The Lowdown on Caffeine for Children


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The vast majority of parents wouldn't dream of offering their child a drug, even if that drug came from a natural source. Yet many parents unknowingly do exactly that on a daily basis, because they don't realize caffeine is a stimulant and considered a drug.

There's no compelling reason to give children caffeine, and there is evidence suggesting it should be limited or completely removed from their diet. While it may not be easy to tell what contains caffeine and how much is involved, it's a good idea to become caffeine-savvy. By identifying caffeinated snacks and beverages, you can easily limit or remove them from your child's diet.

"As a general rule, it is best to try to keep your children caffeine-free," says Dr. Maria Kelly, a pediatric professor at the University of Florida. "Keeping your children caffeine-free is an achievable goal. The easiest way to accomplish it is to eliminate all sodas. Try to offer healthier choices, like water, milk, flavored waters and 100-percent fruit juice."

Caffeine is found naturally in products like chocolate, cocoa, tea, coffee and kola (cola) nuts. It also has been added to many products, including energy drinks, some sodas and medications. Sodas are the most obvious, but when kids eat chocolate bars, or drink chocolate milk or hot cocoa, they also are consuming caffeine.

The effects of caffeine

Because caffeine is a stimulant, it usually perks people up within about 15 minutes of consumption. Most adults relate to this by recalling how they don't feel quite up to speed before having their morning cup of coffee.

In children, caffeine has the same impact. According to the National Institutes of Health, it has many effects on the metabolism, including stimulating the central nervous system. Caffeine can interact with other drugs, so it's especially important you know what medication your child is taking. Some people may have caffeine sensitivities and experience its effects in a more pronounced way.

Caffeine negatively impacts the body and offers no nutritive value. In addition, it can act as an appetite suppressant, leading to children not wanting to eat their food, and it has diuretic properties that can contribute to dehydration.

"Caffeine in the diet of your children can cause an upset stomach, headaches, jitteriness, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, and even cause elevated heart rate and blood pressure," Kelly says. "Consumption of caffeinated beverages also has been shown to increase the risk of obesity and dental cavities/decay. It can even potentially aggravate undiagnosed heart and neurological problems."

How much is too much

Most toddlers love candy and chocolate milk. Some young children regularly drink sweet tea, especially those living in the South, and some parents allow their kids to drink sodas that contain caffeine. How much is too much?

Katty Beard Wozniak, a Florida mom of two toddlers, ages 4 and 2, takes steps to limit her children's caffeine consumption. "I do allow my 4-year-old son to have a Coke on occasion, as a treat, but we do not have it in the house, and he is not allowed to have it at school," she says. "My 2-year-old daughter has never had anything with caffeine in it, and she drinks juice as a treat."

Wozniak realized there was a problem when her son asked for more and more of the soda she was drinking. "I soon realized it was a mistake to let him take a sip," she says. "The sip turned into a bigger sip, which then turned into wanting his own Coke."

She has since learned not to order a beverage for herself that she wouldn't want her kids to have. Doing so just adds frustration and makes the forbidden drink seem that much more appealing to the child, she says. She also never offers sodas as an option when the family dines out; she simply gives her son a choice of milk, juice or water.

The United States currently does not have caffeine consumption guidelines for children. Canada does. Canadian health officials suggest preschoolers get no more than 45 milligrams per day, which is about the average for a standard soda or 1.5 ounces of chocolate.

If you have a toddler who is routinely consuming caffeine and you want to reduce or eliminate it, make sure you are aware of the effects of withdrawal. Regular use builds a tolerance and dependency in the body. When you remove it, the body experiences a sluggish period that may be accompanied by headaches and irritability. This will, however, go away after several days.

Caffeine is readily available everywhere you go, and you need to decide if it is something you want to eliminate, or limit, for your children. Knowing what it is, where it's found and how it impacts the body is the essential first step.

Jacqueline Bodnar lives in Florida with her husband and two children.

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Calendar

December 2016

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Cost: $6.00 and available at the door. Children under 13 are free with paying adult

Where:
NC State Fairgrounds
Kerr Scott Building
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Sponsor: Southeastern Train Collectors Association
Telephone: 919 731-7027
Contact Name: Ken Mitchell
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Cost: $26/resident, $34/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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1040 Tryon Village Dr #601
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Telephone: 919-710-2760
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Telephone: 919-212-7695
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
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201 Davis Grove Circle
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BounceU of Apex
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2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Cost: $1/member, $3/nonmember

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5 E. Edenton St.
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Telephone: 919-807-7988
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4028 Carya Drive
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Crowder District Park
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Cost: $1/member, $3/nonmember

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N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Cost: Free

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Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Cost: Free

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4109 Guess Road
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Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
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Celebrate Computer Science Education Week in December. TheCoderSchool is joining the global "Hour of Code" movement. Be one of the tens of millions of students around the...

