Houston New Moms 2016 Baby Supplies Holiday Drive

Looking for a simple way to give back this holiday season? This December, Houston New Moms is collecting NEW and GENTLY USED baby and toddler items for children in need. We can accept anything from diapers to toys to clothes to baby gear and accessories in great condition. We work with a variety of charities in the Houston area to get all donations to where they are needed most. Please see below for instructions on how to donate.


When:
December 1-31, 2016. You can drop off donations seven days a week (except for Christmas Eve and Christmas) during the following hours:
  • Monday-Friday: 9:00AM-6:00PM
  • Saturday: 10:00AM-5:00PM
  • Sunday: 1:00PM-5:00PM

Where:
The donation drop off site is conveniently located across the street from Hermann Park and the Children's Museum at:

1615 Hermann Drive
Houston, TX 77004

Come inside through the main entrance and leave your donation at the leasing office. If possible, label your bags or boxes for "Katerina Manoff", or just tell the staff you are dropping off for Katerina.

What: 
We are accepting all baby and toddler clothing, toys, diapers, formula, and other supplies/accessories (diapers, bottles, blankets, feeding accessories, etc). Please note the following restrictions:
  • Items must be new or gently used. If you wouldn't give it to a friend, please don't donate it.
  • Clothing must be washed and free of visible stains.
  • We cannot take large items such as strollers, carseats, or baby swings.
  • Any formula must be unopened and unexpired. 
  • Any pacifiers or other hygiene/personal care items must be unopened.

Contact Info
If you have questions, would like to inquire about alternative donation drop off arrangements, or are having a problem with your drop off, please email info@houstonnewmoms.com or call/text (203) 300-7398. 

Thank you for helping children and families in need! 

Bilingual Babies Part 2: 15 Ideas for Second Language Exposure

Raising your baby bilingual? My last post about bilingualism discussed the importance of regular exposure to each language you'd like your child to be fluent in. But a parent can only talk so much! Here are 16 ideas for giving the age 0-3 crowd exposure to a second (or third!) language.

And, if you'd like to learn even more about raising bilingual children, check out these books:

1) The Pet That Can't Speak English 

This is one of my favorites. If you have a pet, pretend that he or she does not understand English. Explain to your child that you have to speak to Fido in Spanish (or Russian, or Mandarin). Voila - your child can practice your second language with your furry tutor for years to come.

2) Second-Language Screen Time 

At some point, most of us will expose our kids to screens. When that time comes, here's a simple way to reap some benefits from the tablet or the TV. Only allow your child to access apps, videos, shows, etc in his/her second language, so she can practice while watching or playing. Not sure where to find TV in your language? To start, check out the many foreign-language versions of Sesame St.. Then, browse the DVD collection at the library (yo'll have the most luck at the larger branches).

3) Special Songs

Kids love music, so why not switch it up and introduce some children's songs in different languages to your repertoire? 

4) Bilingual Storytime

Houston's libraries have several bilingual storytimes. Spanish is the most popular language, but others are also available. If you don't see a storytime in your language, you can arrange to rent a room in the library (usually free) and organize your own.

5) A Global Nursery

Incorporate the second language in your nursery decorations. Put up prints or paint words with special meanings on the walls.

6) Record Your Voices 

Kids love to hear their own voices - no wonder the recording robot BeatBo was last year's #1 Christmas toy! Get a voice recorder and record yourself and your kids speaking in the second language. Get creative with funny voices and sound effects - then, play back your creations again and again and watch that language exposure multiply! Amazon has a huge selection of voice recorders to choose from.

7) Chores in the Second Language 

Introduce your older toddlers to a whole new set of vocabulary by letting them help with chores. Laundry is great for practicing colors, sizes, and names for clothes. Baking together helps with food words, numbers, shapes, and actions (pour, mix, measure, etc). Gardening provide an opportunity to talk about plants, shapes, tools, and outdoor colors and sounds, 
   

8) Books, Books, Books

We all know reading is important, but often our babies libraries are light on books in the second language. The solution? Buy more second-language books...or, if that's not feasible, simply read your English books in the second language. Babies and toddlers are not yet associating words on the page with what they hear you reading, so it's totally fine to make up a Vietnamese/Russian/etc version of the English story.

