Holiday Happenings in Douglas County

holidayhappsSome people say it’s the most wonderful time of the year. They’re probably not talking about shopping in crowded malls, standing in long lines, or maneuvering through packed parking lots. There’s a better way to get into the holiday spirit! Gather the family and take in some local festivities, like these. Bundle up and enjoy.




Castle Rock

Storytellers & S’mores
Saturday, December 10
Festival Park (300 2nd St.); free

Gather around the campfire listening to stories and making s’mores from a gourmet s’mores bar. The event includes vendors and other food and beverages.

The Castle Rock Winter Express
Saturday, December 17
Festival Park (300 2nd St.); free

You know the beloved story, now enjoy it Castle Rock style. Festival Park transforms into a North Pole celebration for the whole family, with Santa and train rides — plus food, carriage rides and vendors.

Highlands Ranch

Holiday Hay/Sleigh Rides
Details, cost info and availability: Contact Carla Baca at (303) 471-7078 or

Enjoy a custom sleigh or hay ride into the Backcountry Wilderness Area with draft horses Bella and Buster at the helm. Rides include a campfire and marshmallow roast.

Breakfast With Santa
Saturday, December 17
Eastridge Recreation Center (9568 University Blvd.); $11 advance, or $15 day of (if not sold out)

Enjoy the best pancakes and sausage this side of the North Pole with jolly old St. Nick himself. Bring your list for Santa, and enjoy crafts, holiday music, and stories from Mrs. Claus. Great for all ages!

Kids’ Zone – Seasonal Cards
Thursday, December 22
Douglas County Libraries (DCL) in Highlands Ranch, James H. LaRue; free
No registration required

Kids in grades 2-6 drop in for a merry time making seasonal cards for loved ones.


Christmas Carriage Parade
Saturday, December 10
Downtown Parker (Parker Road and Mainstreet); free

This all-equestrian parade is made up of dozens of horse-drawn carriages, wagons, surreys and stagecoaches from across Colorado, dressed in the holiday spirit. The event also includes a holiday farmer’s market, petting zoo, pony rides and ice sculpting in O’Brien Park. After the parade, join Santa and Mrs. Claus at DCL in Parker from 1-3 p.m. for pictures! Photos are $5, cash only.

Holiday Carriage Rides
Saturday, December 10, & Saturday, December 17
Downtown Parker (Ride stations at DCL in Parker & O’Brien Park)
Free; reserve your ticket

Take in the sights and sounds of the holidays on a 15- to 20-minute round-trip carriage ride through downtown Parker from one of two ride stations.


Old-Fashioned Holiday Celebration
Saturday, December 10
Roxborough State Park (4751 N. Roxborough Dr., Littleton)
Free (but $7 State Parks entrance fee is required; ask DCL staff about free Check Out Colorado park passes)
Register: (303) 973-3959

Stroll down the Fountain Valley Trail and then warm up with hot cocoa, warm cider, and holiday treats at the Visitor Center. Do some holiday shopping while there, purchase books signed by local authors, join in holiday songs, and enjoy 10 percent off merchandise. Perfect for all ages!

happy-new-year-hat-picture1New Year’s Fun!

Kids’ Zone – Make & Take New Year’s Fun
Thursday, December 29
DCL in Highlands Ranch, James H. LaRue; free
No registration required

Kids in grades 2-6, get ready for a rockin’ New Year! Drop in and have fun making festive New Year’s party supplies with fun, noisy and explosive New Year’s crafts.

New Year’s Eve Noon Countdown & Celebration – Castle Pines, Parker & Roxborough
Saturday, December 31
Registration is required – Castle Pines, Parker & Roxborough

A fun-filled early New Year’s celebration for all ages. Activities include hat decorating, special Storytimes, fun with balloons, and a balloon drop as we count down to Noon Year’s Eve!


