Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

It’s Christmas in South Jersey for early-bird Philly families. Plus more to do with kids this week.

Christmas anticipators can jump start the season in Hammonton and Mount Laurel. Also this week: a huge, streamed dance party, citizenship for scouts, and opportunities to be a planet protector.

DiDonato's Family Fun Center in Hammonton, NJ, becomes one of our region's very first holiday displays with its  Magical Holiday Express, open weekends in November and nightly in December.
DiDonato's Family Fun Center in Hammonton, NJ, becomes one of our region's very first holiday displays with its Magical Holiday Express, open weekends in November and nightly in December.Read moreDiDonato's Family Fun Center

Now that Halloween decorations are down and your kids know as much, if not more, than you do about the Electoral College, it’s time for — what? — the winter holidays, of course. While you’ve been hitting refresh on the news all day, the commercial world has been stocking aisles and entire cable channels with Christmas content.

Pack up last week’s shorts. Break out the faux snow. South Jersey is here early for Santa lovers in Hammonton, and for early-bird stocking stuffers in Mount Laurel. For those who’d prefer to remain autumnal (or ignore the carols' call), there’s environmental learning, webinars for scouts, and a three-hour, online, live Philly family dance party.

DiDonato’s Magical Holiday Express

5-9 p.m. Sunday, then weekends throughout November and daily Dec. 1-23, reservations available at, $12.95 in advance, $14.95 onsite, free under age 1 (all ages)

If you thought Linvilla or Shady Brook started the holidays too early, you obviously haven’t been by DiDonato’s. The Hammonton, Atlantic County, family fun center kicks things off the first full weekend in November, before some of us have thought about Thanksgiving. The popular, all-outdoor setup includes a train ride through the lights, a walk-through holiday village and toy market, in-tent photo opps, cookies, and, should you dare to go inside, discounts on bowling.

Litter Graveyard

10:30 a.m.-noon Weds., registration available at, free (ages 5-14)

The Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership leads an outdoor experiment in decomposition. Educator Judy Gantz helps kids clean up trash, sort it, bury it, then mark its resting place. In a year, they’ll come back to see what’s become of their hidden litter. Will it decay — or just get dirtier? Walk-ins welcome.

Virtual Scout Days

Times vary Thurs.-Sat., Nov. 12-14, for Boy Scouts, Nov. 19-21 for Girl Scouts, registration required at, $10 per scout, (ages 10-18)

If you’re a Boy Scout or Girl Scout in the Mid-Atlantic, you can visit the National Constitution Center for merit badge credits. This week, Boy Scouts can get the job done virtually, with live Zoom sessions in citizenship, law, and American heritage. Next week is for Girl Scouts, when newly reelected U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D., Delaware County) will be among the leaders of live webinars. The topics for those who’ll run the world (girls) include the 19th Amendment and the branches of government.

How Kids Can Help the Planet

10-10:30 a.m. Sat., Nov. 14, register online at, (ages 8-11)

Academy of Natural Sciences kid favorite Mary Bailey moderates a virtual brainstorm with Academy environmental scientists about big and small ways kids can combat climate change. The session is free and a half hour — entirely manageable.

Kids' Craft & Flea Holiday Market

10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat., Nov. 14, details on the Rancocas Woods Facebook page @rancocaswoodseventsandshops, free, (ages 4 & up)

To all the adults who’ve criticized kids for wasting their childhoods on screens, a bunch of crafters in kindergarten through grade 8 gather at Rancocas Woods in Mount Laurel, Burlington County, to vend their wares and prove them wrong. The way-before-Christmas kids' market has become something of a phenomenon at the quaint shopping center, where trees provide shade and card tables display like-new toys, along with handmade necklaces, knitted scarves, painted jars, abstract canvases, tie-dyed masks, and slime.

Dance On Philly

6-9 p.m. Sat., Nov. 14, details at, free (donations accepted), (ages 2 and up)

If the citywide party in the streets got you feeling like dancing — but at a safe distance, and possibly in your kitchen — you might want to join a virtual danceathon to raise funds for Musicopia and Dancing Classrooms Philly. Live DJs and performers — Alex of Alex & the Kaleidoscope, Cosmo Baker, members of Klassic Contemporary Ballet Company — do their thing at the Fillmore, while families join in via Zoom (for any donation), private Zoom room (for $300 and up), or online (free). From 9 p.m. to midnight, grown-up dancers can get dance-coached and cut loose.