OC Moms Guide – December 2021


‘Tis the season…to get in the holiday spirit! Whatever you choose to celebrate this month, there are SO many fantastic, family-friendly, COVID-conscious, and (in some cases) free Orange County events December has to offer. It was seriously very challenging deciding which ones to include in this post. Because we try to keep it to about a dozen of the most interesting happenings each month, I had to make some hard cuts….

Thankfully, we already have our OC Moms’ Guide To The Holidays 2021 which lists helpful info about local events like:

We’ve even got a post about the Hanukkah Family-Friendly Fun in Orange County!

You’ll definitely want to check those posts out too if you haven’t already!

Plus, most of the places listed below have even more holiday events and activities happening throughout the month. So be sure to check their websites for additional info. This is just a selective highlight from the best of the best for Orange County events December 2021!


OCMC’s Donuts With Santa – Yorba Linda

December 11

We have already started selling out of some time slots for this event so don’t snooze on signing up! Please join OC Mom Collective for our annual Donuts with Santa event. Celebrate the holidays with a magical morning with your family with crafts and of course donuts. Beat the lines at the mall and avoid the crowds by having your pictures with Santa taken by us!

*Each ticket is for your entire family. Grab the photo time slot that works best for you!

*Each family ticket will include 1 digital print from our photographer (You will only get 1 digital print per ticket – no matter how many people are in your family group)

*Enjoy Donuts and small bites

*Details: Masks will be required while inside. The event will be inside/outside. Santa will be in an open room and standing behind the kiddos.

Tickets are a flat $35 which covers your entire family and includes everything listed above. Family tickets are all-inclusive and grant access to unlimited food, beverages, and sweets!


Science Of Gingerbread at the Discovery Science Center – Santa Ana

Now through January 1, 2021

From their website: “Walk through the un-brrrr-lieveable gingerbread village – over 200 amazing gingerbread structures to see. Meet and snap a family photo with Santa Claus on the weekends from 11:00am – 3:00pm. Make the perfect holiday cookie at the cookie decorating station. Build chimneys, towers, and anything you can imagine at the Play Chalet. Join the live interactive storytimes every day. Code holiday lights, sounds, and snowflakes. And much more hands-on fun!” My son loved making his own candy car racer a few years back and looking at all the Gingerbread Houses made by kids all over Orange County.

Included with general admission to the Cube. Ages 15+ $19.95, Children ages 3-14 $14.95, and Seniors ages 62+ $16.95. Children ages 2 and under are free. Check local magazines for coupons! 


The Polar Express at Southern California Railway Museum – Perris

Now-December 31

From their website: “Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ for a magical one-hour trip to the North Pole. Once on board, your car hosts will work their way through the coach and punch your golden ticket before hot chocolate and delicious Walkers Shortbread are served by dancing chefs. Passengers then read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg. Santa and his helpers board the train to greet passengers and each guest is given the first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell. During the trip, characters on each car lead passengers in caroling and onboard entertainment just like in the film! Each guest will take home a keepsake sleigh bell in addition to the wonderful memories made on this magical trip.”

Tickets start at $50 per adult, $44 per child 2-11 plus fees. Lap children under 2 are free. Active duty military members receive $5 discount per ticket up to 10 tickets with service ID using online checkout code HERO5. Per CDC and TSA directives, face coverings must be worn by everyone age 2 and older while on the train and in indoor spaces. 

Knotts Merry Farm – Buena Park

Now through January 2

From their website: “Experience Knott’s largest Christmas celebration with winter wonderland-inspired décor transforming the entire park into a classic holiday festival, featuring a landscape of thousands of twinkling lights, miles of themed garland, jumbo snowflakes, and a variety of picturesque seasonal settings. Knott’s Merry Farm offers Christmas activities for families and joyful experiences inspired by the spirit of the holidays.”

Included with general Knott’s Berry Farm admission. One day park tickets start at $64 for ages 12-61. One day park tickets for Juniors 3-11 and Seniors 62+ start at $64. Children 2 and under are free. Discount for active/retired military. Parking starts at $20. Check local magazines and AAA for discounts. 