9) Organize a Scavenger Hunt

Set up a scavenger hunt for your older toddler with a fun prize at the end. The twist? All the clues should be in the second language.

10) Radio Around the World

If you enjoy having the radio on  at home, check out http://www.live-radio.net/info.shtml to access radio stations from all over the world. Chances are you'll be able to find one or more in your second language!

11) A Multilingual Outing

This is a great activity to do with friends who share the second language. Take the kids to a museum, zoo, fire station, aquarium, science center, courthouse, or other tourist landmark and introduce them to a whole new set of second-language vocabulary words. At larger museums and attractions, check to see if there's a pamphlet available in your language to get you started. 

12) Ethnic Restaurants and Grocery Stores

Take advantage of Houston's incredible ethnic diversity, and visit a restaurant or store where the staff speaks your second language.

13) Talking Toys   

In our day and age, annoying electronic toys are a necessary evil. Make them work for you by choosing toys that speak your second language We love the Language Littles dolls, available in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and over a dozen other languages, but there are many, many other options to choose from.

14) Bilingual Babysitter

Whether it's a full-time nanny that speaks to the child exclusively in the second language, an occasional sitter from the local university, or even grandma, enlist other caregivers in speaking the second language to your child.

15) Skype with Family

Do you have relatives who speak your second language? Chances are, those relatives would love to Skype with your baby. Who better to provide lots and lots of second-language input than your super-talkative aunt or grandma who's happy to chatter nonstop for an hour or two?

What To Do This Weekend in Houston (11/19-11/20): The Baby & Toddler Edition

The third edition of our weekend guide for babies and toddlers, covering the weekend of 11/19-11/20! In a Christmas mood? Visit one of the holiday markets around town, or check out a holiday lights display. Looking for non-holiday events? Try Our Littlest Artists at the MFAH, Sundays in Nature at the Armand Bayou Nature Center, or the grand opening of the Meyerland Farmers Market. Full list of activities below.

Babies 

Events that are most appropriate for kiddos who don't mind staying in a stroller or baby carrier.


1) Winter Holiday Art Market

When: Saturday, Nov 19, 10:00AM-7:00PM
Sunday, Nov 20, 11:00AM-4:00PM 
Where: Winter Street Studios
2101 Winter St
Houston, TX 77007
What: WHAM is an exhibition-cum-festival that brings together local Houston artists "offering a variety of unique handmade gifts of painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, textiles, clothing, accessories and more." Facebook event link here.


2) Discovery Green Flea by Night

When: Saturday, Nov 19, 6:00PM - 10:00PM
Where: 1500 McKinney Street
Houston, TX 77010
What: From the event website: "Treasure-hunt under the stars and twinkling lights at this monthly, one-of-a-kind market nestled in the southeast end of the downtown park. The destination market features an array of artful kitsch, vintage items, mid-century modern furniture, recycled and repurposed items and collectibles." Facebook event link here.


3) Home for the Holidays Gift Market (Katy)

When: Saturday, Nov 19, 10:00AM-6:00PM
Sunday, Nov 20, 11:00AM-4:00PM
Where: The Katy Merrell Center
6301 South Stadium Lane
Katy, TX, 77494
What: One of the largest holiday markets in Texas, with 200+ vendors in 2 buildings. From the event page: "Strollers are allowed. Parking is free, admission is $6 and good for all weekend!"


4) Vintage Market Days of SW Houston (Rosenberg)

When: Saturday, Nov 19, 10:00AM-5:00PM
Sunday, Nov 20, 10:00AM-5:00PM
Where: Fort Bend County Fairgrounds
4310 TX-36
Rosenberg, TX 77471
What: From the event page: "Vintage Market Days is an upscale vintage-inspired market featuring original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, home d├ęcor, outdoor furnishings, consumable yummies, seasonal plantings and a little more." Admission is $5, kids under 12 are free. Facebook event link here


Toddlers


1) Tomball Holiday Parade (Tomball)

When: Saturday, Nov 19, 10:00AM-12:00PM
Where: Main St. of Downtown Tomball
  • Free parking available on both the north and south side streets off Main St./FM 2920
  • The parade will begin at Elm/Main St. at the railroad tracks & ends at the intersection of Quinn Rd/Alma Rd. and Fm 2920.
What: From the event website: "The Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to celebrate our 51st Annual Holiday Parade...This year's Parade theme is "A Gold Medal Christmas".
The annual event...draws thousands for the parade, lunch and shopping."


