St. Regis Monarch Beach
St. Regis Monarch Beach

Get your calendars out to book your holiday fun! As usual the resort hotels really go all-out during the holidays and create such a festive place… some of us don’t even have to decorate! Ok, I admit it, I have boxes galore of decorations, and we often go to the hotels and have our family photo taken there. Am I a bad Mom for doing that, or maybe just for admitting it? (My son IS grown.)

But anyway, whether you are decorating to the hilt or just looking for an afternoon tea to get in the spirit of the season, I have tried to list a few special events that you can enjoy with girlfriends, a romantic get-away, or with the entire family. Wishing you all a wonderful and joyous holiday season! Let’s hit the list, and you may want to get your calendars out. I have begun my planning too…..

Island Hotel  (949) 759-0808

Island Hotel Welcomes The Holidays & Builds a Gingerbread Sailboat In The Lobby!

What will 400 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of brown sugar, and 300 pounds of royal icing make? It will create a life-size vessel with gingerbread planks and thousands of candies to adorn this sailboat. Guests can come and watch the building of the sailboat by the Chef and his Team, or arrive for the Christening. The creation will be in the lobby during the holidays and will be the perfect spot for a family photo taken right there to celebrate the launch of another holiday season of coastal luxury at the Island Hotel. {The Island Hotel Newport Beach is conveniently located right across the street from Neiman Marcus and Fashion Island. The address is: 690 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach CA}

Building Of The Display- In the Lobby- Friday, November 22nd to the 25th

 Christening- Monday, Nov. 25 from 12:30 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. – Island Hotel Newport Beach GM, Donald Stamets will christen the S.S. Island Club with a chocolate champagne bottle, and the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Commodores will be on hand to celebrate this festive hotel tradition.

 Viewing– All Through December in the Lobby!

Island Hotel Gingerbread
Island Hotel Gingerbread









Newport Beach Boat Parade

Newport Harbor- Dec.18-22nd  The Parade starts at 6:30 pm so make your reservation at a restaurant along the water or find your special spot on the route!  Recognized as a can’t-miss local event and now hailed as “one of the top ten holiday happenings in the nation” by The New York Times, the 105th Boat Parade is truly a magical holiday tradition.

The St. Regis Monarch Beach  (949) 234-3200

This Five-Star, Five Diamond Resort celebrates another season of holiday traditions. In addition to the many holiday dinners, brunches and New Year’s Eve festivities, here are a few events for the family to all enjoy!

Holiday Afternoon Tea-
Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from December 5-21, 2013
The pricing is $49.00 for Adults and $24.00 for children (ages 5-12)
First Seating is at 12:00 noon time and the second seating is 2:30 to 3:00pm.
Their lavish holiday tea buffet featuring an international variety of tea accompanied
by delicious delicacies created by award-winning Pastry Chef Frederic Moreau. This will include hand-crafted pastries, such as: Crème Brule, Éclairs, Macaroons, Chocolate Covered Strawberries. The savory buffet consist of:  open faced sandwiches
(smoked salmon, cucumber, turkey, roast beef), cold salads such as: Waldorf,
Chicken, Mushroom, Fruit, as well as Mini-Calzones. Each day the buffet is set
up uniquely, and the specific items will change from day to day.

13th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony- Sunday, December 1, 2013 (no charge)
Bring the whole family to enjoy the acclaimed Tree Lighting Ceremony and Sand Sculpture Dedication, featuring three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty-May Treanor as the mistress of ceremonies. Guests will experience a breathtaking 8-ton sand sculpture, visiting with Santa, holiday entertainment, and exclusive St. Regis prizes! As per tradition, one child will be chosen to help flip the light switch of the beautiful St. Regis Monarch Beach Christmas tree, while families enjoy cookies and festive drinks.

St. Regis Photo By: Lily Stein
St. Regis- Photo by: Lily Stein

Gingerbread House Academy- Every Saturday & Sunday from December 7-22, 2013
A sweet St. Regis tradition continues this year with our Gingerbread Academy. Children and families have the opportunity to decorate their house with all the frosting and candy imaginable. Reservations required. Saturday’s 10 am to noon & 1 to 3, Sunday’s 10-noon. {Cost: $70 per house, maximum of 4 people per house}

St. Regis Gingerbread Building
St. Regis Gingerbread Building







Photos and Visits with Santa Claus –
Saturdays & Sundays throughout December (no charge)
Children can give their wish list to Santa as he visits the resort during the month of December, from 11 am – 2 pm. No reservations necessary.