Top Gifts for Everyone on Your List

christmas-xmas-gifts-presentsLooking for the perfect gift this holiday season for that special someone? Well, you can relax — Consumer Reports (CR) has done the legwork for you! The CR 2016 Holiday Gift Guide includes top-rated picks for everyone on your list, from tweens and teens, to foodies and coffee connoisseurs, to gadget geeks and tech gurus, and everyone in between — and it’s free! Just log in with your library card number and PIN to access it from any personal device.

Here’s a small sampling from this year’s gift guide. Be sure to check out the extensive guide, which includes product reviews, ratings, price deals, and model comparisons.

For Tweens & Teens

This might be the most rad (or epic or whatever the kids are saying these days) gift for this age set: 1MORE sleek earbuds with nine earpieces for a comfortable fit. They might also really dig these: FujiFilm waterproof camera and Braven portable speaker system.

For the Family Chef

CR’s no. 1 pick is the Panasonic FlashXpress toaster oven. Boring, you say? Maybe. But it features quartz and ceramic elements that deliver infrared heat instantly. And that means the good kind of fast food!

Some other useful cooking tools that made the list include the Oregon Scientific leave-in digital thermometer and a Cuisinart hand mixer.

For the Gadget Geek

CR offers a range of gift picks for gizmo geeks, from a Brother inkjet printer that’s great for printing photos, to a home Wi-Fi system, to smartwatches from Samsung and Apple.

For Foodies & Coffeeholics

Meals delivered to your doorstep? Yes, please! CR rated five (colorful) national meal kit services from Blue Apron, Green Chef, HelloFresh, Plated and Purple Carrot. Log in for complete reviews and ratings, as well as other edible gift goodies!

Maybe you know someone on a perpetual quest for coffee nirvana. The CR list includes several coffee makers, including a stovetop espresso maker, pour-over brewer, steam brewer, French press, and more, plus a few good coffee blends.

Check out the complete 2016 Holiday Gift Guide, and finish your gift list. Then go and enjoy the holiday season!

Best Black Friday Deals Around!

10733976_10152871881516788_6934255255978528675_nAll DCL locations are open normal hours (9AM-5PM) on Black Friday. Escape the madness of the department stores, and relax in the library.

You could say we have some of the best deals around town. Here are just a few perks you get with your library card (which are available all year long):

  • Free pass to Colorado State Parks (A limited number of Check Out Colorado backpacks are available for checkout at our welcome desks. These backpacks include a free pass to get into a state park, binoculars, a wildlife viewing guide, a tree and wildflower identification guide, park brochures, and suggested activities. Ask a staff member next time you visit.)
  • Free pass to local museums (Book a free pass to local attractions, such as the Butterfly Pavilion, Denver Firefighters Museum, Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, Dinosaur Ridge, and History Colorado Center.)
  • Free downloadable magazines (Download magazines immediately to your device with our Zinio collection.)
  • Popular and award-winning audiobooks or e-books (Check out titles directly through the OverDrive app or our catalog to your device.)
  • Free MP3 downloads from Sony Music Collection (Download up to five songs per week.)
  • Stream movies and television shows (Use your library card to set up an account with Hoopla — it’s like our version of Netflix, but without the pesky fees!)
  • Free interactive picture books (Check out Tumblebooks, which features animated read-along stories for kids.)
  • Free homework help (Log in to Brainfuse to get live tutoring help with any of your subjects.)
  • Free Consumer Reports (Explore the product ratings and reviews in Consumer Reports.)
  • Free (Learn a new skill on
  • Free access to Mango Languages (Learn a new language through this interactive online program.)

Thanksgiving Music

family-holiday-turkeyCrafting the perfect playlist for your Thanksgiving dinner? Use your library card to download music from the Sony Music catalog for free! You can download up to five songs a week. They even have some Thanksgiving albums in their collection:

Thanksgiving Songs for Kids: Includes all the classic party songs kids like to dance to, from “Cotton Eyed Joe” to the “Chicken Dance.”

Party City: Thanksgiving Dinner Party: Features family classics like “We Are Family” and “Home Sweet Home” to highlight the warm fuzzy feelings of the holiday.

