37 FREE Things To Do In December 2023


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and with this joyous season comes lots of FREE things to do with the whole family. Watch the beautiful light show outside at Winter Wonderland at Holly Beach Park in Wildwood,  enjoy a Hanukkah extravaganza with a menorah lighting, crafts, hot latkes, and more at the Giant Menorah Lighting in Randolph, or bring the little ones to meet the Big Guy at Cookies and Milk with Santa in Toms River. And before fall turns to winter, check out our #NJMOM guide to filling your fall bucket list. (Featured Photo Credit: Wildwood Holiday)

(Note: It’s always best to check ahead for in-person events.)

Wildwood Crest Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 1 at 5 PM
Ready to kick off the holiday season? This fun event will feature music, light refreshments, a visit from Santa, and the lighting of the tree.
Cost: Free
Sunset Lake, Atlanta, and New Jersey Avenues, Wildwood Crest, NJ 08260

Greater Wildwood Jaycees Christmas Parade
December 1 at 6:30 PM
Line the street and watch as the beautifully decorated floats go by. Awards will be given to the best floats and decorated businesses. At the end, there will be a Christmas tree lighting.
Cost: Free
15th Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260

Christmas Tree Lighting at Rotary Park
December 1 at 7 PM
This event brings old-fashioned fun to Cape May, including caroling, a special visit from Santa, and a gorgeous Christmas tree lighting.
Cost: Free
Rotary Park, 400-498 Lafayette Street, Cape May, NJ 08204

Hometown Holiday
December 1 at 5 PM
This fun-filled evening is the perfect way to get started with the holiday spirit of the season. There will be a tree lighting, Santa and Mrs. Clause, music, free horse and carriage rides, and more.
Cost: Free
44 E. Washington Avenue, Washington, NJ 07882

Christmas In The Plaza
December 1-2
Get into the holiday spirit with free carnival rides and vendors. Then, stay for live music and story time with Mrs. Claus. This is the perfect way to enjoy the holiday season with the fam.
Cost: Free
Byrne Plaza, 3400 Pacific Avenue, Downtown Wildwood, NJ 08260

Children’s Holiday Shop
December 1-2
Take your little ones and help them discover the joy of giving at this holiday shop. Volunteers will be available to help your children select affordable gifts for family and friends while parents enjoy festive refreshments(just don’t peek). 
Cost: Free
Community House Library, 16 East Main Street, Moorestown, NJ 08057

North Wildwood Tree Lighting
December 2 at 5 PM
There’s no better way to usher in the holiday season than with a tree-lighting ceremony. Bring the entire family and enjoy music, refreshments, a visit from Santa, and a self-guided tour of the lighthouse.
Cost: Free
Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Courtyard, 111 N Central Avenue, North Wildwood, NJ 08260

Toms River Winter Wonderland Weekend
December 1-2 & 9
Spend the weekend celebrating all things holiday and winter. There will be a Christmas tree lighting, photos with Santa, and live music, followed by a complete winter wonderland.
Cost: Free
Courtyard of Toms River Town Hall, 33 Washington Street, Toms River, NJ 08753

Pictures with Santa
December 1, 9 and 15
Santa is back and ready for your little ones to bring him their list and have their photo taken with him. Bring your own camera and snap your pics.
Cost: Free
Four Seasons Garden Market, 1520 State Highway 45, Swedesboro, NJ 08085

Dickens Village
December 2-16
A community tradition, Dickens Village takes over Maplewood with scenes from Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol set up in miniature houses all around the square. There are also horse and wagon rides, a petting farm, music, crafts, and more.
Cost: Free
Ricalton Square, Maplewood, NJ 07040

Christmas Parade in Cape May
December 2 at 4 PM
Ready to see Santa, Mrs. Clause, Elves, and live musicians all in one spot? Stand along the street and watch as the fun parade goes by, and make sure you have your phone out in case they stop to take photos along the way.
Cost: Free
Washington Street Mall, Cape May, NJ 08204

