SHOP HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. The St. Anthony Park neighborhood will kick off the holiday season on Saturday, Dec. 7, with its annual Shop Home for the Holidays in the Como Avenue business district. Shoppers will find merchant specials; reindeer-pulled sleigh rides and Santa photo-ops at Sunrise Banks, 2300 Como Ave., 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; cookie decorating at Tim and Tom’s Speedy Market, 2310 Como Ave., 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; a wine tasting at the Little Wine Shoppe, 2236 Carter Ave., 1-4 p.m.; and an artisan market at Milton Square, at the corner of Como and Carter avenues, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The market will also be open on Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m, and will feature local artists selling silk-screened textiles, wreaths and greens, pottery, jewelry, paintings, gourmet granola, felted handbags, hats and belts made from vintage fabric and more.
Thistle, the vintage furniture and treasure shop in Milton Square, will be open all weekend the same hours as the artisan market. Winter caroloers from Vienna Community Arts will perform at Milton Square at 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Bungalow Pottery will host candle-dipping for children with Gibbs Museum, 9:30-11:30 a.m. And just across the hall from Bungalow, Eddie Owens of Turning Heads salon will have a show and sale of his sculptures. Micawber’s Books, 2238 Carter Ave., will donate a portion of the day’s sales to St. Anthony Park Elementary School. Parents from the school will be on hand to giftwrap your books.
Milton Square merchants will be offering the following specials: Muffuletta will be serving mulled wine on the deck; Complexions on Carter will have skincare specials and sell jewelry and stationery from local artists; and Lady Elegant’s will offer discounts in the shop. All Milton Square merchants will be collecting donations for Toys for Tots for teenage boys ages 13-17.
Peapods is offering gift wrapping for any purchase made on Saturday at any store for $2, which will be donated to the Twin Cities Childbirth Collective. If you spend $5 or more at Finnish Bistro you get a free chocolate chip cookie. (And if you mention Ruth from the Bugle while you are getting that cookie, you get a free hug too.)
And if you need a festive cap to the day’s festivities, Santa will be on hand at 5:15 p.m. Saturday to light the tree in Milton Square.
SPEAKING OF SANTA . . . Have dinner with Santa and Mrs. Claus, on Friday, Dec. 6, 5:30-7 p.m. at Langford Recreation Center, 30 Langford Park. The event includes a spaghetti dinner, a holiday craft project, cookie decorating, face painting and, of course, photo opportunities with the Christmas couple. The cost is $5 per person or $25 maximum per immediate family. Ages 2 and under are free. Register at www.stpaul.gov/parks (it is activity no. 11080) or call 651-298-5765.
If that’s not enough Santa time for you, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will pose for photos at Sunrise Bank between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. during Shop Home for the Holidays on Saturday, Dec. 7. The couple will also visit Milton Square, 2232 Carter Ave., on Wednesday, Dec. 11, and Monday, Dec. 16, to do a little storytelling in the lower level from 6 to 7 p.m. The Milton Square storytimes are free.
BLUE HOUSE BOUTIQUE: This annual sale and benefit will be held on Saturday, Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 8, from 9 a.m.-noon, at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 2136 Carter Ave. The boutique is a major fundraiser for the Blue House, an orphanage in rural Uganda for 20 girls and boys who have lost their parents to AIDS. The sale will feature handcrafted items for the holidays, including hand knits, crafts, cards, gifts, table centerpieces, ornaments, gourmet foods and more. Saturday’s sale will include a homemade lunch (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) with soup, bread, sandwiches, coffee and pastries.
ANAPHYLAXIS AND FOOD ALLERGY ASSOCIATION (AFAA) will hold its seventh annual benefit concert and silent auction on Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church, 2323 Como Ave. Admission is free. The Como Park Senior High School Band, directed by Dr. Philip Fried, will perform and there will be crafts for children, apple cider and allergen-friendly cookies. Call 651 644-5937 to donate silent auction items and services.
