Best Local Holiday Everything Guide 2019

by & filed under Portraiture.



November 29th to December 31st 5:00 PM until 9:00 pm (West Orange, NJ) Take a nighttime stroll through the Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights to see more than 50 illuminated winter scenes and animal characters. Donations of non-perishable food items, new unwrapped toys, and new or gently used winter coats are appreciated and collected at the entrance. Some of the zoo’s vendors remain open for late-night snacks, including cocoa and cookies, and you can even grab a ride on the carousel (for a fee). FREE

November 15th to December 31st 5:00 PM until 9:00 pm (Augusta, NJ) The spectacular Skylands Stadium Christmas Light Show & Village is back for its fifth festive year! With more than two million dazzling lights on a mile-long drive-through course PLUS a new outdoor village, it’s a must-see holiday attraction for your whole family. The Christmas Light Show & Village will be open rain, snow, or shine on select dates and times check website for details. $20 per carload

November 23rd – January 26th (Bronx, NY ) Don’t miss the  New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show. Enchanting model trains zip through a display of more than 150 landmarks, each re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials—all under the twinkling glow of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Marvel at G-scale locomotives humming past familiar sights on nearly a half-mile of track. This year’s exhibition showcases Lower Manhattan, with iconic skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island sharing the spotlight among old and new favorites. Making its debut in the collection is the historic Battery Maritime Building along with two classic Staten Island Ferry boats. Tickets $10-$30

November 25th to January 12th 10:00 am-5:45 pm (NYC, NY)  Marvel at the Origami Holiday Tree at the Museum of Natural History  An annual Museum tradition, the delightfully decorated Origami Holiday Tree and two merrily lit 19-foot Holiday Barosaurs welcome visitors to the Museum throughout the holiday season. The theme of this year’s 13-foot tree is Oceans of Origami, with models inspired by the Museum’s special exhibition Unseen Oceans. Attendees can expect to see angelfish, lionfish, anglers, various sharks, whales, dolphins, tangs, eels, among other treasured models. Volunteers, including local, national, and international origami artists, fold year-round, contributing to a collection of over 1,000 models that will be displayed on the tree. Free with museum admission.

Monday November 15th until February 24th (Midtown NYC) Traveling into NYC? Don’t miss the Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal.  Lionel trains travel along two 34’ long “O” gauge model train layout, where onlookers will start off in a mini Grand Central and follow along as the route heads toward the North Pole as work from Ebony Bolt is displayed throughout the exhibit.  All ages. FREE

December 6th to Sunday December 15th 10:00 am – 4:30 pm (Morris Township, NJ) Get lost in a Gingerbread Wonderland at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum and admire dozens of delicious creations. The magic of gingerbread goes beyond houses; it includes landmarks, trains, planes, animals, and themes varying from family vacations to superheroes. You’ll have a chance to vote for your favorite. Please note that Friday the exhibit will stay open until 7:30pm. Price: $2 per person; free for children under 2


November 29th, 2018 to January 4th, see website for hours (Paramus, NJ) When the sun goes down, the lights come on in Van Saun Park for six weeks of wintertime fun Activities include; Open Air Ice Skating, Kids’ Beginner Synthetic Rink, Additional Kids’ Activities and Games,  Unlimited Bergen Express Train Ride, Santa’s North Pole Workshop Unlimited Carousel Rides, Zoo Entry and Programming, Indoor/Outdoor Beer Garden and Food Trucks. Check the online calendar for a detailed schedule, including Santa appearances. Admission includes all activities and skate rental. Food and beverages are available for purchase. Advance tickets are available online for $15.

Saturday November 30th – Saturday December 14th 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm (Maplewood NJ) Dickens Village in Maplewood is a festive gift from the business community to local residents and visitors. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers, concerts, refreshments, children’s activities, and more. This treasured community tradition opens in December and runs every Saturday until Christmas. A detailed schedule of events is listed on the website. Don’t miss the tree lighting on December 1 at 5pm and loads of fun activities throughout the weekend. FREE

Sunday December 1st 11:00 am- 2 pm Visit the Hartshorn Arboretum and help the local birds find food- in this case a gingerbread bird house! Decorate a bird house for our feathered friends to eat, and learn about the birds you can find in your backyard. There will also be gingerbread cookies for you to decorate and eat! Price: Member: $10 per house built Non-Member: $15 per house built

Sunday December 15th 11:00 am- 4:00 pm (NYC, NY) Celebrate the festival of lights as a family at the Jewish Museum! Dance to the pop-rock tunes of Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights, sketch Hanukkah lamps from around the globe on a gallery tour, and watch a unique Hanukkah story come to life through a drawing performance. Free with museum admission