Cranford Kids Christmas Party
December 2 at 9:30 AM
From pictures with Santa to face painters, this is an event for the whole family to enjoy. Take in the holiday atmosphere while you spend time with the fam and listen to music from the Cranford Middle School bands.
Cost: Free
Cranford Community Center, 20 Walnut Avenue, Cranford, NJ 07016

Heights Holiday Market
December 2 at 10 AM
Get your holiday shopping done and support local while you do it at this market. There will be local artisans and vendors, live music, food and drink, a visit from Santa, and more.
Cost: Free
498 Palisade Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07307

Montville Holiday Toy Drive Event
December 2 at 11 AM
Feel good and do good—bring a new, unwrapped toy for local children’s hospitals and also enjoy free kids activities, face painting, food trucks, and more.
Cost: Free
Condurso’s Garden Center, 96 River Road, Montville, NJ 07045

Pancakes with Maple the Snowman
December 2, 10 AM
Get in the holiday spirit with a pancake breakfast with Maple the Snowman. There will also be games, music, and fun for the little ones.
Cost: Free
314 State Route 12, Flemington, NJ 08822

Noyes Holiday Market and Gingerbread Village
December 2-3 at 12 PM
Celebrate the holidays with local vendors, photos with Santa, a gingerbread village and contest, and more.
Cost: Free
The Noyes Arts Garage, 2200 Fairmount Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401

Holiday Party
December 3 at 4 PM
This is an unforgettable evening with the whole family. There will be delicious food, music, exciting activities, and wonderful memories.
Cost: Free
Amwell Valley Conservancy Inc, 117 Bowne Station Road, Stockton, NJ 08559

Kid’s Holiday and Health Fair
December 3 at 10 AM
Looking for a place where the kids can enjoy holiday shopping, entertainment, and healthcare information sessions all in one spot? This event will feature doctors and departments from Hackensack Meridian Healthcare, along with children’s entertainers Miss Sheri and Jungle Jim. And kids can bring their cuddly friends to be checked out by the doctors and staff at The Teddy Bear Clinic to be sure they are in tip-top shape.
Cost: Free
iPlay America, 110 Schanck Road, Freehold, NJ 07728

Hanging of the Greens
December 3 at 11:30 AM
Start the holiday season with decorating and holiday cheer with the family. There will be arts and crafts, a children’s gift bazaar, ornaments for sale, holiday music, and so much fun.
Cost: Free
145 Carletondale Road, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Family Hanukkah Crafts
December 3 at 11:30 AM
Bring the family together and come enjoy a Hanukkah extravaganza with crafts, activities, pizza, munchkins, and drinks. This is a great way to spend the day with your loved ones.
Cost: Free
222 Irvington Avenue, South Orange, NJ 07079

Santa Meet and Greet
December 2-3 and 9-10 at 10 AM
Grab your Christmas list and head to this event, where your little ones have the chance to meet the Big Guy straight from the North Pole. After you have your photos taken, pick out your perfect tree and then grab something delicious to eat.
Cost: Free
Countryview Farm Nursery, 601 Buckelew Avenue, Monroe Township, NJ 08831

Cookies and Milk with Santa
December 6 at 4 PM
Santa Claus is coming to town, and it’s the perfect time to bring your little ones and meet the Big Guy. Enjoy some cookies and milk while you spend some festive and fun-filled time with Santa.
Cost: Free
Ocean County Mall, 1201 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, NJ 08753

Hanukkah Celebration
December 7 at 6:30 PM
Gather for a beautiful and memorable Menorah lighting ceremony. There will also be a choir performance, light refreshments, treats, and more as the Menorah lights up the night.
Cost: Free
Garden State Plaza, One Garden State Plaza, Paramus, NJ 08652

Winter Wonderland at Holly Beach Park
December 8-9
This light show will delight every member of your family. Every half hour, you will get to see a spectacular light show complete with complimentary hot chocolate, popcorn, letter writing to Santa, and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Can’t make it? The light show and decorations will run through mid-January. 
Cost: Free
Holly Beach Park, 123 E Andrews Ave, Wildwood, NJ 08260

