The E List

An Excruciatingly Opinionated Guide to the Shoreline

November 19, 2018
Fun / Holiday / Holiday Things To Do

Things To Do for the Holidays 2018

holiday things to do

Things To Do for the Holidays 

Here’s our relatively exhaustive list of pop-up boutiques, holiday events, concerts, teas, tree-lightings, strolls, and shops that do it up for the season. 


Pop-Up Holiday Shops:

Artistry at the Guilford Art Center – Over 300 fine American crafters, artisans and jewelers are featured at this celebrated annual sale, open thru 1/6/19.

Florence Griswold Museum Shop is all stocked up with ornaments, children’s toys, books, jewelry and gifts for the holidays. Museum Store Sunday offers 20% off on 11/25.

Mystic Museum of Art Holiday Gift Show, 11/16 – 12/22, 11 – 5pm: An inspiring and unforgettable selection of fine art, crafts, jewelry, accessories and more by local artisans.

Hill-Stead for the Holidays, Hill-Stead Museum, 11/20 – 1/6: Beginning the day after Thanksgiving and continuing through early January, the former Pope family mansion is decorated for the holidays. The Annual Holiday Boutique features 25 artists and crafters who bring their best to this two-day sale, 12/1 – 12/2.

Wesleyan Potters Annual Exhibit and Sale:  This is a must-see for ceramic lovers: 11/23 – 12/10, 10 am – 6 pm and Thursday and Friday evenings til 9 pm with Friday Night live music and refreshments.

East Haddam Holiday Market, 11/24: A collection of artists, specialty artisan products, holiday-inspired vendors, prepared foods, and talented local musicians.

Chester Holiday Market: The Chester Holiday Market resumes on Sundays, 11/25 – 12/16 from 11 am – 2 pm.

Wadsworth Mansion Holiday Bazaar, 12/2:  Featured vendors from the Open Air Market will be selling handmade products and enjoy lunch and hot beverages in the bar provided by David Alan Catering.

Stonington Vineyards Holiday Market, 12/6: Don’t miss this holiday market featuring local vendors and live jazz at the vineyard.

Holiday Shopping Extravaganza at Chester Meeting House, 12/7:  Locals transform this historical space into a festive, cheerful haven for holiday shopping; peruse the wares of over 25 of the best local and hand-picked artisans, enjoy live music, homemade soup, pizza, desserts and lots of additional nibbles.

Old Lyme Country Club Holiday Boutique, 12/12: Something for everyone on your gift list at this event featuring 22+ vendors to Benefit Shoreline Youth Bureau at the Old Lyme Country Club.

Maynard’s Christmas Shop (only open from Thanksgiving through Christmas) always gets me in the mood for decking the halls!




Decoration and Inspiration:

Looking for a little inspiration for decking the halls? Here are some favorite shops for everything from decorations to ribbons to greens.

Saybrook Home (formerly Saybrook Country Barn) is a feast of inspiration for the holidays, with room after room of ornaments, trees, swags, centerpieces, candles and gifts.

Madison Flower Shop, for trees, swags, greenery, centerpieces and an enormous selection of ribbons and ornaments.

R.J. Vickers Herbery, Chester for handmade, one-of-a-kind wreaths, topiary, ribbon and dried herbs and flowers.

Maynard’s Greenhouse, a fantasy land of fairy dust and holiday trimmings inside, and trees, roping, wreaths and greens outside.

Mar Floral‘s long-lasting arrangements are far from ordinary.



Get in the holiday mood with these upcoming events:

Madison Chamber’s Ladies Shopping Night in Madison 11/29: Specials and events at participating shops in Madison.

Thanksgiving Dance Parties at Madison Beach Hotel, 11/23 & 24:  Dance your stuffing off all weekend with the Magic of Motown and Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez.

Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport 11/23 – 12/23:  Head to Mystic for an evening of seasonal surprises with Lantern Light Tours: Finding Your Place. Set on Christmas Eve in the year 1876, the play offers small windows into the lives of people on the verge of great change, both personal and cultural.

Ocean House Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, 11/24: Ignite the Christmas Spirit at Ocean House’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Village. Santa Claus will make his big arrival on a fire truck! While enjoying Christmas carols and complimentary cookies and hot chocolate, get your holiday shopping done early in our Christmas Village featuring an array of products from local purveyors.