A PIONEER CHRISTMAS: Celebrate an 1800s Minnesota Christmas at Gibbs Museum, at Larpenteur and Cleveland avenues, in a two-hour program on Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Actors will portray people from the era and the buildings will be decorated. The program includes a bonfire with hot chocolate, making cornhusk angels and learning about how the Gibbs family celebrated the holiday in the sod house, the main house and in the Victorian-era parlor after it was built in 1869. The museum gift shop will be open. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $7 for children. Reservations are required. The reservations are timed to ensure an intimate setting for each group. Call Gibbs Museum at 651-646-8629.
CREATE A GIFT AT DRIFTWOOD: Checkout Driftwood Community Arts’ Five Dollar Fridays on Dec. 6 and 13, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Artists at Driftwood, 777 Raymond Ave., will help you create a simple gift in the class. Each session will have a different activity geared to all ages and the cost is $5 per class. Find out more at www.driftwoodcommunityarts.com. Driftwood will also have a booth at the artisan market at Milton Square on Saturday, Dec. 7, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
HOLIDAY FLOWER SHOW: The Holiday Flower Show at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Regional Park opens Saturday, Dec. 7, and will run through Jan. 5. The show will feature hundreds of poinsettias, including the new variety Christmas Beauty Nostalgia with pink and green bracts.
ALL ABOARD THE NIGHT TRAINS: Night Trains Season is a holiday tradition at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum in Bandana Square, 1021 Bandana Boulevard, Suite 222. The show opens Saturday, Nov. 30, and runs every Saturday evening, 6-9 p.m., through Feb. 22. A season premiere will be held on Friday, Nov. 30, and a New Year’s Eve special will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 31. Santa will be at the museum for four consecutive Saturdays, beginning Nov. 30. He will have a sack of goodies for good girls and boys. Bring your camera! Night Trains Season displays the museum’s dozens of model railroad layouts in a magical way: Lights are turned down and the buildings and streetlights glow. The make-believe town of Matlin is buried in a blizzard, and throughout the museum the layouts are adorned with miniature Christmas lights and decorations. Admission is $10 per person or $25 for immediate families and $30 for extended families (maximum of 10 people). Admission is free for children ages 4 and under. Find out more at www.tcmrm.org.
HOLIDAY TEA: Enjoy a three-course tea service at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory’s Winter Flower Show on Thursday, Dec. 12. There will be two seatings, one at 11 a.m. and one at 2 p.m. Cost is $35 per person before Thanksgiving and $40 after Thanksgiving. Call 651-487-8250 for reservations. The event includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the conservatory’s greenhouse space.
YPC HOLIDAY SHOW: Youth Performance Company will present “Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” in 21 performances Dec. 6-27 at the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, 1900 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis. The cast includes Chase Kozak, a St. Anthony Park resident. The Prospect Park youth theater company, will take Junie B. Jones and set her in a whirlwind of holiday costumes, a Secret Santa exchange and festive fun with her grade-school classroom. Find out more at youthperformanceco.org or call 612-623-9180.
LIVE NATIVITY: Bethel Lutheran Church, 670 W. Wheelock Parkway, will host a live nativity Saturday, Dec. 21, in four 15-minute enactments at 6, 6:30, 7 and 7:30 p.m. The event, which is free to the public, features a retelling of Jesus’ birth (the Christmas story) with people, sheep, goats and a donkey in an outdoor stable setting. Between shows, guests are invited to pet the animals and come inside the church building for coffee, hot cocoa and cookies.
PLAY SOME GAMES AT THE LIBRARY: The St. Anthony Park Library is hosting an open-board gaming day on Monday, Dec. 30, 1-5 p.m. The library will have a host of familiar games such as chess, Stratego, Risk and Monopoly, as well as new, challenging games such as Settlers of Catan, Castle Panic and Axis and Allies. You just need to show up. The event is open to all ages.