There are many things I love about staying in New York during the holidays. But if we’re speaking specifics, there is nothing I love more than staying in Brooklyn. The neighborhoods tend to lead on the dreamy scope, with brownstones, decor, and snow transporting us. And the things to do are smaller in scale, or feel less touristy. Somehow, despite the massive amounts of people that visit during the holidays, it doesn’t feel like Brooklyn loses it’s charm.
In my family, I use much of our activites as part of our advent calender, but also as part of their large gifts. Come Christmas day, there’s little physical to show, but there are weekends full of activities and memory-making to hold on to.
Of course, there are times that I wonder if I should hold back and do less, and give more tangibly. But almost, always, the kids end up speaking abot the things we’ve done far past the holiday season. Overall, it feels like a better use of money, considering doing and buying all of the things is not in the cards.
Through the years, I’ve found that each outing is an oppurtunity to drag on the celebration, which is necessary to manage expectations come the big day (or few days, depending on what you celebrate).
Here are just a few ways to spend time…
Tree Lightings: There are never enough of these, and just because you don’t live in a particualr neighborhood, doesn’t mean you can’t attend. We like to hop around depending on dates. But our favorites are Fort Greene tree lighting and DUMBO. In DUMBO, there’s calypso, Santa, hot cocoa, and caroling. It is more crowded than the others, but always so much fun. In Fort Greene, there’s apple cider, Santa, a toy drive, and live music.
Skating: Unlike my friends (and my former kid-self) there are very few times a year when you’d catch me on skates. But I happen to have children who love skating and I love that this season asks you to be a bit more adventurous. We had our first ice skating session of the year at LeFrak Center at Lakeside. It’s an amazing skating rink with a partially covered roof, which is perfect for winter’s inclement weather.
If ice skating isn’t your thing, a new roller rink just opened in City Point, that runs through February.
Theater: One of my favorite things to do is to look for classic Christmas movies and see if they’re playing in our theater. Going to BAM always feels like such a special neighborhood adventure, partially because it is a community force. This weekend, they played Muppets Christmas Carol, and you can check to see if they’ll be playing anything else for kids throughout the month. (I find that they have ongoing updates). We also like going to Cobble Hill Cinemas, which is a tiny theater, that often plays classics, indies, or a few special favorites. It’s time-stamped in that very New York way, and feels special and outdated in the most perfect sense.
Lights: Dyker Heights Lights is the main attraction. While this specific event attracts pretty much everyone from everywhere, if you can make it, you should! It’s truly magical, and I find nothing like it.
It seems silly, but I also love walking around Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights, looking for the lights strung from lamp post to lamp post. It’s the first sign of the holidays, and it’s what carries us through the season. It’s special to walk down a street and see them guide your path, as you become engulfed in a magic reserved for the holidays.
Shopping: In my opinion there is nothing that compares to local holiday shopping. And when it comes to where to buy and what to buy, the options are endless, friends! In Fort Greene, I love Feliz for tiny things, and Greenlight for books. In Bedford Stuyvesant, there’s now Blk Mkt Vintage (which is located on an entire street full of small shops). If you make it past Fort Greene, you can walk on Atlantic towards Brooklyn Heights, and there’s a plethora of plant shops, tiny stores (a favorite is Acorn Toy Shop), concept stores and vintage shops. You can pop into Smorgasburg on your way for food and more vintage. And when you’re done, you’ll run right into spice shops and knick knack shops for tiny stocking stuffers. You can hop over to Williamsburg, where some of my favorites are still running over a decade later (like Cat Bird).
This list of course doesn’t touch on nearly all of it, I didn’t even include food. But if you’re willing, just stop anywhere for hot chocloate and take a good walk, Brooklyn never disappoints. Happy holidays!