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Dreidels, ornaments, and fabuLyss holiday fun

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There is so much to do and explore with the children in New York City in December. Whether you are busy shopping for holiday gifts (make sure to do some window shopping) in all of the glittering big department stores, going ice-skating at Rockefeller Center or Bryant Park, visiting the Christmas tree, or going to see a Broadway show, I have put together a Holiday LYSST of some things you’ll especially enjoy experiencing with the kids.

Everyone loves the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” with the Rockettes. And whether you love musical theater or the books by Theodor Geisl, Dr. Seuss’s “How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” is playing at Madison Square Garden. The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show is also a very popular attraction. The Union Square Holiday Market is one of my favorite places to shop during this festive season — from the DeLysscious foods to the unique and special gifts — I always find something for everyone here.

If you are celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas — or both! — this is one of the most beautiful cities in which to celebrate. Take a stroll along Fifth Avenue to see all the stores lit up like a winter wonderland. Stop into a restaurant that you always wanted to try but never had the time to. This holiday season is about family and spending powered-down time with yours.

“Radio City Christmas Spectacular” at Radio City Music Hall [1260 Avenue of the Americas between W. 50th and W. 51st streets in Midtown, (866) 858–0007, www.radiocitychristmas.com] now through Dec. 31. Tickets $46-120.

“How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” at the Theater at Madison Square Garden [4 Pennsylvania Plz. between W. 31st and W. 33rd streets in Midtown, (212) 465–6741, www.theateratmsg.com/thegrinch] Dec. 5 to 28. Tickets $40–160.

The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show [200th Street and Kazimiroff Boulevard, (718) 817–8700, www.nybg.org] Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10 am–6 pm now through Monday, Jan. 19. Tickets $20 ($8 children, free for children under 2).

Union Square Holiday Market in Union Square [University Place and E. 14th Street in Union Square, (212) 529–9262, urbanspacenyc.com/union-square-holiday-market] now through Dec. 24, weekdays 11 am–8 pm; Saturday 10 am–8 pm; Sundays 11 am–7 pm.

There are lots of family events during the month of December that are wonderful. On Dec. 3, DivaMoms is hosting a moms’ and kids’ holiday event at the Armani Junior store on Madison Avenue to benefit Riley’s Dance. There will be face painting for the kids, champagne and Armani makeovers for the moms, a DivaDiscount, and of course, a FabULyss raffle prize.

DivaMoms holiday benefit at Armani Junior (1223 Madison Ave. at 88th Street in Carnegie Hill) Dec. 3, 5–7 pm. RSVP at rsvp@divamoms.com. Free.

On Dec. 17, The Brooks Brothers store on Madison Avenue has a holiday event that benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with the Wynton Learson Marsalis Orchestra.

Brooks Brothers holiday benefit (346 Madison Ave. at E. 44th Street in Midtown) Dec. 17, 5–8 pm. RSVP to events@brooksbrothers.com. Free.

Also on Dec. 17 is The Jewish Museum’s 20th Annual Family Hanukkah Party. This festive event brings together children ages 2 to tweens, parents and grandparents for an engaging evening of live entertainment, art projects, games and a holiday buffet dinner.

The Jewish Museum Hanukkah party [1109 Fifth Ave. at E. 92nd Street on the Upper East Side, (212) 423–3264] Dec. 17, 5:30–7:30 pm. On Sunday, Dec. 21 (the first day of winter), Carnegie Hall has its annual holiday event, and this year’s theme is Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.

Carnegie Hall Family Holiday Concert [881 Seventh Ave. between W. 56th and W. 57th streets in Midtown, (212) 247–7800 www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2014/12/21/0300/PM/Carnegie-Hall-Family-Holiday-Concert-The-New-York-Pops] Dec. 21, 3 pm.

December date nights are very important, and on Mondays, crooner Michael Fredo serenades diners at luxury hot spot Beautique on West 58th Street. The glamorous restaurant and lounge is one of the best places to see and be seen with celebrity patrons Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Kevin Spacey, and Uma Thurman.

Michael Fredo at Beautique [8 W. 58th St. near Fifth Avenue in Midtown, (212) 753–1200]. Mondays, 7–11 pm. Reservations recommended but not required.

Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy 2015! It’s sure to be a wonderful new year for all.

For some DeLysscious gingerbread house fun, I selected an easy recipe that should take just about an hour.

Lyss Stern is the founder of DivaLysscious Moms (www.divamoms.com).DeLysscious gingerbread house recipe INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons water

For assemblage and decoration:

Melted white chocolate or royal icing (recipe follows)

Gumdrops, licorice, and peppermint, as desired

Royal icing:

1 pound (3-3/4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy

1 to 2 large egg whites, or substitute 4 teaspoons packaged egg whites and 1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon almond extract, vanilla or lemon juice


Gingerbread house: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut out the following paper patterns for the gingerbread house template:

Two rectangles, 3 by 5 inches, to make the front and back of the house. Two rectangles, 3 by 5 1/2 inches for the roof. Two pieces for the ends of the house, 3 inches wide at the base, 3 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 5 1/2 inches from the bottom. Four smaller rectangles, 1 1/2 by 1 inch for the roof and sides of the entryway. And one piece, 2 inches wide at the base, 1 1/2 inches to the roof line, and slanted to a peak 2 1/2 inches from the bottom for the front of the entryway.

Roll gingerbread dough out to edges on a large, rimless cookie sheet. Place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough. With a sharp, straight-edged knife, cut around each of the pieces, but leave pieces in place.

Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes until dough feels firm.

Place patterns on top of the gingerbread again and trim shapes, cutting edges with a straight-edged sharp knife. Leave to cool on baking sheet.

Place royal icing into pastry bag with a writing tip and press out to decorate individual parts of house, piping on decorations, windows, door, etc., as desired. Let dry until hardened.

Glue sides, front and back of house together at corners using royal icing. Place an object against the pieces to prop up until icing is dry. (It only takes a few minutes.)

Glue the two roof pieces to the pitched roofline of the house. Then, similarly, glue the sides and roof of the entryway together with icing. Attach the entryway to the front of the house.

Continue decorating the house, glueing on gumdrops, licorice, and peppermint, as desired.

Royal icing: Mix all of the ingredients together using an electric hand mixer, until the icing is smooth and thin enough to be pressed through a pastry bag with a writing tip. Add more lemon juice, if necessary.

Recipe courtesy of Food Network.

Updated 4:55 pm, July 9, 2018
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