Menorah At The Outlets – San Clemente

December 5th


Celebrate the end of Hanukkah with this outdoor menorah lighting celebration. Festivities include music, a balloon artist, comedy ventriloquist, crafts for the kids, treats, dreidels, gelt, and more.

Free. At Oak Tree Court.

Don’t forget to check out the Hanukkah Family-Friendly Fun in Orange County post, which has even more events happening during Hanukkah. This dreidel-tastic holiday takes place from November 28-December 5 this year. Many of them are free and all are welcome to participate!


Annual Boat Parade Of Lights – Dana Point Harbor

December 10-12

It’ll be a Fiesta Holiday takeover at the Annual Boat Parade of Lights this year in Dana Point Harbor. Before the pandemic, it used to be that each evening’s boat parade was preceded by family fun activities at Mariner’s Village/Alley and Dana Wharf. And then when the sun sets it was twinkling holiday lights for as far as the eye can see. This year they’re doing it a bit differently. The weekend prior to the boat parade (December 4+5) during the day there’s photos with Santa for both kids AND pets. And also live strolling carolers on the docks on December 9, 16, and 23.

Free to view the parade from anywhere in the Harbor. Or you can maybe make a reservation for a window view at one of the restaurants on the water depending on their indoor seating policy for these COVID times. Additional parking is available for a fee at Doheny State Beach and from there you can take a FREE Trolley to the festivities (4:30pm-10: 30 pm).


Christmas At The OC Zoo – Orange

December 11

From their website: “Come visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, make festive crafts, and play fun games! See the zoo animals receive holiday “gifts” and treats hidden inside Christmas trees!”

Reservations are not needed. Activities are free with paid zoo admission ($2 per person; ages 2 & under free). Parking fee is is $5 per car on weekends. Zoo coupons/free passes are not valid for this event. 


Heritage Hill Holiday Lights – Lake Forest

December 19

From their website: “Enjoy the holiday season at OC Parks’ Heritage Hill Historical Park this December! Holiday Lights takes place December 17, 18 and 19 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Take a leisurely stroll around the park and immerse yourself in the dazzling lights during special park hours. Pets are welcome outdoors only on leashes no longer than 6 feet. Please note that no additional entertainment or refreshments will be provided at Holiday Lights. Make sure to bring your camera and take your picture at a variety of holiday-themed photo opportunities!”

Event and parking are free.


Festival of Kwanzaa Celebration at Pretend City – Irvine

December 26-31

Pretend City celebrates many special world holidays, and is ending its jam-packed calendar of Orange County Events December with Kwanzaa! Join them each day to light a candle on the Kinara and celebrate a new principle through various activities such as a Kufi craft, Kwanzaa storytimes, coloring activity, and more each day. If you’d like your children to learn the cultural importance of this holiday, or are looking for a family-friendly place to celebrate it together, Pretend City is a great place to do so!

Included with museum admission. $14.95 adults and children over 12 months. Military and their families $11.95. 


And of course the most important of the Orange County Events December has to offer? Quality time with your family. All of us at OC Mom Collective wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday season!

OC Moms Guide - December 2021 PIN

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Follow me on Instagram @EcoFriendlyMama, Twitter @EcoFriendlyMa, and Pinterest @EcoFriendlyMama! Though I was born and raised in New York City, I've lived in SoCal for over ten years now and am proud to call this beautiful and diverse place my home. My husband and I have a son and baby daughter (whom I was 9 months pregnant with when this photo was taken!). Prior to becoming a mommy I spent several years in feature film publicity and acquisitions for Miramax and later as the Creative Executive for Hilary Swank Productions before seguing to the music industry where I did Online Communications for the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares. In my ample pre-parenthood free time, I also freelanced as a script analyst and screenwriter. I am fortunate now to be able to devote all my time to my family, but I still love to write so am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of this blog! I am a foodie, avid traveler, environmentalist, preschool board member, and unabashed Disney nut. I can also be found writing about green parenting and eco-conscious living on my personal website, https://ecofriendlymama.com.


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