The holiday season marks the start of what for many Long Island families is a monthslong stretch of annual traditions. Free days are often spent enjoying drives through decked-out neighborhoods, baking sweet treats and reliving holiday classics. While plans for this year’s events are still being sorted out because of the coronavirus, here's a look at some tried-and-true favorites:
Gingerbread, sugar cookies, peppermint sticks and fudge are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to holiday treats. After you crack out the family cookbook, consider adding a new recipe into the mix. Family-friendly holiday baking classes are offered at cooking schools, bakeries and chocolate shops across Long Island. For families with gingerbread aficionados, the Gingerbread University in Riverhead offers gingerbread houses and cookie kits for mail or pickup. The Chocolate Duck in Farmingdale teaches classes on buttercream icing techniques, cookie decorating, chocolate molding and more. As does The Baking Coach in Huntington, where seasonal classes often include lessons on apple pie, cookies and cake pops. Also, they are offering classes on making your gingerbread house from scratch.
SEE THE LIGHTS
Hop in the car and see where the night's lights take you. Annual favorites range from Jones Beach State Park's recently revived drive-thru show Magic of Lights (Nov. 13-Jan. 2), the Riverhead Holiday Light Show (Nov. 19-22, Nov. 26-29, Dec. 3-6, 10-13, 17-30) or the Holiday Light Show at Smith Point County Park (Dec. 1-30).
VISIT HOLIDAY ESTATE HOME
This Gold Coast estate home is open by appointment. A visit to this historic site decked out in holiday garb might just leave you with some decoration inspiration. Check time slots and purchase tickets online to tour Coe Hall at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay.
Latke making and tasting, menorah lighting and dreidel spinning are telltale times of the season. The Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Merrick hosts an annual menorah lighting (Dec. 10, 6 p.m.) at the Merrick LIRR station — complete with a 12-foot menorah, prepackaged jelly doughnuts and chocolate gelt. Other lightings take place across Nassau and Suffolk, including at The Chai Center in Dix Hills (Dec. 10, 6:15 p.m.).
CHILL INSIDE AN IGLOO
Chillier weather marks the return of last year's fan-favorite: the personal dining igloo. The private-table experiences decked out in winter décor popped up from Maxwell’s in Islip to Smuggler Jack’s in Massapequa. This year, RHUM in Patchogue has clear greenhouse cottages and ITA Kitchen has confirmed it'll add igloos to its outdoor dining options in Bay Shore.
ESCAPE CLOSE TO HOME
Take the festivities on the road as you head east for a local getaway. The East End's low season is often ripe with deals — and light on the crowds. If you're lucky enough to catch the snowfall during your stay at East Hampton's casually elegant Baker House 1650 (which typically boasts winter shopping and dining packages), or other hotels, you might just feel as if you've stepped inside a holiday movie.