We all know that L.A.’s malls will host Santa and his friends this month for wish list requests and special snaps, but what about the holiday extras? We’ve compiled a handy list of tree lightings, musical performances, cozy crafts, special deals and pet-friendly fun so you can make the most of the season at your local shopping center.
Abbot Kinney: The shops on Venice’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard throw an annual holiday block party Dec. 5-8, culminating in Sunday’s festivities, which include a visit from Santa in his sleigh (with LAPD escorts), face painting and sledding — on real snow! www.abbotkinneyblvd.com/holiday-stroll-snow-day
Americana at Brand: Santa’s house is open for business at this Glendale center, and there’s nightly snowfall at 7 and 8 p.m. through Christmas. Book your visit with St. Nick fast, because these time slots go quick. If you can’t get in to see Santa, snap a quick pic with the snowman and gingerbread man who will be roaming the outdoor mall. www.americanaatbrand.com
Del Amo Fashion Center: If you’re near Torrance, make a photo appointment with Kris Kringle using www.santasfastpass.com. The center is also offering “Caring Santa” Dec. 8 so that children with developmental challenges and sensory issues can enjoy a subdued environment for their visit. On Dec. 15, pooches can have their own visit with Santa. www.simon.com/mall/del-amo-fashion-center
Fashion Island: Head down to Newport Beach for a gander at Fashion Island’s 90-foot tree and a visit with Santa in the courtyard through Dec. 24. Pooches are allowed to visit Santa’s house (on the Atrium Lawn), too! Shoppers can cozy up under the tree for Friday Night Flicks Dec. 6, 13 and 20 ($10/person), which include popcorn and a film. www.shopfashionisland.com.
Glendale Galleria: For a super-easy Santa experience, head to the Galleria. This year, free photos are available courtesy of Lifetime. Book a time at www.mylifetime.com/santa.
Lakewood Center: A cool new feature at Santa HQ (sponsored by HGTV) is the Elf Academy. Try out magic mirrors and the Naughty-or-Nice ‘O Meter and create an Elf-ID card. Santa and his elves Jack and Strawberry are on hand for photos (bookable through www.santasfastpass.com) through Christmas Eve. During Jammin in my Jammies Dec. 13, kiddos can come dressed for a slumber party and get a festive photo. Bring an unwrapped toy to donate at the CHiP’s4Kids Toy Drive booth by Dec. 21. www.shoplakewoodcenter.com
Old Pasadena: Santa Through The Season is happening at One Colorado (www.onecolorado.com) through Dec. 24, and Old Pasadena is hosting an array of free holiday events, including a Holiday Karaoke Kick-Off Dec. 1, dog event Yappy Holidays Dec. 8 and the famous Bob Baker Marionette Holiday Show Dec. 11. www.oldpasadena.org
Plaza West Covina: Get your photo with Santa through Dec. 24, sit down for a special Santa breakfast Dec. 7 and bring your pets for a pic Dec. 8. “Frozen” fans will love the holiday Ice Palace, featuring a 30-foot ice dome with falling snow and photo ops with a real-live ice princess Saturdays and Sundays Dec. 7-22. www.shoppingpla-zawestcovina.com
Santa Monica Place: Book your Santa visit, and don’t miss the North Pole Breakfast Dec. 7, a Winterlit holiday market Dec. 6-8, 13-15 and 20-22, pet photos with Santa Dec. 11 and 18 and Menorah lightings Dec. 22-29. www.santamonicaplace.com
South Bay Galleria: This is Santa’s Redondo Beach hangout, but there’s also story time with Mrs. Claus Dec. 3 and sensory-friendly Santa visits (in partnership with Autism Speaks) Dec. 1 and 8. www.southbaygalleria.com
The Grove: Santa will be in his workshop at this posh spot for photo ops through Dec. 24, and you should book in advance if you’d like to visit. Note that 5 percent of proceeds from sale of photo packages benefits Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. www.thegrovela.com
Topanga Plaza: Westfield Topanga in Canoga Park celebrates the season with Winter Nights Dec. 5 and 12, featuring holiday crafts, carolers and festive characters, plus tasty treats for Westfield Rewards members. www.westfield.com/topanga/events
Lindsey Hunter Lopez is a smart holiday shopper, freelance writer and mom of two.