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1. Attend Holiday Craftapalooza, the biggest girl-led event of the year
Previously known as Winterfest, this one day only youth craft fair is like Pinterest come to life with over 180 shopping and activity booths—and it’s organized by GSNorCal Girl Scouts! With games, badge workshops, take-home craft booths, and handmade holiday gift shops all under one roof, this event is perfect for girls of all ages.
2. Help keep families warm and comfy this winter
Join us at our annual One Warm Coat drive—donate your old coats, volunteer to collect coats, or host your own coat drive. During the winter months, you can also bring gently-used coats, scarves, or hats to your closest GSNorCal retail store for donation.
3. Feel the furry love helping with Giving Tree with Pet Food Express
Treat homeless cats and dogs to a taste of the holiday season. Help Pet Food Express spread the word about toy and treat donations by tabling and sharing information and cheer at their various locations. This is also a great way to work on the Daisy 5 Flowers, 4 Stories, 3 Cheers for Animals! Journey or the Junior Animal Habitats badge as well as spread the holiday giving spirit.
4. Share your thankful Thanksgiving thoughts with the SF-Marin Food Bank
Help your community feel the warmth of the season by donating non-perishable food items to the SF-Marin Food Bank or spearhead your own food drive. In November of 2017, troops were (wo)manning tables at the Safeways in Marin and San Francisco.
5. Make your own winter fun at a local ice skating rink
Even if the weather isn’t cooperating—grab your gloves and your troop for some frosty fun at a nearby ice skating rink. A few popular rinks include the Yerba Buena Skate Bowl in San Francisco, Oakland Ice Center, Tri Valley Ice in Livermore, Holiday Ice Rink in Walnut Creek, or Marin on Ice in San Rafael .
6. Take in a theater show and journey to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Go behind the scenes of holiday magic and celebrate the holidays with San Jose Dance Theater’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Or experience the classic San Francisco Nutcracker in grand style (but with a Girl Scout discount) at the beautiful War Memorial Opera House. Marvel as the lights dim, the music soars, snowflakes swirl, flowers dance, and a little girl dreams about a whole new world in a Nutcracker that is as unique as it is magical.
7. Show holiday celebrators how Girl Scouts do it at a local tree or menorah lighting
Singing carolers, bright lights, the scent of fir in the air, community cheer—holiday tree and menorah lightings bring us all together to celebrate the season. If you want to go the extra mile for your favorite holiday, you and your troop can look into volunteering at the event and maybe passing out hot chocolate or candy canes.
Some of my favorites include tree lighting ceremony at Jack London Square and the lighting of the menorah at Ghiradelli Square, but these holiday celebrations take place all over Northern California—just do a quick Google search to find tree lightings and other holiday festivities in your area.
8. Exercise your creative powers with a cozy troop meeting craft
Bundle up with blankets, crafts, and homemade hot chocolate for a holiday-themed troop meeting full of sparkle, love, warmth, and cheer. Let them choose their favorite wintertime craft that they can give as holiday gifts or bring home to decorate. From pompom ornaments to scientific snow slime or even perfect pine cone projects, you can dive deep into craft-land with the help of Pinterest.
9. Coordinate a Secret Elf (or Santa) gift exchange
Ease the tension and avoid any gift-giving drama among your girls by coordinating a holiday gift exchange. Make sure everyone is included in the circle and don’t forget to customize your gift exchange for your own special group of girls. Here is a simple tutorial to point you in the right direction, so your holidays stay cheerful and jolly.
10. Sing your hearts out with some classic caroling with your troop
We know Girl Scouts love singing, so do it for a cause (or just for fun!). Raise your voices in song at a local hospital or shelter. Looking for a little extra sprinkle of fun? Hold a carol rewrite competition and challenge your troop to rewrite tradition carols with their own Girl Scout twist. Who knows, you may end up with your new favorite go-to holiday tune! Here are some extra tips on caroling with kids.
No matter what holiday you celebrate, keep the winter season bright with your troop this year. Don’t forget to let the girl take the lead and stretch your girl-led ideals with whatever project your troop chooses.
What to do next:
- Put on your go-getter cap and start planning upcoming programs and activities with the Activity Finder.
- What’s more fun than fun patches? Check out some of our retail shop’s holiday & celebrations fun patches for inspiration!
- The winter months are packed full of tons of different holidays. Help your girls celebrate their own spirituality and faith as well as those of others with these resources.
Haley Ireland—Haley is a Program Manager at the Girl Scouts of Northern California, specializing in girl power and wordplay. After attending Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington and spending many summers at an all-girl summer camp, Haley knew she wanted to devote her time to getting girls to raise their hands, raise their voices, and raise their spirits!