Pelican Hill Resort  (949) 467-6800

Photo Courtesy Pelican Hill
Photo Courtesy Pelican Hill

A Five-Star, Five-Diamond destination, Pelican Hill has earned acclaim as the 2012 Grand Resort selected by Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report; as Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards Top Southern California Resort (2012), Top U.S. Resort (2011), Top-Rated Golf Resort Worldwide (2012) and Top-Rated California Resort Spa (2012); in Travel + Leisure’s “Top 100″ World’s Best Hotels (2011 Readers’ Poll), and with two courses ranked among Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses (2011). What’s not to love? In addition to the elegant setting, holiday dinners and brunches, and resort guestroom and villa accommodations, here are a few of the special activities the Resort has planned for families to enjoy this holiday season.

Photo Courtesy Pelican Hill
Photo Courtesy Pelican Hill

Children’s Gingerbread House Decorating
Saturday, November 30 & Sunday, December 8- Pelican Hill’s Pastry Chef highlights a favorite holiday tradition in this culinary class from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when children will enjoy lunch and create a masterpiece to take home. Classes are available for children ages 5 and up, with parent supervision required throughout the class for all children ages 10 and younger. $75* per person



Photo Courtesy Pelican Hill
Photo Courtesy Pelican Hill

Nutcracker Tea Holiday Party
Sunday, December 15 & Sunday, December 22- Children and their families are invited to enjoy an enchanting Holiday Season tradition, featuring a delightful Nutcracker ballet performance and holiday tea in the Resort’s elegant ballroom from 12 to 3:30 p.m. Tea sandwiches, pastries and scones will be served. Parent supervision is required throughout the tea and performance. $80* per adult; $40* per child



Breakfast with Santa- Saturday, December 21
Come and tell Santa your holiday wishes from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Mar Vista Ballroom. Children and their families will enjoy seasonal music and a traditional breakfast buffet, featuring favorites such as scrambled eggs, chicken apple sausages and French toast. A to-go candy buffet and Santa photo souvenir are included. Parent supervision is required throughout Santa visits and breakfast. $50* per adult or child

Holiday Caffè
Throughout November and December, home-made holiday gelatos, pastries, panettone, seasonal treats and other holiday desserts are prepared fresh and featured daily. Custom cakes and desserts may be ordered in advance for holiday entertaining. For holiday shoppers, the Caffè features traditional culinary accessories and gourmet goods.

Tea Time Renaissance November 23 – December 30
Capture the essence of a traditional tea every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. throughout the holiday season in the Great Room, along with a classical harpist. (Tea Service will not be available New Year’s Day.) $50* per adult; $30* per child

Montage Resort Laguna Beach (949) 715-6000

View from Coastal Pathway
View from Coastal Pathway

Montage is set on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific in the heart of the vibrant arts community of Laguna Beach. The Resort offers 30 acres of oceanfront luxury. The 248-room craftsman-style resort features beachfront accommodations; breathtaking lobby, walking paths, a 20,000-square-foot spa; destination dining at Studio restaurant; three pools, beach and water sports; and a fine art collection. In addition to the many holiday dining celebrations this year, here are a few of the special holiday events that local families may find fun to attend, or to enjoy as a stay-cation:

Montage Holiday Tree Lighting and Community Open House
December 2nd at 4:30 p.m. Complimentary to community and resort guests.
This annual event has become a cherished holiday tradition for locals and guests alike. Join us for a festive evening of holiday caroling, hot cocoa, children’s activities and live music followed by a breathtaking tree lighting ceremony. Hearts of Montage, the resort’s philanthropic organization, asks guests attending the open house to bring a food item to donate to the Laguna Food Pantry ( ). In addition, Hearts of Montage will kick off the season of giving by presenting the Friendship Shelter of Laguna Beach ( with a generous donation at the tree lighting that evening. While you are here, enjoy spectacular holiday menus and cocktails in our restaurants and Lobby Lounge. Take advantage of complimentary personal shopping assistance in all of our Montage shops and boutiques — the perfect way to get started on your holiday gift giving.

Holiday Shopping Excursion For Resort Guests
When the holiday season arrives, South Coast Plaza beckons. Montage Laguna Beach has partnered with Southern California’s premiere shopping destination to bring you an exclusive excursion with all the trimmings. This holiday wonderland features 250 boutiques and department stores to inspire gift giving. Enjoy award-winning restaurants, four performing arts venues and a very merry Santa’s Village that will delight visitors of all ages. Throughout the month of December, Montage guests receive complimentary transportation or valet passes, gift-wrapping and lunch for two at Quattro Café. During your visit, relax in the VIP ACCESS Suite, offering complimentary refreshments, package check and a dedicated concierge. (Reservations required. 24-hour advance notice required for transportation. Must be a Resort Guest staying at the property to participate in this program.)