2) The Woman's Earth Community Playdate

When: Sunday, Nov 20, 2:00PM-4:30PM 
Where: The Woman's Earth
2814 Isabella St.
Houston, TX 77004
What: From the event page: "Dress in your active gear with your infants to toddlers in tow, you will meet other amazing moms for some fun! We will be doing Mommy & Me Fitness/Yoga, Baby Sign language, baby massage sessions, storytime, and mommy support circle." 


3) Bayou Bend & Rienzi Family Day

When: Sunday, Nov 20, 1:00PM-5:00PM
Where: Bayou Bend
6003 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77007
Rienzi
1406 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77019
What: From the event website: "Families are invited to enjoy art workshops, gallery games, performances, and more during this afternoon of fun presented jointly by Rienzi and Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Complimentary transportation between the two house museums is provided. Refreshments are served."


Babies & Toddlers


1) Moody Gardens Festival of Lights (Galveston)

When: Saturday, Nov 12 and Sunday, Nov 13, 6:00PM-10:00PM
Where: 1 Hope Blvd
Galveston, TX 77554
What: From the event page: "As one of the largest holiday celebrations in the region, Festival of Lights has become a holiday tradition for families and groups alike. Enjoy more than one million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays and nightly live entertainment." Pictures with Santa also available!


2) Texas Renaissance Festival

When: Saturdays and Sundays through November 27, 9:00AM-8:00PM
Where: 21778 Farm to Market 1774,
Todd Mission, TX 77363
What: The Renaissance Festival is an annual Texas tradition, featuring jousting, juggling, magic, music, dancing, games, incredible costumes, and, of course, food, including both modern dishes and favorites from the Middle Ages. Kids under age 4 get in free. Tickets for adults are ~$25 if you buy online. For a kid-friendly experience and less traffic, come at opening time. 


3) Our Youngest Artists

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 10:30AM-11:30AM
Where: 1001 Bissonnet St
Houston, Texas 77005
What: From the event website: "Babies and toddlers up to 35 months old, and their caregivers, are invited to discover and create! Using washable, nontoxic materials, babies are encouraged to touch, explore, and make their own works of art inspired by art on view. Families can connect the masterpieces they’ve created with what they discover in the galleries." This month's theme is “Play with Jade!” Tickets cost $6 per child for for MFAH members, $8 per child for nonmembers. Adults just need to buy MFAH admission.


4) Santa's Wonderland

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 3:00PM-Midnight
Sunday, Nov 13, 3:00PM-11:00PM
Where: 18898 Highway 6 South
College Station, TX 77845
What: Santa’s Wonderland is the largest Christmas attraction in the state of Texas. Take a hayride or carriage ride through a trail of over three million holiday lights, explore a life-size Christmas Village, take a train ride, sit by a campfire, take photos with Santa, enjoy a bouncy house, and much more! All the info you need is located on the event's FAQ page here.


When: Saturday, Nov 19, 9:00AM-1:00PM
Where: Pilgrim Lutheran Church
8601 Chimney Rock Rd
Houston, Texas 77096
What: The very first Meyerland Farmer's Market! If you can't make it this week, the farmer's market will be back every Saturday morning going forward! Facebook event link here.


6) Sundays in Nature (Pasadena)

When: Sunday, Nov 20, 12:00PM-5:00PM
Where: Armand Bayou Nature Center
8500 Bay Area Blvd
Pasadena, Texas 77507
What: Visit the largest urban wilderness preserve in the US for free! The Armand Bayou Nature Center is open 12PM-5PM Sundays. You can explore 5+ miles of trails, look for animals and birds, check out the children's discovery area and visit several unique gardens. If you can't make it this weekend, Free Sundays in Nature are scheduled every first and third Sunday of the month!


7) East End Street Market

When: Sunday, Nov 20, 10:00AM-2:00PM
Where: East End Street Market
2800 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77003
What: From the event page: "The East End Market is back on the Esplanade this Sunday with a great lineup of vendors offering up farm fresh produce, delicious prepared foods, and one-of-a-kind handcrafted items made by local artisans. Come for brunch and enjoy live music by Sister, Sister." Facebook event link here.