Family Holiday Celebration & Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 9 at 9 AM
Bring the entire family and spend the day celebrating the magic of the season. There will be holiday-themed crafters, movies, photos with Santa, choir performances, and more.
Cost: Free
The Wildwoods Convention Center, 4501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ 08260

Township Tree Lighting
December 9 at 2:30 PM
This event is fun for the entire family. Events include photos with Santa, music, Colonial re-enactors, decorate your own gingerbread man, and enjoy refreshments. After all the fun, watch as the beautiful tree is lit.
Cost: Free
Jacobus Vanderveer House and Museum, 3055 River Road, Bedminster, NJ 07921

Big Blue Paramus’ Holiday Market
December 9-10
This holiday market is filled with photos with Santa, activities for the kids, and shopping with local vendors. All proceeds will benefit Toys for Tots. 
Cost: Free
Big Blue Swim School, 305 Route 17 South, Paramus, NJ 07653

Holiday Tree Jubilee
December 10 at 12 PM
Come and vote for your favorite holiday trees. After you view the trees, decorate an ornament for the community, have hot chocolate and cookies, and then take a photo with Santa.
Cost: Free
Wildwood Crest Arts Pavilion, 6301 Ocean Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260

Grand Menorah Lighting
December 10 at 5:30 PM
It’s time to get lit and celebrate the Hanukkah season. Once the giant ice menorah is lit, there will be hot latkes, live music, games, and crafts for the whole family. 
Cost: Free
Chabad of Closter, 1 Ruckman Rd, Closter, NJ 07624

Hanukkah Menorah Lighting
December 11 at 6 PM
Gather the entire family and come watch as the menorah is lit. This is an outdoor event, so make sure you bundle up.
Cost: Free
710 Hermann Road, North Brunswick Township, NJ 08902

Palmer Square Menorah Lighting
December 12 at 4 PM
Celebrate Hanukkah in Palmer Square with this gorgeous menorah lighting ceremony. Along with the lighting, there will be music and fun for everyone to enjoy.
Cost: Free
Nassau Inn Patio, 10 Palmer Square, Princeton, NJ 08542

“It’s A Wonderful Life”
December 15 at 4:30 PM
This classic movie is a wonderful tale for the whole family to enjoy. Snacks and drinks will be available, so bundle up and bring your own chair to watch the screening.
Cost: Free
Brendan T Byrne State Forest, Highway Route 72 East, New Lisbon, NJ 08064

Santa Paws
December 16 at 1 PM
If you have a furry friend who also loves the holidays, then this is the event for you. Come out and enjoy dog treats and photo ops at participating businesses while you walk along the route. Prizes will be awarded for the best costume.
Cost: Free
North Wildwood Entertainment District, 3rd Avenue to Walnut Avenue, North Wildwood, NJ 08260

Holiday Lights Walk
December 18 at 5:30 PM
Bundle up and come with the fam to walk along Sunset Lake and the surrounding neighborhood to view all of the gorgeous holiday and Christmas light displays. The rain date is Tuesday, December 19.
Cost: Free
Corner of Rambler Road and New Jersey Avenue, Wildwood Crest, NJ 08260

Holiday Community Sing
December 24 at 6:55 PM
Before the big day, bring the family together for this festive and joyous holiday sing-along. The whole community will come together for this wonderful event.
Cost: Free
Downtown Basking Ridge, Bernards, NJ 07920

22nd Annual Kwanzaa Celebration
December 27 at 5 PM
This 22nd annual celebration is a day filled with African storytelling, a traditional candle ceremony, amazing dances, and so much more.
Cost: Free
Plainfield Performing Arts Center, 724 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060

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About Author

Karen lives in Central Jersey with her two dogs, one cat, husband and daughter Olivia. Graduating from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations, she has been writing and working in the social media field for a few years. One of her proudest moments as a writer so far has been interviewing Tim Gunn from 'Project Runway' and subsequently winning Honorable Mention in NJ for Feature Writing. When she is not busy as a mom, she enjoys reading, going to the beach and watching the Real Housewives.