The E List

An Excruciatingly Opinionated Guide to the Shoreline

November 20, 2017

Things To Do for the Holidays

holiday things

There’s nothing like a Holiday Tea or an afternoon spent browsing Maynard’s Christmas Shop (only open from Thanksgiving through Christmas) to get me in the mood for decking the halls! We’ve put together an essential list of all the fun things we like to do on the Shoreline during the holiday season.


Pop-Up Holiday Shops:

Chester Holiday Market: The Chester Holiday Market resumes on Sundays, 11/26 – 12/17 from 11am – 2pm.

Artistry at the Guilford Art Center – Over 300 fine American crafters, artisans and jewelers are featured at this celebrated annual sale, open through January 7th.

Florence Griswold Museum Shop is all stocked up with ornaments, children’s toys, books, jewelry and gifts for the holidays. Sleigh Days at the Shop will featured different discount each day in December. Museum Store Sunday is 11/26 and all Members receive 15% and 25% off.

Hill Stead for the Holidays, Hill-Stead Museum, 11/24 – 1/7: 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,  12/2 and 12/3.

Wesleyan Potters Annual Exhibit and Sale:  This is a must-see for ceramic lovers: 11/24 through 12/10, 10am – 6pm and Thursday and Friday evenings til 9pm with Friday Night live music and refreshments.

Mystic Museum of Art Holiday Gift Show, 12/10, 11-5pm: An inspiring and unforgettable selection of fine art, crafts, jewelry, accessories and more by local artisans.

Wadsworth Mansion Holiday Bazaar, 12/3:  Find unique holiday gifts for your family and friends. 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.

Holiday Shopping Extravaganza at Chester Meeting House, 12/1:  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, home made soup, pizza, desserts and lots of additional nibbles.

Old Saybrook Holiday Passport to Savings.  Inside this local savings booklet you’ll find special offers and holiday promotions, as well as a calendar of community holiday events, and a ‘where-to-donate’ resource.

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 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:

Join The E List team for Girls’ Night Out in Guilford, 12/7. Meet us between 5pm and 6:30 at The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center for a glass of 1/2 price wine, hors d’oeuvres and to pick up your The E List sticker to qualify for discounts. This year, we’re adding a second CHECK-IN location at Perk on Church at 20 Church Street,  for those who would prefer to start at that end of The Green. Then head out to the shops along the green and take 20% off almost everything (some exclusions apply) at participating boutiques.

The Magic of Christmas at Florence Griswold Museum, 12/1 – 12/31: Visitors can 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!

Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport 11/24 – 12/23 :  This year’s performance, “The Spirit of the Holiday: A Christmas Ghost Story,”Set on Christmas Eve in the year 1876, the play unfolds through five scenes of historical hilarity featuring a gentlemen’s athletic contest, a spirited circle dance, a visit with old St. Nick, and a horse and carriage ride. As the story evolves, you’ll uncover the true Spirit of the Holiday… with a little help from a Victorian Spiritualist!

Essex Holiday House Tour, 12/9: A festive self-guided walking tour featuring seven Essex village homes – from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries – all beautifully decorated for the holidays. The Essex Historical Society and the Connecticut River Museum are also part of this tour in the heart of Essex. Plus Boutique:  Essex Town Hall ~ 9:30 am to 5 pm: Unique gifts of handcrafted jewelry, beautiful table linens, festive clothing, whimsical holiday arrangements and more.

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

Madison Chamber’s Sip, Shop & Stroll: Ladies Night Out on 11/30. Specials and events at participating shops.

The Nutcracker performed by the Eastern CT Ballet at The Garde, Saturday and Sunday, 12/9 and 12/10. Connecticut Lyric Opera performs Mozart’s final opera, Magic Flute — family-friendly, fully staged, performed entirely in English on 12/6.

Ivoryton Illuminations, 12/2: A Holiday Extravaganza with 350,000 lights, a Holiday Bazaar, Santa’s arrival, carol singing and more festivities.

It’s a Wonderful Life:Live Radio Play at Ivoryton Playhouse, 12/7 – 12/17: Inspired by the classic American film, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is performed as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience. Five actors perform the dozens of characters in the radio play as well as produce the sound effects.

