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December Fun Guide: 12 Local Activities (& Holiday Shopping Highlights!)

By Sam Swank | December 1, 2021

Holiday Event Highlights

It’s time to celebrate our community and enjoy the holidays with our loved ones! The pandemic has precluded many typical in-person holiday events, but there’s still plenty to do around town this year in celebration of the upcoming holidays:

Tree lighting: December 2, 6 pm

The City of Davis will hold its 40th annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on the first Thursday of December to mark the start of the season. Head down to the E Street Plaza by 6 pm to hear live musical performances from the Davis Children’s Chorale, counting down to the lighting ceremony at 6:30 pm.

Varsity Theater Short Film Viewings: December 2, 6 pm (co-occurring with Tree Lighting Ceremony)

During the Tree Lighting Ceremony, the Davis Varsity Theater will feature the 2009 holiday short film Merry Madagascar. The box office opens at 5:30 pm, and the film will play at 6 pm, 6:40 pm, and 7:20 pm. You can also purchase tickets online at the Davis Varsity Theatre page on fandango.com. 

Film description: “Santa and his reindeer crash on the island of Madagascar, and Alex, Marty, Gloria, Melman, and the penguins must save Christmas.”

Elf on a Shelf: December 2 through December 20

Several downtown businesses have hidden elves on their store shelves. As a customer, find at least 10 different elves in 18 participating stores and snap a picture with them. Send those photos over to the Davis Downtown Business Association via social media or email for a chance to win prizes!

For a list of participating businesses and information on how to send in your photos, visit the DDBA’s post on their website.

Window Decorating Contest: December 2 through December 20

More than 20 downtown businesses will compete in the 10th annual Window Decorating Contest. Browse their decorations and take a moment to vote for the best work! Visit the DDBA’s Facebook page for a map of participating businesses.

Woodland Holiday Houses Tour: December 4, 10 am 

Are your neighborhood’s impressive house decorations your favorite part of the holidays? Do you cruise in your car or walk down the street just to view the unique holiday spirit of enthusiastic households? If so, this one’s for you!

Tour 5 gorgeous homes in Woodland, each one decorated head to toe! Tickets are $25 before the event and $30 the day of. Meet at the Schreiner Residence at 10 am on December 4 to get started, located at 1000 Silverado St in Woodland. Purchase your tickets here.

Winters Holiday Tractor Parade: December 4, 6:30 pm

Tractors decked out in beautiful holiday light displays will parade through downtown Winters on Saturday, December 4. Pets are allowed at this parade, so feel free to bring your pets with you.

Damien Sneed’s “Joy to the World: A Christmas Musical Journey”: December 4, 7:30 pm

Venture through gospel, jazz, and classical versions of Christmas favorites like “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night” in Damien Sneed’s original musical Joy to the World: A Christmas Musical Journey. Ten singers and musicians will perform original arrangements by Sneed. Mondavi also presented Sneed’s 2018-2019 production We Shall Overcome, A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Having worked with Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and other bigger-than-life legends, Sneed knows how to put together a masterpiece, so buy your tickets now to come view the show!

Santa at Train Depot: December 5, 10 am

Rain or shine, Santa is coming to town! On Sunday, December 5, head over to the Woodland Historic Train Depot at 10 am to catch a glimpse of Santa riding a vintage fire truck. A $10 donation will support the Sacramento Valley Historical Railways and get you a visit with Santa, as well as a holiday ornament for each child!

Wreath Decorating Contest: December 6 through December 20

Pick a wreath up on Friday, December 3rd between 11 am and 4 pm at the Davis Downtown Business Association office, located at 826 2nd St. (Sign up here; Wreaths are limited.) Decorate one of 25 available wreaths and drop it off by 4 pm on December 6 so that the DDBA can display it downtown through December 20! Members of the public will vote on their favorite wreath, and the winner—which could be you!—will receive a gift card.

Sacramento Jingle Bell Run: December 11, 8 am

Are you an avid runner? Then come join the Sacramento Jingle Bell Run on Saturday, December 11 at 8 am! Funds raised from registration fees will support research for and improve the quality of life of those with arthritis.

For help or more information about 2021 Jingle Bell Run – Sacramento, CA, contact Jennifer Dougherty at jdougherty@arthritis.org, or call 602-837-5580.

A Holiday Evening with Friends: December 17, 4:30 pm

The Davis Senior Center at 646 A St will host a live dessert charcuterie board demonstration. You’ll learn to create your own gorgeous charcuterie board of all your favorite sweets, and at the end you’ll receive a kit to create your own board at home!

Register for only $5 by phone at 530-757-5696 or online at this link on the City of Davis website. Go down to Activity #200002-12 and add it to your cart. Deadline for registration is December 10.

Davis Food Co-Op Annual Holiday Meal: December 24, 5 pm

On Christmas Eve, the Davis Food Co-Op will host their 36th Annual Holiday Meal. Anybody can come and grab a hot, free meal from the Davis Veterans Memorial Center from 5 to 8 pm!

Hundreds of residents stop by each year, and the Co-op needs volunteers to keep up with the community! To volunteer as a cook, server, runner, dishwasher, hospitality worker, or night cleaner, sign up here.

Donate to the Annual Holiday Meal here. **Choose the “Buy Tickets” icon and enter the amount you would like to donate!

Find more events on the Davis Food Co-Op calendar.


Holiday Sales, Shopping Events, and Specialties

Not sure where to buy your loved ones (or yourself!) some holiday goodies? Look to the businesses below for holiday shopping and sales events. Offering board games, artwork, books, food—these spots have you covered, and they are just a handful of the many places in Davis where you can keep your holiday dollars local.

Davis Cards and Games Holiday Items

The mother-and-daughter duo behind this store will have holiday-themed items available for purchase. From a Peppermint Mocha Christmas Holiday Cat Plush to a 550-piece Harry Potter holiday puzzle and ELF-themed Monopoly, indulge in some cheerful card and board games while you bundle up with your family this winter!

Avid Reader Holiday Drive (through December 12)

Avid Reader Outreach and Event Manager Holly Snyder Thompson let us in on the store’s 2021 Holiday Toy and Book Drive. When you go to purchase books and toys for your own children this December, why not purchase a few more for local children in need?

From now through December 12, head over to either The Avid Reader or Avid & Co. When you make your purchase, add on books and toys meant for children 0-17. These additional items will be donated to local organizations Empower Yolo, Communicare Health, and Yolo Crisis Nursery.

Avid Reader’s holiday hours are:

Mon-Thurs: 9 am to 8 pm, Fri-Sat: 9 am to 9 pm, Sun: 10 am to 6 pm

Davis Food Co-Op Holiday Sale (December 11 through December 12)

The Davis Food Co-Op will be holding a Holiday Sale from Saturday, December 11 through Sunday, December 12. Spend $100 or more and get $25 off your purchase! Limit to one use per customer with some restrictions. Ask the store for details!

Pence Gallery Holiday Market (through December 24)

The Pence Gallery commenced a holiday sale on November 12 that runs through Christmas Eve. Come buy fine arts, crafts, jewelry, and other festive decorations like pottery, sculptures, paintings, and dishes. Pence Gallery members receive a 10% discount.

Upper Crust Holiday Pie Specialties

Share or treat yourself to a scrumptious apple, pumpkin, or pecan pie from Upper Crust Bakery at 634 G St.


Be sure to check thedirt.online events calendar for more happenings in December!

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