When: Saturday, Nov 19, 10:00AM-6:00PM
Sunday, Nov 20, 10:00AM-5:00PM
Where: Via Colori takes place in Downtown Houston at Hermann Square, City Hall (Smith St.) and the surrounding streets Bagby St., McKinney and Walker.
What: Via Colori is the Houston area's only street painting festival. It brings together 200+ artists to create large artworks on the street using chalk. You'll also find food, music, and other activities. Tickets are $7 online and $10 at the door. No pets. Facebook event link here


9) Magical Winter Lights (La Marque)

When: Saturday, Nov 19 and Sunday, Nov 20, 3:00PM-11:00PM
Where: Magical Winter Lights
1000 FM 2004
La Marque, Texas 77568
What: This annual festival showcases holiday lights and Chinese lanterns. It begins this weekend and will continue through January 8, 2017 (including holidays). From the event website: "This year’s festival will feature six fascinating themed sections including Magical Wonderland, Holiday Market Square, Dinosaur Land, Mystery of the East, Man and Nature, and Landmarks of the World. There will be an expanded interactive dinosaur exhibit complete with dinosaur rides, a 3-D art installation, daily acrobatic performances, authentic arts and crafts created by skilled Chinese artisans, amusement rides and games, and live entertainment." Facebook event link here.


10) Zoo Lights

When: Saturday, Nov 19, and Sunday, Nov, 20, 6:00PM-11:00PM
Where: 6200 Hermann Park Dr
Houston, TX 77030
What: One of Houston's biggest holiday traditions, Zoo Lights transforms the Houston Zoo into an enchanted winter wonderland. Enjoy Christmas music, 2+ million lights, a gorgeous Christmas tree, and even a few nighttime animal sightings. Children under 2 get in free;  others pay $14.95 for zoo members (and their guests) and $19.95 for non-members. If you can't make it this weekend, Zoo Lights is open almost daily over the coming weeks. Weekday evenings feature lower prices and smaller crowds. 

Bilingual Babies: 10 FAQs about Raising Your Kids Bilingual

Many of us hope to raise our babies bilingual - or even trilingual - but find ourselves stumbling when it comes time to put our goals into action. Should you speak in the second language in public? How much language exposure does your baby need? What if your toddler has a language delay? To help you out, here are answers to 10 common questions parents ask about raising bilingual kids.


1) How long can I wait to introduce a second language? Do I need to start at birth?

It depends on your goals. Children (and adults!) can learn new languages at any age, but to develop native pronunciation, exposure to the language must start in the first few years of life. So if you're hoping for native pronunciation, start before age 3. Any later, and your baby may be speaking with an accent.

2) Will my baby's first language always be his main language? 

Nope. Our brains are plastic and our dominant language can switch later in life. For example, Russian was my dominant language until age 12 or so. Since then, English has been dominant. So if you're not sure what language (or languages) to speak to your baby, don't worry - the decision you make will not necessarily be forever!

3) Why should I raise my baby bilingual? 

On average, bilingual children are better readers. They have stronger communication skills and better vocabularies. Bilingualism also has a host of non-language benefits - improved problem solving skills, an ability to better understand mathematical rules and processes, improved concentration, a global worldview, and so much more.

4) How do I make bilingualism happen?

Bilingualism is not automatic - it's not enough to declare that your daughter will speak Spanish and throw in the occasional Spanish sentence when you chat with her. For bilingualism to succeed, parents need to be deliberate about providing sufficient input in each language. By input, I mean hearing the language in conversation. While there is no universally accepted magic number, many experts say that at least 30% of what a child hears must be in the second language for true bilingualism to take hold.

Many parents benefit from setting specific language goals. Goals address which languages you'd like your child to know and how well you'd like her to know them (understanding only, reaching a conversational level, fluency, reading/writing, etc).

After you set language goals, you might consider creating a language plan. Plans lay out who will talk to the child in which language and when. Decide carefully - choosing to use a particular language with your baby is a long-term commitment. Switching the language you speak with your child when she's older can be confusing and emotionally traumatizing.

5) Who should speak which language?  

There are two types of language plans that work best.

One Parent, One Language: Ideally, different languages will be associated with different caregivers. Mommy always speaks Thai to the baby, daddy always speaks English, and the nanny always speaks Spanish. (Caregivers can speak English or whatever other language is necessary to each other - the key is the language they use with the child).