Jazz Music for Thanksgiving Dinner: Looking for some upbeat background music? You can’t go wrong with these jazzy classics.

Thanksgiving Dinner: 30 Classic Songs: Looking for music that won’t overpower the dinner conversations? Check out these relaxing piano instrumentals.

Thanksgiving Table Crafts for Your Littles

Get your kiddo to help you with your Thanksgiving tablescape this year with these fun crafts.


turkey-napkin-rings-close-upTurkey Napkin Rings (via Simmworks Family

How adorable are these easy napkin rings?

Supplies Needed: pipe cleaners, construction paper (brown and orange), googly eyes, glue, napkins





pine_cone_felt_kids_turkeyFelt and Pine Cone Turkey Craft (via Lia Griffith

These would make great accents to your centerpiece.

Supplies Needed: different colors of felt, pine cones, scissors, glue gun, googly eyes








turkey-leaf-lanterns-pin1Turkey Leaf Lanterns (via Rhythms of Play

These luminaries will brighten up your table or house!

Supplies Needed: fall leaves, canning jars, Mod Podge, foam brush, tissue paper (white and brown), construction paper (orange and red), googly eyes, scissors, pencil, tea lights







12758393-jpg-rendition-largestPilgrim Hat Place Cards (via Better Homes and Gardens)

These are a cute, unique take on the traditional place card.

Supplies Needed: 3-inch terra-cotta flowerpots, paints (white, black, red and blue), paintbrush, crafting foam (black, yellow, green, purple), scissors, thick white crafts glue, black fabric paint pen







finished-tableThankful Weave Place Mats (via Make and Takes

These go beyond the traditional weave place mats! Encourage your kids to write what they are grateful for on each slip.

Supplies Needed: cardstock (various colors), scissors, marker, double-sided tape







turkey-headbands-420x700Thankful Turkey Headband (via U-Create

Another way to express gratitude around the table would be to make these fun headbands, where kids write what they are thankful for.

Supplies Needed: printable kraft paper, white cardstock, markers, glue, stapler, printer


Thanksgiving Pre-K Activities

racing-turkeys-number-line-gameRacing Turkeys Number Line Game (via Mom Inspired Life

Improve counting skills and fine motor skills with this fun number-line game. Roll the die to see which turkey will get to the end of the line first!

Items needed: dice, clothespins, feathers, googly eyes, construction paper (red and orange), poster board, black marker






screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-2-15-21-pmStuff the Turkey Game (via Kid Friendly Things to Do

Work on eye-body coordination as well as counting. Roll a die to see how many steps to take away from the turkey. Do you have older kids as well? Use multiple dice to have them walk back even further for an additional challenge. If they are a lot older, have them multiply the two dice instead of simply adding them.

Items needed: 1 large brown paper bag, 2 small lunch-size brown paper bags, scraps of paper, 2 pieces of tissue paper, stapler, glue, dice





screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-2-20-21-pmTurkey Feather Name Recognition (via Modern Preschool

Improve name recognition with this turkey matching exercise. If you’d like to work on color matching as well, you could make each letter a different color.

Items needed: paper plate, brown paint, circle stickers, googly eyes, construction paper, clothespins, marker






thanksgiving-activities-for-kids-turkey-baster-relay-1Turkey Baster Relay (via Inspired Tree House

Race to get the feathers in the box! It’s a great fine motor skills game, but you can add to the learning by asking your children to count the feathers as they get them into the box or ask them to sort the feathers by color when they’re finished.

Items needed: baster, feathers, small box






cranberry-structures-thanksgiving-fine-motor-skills-660x990Thanksgiving Stem-Building Cranberry Structures (via Little Bins for Little Hands

Test out your kids’ engineering skills by having some fun building structures from toothpicks and cranberries. Problem-solving and counting are all part of this activity.