Annual Holiday Train Show at CT River Museum thru 2/19: The magic returns to CRM with the 24th Annual Holiday Train Show.  This family-friendly exhibit, created by train artist Steve Cryan, features more trains, new scenery, and lots of surprises to be found 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.

Sister’s Christmas Catechism at Long Wharf: It’s CSI: Bethlehem in this holiday mystery extravaganza, by the author of the Late Nite Catechism series, as Sister takes on the mystery that has intrigued historians throughout the ages—whatever happened to the Magi’s gold? Retelling the story of the nativity, as only Sister can, this hilarious holiday production is bound to become a yearly classic. 12/5-12/17

David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries runs 11/24 – 11/26 and  Elf, The Broadway Musical  at the Shubert, 12/8 – 12/10.

Essex Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Boat Parade on 11/26:  Take a lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street culminating with a parade of vessels dressed in holiday lights.

Musical Masterworks  celebrates its 27th season with exciting Holiday Performances at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 12/2 and 12/3.

Cappella Cantorum 9th Annual Messiah, Sing or Listen on 12/17.

Black Friday Shoreline Soup Kitchen Benefit at The Kate,  Black Friday 11/24: With an emphasis on melody, lyricism, and harmony The Ebin-Rose Trio, Carter Gowrie, Leonard Wyeth, Ian Meadows, Lauren Agnelli and special guests will gather for a concert at The Kate to raise funds for The Shoreline Soup Kitchen & Pantries

Munchkin Morning With Santa at Mystic Aquarium, 12/1: Grab your kids and camera and join us for a fantastic Aquarium holiday tradition. Your child will have a memorable morning enjoying fun seasonal and animal-themed crafts and activities, as well as a visit with the man in red himself, Santa! The program begins before we open to the public and is a great way to experience the Aquarium without the holiday crowds. Older siblings are welcome to attend at the child rate; however, the activities are geared for children ages 2 to 5.

Winterfest at the Mystic Aquarium, 12/26: Mystic Aquarium is spreading holiday cheer through the New Year; transforming into a winter wonderland December 26 to January 1 during Winterfest! Favorite holiday toys come to life while live entertainment brings good tidings to all. Watch local chefs create masterpieces out of ice and gingerbread and stop by Santa’s workshop to say thanks! Be sure to bring in unused toys and share the joy of the season with others. Spend your vacation week with us during Winterfest!

Mystic Seaport Community Carol Sing on 12/17: A community carol sing plus holiday concert at the Seaport, free admission with a donation of canned foot item from 10am – 4pm.

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade  on 11/25:  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 2pm on a 60’ tugboat, the John Paul.

Con Brio Christmas Concerts at Christ The King Church, Old Lyme on 12/9 and 12/10: the shoreline’s renowned all auditioned chorus presents a program of holiday music.

Chapel Street Ice Carving Demonstrations, 12-4pm, 12/9. Professional ice carvers will each transform 900lbs of ice into a spectacular sculpture in only 4 hours. Great photo opportunities with the sculptures after the event. Hot cocoa and other specialty drinks available at Maison Mathis and Blue State Coffee, both cafes are only steps away from the event.Location: Broadway Island, 56 Broadway (across from Apple/J.Crew/Urban Outfitters). Read more about the event here, plus how to get free parking –

Horse Drawn Carriages in downtown New Haven, 12/3, 12/10, 12/17 & 12/24
Revel in horse-drawn carriage rides – free to all and provide a wonderful way to see Downtown New Haven.

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.

Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland, from Thanksgiving weekend through mid-December, check 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.


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 11/25

Niantic/East Lyme Light Parade on 12/9

Ivoryton Illuminations   on 12/3

Madison on 12/3

Deep River on 12/8-12/9

Old Saybrook on 12/9

Guilford on 12/1

Chester on 12/1

Branford, 11/25

New Haven Tree Lighting, 11/30



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. December 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. Then, before heading to the art studio for a snow globe art project, children will be able to add their artistic touch to the gallery walls in the Coloring New London exhibit!  Saturdays, 11/25, 12/2, 12/9, 12/16 1:30 – 3:00  $12 per person

Bee & Thistle Inn offers Afternoon Tea, Thursdays through Saturdays in December,  from 12 – 2:30 for $35. $40 for Royal Tea. 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.

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