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The Kids Off the Couch Guide for Families in LA

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We survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday but are pretty sure that a home-made gift trumps all things purchased. Avoid the mall crush and get off the computer -- just put on some holiday music and muck up the kitchen table with crafts. What's better for putting everyone in a festive mood? (You'll be saving up for some of these splurge-worthy shows and exhibits around town).

Get Scrooged This Weekend!
Scrooge is one of the most adapted characters in all of cinema, so don't let Jim Carrey be your family's only vision of Dicken's cranky old man. Get the family downtown for Albert Finney's rendition this Sunday (12/5) at a screening of A Christmas Carol with the Los Angeles Conservancy at the glorious Million Dollar Theater. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for kids under 12. If you can't get there, at least read the book to the kids this holiday. The Dickens story has timeless wisdom, and is always fun to revisit.

DIY Ideas: Remember hand-loomed pot holders? These days, there are so many better options for handmade gifts in the craft section of any toystore. There is a whole new generation of Shrinky Dinks (our faves) out there; little kids can create beautiful beaded bracelets and necklaces, or string cranberry and popcorn garlands for the tree. Tweens and teens can mix their favorite song onto CDs for cousins and parents, and love being dropped at one of the many craft houses around town: throw pots at The Clayhouse, stop in for a class at The Urban Craft Center or pick up a manageable first project at Artesia Needlepoint shop or one of the many cool knit shops around town. And, ultimately there is nothing better than baked goods for teachers or neighbors.

Get to the Getty: We love the villa's new Tea by the Sea service (Thursdays at 1:00 PM) which is an especially nice treat for visiting grandparents. While the weather is spectacular, why not spend Sunday (12/5) at a Getty Villa Family Festival Celebrating the Art of Greek Theater. From 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM. It's FREE, but click here for entry ticket. Children and adults can fashion their own Greek theater masks, costume themselves as ancient actors, and applaud or join in pint-sized versions of classical Greek comedies onstage.

Family Flicks at the Hammer: This Sunday (12/5) the UCLA Film and Television Archive presents Family Flicks: Azur and Asmar, an unusual digital animation project about two rival princes. Screening is FREE and starts at 11:00. Enjoy free admission to the Hammer through December 18 as part of their 20th Anniversary celebration.

Kick Up Your Heels: Get ready for the Rockettes! From Radio City Music Hall, those famous legs travel across the nation and will be in Los Angeles for nine shows between December 9-12. These are pricey seats, but doesn't everyone have to see this show once in their lifetime? Speaking of kicking up your heels, the plastic starter ice rink at the W Hotel in Westwood is a fun and festive way for kids under ten to get their legs under them. Everyone else will love ICE at Santa Monica, open through February.

Yum Yum: The Westside just got even more delicious with Sweet Lady Jane opening a shop on Montana at 17th, and Thomas Keller's pastry chef opening his FarmShop at the Brentwood Country Mart.

Shop if you Must: Click here for the Cool Mom Picks Holiday Gift Guide (including these cool Advent calendars). It's easy to purchase handmade gifts this year - start at a holiday bazaar at the Craft and Folk Art Museum this weekend (their Holiday Bazaar is on Saturday 12/4), and check out the Los Angeles Times' wonderful BUY LOCAL neighborhood guide to handmade things.

Sounds of the Season: We love classic Christmas songs sung by a full chorus, and also throw on the Special Olympics compilation albums (Sting singing "I Saw Three Ships" is pretty great). We aren't susceptible to every pop star that puts out a holiday album, but are tickled by Pink Martini's latest.

Giving Back:
Most charities have a wish list, so let the kids check out these lists and give a gift to a child their age. We always get Target gift cards and send them to foster kids through United Friends of the Children. Here is their Holiday Wish List. Our favorite charity for kids to learn about during the holidays is Heifer International. Choose how much you want your kids to give away and then let them choose whether they want to give a pig, a cow or some honeybees!

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