Saturday December 7th 11:30 AM (Summit, NJ) Drop by Reeves-Reed Arboretum for cookies and cocoa and have your picture taken with Santa in the Arboretum’s beautifully decorated, historic Wisner House. Kids may also enjoy stories and crafts. Holiday portraits will be taken by a local photographer. Portraits are $15 per pose Admission: FREE


November 21st – February 2nd (Lincoln Center, NYC) The 42nd Edition of the Big Apple Circus brings together the world’s most acclaimed circus acts from around the world. Extraordinary jugglers and aerialists join the beloved circus, and the Aliev Troupe will thrill audiences. These internationally recognized acrobats have invented this high-flying act (in a 277-year-old art form no less!), combining the spectacular art of aerial acrobatics with the Russian barre.  Plus, horses, dogs, clowns, acrobats, and more. Tickets $25-$125

Friday-Sunday December 13th – 15th (see website for showtimes) (New Brunswick, NJ) Come for The only American Repertory Ballet performances of The Nutcracker featuring a live orchestra and choir at the  State Theater of NJ  The American Repertory Ballet (ARB) returns to the State Theatre to perform the beloved classic  Nutcracker  with Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, stunning sets, thrilling choreography, and a cast of more than 100 performers. Nutcracker tells the story of a young girl named Clara and how a mysterious gift from her Uncle Drosselmeyer brings about enchanted dreams and fantastical scenes.

Saturday November 30th and Sunday December 1st (see website for showtimes Newark, NJ) What child wouldn’t love to see Nick Jr.’s popular animated series in Paw Patrol Live- The Great Pirate Adventure. It’s Pirate Day in Adventure Bay – and Ryder will need all paws on deck as he and the PAW Patrol discover a secret treasure map while on a mission to rescue Cap’n Turbot from a mysterious cavern. Best for ages: 2-6 Tickets: $23 – $79

November 20th-December 29th (see website for showtimes) (Millburn, NJ) Paper Mill Playhouse presents Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella This Tony-nominated Broadway adaptation casts a spell with a gorgeous production that’s full of enchanting melodies like “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible,” and “Ten Minutes Ago.”

Wednesday December 4th 8:00 pm-9:30 pm (Wayne NJ) Celebrate the winter solstice at William Paterson University with a concert of original and traditional acoustic music drawn from the multi-platinum selling Winter Solstice series as well as their many solo releases. Windham Hill founder and Grammy-winning guitarist, Will Ackerman, Grammy-nominated singer, fiddler, pianist, songwriter Barbara Higbie, guitarist Todd Boston and cellist, Mia Pixley come together to lead a joyous holiday concert.

Saturday, December 7th- Sunday December 15th Guggenheim Museum (NYC) (see website for showtimes) Isaac Mizrahi narrates and directs Sergei Prokofiev’s charming children’s classic Peter and the Wolf at the theater at the Guggenheim Museum. Ensemble Signal performs the music, and the cast, wearing costumes by Mizrahi, performs choreography by John Heginbotham, bringing the 30-minute story to life for the young and young at heart. Admission $45, $40 Friends of Works & Process and Guggenheim members.

Saturday, December 21st 9:00 am-1:00 pm (Newark, NJ)  Don’t miss NJPAC’s  20th year of the Kwanzaa Family Festival. The fun includes crafts, West African dance and drums, Kwanzaa ceremony and storytelling, arm knitting, snacks, performances and more. Best for ages 3 and up. 

Where’s the Best Santa?

by & filed under Holidays, Portraiture.

I spend some time each week looking at the FB Mom groups for local mom news and noticed a lot of chat around where the best Santas were setting up for their photo moment. I took a quick look around and here, IMHO (in my humble opinion), is a ranking of the local guys in red, when they arrive and what you can expect when you visit. At the end I also listed a few events where you and your little one can spend additional time with Santa.

Santa Newport MallNewport Center Mall– Santa arrived on 11/1 and reservations are available until-December 20th – Photos from the mall were not available but the pic above and local mom buzz is  that the set up and Santa at Newport are good looking and the online reservations make heading here relatively quick and simple! The mall offers extended Santa hours as well- photo packages start at $26.99 for a 5″x7″, a 3″ x 5″ and 2 wallet sized. Pet photos with Santa are also available.

Santa Short Hills

Santa’s already at Short Hills and will be there from 8:00 am  to 6:00 pm (with a break daily from 12:45-1:15) He will even be available on Christmas Eve (until 1:15) The mall recommends that in order to assure your visit with Santa that you arrive no later than 2:oo pm. Photo packages start at $34.99 for One 5 x 7, Two 4 x 6s, Four Wallets and a Complimentary Lovepop Picture Card

Santa Macy's Herald Square

Macy’s Herald Square has the Santa business locked down- they invented the concept of photos with Santa in a store in 1862! You can visit with the big guy in their ultra-styled Santa-land at the 34th Street store from Fri., Nov. 29th (he arrives after the Thanksgiving Day Parade) – until Christmas Eve Sat., Dec. 24, until 4 pm.  RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED and can be made up to 5 days in advance on any desktop or mobile device. You can begin making reservations on November 25th. You can reserve date and time and spend a lot less time on line. Admission is free! Professional photos are available for purchase, but they’re optional. Packages start at $21.99.