Black Friday Shoreline Soup Kitchen Benefit at The Kate,  Black Friday 11/23: The Meadows Brothers, Ebin-Rose Trio, Moving Target, Lauren Agnelli & Dave Rave, Carter Gowrie & Friends will gather for a concert at The Kate to raise funds for The Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries.

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on 11/24:  Santa Claus is coming to town and so is Mystic’s Holiday Lighted Boat Parade in Historic Downtown Mystic. Thousands gather at the Mystic River Park to watch Santa arrive at 2 pm on a 60’ tugboat, the John Paul.

Essex Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Boat Parade on 11/25: Take a lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street culminating with a parade of vessels dressed in holiday lights.

Goodspeed Musicals presents A Connecticut Christmas Carol, 11/30 – 12/20: Custom-made for Goodspeed with all-original music, enjoy a tuneful, heartfelt confection spiced with enough Nutmeg State flavor to sweeten your season.

The Magic of Christmas at Florence Griswold Museum, 12/1 – 12/30: Enjoy Miss Florence’s Artist Trees, designer Fantasy Trees, and the Florence Griswold House decorated for a 1910 Christmas. Christmastime Teas, special events for families, hands-on crafts for children and adults, and wonderful items in The Shop bring holiday cheer.

Lyman Allyn Free First Saturday, 12/1Head to the art studio at Lyman Allyn to decorate festive winter ornaments! While you’re there, explore the galleries and our ongoing exhibitions. Free admission all day.

Musical Masterworks 12/1 – 12/2: Celebrates MM’s 28th season with an exciting performance of Schubert: Winterreise, D. 911 at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Capella Cantorum MasterWorks Performance: Works of Puccini and Saint-Seans on 12/2: Enjoy the Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus performance of Puccini’s Messa di Gloria and Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio at John Winthrop Middle School, 

An Ivoryton Playhouse Christmas Hour with David Pittsinger and Friends 12/5 – 12/8: Celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas with holiday standards and sacred songs.

Girls’ Night Out in Guilford, 12/6. Meet The E List team between 5 and 6:30 pm at The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center for a glass of 1/2 price wine, hors d’oeuvres and to pick up your sticker to qualify for discounts (second CHECK-IN location at Java Hut at 20 Church Street). Then head out to the shops along the green and take 20% off almost everything (some exclusions apply) at participating boutiques.

Munchkin Morning With Santa at Mystic Aquarium, 12/7: Experience the Aquarium without the holiday crowds. Kids will work on animal-themed crafts and activities, plus a visit from Santa! Geared for children ages 2 to 5.

Con Brio Christmas Concerts at Christ The King Church, Old Lyme on 12/7 and 12/8: Don’t miss the shoreline’s renowned all auditioned chorus presenting a program of holiday music.

Chapel Street Ice Carving Demonstrations, 12-4pm, 12/8. Professional ice carvers will each transform 900lbs of ice into spectacular sculptures while live performances by many accomplished a cappella groups take place. Free and open to the public. Location: Broadway Island, 56 Broadway (across from Apple/J.Crew/Urban Outfitters).

Festival of Trees thru 12/8,  the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern CT will partner with local merchants for the second biennial Festival of a Trees. Beautifully decorated holiday trees will be displayed in shops throughout Essex and also in a tree gallery located at 19A Main Street in Essex Village. Visitors will be able to buy tickets to take a chance to win their favorite tree.

The Nutcracker at The Garde at The Garde, 12/8 – 12/9: Get tickets to see this holiday favorite performed by Eastern CT Ballet at The Garde.

A Christmas Carol at Longwharf Theater on 12/8:  Get tickets for a timeless classic the entire family will enjoy at Longwharf.

Homes for the Holidays: Old Lyme Holiday House Tour, 12/8:  This event will feature a Holiday Boutique from 10 – 4 pm and a self-guided Home Tour takes place from 11-3pm spotlighting beautifully decorated Old Lyme homes.

Lady Katharine Cruises – Rudolph’s Holiday Cruise, 12/9:  Limited seating and going fast! Dine on a hot buffet brunch then gather with Santa and his elves for story time. Children of all ages will love creating a special holiday keepsake to live musical entertainment.

New Haven Ballet Nutcracker at The Shubert 12/15 thru 12/16: Don’t miss this family-friendly holiday classic, performed by the students of the New Haven Ballet.

Mystic Seaport Community Carol Sing on 12/16: Head to this community carol sing plus holiday concert at the Seaport, free admission with a donation of canned food item from 10 am – 4 pm.