Sip and Savor Culinary Adventures in December
December 6th  through 8th  and December 13th  through 15th  from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Explore the flavors and spirits of the season Montage style with our Sip and Savor schedule of events. On select afternoons in December, we invite you to experience an array of interactive culinary adventures led by our in-house Sommeliers and Chefs. Sip your way through world-renowned Champagnes and savor winter-time classics like house-made Honey Baked Ham. Each afternoon will feature stirring demonstrations boasting ingredients and shared recipes you will treasure. (Cost: $25 per person. Please call 949-715-6420 for reservations.)

Raclette Making ~ December 6
Cheese devotees will appreciate every savory step of making Raclette, a favorite among the Swiss for its rich, melted goodness. {Raclette is both a type of cheese and a Swiss dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off the melted part.}

Classic Holiday Side Dishes ~ December 7
Become an expert on making classic dishes that dress up any holiday spread.

Champagne Tasting ~ December 8 and 15
Just in time for New Year’s, taste and refine your understanding of some of the world’s most celebrated Champagnes.

Classic Holiday Meats from Scratch ~ December 13
Master the fine art of cooking the main entrée featuring holiday prime rib or ham that will leave everyone wanting seconds.

Make Your Own Gingerbread House ~ December 14
Festive, edible works of art to take home (if you can withstand the temptation), created by you and renowned Pastry Chef Lee Smith.

Ritz Carlton- Laguna Niguel/Dana Point (949) 240-2000

In addition to a lovely line-up of holiday dining options, here are a few of the special holiday happenings for guests to enjoy.

Holiday Story Telling- Complimentary
Friday and Saturday, December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 2013 from 5:00-6:00pm
Children enjoy holiday tales in the Eco-Adventure Center. A visit from Santa is a highlight. In celebration of the “Season of Giving,” guests
are requested to bring a new book to be donated to Miracles for Kids.

Yappy Howl-iday Celebration
Saturday, December 7, 2013 From 11:00am to 2:00pm on The Dana Lawn
Santa Claus will make a special appearance for the Yappy Howl-iday Celebration. This festive gathering of canines and their companions provides Fido with the opportunity to be photographed with the “Big Dog” himself – Santa Claus. In keeping with the resort’s Season of Giving, guests are asked to bring unopened canned or dry dog food, treats or dog toys to be donated to a local animal rescue organization.

Photo Courtesy of Ritz Carlton
Photo Courtesy of Ritz Carlton

Holiday Afternoon Tea
Monday through Thursday- through December 19, 2013 ~one seating at 2:00pm
Cost is: $55 per person*
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon with Holiday Tea at the Ritz Carlton overlooking the beautiful Pacific  Ocean in Dana Point. The tea begins with a specialty cocktail, tea service featuring Might Leaf Teas, and a selection of both Savory and Sweet canapés and treats to enjoy the afternoon. The Savory Canapés include the following items: Potato Blini, a quail egg with black truffle salad, Maytag Blue Cheese Tartlet with caramelized walnuts & port braised raisins, Tomato & Fior di Latte Mozzarella with mini zucchini & sweet basil pesto, Smoked Salmon Crêpe with crème fraîche & black caviar, English Cucumber with fine herb cream cheese & pan de mie, and Napoleon with jambon de Paris &  Boursin cheese on wheat bread. The Sweet Bites include: a White Chocolate Raspberry Crunch Cake, Mint Chocolate Chip Macaroon, Pistachio Financier with Brandied Cherries, Grand Marnier Cream Puff,  Pecan Tart and Currant Scones served with a selection of:  jam ~ lemon curd ~ Devonshire cream. [*The Cost is $55 per person, plus tax & gratuity. This includes one specialty cocktail. An 18% service charge applies to parties of 8 or more and a service charge of $10 applies to split one tea service. Reservations are required.]


Photo Courtesy Ritz Carlton
Photo Courtesy Ritz Carlton

Gingerbread Spectacular
November 23 through December 31, 2013 ~ Complimentary
You are invited to come to the resort to view the Gingerbread Spectacular. The pastry team will spend more than 400 hours to create the gingerbread display that will be dedicated to all of the Community Footprints partners the resort supports throughout the year. The display is made from gingerbread, doughnuts, sugar cubes, waffles, pretzels, cream puffs, rolls, cookies, crackers, cereal, macaroons, dried fruit, chocolate shavings, candy, candy and more candy.