Cost: Free

Where:
theCoderSchool
201 Davis Grove Circle
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Sponsor: theCoderSchool
Contact Name: Ravisha Weerasinghe
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Cost: Free

Where:
theCoderSchool
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: theCoderSchool
Contact Name: Ravisha Weerasinghe

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Cost: Call for prices

Where:
Sacred Heart Cathedral
200 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Tour Historic Oak View County Park’s Plank Kitchen and Main House and see decorations interpreting five different time periods in Oak View’s history (Antebellum Era, Civil War Era,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Telephone: 919-212-7695
Contact Name: Josh Ingersoll
Website »

More information

Mocha Moms hosts its monthly group support meeting for mothers of color who choose to work less than full-time outside the home. Children welcome; an indoor playground is on the premises.

Cost: Free

Where:
Greystone Community Indoor Park
7713 Leadmine Road
Raleigh, NC
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Sponsor: Mocha Moms of Raleigh
Contact Name: Lauren Massie
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Cookies, crafts and a children's show await families.

Cost: Free

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Green St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Cost: Free

Where:
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
4109 Guess Road
Durham, NC  27712
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Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
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Enjoy a live nativity journey. This nonticketed event is open to all ages. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Salem Baptist Church
1821 Salem Church Road
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Salem Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-362-7327
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Cost: Donation of a canned good or new toy for an area crisis ministry

Where:
Corporate Chaplains of America
1300 Corporate Chaplain Dr.
Wake Forest , NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Corporate Chaplains of America
Telephone: 919-570-0700
Website »

More information

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Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Levin JCC
1937 West Cornwallis Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
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Cost: $18

Where:
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1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Cost: Free with admission

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10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Cost: Free with admission

Where:
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10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Tour Historic Oak View County Park’s Plank Kitchen and Main House and see decorations interpreting five different time periods in Oak View’s history (Antebellum Era, Civil War Era,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
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View map »


Telephone: 919-212-7695
Contact Name: Josh Ingersoll
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Cost: $5/child member, $7/child nonmember

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4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-513-7011
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Cost: $18

Where:
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
4109 Guess Road
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
Website »

More information

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Cost: Donation of a canned good or new toy for an area crisis ministry

Where:
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1300 Corporate Chaplain Dr.
Wake Forest , NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Corporate Chaplains of America
Telephone: 919-570-0700
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Enjoy a live nativity journey. This nonticketed event is open to all ages. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Salem Baptist Church
1821 Salem Church Road
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Salem Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-362-7327
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Where:
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Cary, NC
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Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
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Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


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Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
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See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

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Help find candy canes hidden in Bond Park. Ages 6-12. Register online by Dec. 1. Choose course #97272.

Cost: $10/child

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
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Website »

More information

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Cost: $8-$35

Where:
Wake Med Cross Country Course/Wake Med Soccer Park
201 Soccer Park Drive
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Garner Magnet High School, South Campus
8828 Hebron Church Rd.
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: GMHS PTSA
Telephone: 919-559-6018
Contact Name: Shanna or Shalon

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Cost: $35/child, $15/adult

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Info
Website »

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Cost: $6 in advance, $8 at door. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
Windborne United Methodist Church
9121 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Windborne United Methodist Preschool
Telephone: 919.342.6075
Contact Name: Laura Bass
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More information

Join Mrs. Claus for breakfast and a short story. After visiting with Mrs. Claus, enjoy a holiday craft. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Garden Supply Company
1421 Old Apex Road
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Garden Supply Company
Telephone: 919.460.7747
Contact Name: Kathy Burns
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Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call the park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. Ages 14 and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Create a keepsake gingerbread house. Register online.

Cost: $12/member, $15/nonmember; $20/house

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Learn, explore and play outdoors while doing a fun nature-based activity. Ages 18 mos-5 yrs with parent. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Forest Hills Park
1639 University Dr.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Telephone: 919-806-7502
Contact Name: Kate Macartney
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Beginner, amateur and advanced BMX riders take part in a competition. Register online. Spectators attend free of charge. Food available for purchase.

Cost: $30-$35

Where:
Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
171 Tradition Trail, Ste. 207
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
Telephone: 919-557-8088
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Enjoy an introduction to cloth diapering. This class includes information about types of diapers, accessories, and care of cloth. The class will include handouts to take home so that parents can...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grow, The Family Boutique
2885 Jones Franklin Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-803-3521
Contact Name: Heather Dickens
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See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

More information

City Ballet Raleigh presents its 24th annual performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The family-friendly, full-length ballet features guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
Website »

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Make a holiday ornament with the Durham Arts Council.

