Looking for free things to do in December? The holidays are creeping up, so celebrate the season of giving with entertaining events that won’t break the bank.
Want more fun stuff? Check out can’t-miss events for your preschoolers, plus the best fairs and festivals happening this November. If you want to venture outdoors, check out this hiking trails, or stay inside at these indoor spots.
*Please note that the fairs and festivals below may have free admission, but activities, food and rides might be an additional fee.
Storytime at the Fire Department Museum
Ages 2-5 can spend half an hour listening to stories about city life read by museum staff and librarians from the Hoboken Public Library.
Visit the Demarest House for a visit with the man in red: Sinterklaas. You’ll also celebrate the first night of Hanukkah, watch a menorah lighting and learn more about the Jewish holiday. Check out an authentic Jersey Dutch out-kitchen and watch cooking on an open hearth. Kids can also make pinecone bird feeders and ornaments at Historic New Bridge Landing.
Ice Age Late Night at the Museum
All ages are invited to learn about mastodons, saber tooth cats and other Ice Age creatures through demos, arts and crafts and other activities throughout Rutgers University Museum.
Pokémon Club-Snow Globes
All ages are welcome at the Warren County Library to craft their own Pokémon snow globes. Registration required.
Community Nativity Exhibit
This nativity exhibit will have more than 300 festive displays and live local music.
Work on festive crafts, play games and visit Santa himself at Casino Pier. Bring a new or gently used coat and canned goods for entry, and don’t forget your ugly sweaters!
Winter Bird Walk
Ages 12 and up are invited to join this hike to search for wintering birds at the Watershed Institute.
Check out Historic Cold Spring Village’s winter makeover and celebrate with crafts, live music, holiday treats and a chance to meet Kris Kringle himself.
Seasonal Traditions Holiday Program
The East Jersey Old Town Village will host its annual holiday event featuring horse and wagon rides, children’s crafts, holiday carols and more.
Annual Cookies with Santa Event
The Princeton Shopping Center is hosting its Annual Cookies with Santa, which includes cookie decorating, a holiday craft station, photos with Saint Nick and live performances at the McCarter Theatre Center. Registration required.
Morristown National Historical Park will put on a concert featuring musicians from the Baroque Orchestra of NJ playing seasonal favorites and traditional classics.
December 7, 14-15
The Christmas Light Show
View a multimedia Christmas light show featuring controlled lights, pyrotechnics and robotic effects and listen to live Christmas music at the Spring Meadow Golf Course.
Whitehouse Wind Symphony Holiday Concert
The Whitehouse Wind Symphony, a nonprofit band of volunteer musicians, will play Christmas carols such as “Jingle Bells,” “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and more at the Historic Courthouse.
Cocoa With Santa
Visit the Gateway YMCA with your kids for some delicious cocoa and time with Santa.
HCA Christmas Craft & Vendor Expo
Check out a variety of handcrafted items, clothing, accessories, toys and more at the Hawthorne Christian Academy. Bring your little one along for fun activities like face painting.
The Nightmare Before Christmas Movie Showing & Craft
Ages 8-17 can watch The Nightmare Before Christmas while crafting Jack and Sally ornaments at the Warren County Library. Registration required.
Battles of Trenton Reenactments
Watch the historical battle that shaped the course of the Revolutionary War at the Old Barracks Museum. You can follow troops through the streets, interact with soldiers, tour the military barracks and visit The Quartermaster’s Store.
The Trouble with Trenton Children’s Puppet Show
This event reenacts Washington’s victory in Trenton with an interactive puppet show specifically for your little ones, presented using marionettes, rod puppets, live music and props.
Santa Visits Kale’s Garden Center
Throughout the first two weeks of December, stop by Kale’s Christmas shop for photos with Santa and browse the winter wonderland for Christmas decorations.
Experience Historic Chester
Historic Downtown Chester is welcoming the holidays with outdoor music, strolling Dickens carolers, sculpted ice works and more. Hit a variety of shops for delicious treats, gifts and activities planned throughout the month.
The Marketspace at Westfield
For the first three weekends in December, there’ll be a revolving selection of local handmade wares. On December 8 and 21, bring your kids for complimentary photos with Santa.
29th Annual Holiday Model Train Exhibit
Every Saturday and Sunday, you can visit this display featuring more than 300 feet of track with 11 different trains operating simultaneously at the Barron Arts Center. On December 6, visit the annual Woodbridge Twp. tree lighting ceremony, too. Reservation required.
Visit Historic Smithville
On Thursdays-Sundays from December 1-31, be in awe of an orchestrated Holiday Light Show of more than 100 Christmas trees floating over Lake Meone with festive lights and music. From December 1-22, the Christmas village will boast a magical talking tree, train ride and storytime with Mrs. Claus in her Christmas cottage. And don’t forget to stop by from December 7-19 every Saturday for breakfast and photos with Santa himself. Reservations required.
Know of other free things to do in December? Let us know in the comments.