Festive Events & Ways to Give this Holiday Season
Is it just us, or is the holiday season extra magical in Columbia?
There’s no shortage of fun and festive events to choose from — if anything, the challenge is fitting them all in! The fact that our favorite traditions were on hold in 2020 makes this year’s celebrations feel even more meaningful.
The same can be said for the significance of giving back. Considering the challenges of the past year or so, we have more neighbors in need than ever. We firmly believe the best way to get in the spirit of the season is to extend a helping hand.
Behold, your guide for making the most of this holiday season — from exciting events to mark on your calendar to opportunities for lifting up those in our community who need it the most. Let the festivities begin!
Community holiday events
Holiday Drop and Play: Need to drop your kids off for a few hours to get things done? Save the date for our Holiday Drop and Play at Columbia Athletic Club on Saturday, December 4 from 1:30-5pm! Kids ages three and older will enjoy an afternoon of decorating holiday cookies, games and more. Learn more and register here.
Santa Cares Day: Children within all spectrums of special needs and their families are welcome to visit with Santa before The Mall in Columbia opens. This sensory-friendly event is taking place from Sunday, December 5 to Sunday, December 12 from 9-10:30am. Learn more here (reservations encouraged).
Holiday Ceramics Exhibit at Columbia Art Center: From December 4 to January 23, you can check out pottery and decorative ceramics created by students and instructors of Columbia Art Center, perfect for gift-giving (more info here). There’s also a free reception open to the public on Sunday, December 5.
The Nutcracker on Ice: Enjoy the magic of The Nutcracker on Ice show by the Columbia Figure Skating Club, taking place Saturday, December 11 from 5:30-6:30pm or 7:15-8:15pm at the Columbia Ice Rink. CA loves hosting this every year. Tickets are $20 per person (kids 2 and under are free). To purchase tickets, visit the Columbia Figure Skating Club website.
Festive Friday: CA is excited to join the Downtown Columbia Partnership to hold this free event at the Lakefront. Come enjoy festive activities like winter crafts, ice sculptures, a photobooth, hot cocoa and s’mores over a toasty fire on Friday, December 17 from 5:30-8pm. RSVP here!
Family Holiday Celebration: Enjoy multicultural holiday crafts and stories among holiday decorations and seasonal tunes at Columbia Gym on Saturday, December 18 from 9-11am. Parents and their kids will also enjoy a customized hot cocoa while sampling children’s favorite winter holiday snacks. Learn more and register here.
Family Holiday Concert: Bring the family to Columbia Orchestra on Saturday, December 18 at 1pm to enjoy the sounds of the holiday season: Christmas carols, highlights from The Nutcracker with our friends from Dance Connections, Hanukkah songs and other family-friendly favorites. Buy tickets here.
Village holiday events
Dorsey’s Search visit from Santa on a fire truck: Everyone is welcome to come visit Santa at Linden Hall 9am-noon on Saturday, December 4. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be in attendance along with the fire truck to check out (pending any emergency calls). No reservations or tickets needed!
Harper’s Choice drive-thru Santa: Experience holiday cheer safely from your car outside of Kahler Hall on Saturday, December 18 from noon to 2pm. Say hi to Santa, drop-off your letter to him and collect goodies all from the safety of your vehicle! Letters with a return address may receive a letter back from Santa. Children must be present to receive a goodie bag (while supplies last). Click here for more information and reservation details.
Kings Contrivance Zoom with Santa: There are lots of chances to log on and safely greet Saint Nick this season. Join us on Saturday, December 11 (11am and noon) or Saturday, December 18 (2pm and 3:30pm) for Zoom calls. Each participant will receive an individualized letter from Santa in the mail. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
River Hill Dunkin’ with Santa (River Hill residents only): Join Santa and Mrs. Claus 9-11am on Saturday, December 11 at the parking lot in front of Claret Hall. Bring your letter to Santa with a return address. Enjoy hot chocolate and donuts while supplies last!
Wilde Lake Family Holiday Celebration: Head to Slayton House at 10am on Saturday, December 4 for a family holiday celebration! Enjoy Christmas cartoons, a family photo op on our beautifully decorated stage, music from Bach to Rock and the Kids Only Shop (cash only). Tickets required for 1 year and older (click here for tickets). Please consider bringing a new, unwrapped holiday gift for our Toys for Tots collection.
Ways to give back
You don’t have to be rich to assist the awesome organizations who are committed to serving our community. You can make a difference by donating time, items you already own or helping to spread the word. Here’s how!
- The Howard County Food Bank is accepting donations Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm (9385 Gerwig Lane Columbia, Suite J, MD 21046). Here’s the items they need most: grains, canned protein, canned and dried fruit, hot and cold cereal, soup, pasta and sauce, tuna, 100% fruit juice, baby food, diapers size 4+, wipes, peanut butter, canned beans (pinto, kidney, black), canned low-sodium vegetables, female hygiene and adult incontinence supply.
- The Oakland Mills High School Social Activism club is collecting coats, sweaters, scarves, hats and gloves for the needy through Dec. 16. Drop off new or gently used items at the Youth and Teen Center (5853 Robert Oliver Place).
- All Howard County Library System branches are accepting donations to support veterans through Dec. 6.
- Neighbor Ride is run on volunteers who help Howard County senior citizens get around in the community, and they’re experiencing a steep rise in requests at this time of year. If you’d like to assist seniors with a ride, here’s how you can get involved.
- Parents, here’s a wonderful way to show your kids that giving back can be fun and creative! Age-Friendly Howard County, a community initiative striving to create a more age-friendly, livable community, is in need of volunteers to paint rocks for their “rock garden.” Note: Students can earn two service learning hours for painting five rocks. Here’s how to sign up.
- Winter Growth provides community-based services for seniors and disabled adults. There’s plenty of ways to volunteer and brighten someone’s day, from leading a tech skills class to hosting a holiday-themed event to playing an instrument for residents. They also welcome families, and all creative ideas! Learn more here.
- Project Holiday is a volunteer opportunity for local youth ages 11-18 to assemble holiday gift packages and write letters for older adults who would not otherwise receive a gift. They need both letter writers and packers to help on December 15 (4-6pm) at the Department of Community Resources and Services. Sign up here.
- The Howard County Library System is raising funds until Dec. 15 to support their goal of growing 500 lbs. of food for the Howard County Food Bank in 2022.
- One Month’s Rent helps low-wage earners in Howard County who are threatened with losing their housing to a personal, economic or medical crisis. You can make a tax-deductible donation here.
For additional ways to give, the Community Action Council of Howard County has put together a wonderful guide.