Minority Language in the Home: If both parents speak a language other than English, this can become the family language. Children will pick up English in school or daycare. This does set your kids up for an awkward period of having no idea what their classmates (or the cashier in the grocery store, or the neighbor) is saying, but they will get there in the end!

6) We've introduced two languages to our toddler, and now she's mixing them - what's going on?  

Language mixing does not mean that your child is confused. It will happen even if you're militant about keeping your languages totally separate in the home (i.e., mommy always speaks English, daddy always speaks Spanish). Language mixing is totally natural and can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Maybe your child is just being efficient (read: lazy) and using the simplest word in each language. Maybe she knows you're bilingual and will understand words from both languages. Maybe she's trying to communicate a specific emotion or cultural association. Regardless, it's not a problem and your child will sort it own on his/her own.

7) Does bilingualism lead to language delays?

Experts say this is a myth...language delays are generally not connected to bilingualism. Regardless of the cause, language delays are usually temporary.

8) What if my toddler starts rejecting his second language? 

First and foremost, your attitude can make a huge difference. Stay positive and enthusiastic about the second language even if your child is rejecting it. There are many different strategies you can use to get him excited about bilingualism again:
  • Remind him of the benefits of bilingualism in an age-appropriate way ("If you didn't speak Russian, we couldn't watch your favorite cartoons!" "Spanish helps you talk to your cousins in Peru!") 
  • Explore the culture associated with your second language. Teach him the name of his culture - make sure he knows that you are Mexican, German, Ukrainian, etc. Then, find ways to incorporate this culture into daily life - read traditional folk tales, take him to a cultural festival (Houston hosts dozens throughout the year), celebrate unique holidays, cook traditional food - these positive cultural associations will encourage pride and excitement about bilingualism.
  • Make an effort to meet parents who have children who are similar in age to yours and speak the same second language. Developing second-language friendships can provide a huge amount of motivation even for toddlers. Not only do they tend to copy their friends, but they see that you're not the only person in the world who speaks the second language!

9) What if neither parent is 100% fluent in our chosen second language? 

Maybe you moved to the United States as a kid and speak Vietnamese at the level of a 10-year-old. Maybe you only speak Gujarati with your grandparents. Or maybe you studied Spanish in high school and college but never quite reached fluency.

You don't need to be 100% fluent in a language to speak it with your child. But you should have a reasonably good grasp on it, since your child will be imitating what he or she hears from you. So, if you occasionally need to look up words in the dictionary or have a slight accent, go for it. If you stumble over basic vocabulary and pause constantly to think of the right words to say, you might want to reconsider your plan.

10) I feel self-conscious speaking the second language in public. What should I do? 

Speaking your second language in public can feel awkward. If you're with American friends, it may seem rude speaking to your baby in a language they don't understand. On solo outings, speaking in an unfamiliar language might draw unwanted attention from strangers.

Ideally, you should aim for consistency. If you speak Hindi to your child at home, you should speak Hindi to him on the playground, at the library, and so on. When you're with friends, you can repeat relevant phrases in English if necessary.

But, while this is the ideal approach, it's not necessary, and, sometimes, not possible. If using a second language is uncomfortable or stressful in certain situations, don't do it. 


Park(s) of the Week: Juergens Park and Tomball Memorial Playground

If Donovan Park and the West Gray Playground Without Limits had a baby, it would look like Tomball Memorial Playground (a.k.a. Matheson Park). If you're anywhere near North Houston, this one is definitely worth a drive. 

There are at least a half-dozen play structures here - more than I've seen at almost every other Houston playground. Most of them are crawler/climber friendly - no matter how old your kids are, you won't get bored for hours. But if you do, there's also a sandbox... 


 ... and lots of baby swings. I'm talking 8 swings minimum - no waiting in line at this park, babies!


Here's a shot of some of the play structures (Lana was having a tantrumy day, so alas, my photos from here leave much to be desired). They're all wooden and totally unique. Many are transportation-themed, though there's also a castle-shaped one.


Here is Lana enjoying what I assume is a tractor.


Two things to watch out for - this park is not gated, so keep an eye on mini escape artists. And shade is somewhat limited, so don't come on a hot day!

