The E List

An Excruciatingly Opinionated Guide to the Shoreline

November 20, 2016

45 Things To Do for the Holidays

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, 11/27 – 12/18 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 8th.

Florence Griswold Museum Shop is all stocked up with ornaments, children’s toys, books, jewelry and gifts for the holidays. A Gathering of Elves, a special holiday pop-up shop event featuring local artisans on 12/10.

Hill Stead for the Holidays, Hill-Stead Museum, 11/23 – 12/8: 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,  12/3 and 12/4.

Wesleyan Potters Annual Exhibit and Sale:  This is a must-see for ceramic lovers: 11/25 thru 12/11, 10am – 6pm and Thursday and Friday evenings til 9pm with Friday Night live music and refreshments.

Madison Chamber’s Sip, Shop & Stroll: Ladies Night Out on December 1. Specials and events at participating shops.

Velvet Mill Holiday Stroll, December 9th, 1 – 9pm: Vendors, Artisans, Brewery, Bakery, Boutiques. Santa will be appearing along with roaming carolers and a lovely bell choir.

Mystic Museum of Art Holiday Gift Show, November 19 – December 31: An inspiring and unforgettable selection of fine art, crafts, jewelry, accessories and more by local artisans.

Wadsworth Mansion Holiday Bazaar, 12/4:  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, 12/2:  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.


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.

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.



Get in the holiday mood with these upcoming events:


Join The E List team for Girls’ Night Out in Guilford, 12/7.  Meet us at The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center at 77 Whitfield St. between 5pm and 6:30pm for a glass of 1/2 price wine and to pick up your The E List sticker to qualify for discounts. Then head out to shop the boutiques of Guilford and take 20% off almost everything (some exclusions apply) at participating boutiques. It’s free and FUN.


The Magic of Christmas at Florence Griswold Museum, 12/1 – 1/8: 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 11/25 – 12/23 :  The 37th annual theatrical production of Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport. This year’s performance, “The Nut-Cracker Sweets,” is set on Christmas Eve in 1876 and is inspired by “The Nutcracker.”


The Nutcracker performed by the Eastern CT Ballet at The Garde, Saturday and Sunday, 12/10 and 12/11


Ivoryton Illuminations, 12/3: A Holiday Extravaganza with 350,000 lights, a Holiday Bazaar, Santa’s arrival, carol singing and more festivities.


Festival of Trees: A Benefit for the Child and Family Agency, 12/5 – 12/10:  The Essex River Valley Auxiliary of Child and Family Agency of Southeastern CT will partner with merchants and businesses in Essex Village to create a “Festival of Trees” as a fundraiser for the Agency while adding to the festivities of the annual Essex Holiday Stroll. Tickets can be purchased for a chance to win each of the beautifully decorated trees. Ticket donations are $20 for 5 or $40 for 15. All proceeds benefit the efforts of Child and Family Agency of SE CT.


The Bells of Dublin at The Ivoryton, 12/7 – 12/18:


Annual Holiday Train Show at CT River Museum thru 2/20: The magic returns to CRM with the 23rd 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.


Elf, The Broadway Musical  at the Shubert, 12/20 – 12/24.


Essex Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Boat Parade on 11/27:  Take a lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street culminating with a parade of vessels dressed in holiday lights.


Musical Masterworks  celebrates it’s 26th season with exciting Holiday Performances at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, 12/3 and 12/4:  the intrepid and ever-popular ensemble Brooklyn Rider, as they pair a new work by their own violinist/composer Colin Jacobsen with Beethoven’s pivotal “Serioso” String Quartet


Cappella Cantorum Messiah, The Christmas Section on 12/3 and 12/4.


Black Friday Shoreline Soup Kitchen Benefit at The Kate,  Black Friday 11/25: Artists for this year’s show are The Meadows Brothers; Ebin-Rose Trio and making their SSK&P concert debut Washboard Slim & The Blue Lights.


Munchkin Morning With Santa at Mystic Aquarium, 12/2: 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 – 1/1: 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 12/18: 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 11/26:  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’ tug boat, the John Paul.


Con Brio Christmas Concerts at Christ The King Church, Old Lyme on 12/9 and 12/11: the shoreline’s renowned all auditioned chorus presents a program of holiday music.


Annual Guilford Holiday Tree Lighting takes place on the Green on 12/2 at 6pm.


Live Performances at the Broadway Island Holiday Stage, New Haven: Music will fill the air as The Shops at Yale celebrate the holiday season with local school groups performing on the stage at Broadway Island (across from Apple/J. Crew/Urban Outfitters) on 12/3, 12/10, 12/16 and 12/17.


Chapel Street Ice Carving Demonstrations, 11/26, 12/4, 12/11 & 12/18: Professional Ice Carvers create a masterpiece from a solid block of ice in front of Wave Gallery and L’Occitane En Provence at 1046 Chapel Street.


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 11/26

Niantic/East Lyme Light Parade on 12/10

Ivoryton Illuminations   on 12/3

Madison on 12/5

Deep River on 12/3

Old Saybrook on 12/2

Guilford on 12/2

Chester on 12/2


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. $35 includes museum admission and 10% off at the Museum Store. December 4 – 23

Lyman Allyn Art Museum: celebrate the Season of Wonderment at one of their Colorful Dream Family Teas:  Enjoy tea and treats and then immerse yourself in fun with a scavenger hunt through the A Colorful Dream exhibit and a stained glass art project. Fun for the whole family!  Saturdays, 11/26 – 12/17 1:30 – 3:30  $12

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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