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Out-of-the Box Holidays

Making New Traditions Old



Wendy Probert hosts a Holiday Hootenanny for her friends to share music, food, and drinks, and to out-plaid each another.

While decking the halls and having some eggnog together sounds fun, some of our neighbors take celebrating the holidays to new levels. We found some local traditions that just might inspire you to change up your seasonal routines. 

Command Performance
At Jen and Josh Shelov’s house in the Stratfield section of town, there is a set list taped to a wall. Neighbors arrive and anxiously check their position on the list. Folding chairs are set up in two rows, facing a drum set, a piano, and two microphones. 

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Hanukkah/Christmas celebration. It’s The Shelovian Holiday Salon. According to Josh Shelov, the event started simply because “a good friend, Michael Fass, would cap off our dinners together with an impromptu concert on the acoustic guitar.” Shelov loved these get-togethers so much that he took up the guitar himself “at the ripe age of 44,” and just started adding more and more friends to the mix. 

At the Salon, the only requirement is every family must perform. “The Salon is an excuse for everyone to get on stage,” explains Shelov. “The grownups badger the kids, but it’s the grownups who feel the excitement. It wouldn’t be nearly as fun without the mandatory aspect of the performance.” That can sound pretty intimidating to those with stage fright, but the Shelovs know how to get a crowd comfortable, starting with good food and a cocktail hour warm up. 

Last year, Charlie Simon, a Warde High School sophomore, was chosen as the inaugural emcee of the event. He introduced some solos, a few duets, and the backup performers who mimed their parts instead of singing. A kazoo was used in a trio for added effect. And plenty of families took their turns at the microphones singing words from folded sheets of paper that held their favorite tunes, holiday or otherwise. 

The Salon is evolving into what Shelov had hoped it would become: an eclectic cacophony of sounds that sometimes feels like Karaoke, and sometimes like an episode of “The Voice.” But mostly it feels like the warmest, most genuinely friendly group of neighbors, coming together to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and each other. “Music turns an enjoyable night of food and drink and friendship into something profound.” 

A Holiday Hootenanny
“Mad for Plaid” is the theme of Wendy Probert’s post-Holiday Hootennany event. She explains that The Hootenanny is a tradition that she learned from friends, and hosts it in January “after New Year’s, when everybody is ready for a party.” The name Hootenanny actually stems from an old country word for “party” in the 1930s. Probert’s version involves friends, a steel drum, a clarinet, some plastic spoons, “at least one or two guitar players who can lead us,” and anything else anyone wants to add. The guests bring a snack and a drink to share, and assemble in the living room. The guitars start, and everyone just joins in. “Sometimes we sound really great, and sometimes we don’t,” she jokes. 

Why Plaid? “I love plaid and I felt like we needed a theme,” Probert says. “Last year, it inspired one guest to dress like a lumberjack.”

Thirty Years and Thousands of Cookies
Cookie Swaps are common these days, but this one has had the staying power of 30 years, and originates back to Jennifer Smith’s mother when she was at Wellesley College. This tight knit Fairfield/Southport group started meeting when their children were small, gathering for company and tea while the kids played. Because the holidays with kids were much more hectic, Smith and her good friend, Abby Dodge, decided to start their own cookie exchange within the same playgroup. Now, decades later, after the kids are grown and out of the house, the group—approximately 11 in all—still meets each December, rotating houses to share their baking creations. The entry fee is one dozen cookies. 

Click the link for one of Dodge’s signature cookie recipes: Bittersweet Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints


COOKIE GURU As a well-known author and baker, Abby Dodge has written ten cookbooks and her site abbydodge.com is chock full of great ideas for holiday baking and gifts. Photo credit: The Everyday Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge. Click here to purchase

 

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December 2017

In this exhibition of vintage postcards, holiday literature and caroling music, dating from 1848-1996, you can experience the magical and memorable role holidays play in the lives of all readers,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Music on the Hill rings in the season in Westport! Holiday handbell ringers will play Christmas carols and songs for holiday shoppers on Sunday afternoon starting at 1 p.m. in the Westport store....

Cost: Free

Where:
Westport Barnes and Noble Booksellers
1076 Post Road East
Westport, CT  06880
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

Featuring hundreds of pieces of functional pottery and ceramic sculpture by local and nationally recognized artists. It is an opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind clay art for holiday gift-giving...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturday-Sunday, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 2017 Tis the season to be jolly at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester during Bricktacular. Join in on the festive...

Cost: Starting at $15.95; children under 2 are FREE.

Where:
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester
39 Fitzgerald Street
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
Telephone: 866-243-0770
Website »

More information

December 2 – January 7, 2018 A Fairfield Museum holiday tradition. Model trains wind around an enchanting display full of holiday spirit and elaborate scenery! This year features even more...

Cost: Members: Free; $5 Adults; $3 Kids; Free 5 & Under.

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Make happy holiday memories without the hassles! Moms and Dads know it's often a scary experience for young children to sit on Santa's lap. Come to a place that is safe,...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Website »

More information

Come join The Vagabonds for this completely out of character production as we celebrate our return to Bridgeport's Hidden Gem with the story of George Bailey's glimpse into the "What...

Cost: $20 & Up

Where:
The Bijou Theatre
275 Fairfield Ave
Bridgeport, CT  06604
View map »


Sponsor: The Vagabond Theatre Company of Greater Bridgeport
Telephone: 203-520-8332
Contact Name: John R Smith Jnr
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this exhibition of vintage postcards, holiday literature and caroling music, dating from 1848-1996, you can experience the magical and memorable role holidays play in the lives of all readers,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Featuring hundreds of pieces of functional pottery and ceramic sculpture by local and nationally recognized artists. It is an opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind clay art for holiday gift-giving...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturday-Sunday, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 2017 Tis the season to be jolly at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester during Bricktacular. Join in on the festive...