Just across the parking lot and down a path is Juergens Park, a much-less-exciting playground with a small play structure. Worth visiting? Probably not on its own, but if you're already here and feel like taking a little walk it might be fun to take a spin on the wheel below.



There's also a good amount of partially-shaded green space, and a couple of swings, which have seen better days.


If You Go
  • Address: 1240 Ulrich Rd, Tomball, TX 77375
  • Parking: Free parking lots

Family Adventure: Creative Destruction and Mirror Owls at Rice

The Rice Gallery is one of our favorite small museums in town: it's manageable for little visitors, always free, and, after checking out the art, we get to play outside on the gorgeous Rice campus or walk the Rice jogging trail. If you haven't been recently (or at all), check out this family adventure next time you're by Hermann Park / the Medical Center. 

The Rice Gallery exhibits temporary site-specific installations - basically, 3-D art designed for this particular gallery space. This fall, it's home to a slowly self-destructing cubicle farm. 


Those of us who've worked in cubicles will recognize the gray dreariness, the universal chairs and file folders and mementos pinned to the walls. The main difference between this exhibit and a real office? It's attached to a mechanism that is slowly pulling it towards a strategically-placed hole in the wall. So, at a rate so slow it's barely noticeable, this exhibit is destroying itself. Walls collapse, papers fly, furniture is turned upside down -- those of us with toddlers will be definitely be able to relate. 

Over the course of two month, the exhibit will go from a pristine condition to total chaos. Check out the time-lapse video down the hall to see it for yourself. And if you live close by, you can stop by more than once to watch the destruction in action! 

After you're done at the gallery, explore the Rice campus. There's a huge green space right by the gallery where Lana loves to run called Founders' Court.


Walking past Founder's Court toward the exit gate, you'll see a sign for a garden (stay on the left path, and look left!). If you follow the hidden path to the garden, you'll find this little secret: two mirror owls (Or owl mirrors? Who knows?)


I have yet to meet a small child who doesn't like mirrors, and Lana is no exception. She examined the owls from all angles, sitting next to them, petting them, even kissing them. I could barely get her to leave!


If you go... 

Address: 6100 Main St, Houston, TX 77005
Gallery opening hours: 
Monday - Closed
Tuesday - 11:00AM-5:00PM
Wednesday - 11:00AM-5:00PM
Thursday - 11:00AM-7:00PM
Friday - 11:00AM-5:00PM
Saturday - 11:00AM-5:00PM
Sunday - 12:00PM-5:00PM

Strollers: The main entrance has ~4 steps. Walk around to the left side of the building for a ramp. 
Directions and Parking:



What To Do This Weekend in Houston (11/12-11/13): The Baby & Toddler Edition

Here's the second edition of our weekend guide for babies and toddlers, covering the weekend of 11/12-11/13!

Babies 

Events that are most appropriate for kiddos who don't mind staying in a stroller or baby carrier.

 

1) Sunday Streets

When: Sunday, Nov 13, 12:00PM-4:00PM
Where: Fifth Ward: Lyons Avenue from I-59 Service Road - Benson Street
Benson Street - Lyons Ave to Market Street
What: For each Sunday Streets event, a particular neighborhood is closed off to traffic, allowing pedestrians, bikers, etc onto the street. It's a perfect chance to do a stroller walk and discover a new area. Facebook event link here.

2) Cyfair Mistletoe Market

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 10:00AM-5:00PM
Where: Berry Center
8877 Barker Cypress Rd
Cypress, TX 77433
What: From the event page: "Come shop over 150 vendors offering Women's and Children's Boutique Clothing and Accessories, Jewelry, Gourmet Food items, Home and Holiday Decor and so much more." Best for kiddos who stay in strollers. Facebook event link here

3) Nutcracker Market

When: Saturday, Nov 12, and Sunday, Nov 13, 10:00AM-6:00PM
Where: NRG Center
Houston, TX 77054
What: The Nutcracker Market, benefiting the Houston Ballet, is one of our city's best-known (and best-loved) holiday shopping traditions. You will find designer clothes and accessories in addition to beautiful Christmas items. Admission $20, children under 5 are free.  No strollers are allowed (though a stroller check is available) - so if your baby isn't happy in a carrier, this might not be the best event for you. Changing stations are located in all men’s and women’s restrooms, and space to nurse or pump is available. Facebook event link here.


