The Pasadena area has something for every style of gift-buying this holiday season. Shoppers who want convenient one-stop shopping can go to Paseo Colorado, The Americana at Brand in Glendale and Westfield Santa Anita in Arcadia — shopping malls with a wide range of stores that offer a wide variety of gifts. Others might .prefer the ambiance of a shopping district, where the streets are lined with shops, as in Old Pasadena, the Pasadena Playhouse District, the South Lake Avenue Business District, Mission Avenue in South Pasadena and Honolulu Avenue in Montrose.
But wherever they choose to shop, people will be able to view lighting ceremonies for elaborately decorated Christmas trees, have their kids photographed with Santa Claus, and enjoy entertainment and other holiday festivities. These activities can brighten the gift-buying experience — and lure us to go shopping.
Old Pasadena rings in the holiday season on Friday with its family-friendly Home for the Holidays. The fun begins on Holly Street, which will be covered with 20 tons of snow between Fair Oaks and Raymond avenues. The street will feature numerous activities from 4 to 8 p.m., including photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday card-making and other crafts projects at the Kids’ Craft Village, and entertainment by the Pasadena Symphony Brass Quintet and other performers. A second celebration, One Colorado’s Holiday Kick Off Party, begins at 6 p.m. at One Colorado Courtyard, 41 Hugus Alley. This event features live entertainment, cookies and cocoa, and Santa’s Mailbox, a drop-off for letters to Old St. Nick, who will reply to writers who include their return address. Check out oldpasadena.org for more information.
Pasadena Playhouse District
The district celebrates its many locally owned stores this Saturday at Playhouse Shop Small, Shop Indie. More than 30 of the district’s small, independent businesses will participate in the event, which coincides with American Express Small Business Saturday. Customers using their American Express card to buy at least $25 worth of merchandise will receive a credit of $25. In addition, some of the stores are offering 25 percent discounts, and Urth Caffe is giving 20 percent discounts to diners. The event, held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., also features live entertainment and an Instagram scavenger hunt, and partygoers can enter a drawing to win a GoPro camera. More information is available by calling (626) 744-0340 or at playhousedistrict.org/shopindie.
Vroman’s Bookstore — Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookseller — is taking part in Saturday’s event, and will join with the Pasadena Playhouse District Association to host Winter Wonderland on Saturday Dec. 6. The event begins at 10 a.m. with a free screening of the movie “Arthur Christmas” at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 Theaters next door to the bookstore. Starting at 11 a.m., Vroman’s, at 695 E. Colorado Blvd., will be the site of a holiday party, with music, kids’ treats, crafts and photos with Santa. Additional information is at vromansbookstore.com; visit playhousedistrict.org/events to learn out more about attending the film.
280 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
Shoppers at the Paseo Colorado mall will be able to do some additional gift-giving this year by taking part in the Spark of Love Toy Drive. This is the 22nd year that ABC7 TV and the Southern California Firefighters have sponsored the drive, collecting and stuffing busloads of Christmas gifts for underserved children and teenagers throughout Southern California. During the drive — which began at Paseo Colorado on Nov. 10 and will continue through Christmas Eve — shoppers can drop off their donations at the mall.
Paseo Colorado is also staging two annual holiday events. The Tree Lighting Celebration on the Garfield Promenade gets underway at 5 p.m. Saturday Dec 6. Santa will be there to light the holiday tree, along with hot apple cider, carolers, and other live music. The following weekend, Saturday and Sunday Dec. 13 and 14, the mall hosts its fifth annual Paseo Arts & Holly Fest. More information is available at paseocoloradopasadena.com/events.
South Lake Business District
The South Lake Business Association launches the holiday season at noon Saturday, Dec. 6, with Holidayfest, five hours of family fun. The district, located on South Lake Avenue between Green Street and California Boulevard, will feature roaming holiday characters, a scavenger hunt, horse-and-carriage rides, and singing carolers. The North Pole Kid Zone, at Corporate Center Pasadena, 251 S. Lake Ave., will feature kid-friendly activities like a 25-foot rock climbing wall, a Euro bungee trampoline and holiday face painting. Holiday Happy Hour at The Commons, 140 S. Lake Ave., will be the site of cooking demonstrations, an artisan market, a cookie-decorating station, and a live DJ. Santa’s Village at 345 S. Lake Ave. will offer photos with Santa, a scavenger hunt and live music.
But perhaps the best features of Holidayfest are the free parking available at Corporate Center Pasadena, and the special holiday promotions from the district’s participating merchants. To learn more about these promotions and Holidayfest events, go to southlakeavenue.org.
Westfield Santa Anita
400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia
This indoor mall houses dozens of franchise stores and restaurants, as well as anchor stores J. C. Penney, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Forever 21. During the holiday season, Westfield Santa Anita will also be the site of an ice skating rink, to open this Friday, the same day that Santa is coming to town. Mr. Claus will be posing for photos with children at the Center Court on Level 1. People can preorder a photo package on the mall’s website and reserve a FastPass to make it easier to visit with the Jolly Old Man. Santa and the ice rink will be at Westfield Santa Anita through Christmas Eve. The mall will also throw a Christmas party on Sunday Dec. 14 and will hold a Hanukah menorah lighting on Tuesday Dec. 16. See westfield.com/santaanita for more information.
Americana at Brand
899 American Way, Glendale
Americana at Brand got the jump on local shopping centers by holding its Christmas Tree Lighting on Nov. 19. The evening event featured photo opportunities with Santa, a performance by Cirque du Santa, elves, flying reindeer, dancing snowmen and a grand fireworks finale. If you missed the event, you can still see the 100-foot Christmas tree and enjoy the dancing fountains, holiday melodies and a nightly snowfall. And Santa will be sticking around until Christmas Eve to pose for photos at Santa House. Reservations for Santa photos and more information about the mall are available at americanaatbrand.com.
The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce has invited two prominent guests to take part in its annual holiday celebration from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4: Santa Claus and South Pasadena Mayor Marina Khubesrian. The party, which features an after-dark tree-lighting ceremony and live entertainment, will be held at the South Pasadena Farmers’ Market, located near the Gold Line Station at El Centro and Meridian Avenue. Phone (626) 441-2339 or visit southpasadena.net/Chamber for more details.
Montrose Shopping Park
This shopping district in the small town of Montrose is proud of its old-fashioned holiday traditions, and shoppers can join in the fun at this year’s Montrose Old-Town Christmas event. The festivities get under way Friday night, with a tree and town lighting ceremony at 7 p.m., and appearances by Santa Claus and strolling carolers. Other activities will be held every Saturday and Sunday until December 21, including additional visits from Santa, who’ll be passing out candy canes on both days. Visitors on both Saturdays and Sundays can hop aboard a horse-drawn trolley for a free ride along Honolulu Avenue and listen to live Christmas music. The kids can take free pony rides on Saturdays and see the ponies and petting zoo at the Montrose Harvest Market on Sundays. The times of these weekend activities and other information can be found at shopmontrose.com.