Sixth Annual Holiday Surfboard Auction
Saturday, November 23 through Tuesday, December 31, 2013
The Sixth Annual Surf Board auction benefits Surfers Healing. More than three dozen surf boards will be on display November 23 through December 31, with bidding closing at noon on December 31. Bid online at Surfers Healing was founded by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz. Their son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Like many autistic children, he often suffered from sensory overload– simple sensations could overwhelm him. The ocean was the one place where he seemed to find respite. A former competitive surfer, Israel hit upon an idea–with Isaiah on the front of his surfboard, and Izzy steering from the back, the two spent the day surfing together. Surfing had a profound impact on Isaiah. Israel and Danielle decided they wanted to share this unique therapy with other autistic children. They began to host day camps at the beach where autistic children and their families could be exposed to a completely new experience of surfing.

Balboa Bay Resort Newport Beach  (949) 645-5000

For complete list of holiday dinners and shopping guestroom packages, please visit the web site and click on “view holiday activities” at:
Two stand-out events include:

Photo By: Marcie Gonzalez
Photo By: Marcie Gonzalez

Resort & Tree Lighting Ceremony- Monday, December 2nd
6:00 to 7:00pm  Located outdoors in the Porte Cochere
Bring family, friends and especially the children for a complimentary evening of joyous festivities. Watch as our giant Christmas tree and the Resort come to life with thousands of twinkling lights and holiday decor amidst a live musical performance of holiday harmonies. Indulge in holiday cookies and hot beverages while an annual visit from Santa Claus delights one and all. Reservations are not required. (Guests are asked to graciously donate a new, unwrapped gift for the Toys for Tots Program.)

Holiday Afternoon Tea in the Library- Offered December 1-23rd
Two Seatings – 2:00 and 4:30 pm** Enjoy a timeless English afternoon tradition with a holiday twist in the comfort of the Library—decorated for the holidays with the fireplace aglow. An assortment of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries will be served with a selection of fine teas. The Governor’s Tea also includes a glass of Champagne or Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider. Costs- Traditional Tea $34.00* or Governor’s Tea $39.00*  {The Details: * Excludes Tax and Gratuity. A 48-hour cancellation policy of $25 per person will apply. ** Only the first seating is available during the Newport Beach Boat Parade (12/18 – 12/22). Appropriate resort attire required. Denim is not acceptable.}

Other Afternoon Tea Locations for Consideration:
Here are a few others places that come to mind for Afternoon Tea. Although they may not have as extensive “holiday themes and décor”  as those mentioned above, they are lovely places to consider for Afternoon Tea throughout the year.

Orange County-

Paris in a Cup – Located in Old Orange
119 S. Glassell St., Orange, CA, 92856  (714) 538-9411
As you enter this quaint shop, you are inundated with Eiffel Towers, and Frenchly decorated stationary, soaps and gift items. Toward the back of the shop is the Tea Room. The style is French & Continental serving traditional Afternoon Tea in a historic building.

The Los Rios Tea House- Located in San Juan Capistrano
31731 Los Rios St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 (949) 443-3914
Located on the historic Los Rios Street of San Juan Capistrano, is an adorable house that has been converted into a Tea Room. The service is excellent, the food and teas are delicious, and the setting is a step back in time. With weather permitting, tea can be enjoyed on their patio, or inside. They also have private rooms for baby showers and other celebrations. (Also don’t miss the Cottage Garden store across the street and The Nest, a women’s boutiques with the most amazing clothing items next door.)

Los Angeles and Pasadena-
This web site has done a very good job listing and describing the “Top Ten Tea Houses” in Los Angeles and Pasadena.


Holiday Trains- The Richard Nixon Library
Through January 5, 2014, the Richard Nixon Library offers the Exhibit “Trains, Trees and Traditions”. Model trains and Christmas trees are decorated to highlight a few of the former president’s favorite countries. This is located in Yorba Linda and the web site

Gods & Gifts- Exhibit from the Vatican- The Bowers Museum
The Bowers Museum exhibit “Gods & Gifts: Vatican Ethnological Collection” showcases works of art and includes gifts to the Pope from heads of state and spiritual leaders. This is the largest selection of works to leave the Vatican City. The museum is open 10:00-4:00 daily. Consider a membership. It is quite reasonable and they have some of the best exhibits throughout the year. The web site is:

Note To Readers: If you have other events for me to consider adding to this list, please forward the information to me at: . Thank you!

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