Cost: Starting at $15.95; children under 2 are FREE.

Where:
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester
39 Fitzgerald Street
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
Telephone: 866-243-0770
Website »

More information

Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

More information

December 2 – January 7, 2018 A Fairfield Museum holiday tradition. Model trains wind around an enchanting display full of holiday spirit and elaborate scenery! This year features even more...

Cost: Members: Free; $5 Adults; $3 Kids; Free 5 & Under.

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this exhibition of vintage postcards, holiday literature and caroling music, dating from 1848-1996, you can experience the magical and memorable role holidays play in the lives of all readers,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Featuring hundreds of pieces of functional pottery and ceramic sculpture by local and nationally recognized artists. It is an opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind clay art for holiday gift-giving...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Website »

More information

Fireside storytime for fathers and their children, ages 3+.  Wear pajamas (dads too), make popcorn in the fireplace, and hear some classic stories in conjunction with the exhibition,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext 115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Saturday-Sunday, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 2017 Tis the season to be jolly at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester during Bricktacular. Join in on the festive...

Cost: Starting at $15.95; children under 2 are FREE.

Where:
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester
39 Fitzgerald Street
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
Telephone: 866-243-0770
Website »

More information

Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

More information

December 2 – January 7, 2018 A Fairfield Museum holiday tradition. Model trains wind around an enchanting display full of holiday spirit and elaborate scenery! This year features even more...

Cost: Members: Free; $5 Adults; $3 Kids; Free 5 & Under.

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this exhibition of vintage postcards, holiday literature and caroling music, dating from 1848-1996, you can experience the magical and memorable role holidays play in the lives of all readers,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Featuring hundreds of pieces of functional pottery and ceramic sculpture by local and nationally recognized artists. It is an opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind clay art for holiday gift-giving...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturday-Sunday, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 2017 Tis the season to be jolly at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester during Bricktacular. Join in on the festive...

Cost: Starting at $15.95; children under 2 are FREE.

Where:
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester
39 Fitzgerald Street
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
Telephone: 866-243-0770
Website »

More information

Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

More information

Wednesdays, December 6, 13, 20 & 27; 9:30am. Discover adventures on the tracks with books that spark the imagination. Sponsored by People’s United Bank. For more information and...

Cost: Members; Free: Non-Members; $5 Adults, $3 Children, free for children 5 and unde

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

December 2 – January 7, 2018 A Fairfield Museum holiday tradition. Model trains wind around an enchanting display full of holiday spirit and elaborate scenery! This year features even more...

Cost: Members: Free; $5 Adults; $3 Kids; Free 5 & Under.

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this exhibition of vintage postcards, holiday literature and caroling music, dating from 1848-1996, you can experience the magical and memorable role holidays play in the lives of all readers,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Featuring hundreds of pieces of functional pottery and ceramic sculpture by local and nationally recognized artists. It is an opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind clay art for holiday gift-giving...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturday-Sunday, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 2017 Tis the season to be jolly at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester during Bricktacular. Join in on the festive...

Cost: Starting at $15.95; children under 2 are FREE.

Where:
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester
39 Fitzgerald Street
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
Telephone: 866-243-0770
Website »

More information

Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

More information

December 2 – January 7, 2018 A Fairfield Museum holiday tradition. Model trains wind around an enchanting display full of holiday spirit and elaborate scenery! This year features even more...

Cost: Members: Free; $5 Adults; $3 Kids; Free 5 & Under.

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this exhibition of vintage postcards, holiday literature and caroling music, dating from 1848-1996, you can experience the magical and memorable role holidays play in the lives of all readers,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Featuring hundreds of pieces of functional pottery and ceramic sculpture by local and nationally recognized artists. It is an opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind clay art for holiday gift-giving...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Website »

More information

Saturday-Sunday, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 2017 Tis the season to be jolly at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester during Bricktacular. Join in on the festive...

Cost: Starting at $15.95; children under 2 are FREE.

Where:
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester
39 Fitzgerald Street
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
Telephone: 866-243-0770
Website »

More information

Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

More information

December 2 – January 7, 2018 A Fairfield Museum holiday tradition. Model trains wind around an enchanting display full of holiday spirit and elaborate scenery! This year features even more...

Cost: Members: Free; $5 Adults; $3 Kids; Free 5 & Under.

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Make happy holiday memories without the hassles! Moms and Dads know it's often a scary experience for young children to sit on Santa's lap. Come to a place that is safe,...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Website »

More information

Fridays, December 8, 15, 22 & 29, 4:30pm – 6pm. Free with admission. Join us on Friday evenings when the Train Show is open late! Make a snowman out of marshmallows, create an array of...

Cost: Members; Free: Non-Members; $5 Adults, $3 Children, free for children 5 and unde

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this exhibition of vintage postcards, holiday literature and caroling music, dating from 1848-1996, you can experience the magical and memorable role holidays play in the lives of all readers,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Saturday-Sunday, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 2017 Tis the season to be jolly at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester during Bricktacular. Join in on the festive...

Cost: Starting at $15.95; children under 2 are FREE.

Where:
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester
39 Fitzgerald Street
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
Telephone: 866-243-0770
Website »

More information

December 2 – January 7, 2018 A Fairfield Museum holiday tradition. Model trains wind around an enchanting display full of holiday spirit and elaborate scenery! This year features even more...

Cost: Members: Free; $5 Adults; $3 Kids; Free 5 & Under.

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Make happy holiday memories without the hassles! Moms and Dads know it's often a scary experience for young children to sit on Santa's lap. Come to a place that is safe,...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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