Specialty Santas


Santa Fire Museum

Head over to the New York City Fire Museum to watch Santa get stranded on the New York City Fire Museum’s roof! Firefighters help him down and bring him inside for a party, where he gratefully poses for pics and accepts gift lists from 11:30-12:30 pm on Sunday December 15th. $10 for adults and $8 for children.

reeves reed arboretum santa

For an old-fashioned Santa, complete with cookies and cocoa, visit The Reeves Reed Arboretum Saturday morning, December 7th (11:00-2:00) and have your picture taken with Santa in the Arboretum’s beautifully decorated, historic Wisner House. Holiday portraits will be taken by a local photographer. Portraits are $15 per pose ($25 for Non-Members).  Pre-registrations will not be taken. Photos will be available to by Thursday, December 12th

Claus for a Cause with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates of Hudson County) Your $50 fee gets you a set of digital shots with Santa on Sunday, December 8th and goes to support CASA’s mission to assist Hudson County children in foster care.

8 Things Moms MUST Know When Flying with Children

by & filed under Portraiture.

flying with children

When Flying with Children, Planning is EVERYTHING

With holiday travel around the corner there’s a lot to know about the best ways to be prepared for traveling when you have little ones in tow. I’ve done some research  (a lot of it hands-on as we’ve been traveling since the girls were tiny) and I’ve broken down some of the most common questions that come up when you’re getting ready to fly with kids. Remember that these rules are constantly changing, and each airline is different. It never hurts to check with your airline or airport before you book anything to make sure you’ve done all you can to have a stress-free flight.

Do I need to pay for a seat for my child?

U.S. airlines generally say that your child can be held in your lap on board a flight until he or she is 2 years old. Once they’ve turned 2, you’re required to purchase a seat for them. While most airlines charge the same fare regardless of age, Southwest has child fares for those between ages 2 and 11. In the case that one parent has two children under the age of 2 with them while traveling, an extra seat must be purchased, as the adult is only permitted to have one lap child on the flight.

Airlines will allow you to bring an FAA-approved seat on board a plane for your child, but it’s extremely important to ensure it meets all the guidelines. The seats and restraints, also, cannot be used anywhere on the plane, so parents should do their homework before coming to the airport. Contact your airline to make sure your child’s seat or restraint will meet the approved guidelines, and then make sure you’ll be seated in an area of the plane where you’ll be allowed to use it.

How old does my child need to be to fly?

United and Virgin America don’t allow infants under 7 days old to travel with them. Southwest doesn’t allow infants under 14 days. Delta requires a doctor’s note for infants under 7 days, as does American Airlines.

Does my child need ID?

In general, infants and toddlers can get by with a copy of a birth certificate for identification at the airport. However, traveling internationally will still require a passport.

What can I do if my child and I are not seated together?

It’s becoming more and more common for airlines to charge an extra fee to choose your own seat when booking a flight, but in the case that you want to ensure you’re seated beside your child, it might be worth the cost. Southwest is the exception, since that airline has open seating and you get to choose where you sit, and because you’d get priority boarding with your child, you’re all but guaranteed to be seated together. As far as seated airlines go, a ticket for your child over the age of 2 is generally considered an adult fare and treated as such. However, Congress last year passed an extension to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that should require airlines to provide seats together for children and their families. The new rule hopes to establish the policy that “children under age 13 are ‘to be seated in a seat adjacent to the seat of an accompanying family member over the age of 13’ at no additional cost.”

Can I bring a stroller on board?

Strollers can be checked at your gate at no extra charge to you. American Airlines appears to be the only airline that allows passengers to bring a stroller all the way on board the plane, provided it fits into an overhead bin.

I know how much you want to calm your child when they’re being fussy. There are a few things to keep in mind, though. If your child is riding in your lap, this is obviously not an issue. If your child has their own seat, it’s really not recommended to hold them on your lap, as all passengers in seats should be wearing their seat belts, regardless of whether or not the seat belt sign is lit up. If the seat belt sign is off and your child is fussy, you’re more than welcome to walk them up and down the aisle to see if that helps. However, once you’re back in your seat, your child needs to be in their own seat with a seat belt fastened.

Can I board the flight early with my child?

Priority boarding should be available across the board with any airline. When you arrive at your gate at the airport, check in at the ticketing counter to find out when you’ll be allowed to get on the plane. There is usually a designated time set aside for families traveling with small children.

flying with children