Horse Drawn Carriages in downtown New Haven, 12/2, 12/8, 12/9, 12/16 & 12/23: Revel in horse-drawn carriage rides – Free with purchase of $30 or more from any retailer at The Shops at Yale. Pick-up/Drop-off on the Corner of College & Chapel Streets on College Street, (across from Claire’s Corner Copia, 1000 Chapel Street) and at the corner of York Street and Elm Street (across from Patagonia New Haven and GANT).

Story Time with Santa and Face Painting at The Yale Bookstore, 11/25, 12/2, 12/9, 12/16, 12/23: Santa will visit The Shops at Yale and will read stories to children at The Yale Bookstore. Free face painting will take place prior to story time plus free milk and Insomnia Cookies. Saturdays, Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22 at The Yale Bookstore, 77 Broadway, with free face painting. Sundays, 11/25 and 12/23 at Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea, 194 York Street.
-Sundays, 12/2, 9 and 16 at Claire’s Corner Copia, 1000 Chapel Street.

Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland, from Thanksgiving weekend through mid-December, check the website for dates and times. Take a ride into the past and visit with Santa at The Shore Line Trolley Museum, all decked out for the holidays. Complimentary cookies and hot chocolate.

Winterfest at the Mystic Aquarium, 12/26 – 1/1/2019: Enjoy ice carving, live music, photo opps with Sea Princess and Ice Princess and toast to the New Year while beluga’s swim in the background! Celebrate the start of 2019 with a complimentary cider bubbly toast.

Annual Holiday Train Show at CT River Museum thru 2/19: Bring the whole family to this 25th Anniversary exhibit, created by train artist Steve Cryan, featuring more trains, new scenery, and lots of surprises in the fully operational 26-foot model train layout.

Santa Special on Essex Steam Train, thru 12/23: Enjoy the spirit of the season as you relax with family and friends aboard festive railway cars adorned with vintage decorations.



Stroll the Shoreline:

Holiday strolls in Shoreline villages feature Santa visits, sleigh rides, caroling, tree lightings and special events in the shops. Here are some dates:

Niantic Holiday Stroll on 11/24

New London on 11/24

Branford Tree Lighting on 11/24

New Haven Tree Lighting on 11/29

Guilford on 11/30

Madison on 11/30

Ivoryton Illuminations on 12/1

Clinton on 12/2

Westbrook on 12/2

Mystic on 12/4

Chester on 12/7

Stonington on 12/7

Deep River on 12/8

Old Saybrook on 12/8

Niantic/East Lyme Light Parade on 12/8



Holiday Teas

Nothing we like better than to take a break from the holidaze with an afternoon spent sipping and snacking!

Florence Griswold Museum Christmastime Teas, Tuesdays thru Saturdays at 3pm. Scones, tea sandwiches, and cookies with Miss Florence’s Tea. $40 includes museum admission and 10% off at the Museum Store. 12/5 – 20

Lyman Allyn Art Museum: celebrate the Season of Wonderment at one of their Snowflake Family Teas: Enjoy tea, a hot chocolate bar, and desserts in the charming Hendel Library. After, kids and adults can explore the Winter Circus exhibition together and find unusual circus themed items in a scavenger hunt. Then everyone will head to the studio to participate in the Lions and Tigers and Bears Puppets – Oh My! art project. Saturdays, 11/24, 12/1, 12/8, 12/15 1:30 – 3:00  $15 per person/$12 kids (under 3 – free)

Bee & Thistle Inn offers Afternoon Tea, Thursdays through Saturdays in December, 11/29 – 1/5/19
12:00 pm–2:30 pm $35 per guest, $40 per guest for ‘Royal Tea’, plus tax and gratuity, Reservations suggested. Enjoy savory and sweet goodies and tea of your choice while enjoying the Inn’s over-the-top holiday decor!

Savvy Tea is offering Holiday Afternoon Teas in their Madison tearoom.  Fancy tier trays with delicate tea sandwiches, fresh baked pastries and holiday treats, quiches and scones with clotted cream and jam. 6 different teas are poured tableside. $40 per person with advance reservations.

The Deacon is a perfect spot to join friends for an afternoon of tea, freshly baked scones with clotted cream, decadent chocolates by Filicori Zecchini and tasty finger sandwiches. $45/guest. Available every day by reservation.

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