The only thing that gets us through the day-in, day-out, custodial, repetitive, mind-numbing horror of bringing up baby is the promise of giddy delight at Christmas. Apparently, the Dallas Children's Museum feels our pain, having devised an entire afternoon of holiday baby-sitting, er, entertainment. On Saturday, the DCM's storytellers, artisans and craft-folk will mesmerize children during a family activity day celebrating the exhibit Festivals of Light, which is free with admission ($3 for adults, $4 for children) at the museum's storefront on Valley View Center's second level. Peggy and Gene Helmick-Richardson will spin yarns about Texas Christmases gone by at 1 p.m. while your children string popcorn, make twig dolls and paint natural ornaments from noon to 5 p.m. Call 972-386-6555 or visit www.dallaschildrens.org. --Annabelle Massey Helber
This orchestra is just toyin' with you
How the toy took on holiday significance is a tale of mythopoetic proportions, which we lack both the space and the knowledge to relate. Suffice it to say that toys transcend many holiday celebrations, as does music, and no one combines the two with more seasonal aplomb than the New Conservatory of Dallas in its annual Symphony of Toys concert at 7:30 p.m. December 17. For the price of a new unwrapped toy, these gifted young musicians will perform an orchestral mélange that will at once raise the musical consciousness of its family-oriented audience and the hopes of needy children throughout the city. Admission to the concert, which has garnered more than 28,000 toys in its 16-year history, is otherwise free. NCD musicians will perform the Toy Symphony by Amadeus Mozart's lesser-known dad, Leopold, as well as music by Bach, Copland and several guys we've never heard of. Call 972-503-8486. --Mark Donald
Eating your dream house
How about having some fun while supporting a worthy charity? The chefs of Dallas' Fairmont Hotel are getting into the holiday spirit by offering specialty-cooking classes through December 13. Participants between the ages of 5 and 11 can unleash their creative side as chefs teach them how to make and decorate holiday gingerbread houses. Hot chocolate and Christmas cookies are offered during a special story time with Mrs. Claus. Buckets of frosting and barrels of peppermint sticks later, parents can take their children home along with their newly crafted dream house and complimentary Fairmont apron and chef's hat. All proceeds benefit the Genesis Women's Shelter. It's the perfect addition to your family holiday tradition, full of creativity, gingerbread sweets, stories and fun while supporting those in need. Isn't that what the holidays are all about? Admission is $30 with a reservation. Call 214-720-5340. --Danna Berger
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