux on Orleans. There are two seatings at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on December 9, 16, 23 and 24. Admission is $49 for adults and $24 for children.