10 Great Things to Do in December

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1. beijingkids Santa Party

Santa Claus is coming to Beijing on Dec 13! In a pre-Christmas visit, Santa will join beijingkids at All-Star Ice Rink at Solana. Enjoy a complimentary lunch from A Thousand and One Nights, hot chocolate and a swirl on the rink with Santa. RMB 50 per person for two hours of skating (includes skate rental). Ages 3 and up. Tickets are required and limited to the first 180 people that sign up before Dec 11. Skating starts at 10am. Call Serena Li at 5820 7700 ext 853 or e-mail marketing@beijing-kids.com to reserve a spot.

2. Swan Lake

Escape to a fairyland in Swan Lake, the enchanting ballet composed by Tchaikovsky. Enter the world of Prince Siegfried, who must declare a wife at his birthday ball but instead falls in love with Princess Odette, who has been cursed to live as a swan during the day and a woman at night. On Dec 12 and 13, travel through forests and lakes as the story weaves a tale of mistaken identity, romantic gestures, fantastic dancing, and a moving ending. Beijing Exhibition Theater. See Events (p14).

3. Hanukkah Party
Play dreidel, win Hanukkah gelt (usually chocolate coins), eat latkes, and socialize on Dec 23 at this informal party celebrating the Jewish festival of lights. Dini’s Kosher Restaurant will offer a special set meal (RMB 100) for kids – think levivot and donuts sufganiot. There will be a clown, magician and various Hanukkah games, as well as the lighting of the third Hanukkah candle by a student from the Ganeinu International School, Beijing’s Jewish International School. 4.45pm. Dini’s Kosher Restaurant. E-mail info@kosherbeijing.com or call 6461 6220 to reserve a spot.

4. Party for Pets and their People
Fido deserves more than a just a pair of reindeer ears on his head and a fuzzy sweater for Christmas. The International Center for Veterinary Services wants to throw pups and cats a bona fide party. On Dec 13, head to the Kent Center with your faithful companion from 2-5pm to socialize with other pets and pet lovers. Contact 8456 1939/1940/1942 or e-mail icvs_china@yahoo.com for more information, or visit www.icvsasia.com

5. Teddy Bear Afternoon Tea
If it’s the high life for you and your kids, arrive at the Ritz-Carlton lobby in style for afternoon tea and teddy bears on Dec 7, 14 and 21. Everyone will take home a gift bear from the hotel. RMB 128 per child, RMB 158 per adult. 2.30-5pm. For more information or to make a reservation, call 5908 8777 or e-mail emma.wang@ritzcarlton.com. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, www.ritzcarlton.com

6. Magic Christmas Show
For parents who want a fabulous night out, head to the Grand Ballroom at the fantastic China World Hotel on Dec 24 from 6-10.30pm for magical performances and musical entertainment, not to mention a gourmet buffet of Asian and international food. The hefty fee – RMB 3,588 for premier seats and RMB 2,888 for regular seats – includes dinner and show. 6pm-10.30pm. To reserve tickets, call 6505 5838, e-mail fbresrvations.cwh@shangri-la.com or visit www.chinaworlddining.com.

7. Taste it and Name it Workshop
Could you be a super taster – one of the gifted few blessed with more taste buds than the average Joe? French chef Yvan Cadiou guides kids through an exploration of the names and tastes of food in this workshop. In French and Chinese. Reservations required. Dec 6 and 7. Free. 10-11am for children ages 6-8, 11am-noon for children ages 9-12. French Cultural Centre (6553 2627, www.ccfpekin.org)

8. A Christmas Carol
This classic tale is a perennial favorite – see the Beijing Playhouse’s musical rendition of Ebenezer Scrooge’s spiritual journey at Block 8. We know it’s been at least a year since you’ve seen Tiny Tim and the Cratchits. To learn about the child stars in this professional production, see “The Young Spirit of Christmas” (p24). The show runs Dec 5-28. Fri and Sat (7.30pm), Sun (2pm). RMB 260 (advance) RMB 300 (door). In English with Chinese subtitles. For details, e-mail performance@beijingplayhouse.com or visit www.beijingplayhouse.com

9. Simple Steps for Charity
There are dozens of ways to give back to the community or donate money for a good cause. Wondering what your family is going to do with that surplus of DVDs? Drop off kid-appropriate DVDs at Seasons Café (300m south of the Wudaokou subway station) – students at Zhiquan School will appreciate it. As minds turn to the North Pole this time of year, think about the planet and make a donation to Greenpeace at www.greenpeace.org/china/en. For more acts of charity, see Features p54.

10. Snow White Christmas Court Party
Snow White invites princes and princesses up to 3 years old to attend her Snow White Christmas Court Party on Dec 13, thrown by Gymboree, BJU and Chuwen Maternal and Child Studio. Kids can take photos with Santa Claus and dance with Snow White. Parents, bring a baby toy to donate to BJU’s charity fund for orphans. RMB 1,280 per family of three. 5-8pm at the Banquet Hall of Lido Plaza. Limited to the first 100 registered families. For more information, call Gymboree (www.gymboree.com.cn) at 5166 0516, Beijing Family United Hospital (www.unitedfamilyhospital.com) at 5927 7356, or Chuwen Maternal and Child Studio at 6418 2427.

Readers are encouraged to double-check event details with the organizers as dates and locations may change.

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