Things to do in December: ’Tis the season for lights, gifts, and Santa

Editor’s note: This is a monthly feature to highlight what Ottawa and Allegan Counties have to offer residents and visitors alike.

After these many months of battling coronavirus, December brings a renewed sense of hope and joy to the Lakeshore. Winter is upon us, and there’s a nip in the air. Whether you want to get outside or stay home, there are enjoyable ways to explore Ottawa and Allegan counties. This list includes options for everyone, regardless of age, ability, or interest.

Grand Haven’s Jingle Bell Parade has been reimagined as this year's “Santa’s Cruise 2020.”
Santa’s Cruise
Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg
Saturday, Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m. 
Grand Haven’s Jingle Bell Parade has been reimagined. This year’s “Santa’s Cruise 2020” begins at 5:30 p.m. in Grand Haven with decorated vehicles and floats, and — of course — the “Jolly Old Elf” himself, Santa Claus! The 12-mile “cruise” route will cross the bridge into Spring Lake (right through the Spring Lake Sparkle Celebration), and then head to Ferrysburg before ending back in Grand Haven. For a magical night of lights, laughter, and fun, be sure to check this out. More details online.

The Great Lakes Chocolate “pop-up shop” will feature the creations of Holland resident Allie Lampen.

Outdoor Pop-up Chocolate Shop
139 E. 37th St., Holland
8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 5
If you’re in the mood for some special holiday treats this year, check out the Great Lakes Chocolate “pop-up shop” for a selection of hot chocolate bombs, peppermint bark, and chocolate gingerbread houses. This one-day event features the culinary talents of local resident Allie Lampen, who studied culinary and pastry arts in high school, and opened her home business 18 months ago. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the shop will be held outside in a tent, with a hand-sanitizing station outside the tent. Three customers will be allowed in the tent at a time, and masks are required for entry. Lampen is excited to showcase her delicious chocolates this holiday season.

Outdoor Holiday Market in Saugatuck will take place on Dec. 5.

Outdoor Holiday Market
400 Culver St., Saugatuck
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 5
The Outdoor Holiday Market at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts offers a fun way to shop and spend a Saturday. This one-day event features more than 30 art and fine-craft vendors offering jewelry, artisan baked goods, greenery, wearables, home décor, and so much more. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, shoppers must wear a mask, and social distancing and hand-sanitizing protocols will be enforced. More details online.

The Felt Mansion is offering self-guided holiday tours.
Self-guided Holiday Tours at the Felt Mansion
6597 138th Ave., Holland
Mondays-Wednesdays, Dec. 7-30, 1, 2, and 3 p.m. 
Gather family members and friends for a beautiful holiday outing at your own pace. The Felt Mansion, located between Holland and Saugatuck, is offering one-hour, self-guided tours. The 93-year-old mansion is filled with more than 25 decorated trees and 5,000 twinkling lights. Due to COVID-19 protocols, only 10 people are allowed in the mansion at a time. Tickets cost $13-$16 and must be purchased in advance at
Kerstmarkt, an authentic Dutch Christmas Market, returns to downtown Holland for the holiday season. (Photo taken in 2019)

Kerstmarkt, an authentic Dutch Christmas Market 
8th Street Market Place, Holland  
Looking for one-of-a-kind handmade treasures for your holiday gift-giving? Look no further than Holland’s authentic Dutch Christmas market. Now in its 23rd year, the market features 18 vendors selling their wares in wooden booths crafted from 400-year-old plans. Named one of the best outdoor Christmas Markets by Big 7 Travel in 2019, the Kerstmarkt is open Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 12. More details online.

Fustini's is among the downtown Holland merchants taking part in the 12 Days of Christmas promotion.

12 Days of Christmas
Downtown Holland
Sunday, Dec. 13, through Thursday, Dec. 24
Waiting till the last minute to shop? Then be sure to check out this all-new holiday promotion. Participating businesses will be giving away hundreds of dollars’ worth of prizes in the 12 days before Christmas. All you need to do is make a purchase at a participating downtown Holland business from Dec. 13-24, and you can be entered to win their daily giveaway of a gift valued at $25 or a $25 gift card. More details online.

Drive-Thru Christmas Lights
Lake Michigan Drive, Allendale
Stay warm and snug in your car as you drive through an amazing display of 230 beautifully lit trees on Lake Michigan Drive in Allendale. Each tree is festively decorated with 650 to 750 lights for a multicolored light show of about 150,000 twinkling bulbs.

Sally Laukitis, Chair of the Michigan Travel Commission, recently retired as Executive Director of the Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. A longtime Holland resident, she can often be found exploring the county’s many dog-friendly parks and attractions with Tulip, her faithful Boston Terrier puppy. If you have an idea of something to do, email her at

Read more articles by Sally Laukitis.