Cost: Free

Where:
Northgate Mall
1058 W. Club Blvd., Ste. 132
Durham, NC  27701
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Make memories by creating a gingerbread house with freshly baked gingerbread, handmade icing and candy. This event benefits a community preschool. Register online for either the 11 a.m.-noon...

Cost: $40/house (includes a whole group of family or friends)

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Ginger B. House
Website »

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Discover handmade treasures and wonderful treats at this years holiday shopping event of the year. Holiday refreshments will be enjoyed throughout the event. Door prizes will be given out every...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fuquay-Varina Woman's Club House
602 N. Ennis Street
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
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Sponsor: Ballentine-Spence House
Telephone: 925-399-1629
Contact Name: Anna Campbell
Website »

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This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Celebrate Computer Science Education Week in December. TheCoderSchool is joining the global "Hour of Code" movement. Be one of the tens of millions of students around the...

Cost: Free

Where:
theCoderSchool
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: theCoderSchool
Contact Name: Ravisha Weerasinghe
Website »

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Visit with Santa at the birth center, and enjoy milk and cookies and storytime. Kids can talk with Santa about their holiday gift wishes. Santa will also be handing out candy canes. All attendees...

Cost: Free

Where:
Baby+Company Cary
226 Asheville Ave Ste 20
Cary, NC  27518
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Ages 6-10 enjoy nature activities and projects. Registration required.

Cost: $26/resident, $34/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Decorate a gingerbread house. Participants receive an undecorated gingerbread house with royal icing and tasty toppings. Hot chocolate bar included. Ages 4 and older with family.

Cost: $25

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Info
Website »

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Join Wendell Falls for its first Holiday Sip and Shop event, which is free and open to the public. Tour gorgeous model homes while picking up last-minute gifts from a variety of vendors. Tasting...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wendell Falls by Newland Communities
320 Vintage Point Ln
Wendell , NC  27591
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Website »

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Carolina Ballet gets families into Christmas spirit when one of its principal dancers, Lara O'Brien, reads "The Nutcracker." Ages 4 and older.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Website »

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Walk through the scenes of Jesus' birth in the maze. Take a flashlight if you plan to arrive after 4 p.m. The event also features Santa, storytime and cookies with Mrs. Claus, crafts and games...

Cost: $10/person at the farm gate. Cash only

Where:
Lazy O Farm
3583 Packing Plant Road
Smithfield, NC  27577
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Sponsor: Lazy O Farm
Telephone: 919-934-1132
Contact Name: Tami Thompson
Website »

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Take a hike with park staff to investigate animal lives and adaptations using your five senses. Ages 5 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Enjoy the holiday story featuring elaborate scenery, a live orchestra, magical illusions, the entire Carolina Ballet company, and more than 100 local children. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
Website »

More information

Make creative gifts for friends and family using items found in nature. Enjoy hot chocolate. Ages 6-12. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Register online. Choose course #194798.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-2871
Website »

More information

See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Santa for wagon ride to explore the back roads of the park. Listen to stories and sing Christmas carols. Take a blanket. All ages. Meet at the Loblolly Shelter. Register online.

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

City Ballet Raleigh presents its 24th annual performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The family-friendly, full-length ballet features guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
Website »

More information

Learn about nature as the sun sets. All ages with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $20/resident, $28/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a live nativity journey. This nonticketed event is open to all ages. Doors open at 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Salem Baptist Church
1821 Salem Church Road
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Salem Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-362-7327
Website »

More information

This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Rose of Sharon Baptist Church presents "Christmas Plugged," a drive-up, synchronized, Christmas music light show to 90.1 FM. Enjoy  20,000 LED bulbs as they dance to familiar tunes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
4109 Guess Road
Durham, NC  27712
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Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
Website »

More information

Celebrate the 20th birthday of Jellybeans Super Skate Center. Free skating takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Jellybeans Super Skate Center
1120 Buck Jones Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Website »

More information

Kids ages 7-17 take part in a hands-on magic workshop. Learn the performance art of theatrical magic from local masters on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Details available at...

Cost: $10

Where:
The Magic Corner Magic Shop
3684 Capital Blvd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Ring #199,The Int'l Brotherhood of Magicians
Telephone: 919-272-6465
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the holiday story featuring elaborate scenery, a live orchestra, magical illusions, the entire Carolina Ballet company, and more than 100 local children. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
Website »

More information

Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

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