Toddlers

1) The Galleria Ice Spectacular

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 6:00PM
Where: The Galleria
5061 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77056
What: Ice skating performances, live music, a beautiful Christmas tree lighting on the Galleria skating rink, and fireworks. 

2) Meet Insects & Creepy Crawlers @ the Nature Discovery Center

When: Sunday, Nov 13, 2:00PM
Where: 7112 Newcastle St
Bellaire, TX 77401
What: From the NDC website: "Spend an afternoon at the Nature Discovery Center getting to know our animals with up close and personal animal encounters! Each family friendly Meet the Animal session includes: hands-on exposure to live animals and/or specimens, an informal discussion about the animal's basic biology and behavior, and a Q/A period with one of our Staff Naturalists." $10/family suggested donation. 

3) Pioneer Day @ Jones Park

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 10:00AM-4:00PM
Where: 20634 Kenswick Drive
Humble, TX 77338
What: From the park's website: "Volunteers and re-enactors demonstrate settler life in Stephen F. Austin’s colony during the 1820s and early 1830s. Old-fashioned crafts, demonstrations, and period re-enactments bring the homestead to life." Facebook event link here.

4) 21st Annual Children's Festival

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 10:00AM-5:00PM
Sunday, Nov 13, 12:00PM-5:00PM
Where: 2005 Lake Robbins Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77380
What: This huge children's festival in The Woodlands offers several themed fun zones to explore, entertainment, food and more. $10 at the door, $8 in advance. Facebook event link here.


5) Home for the Holidays in Old Town Spring

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 10:00AM-6:00PM
Sunday, Nov 13, 12:00PM-5:00PM
Where: 403 Main St
Spring, TX 77373
What: Take photos with Santa, enjoy a hot cocoa bar, ride a train, and enjoy other holiday-themed fun in Old Town Spring. Tree lighting ceremony Saturday at dusk. Facebook event link here.


Babies & Toddlers

1) Moody Gardens Festival of Lights

When: Saturday, Nov 12 and Sunday, Nov 13, 6:00PM-10:00PM
Where: 1 Hope Blvd
Galveston, TX 77554
What: From the event page: "As one of the largest holiday celebrations in the region, Festival of Lights has become a holiday tradition for families and groups alike. Enjoy more than one million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays and nightly live entertainment." Pictures with Santa also available!

2) Texas Renaissance Festival

When: Saturdays and Sundays through November 27, 9:00AM-8:00PM
Where: 21778 Farm to Market 1774,
Todd Mission, TX 77363
What: The Renaissance Festival is an annual Texas tradition, featuring jousting, juggling, magic, music, dancing, games, incredible costumes, and, of course, food, including both modern dishes and favorites from the Middle Ages. Kids under age 4 get in free. Tickets for adults are ~$25 if you buy online. For a kid-friendly experience and less traffic, come at opening time. 

3) Velvet Stocking Christmas Bazaar

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 9:00AM-5:00PM
Where: 311 Pennsylvania St
Webster, TX 77598
What: From the event website: "Shop the Velvet Stocking for unique gifts and holiday decorations. Find beautiful wreaths, exotic woodwork, stained glass to dance in full color on your patio, and way more. Every booth is different. The mini Christmas tree forest at the front of the show will be loaded with ornaments you won’t find anywhere else. Saturday treats: Santa will be there for free photos. Bring your camera, kids, and selfie sticks! There will also be face painting in the Naughty Room." Facebook event link here.

4) Santa's Wonderland

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 3:00PM-Midnight
Sunday, Nov 13, 3:00PM-11:00PM
Where: 18898 Highway 6 South
College Station, TX 77845
What: Santa’s Wonderland is the largest Christmas attraction in the state of Texas. Take a hayride or carriage ride through a trail of over three million holiday lights, explore a life-size Christmas Village, take a train ride, sit by a campfire, take photos with Santa, enjoy a bouncy house, and much more! All the info you need is located on the event's FAQ page here.

When: Saturday, Nov 12, 12:00PM - 10:00PM
Where: 303 Memorial City
Houston, TX 77024
What: From the event website: "Join us for the official grand opening of Memorial City’s all-new greenspace, The Square. The all-day event will feature a spectacular showcase of live entertainment." Santa and his reindeer will be in attendance!