Items needed: cranberries, toothpicks

Don’t Forget! Schedule Your Colorado Gives Donation Today!

cuddle-readColorado Gives Day, an annual statewide celebration of philanthropy, isn’t until December 6, but you can schedule your year-end donation now so you don’t forget. Why donate on Colorado Gives Day? Your giving goes even further, helping us earn part of a $1 million incentive fund based on the single-day’s donations.

Here’s how to donate: Visit our profile on Under “Donation Type,” select “CO Gives Day.”









Your credit card will be billed on December 6 (Colorado Gives Day).

Your donations help us add the magic to our programs and services, such as our interactive Storytimes, which inspire little minds and give them skills to become ready to read; Cuddle Up & Read, our partnership program with local hospitals that provides new parents with a fun and meaningful introduction to the library and early literacy; and kids’ camps, which keep kids active and learning with fun activities during school breaks.

Shopping for Thanksgiving at King Soopers?

shutterstock_108585317-640x426Did you know that you can help Douglas County Libraries just by shopping for your Thanksgiving meal? Every time you shop at King Soopers using our reloadable Douglas County Libraries King Soopers Rewards gift card, the libraries get 5 percent back.

It’s so easy! Just sign up below, and we’ll mail you a card. Load it up at the Customer Service counter or with your cashier before checking out, and pay for your groceries with the card. That’s it! The Douglas County Libraries Foundation uses the money raised to fund interactive programming, Storytimes, and Summer Reading.


Election Picture Books

It’s Election Season! Here are some great picture books to explain the process to your kids.




Duck for President by Doreen Cronin
This clever book shows that campaigning is sometimes more fun than actually being in charge.









Amelia Bedelia’s First Vote by Herman Parish

This book explains the election process with Amelia’s trademark literal misinterpretations along the way.










America Votes: How Our President Is Elected by Linda Granfield

This thorough overview of America’s voting procedures guides us from the first primaries to the final count at the polls with great kid-friendly explanations and colorful illustrations.












Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood From America’s Presidents by David Stabler

This hilarious book is filled with inspiring and interesting anecdotes from when the presidents were children.







Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio

This book explains the electoral college system in a way that is simple to grasp for second- to third-graders.









Vote for Me! by Ben Clanton

This timely satire of American politics explores what it means for a third-party candidate in a two-party system.









Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel

This illustrated novel does an amazing job at breaking down the election process in a way that elementary schoolers can understand. 









Vote! by Eileen Christelow

This book is told from the viewpoint of two dogs commenting on a local mayoral election. Their simple explanations cover everything from unfair lobbying to recounts.







One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote by Bonnie Worth

With trademark Seussian rhymes, the Cat in the Hat introduces early readers to American elections.






51fxfyn08jlSchoolhouse Rock Election Collection

OK, this is not a picture book, but Schoolhouse Rock can explain the electoral college system unlike anybody else through its great song, “I’m Gonna Send Your Vote to College.”

Creepy Crafts

It’s time to embrace ghouls and ghosts! Try these Halloween crafts with your little monsters.

bat-corner-bookmarksBat Corner Bookmarks (via Easy Peasy and Fun)

These bookmarks are so adorable! They would be a hit with any elementary schooler.

Materials needed: black origami paper, black construction paper, wiggle eye stickers, white paper, scissors, glue, pencil







screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-6-50-43-pmJack-o-Lantern Apple Stamps (via Frugal Mom, Eh!)

These apple stamps are a great way to do a less messy painting project.

Materials needed: apples, orange paint, paint brushes, cutting board, knife, white paper






pp-black-catPaper Plate Black Cat (via Crafts by Amanda)

What would we do without the paper plate? It’s the foundation of so many terrific crafting projects!

Materials needed: paper plate, black paint, paintbrush, scissors, tape, glue, two wiggle eyes, one pink pom-pom



giggles-galore-tattle-monsterKleenex Box Monster (via Giggles Galore)

These monsters find the right balance between scary and friendly.

Materials needed: Kleenex box, paint, white craft foam, scissors, egg cartons, wiggle eyes, glue