Want to fill long hours of winter break? Start here

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Whether trying to find a way to distract kids from the upcoming holiday, or figuring out what to do once they’ve binged on all the new gifts, it never hurts to have a few options for the idle hours of winter break.

Here are some of the activities and events being hosted by local organizations:

Dec. 20-23

Magic at the Mill, thousands of lights, entertainment, shopping, food, music, kids’ activities and the Bearded One himself at Willamette Heritage Center, 1313 Mill Street SE. 5:30 to 8 p.m., $5 for adults, $3 for youth (4-12), free for members and children 3 and younger.

Dec. 20

Santa’s Workshop at A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, 116 Marion St. NE, 1 to 3 p.m. $8 for members/$12 for non-members. Put on your elf hat and visit the workshop to make gifts from recycled materials.

Dec. 21

Santa stops by the Salem Riverfront Carousel, 101 Front St. NE., for breakfast. Service begins at 8 a.m. and cost is $20 per person. Reservations are required. Santa will share a ride on the carousel and he will visit with every child, who will receive a gift and keepsake photo.

Make gifts out of everyday objects and natural elements at A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, 1 to 3 p.m.

Create last-minute gifts at Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty St S.E. 2 to 3 p.m. in Anderson Rooms A and B. Supplies provided, imagination required.

Dec. 22

Mrs. Claus will host tea parties twice a day at the Riverfront Carousel. Activities, including cake decorating, are planned. Teas, sandwiches, scones and desserts will be served and Mrs. Claus might even spill some of Santa’s secrets. Tea service begins at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day. Cost is $18 a person and reservations are required.

Dec. 23

Winter Wonderland at A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, 1 to 3 p.m., $8 for members/$12 for non-members. Set out in search of winter customs from cultures around the world and explore how people adapt to the cold, their traditions, and celebrations through activities. Students will make handcrafts from various cultures from around the globe.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus will both visit the Riverfront Carousel at 6 p.m. for a pajama party. Storytelling and a crafting session will be paired with treats, cocoa and unlimited rides. Cost is $20 per person, children under two years old are free.

Dec. 25

Unlimited rides in exchange for a canned food donation at the Riverfront Carousel.

Dec. 26

Family Game Day, 1 to 4 p.m. Turn off the TV, put away the controllers, and drop in at the Salem Public Library for some fun and games, old school-style.

Dec. 28

Ward off cabin fever at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village between 1 and 3 p.m. Dance, jump and crawl through an obstacle course.

Holiday Lego Party, 2-3 p.m., Salem Public Library, Children’s Activity Room. Kids with their grown-ups are invited for a special holiday session of our monthly Lego party, an hour of unstructured Lego play. Legos are provided. Bring your imaginations

Dec. 31

New Year’s Eve Family Fun at A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, 4 to 7 p.m. Enjoy a family-friendly, magical evening and count down to 2014. Live performances, magical hands-on activities, and New Year festivities will lead up to ringing in the New Year with a lighted ball drop at 7 p.m.

Kids’ New Year’s Eve Party, 2 to 3 p.m., Salem Public Library, Anderson Rooms A and B. Come celebrate the New Year as it kicks off in Europe with crafts and celebratory games.

Jan. 1

Unlimited rides in exchange for a canned food donation at the Riverfront Carousel.

Jan. 2

Winter Crafts for Kids, 2 to 3 p.m., Salem Public Library, Anderson Rooms A and B. Supplies are provided for a wonderland of crafting delights.

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