Despite a different kind of holiday season, Albany is still feeling merry and bright. Embrace the holiday cheer with some inspiration for family-friendly holiday traditions - with a socially distanced twist! Create warm memories to look back fondly upon all year long and plan to continue these traditions next year! 

Choose a Fresh Holiday Tree

Procrastinating picking out that picture perfect tree? Create a new holiday tradition by choosing a tree from a local farm! Especially this year, local farmers and small businesses need our support. Gade Farm, located in Guilderland, has fresh cut Balsam and Frasier Fir trees from Canada. The local farm is even offering contactless delivery or pickup of trees! Venture to Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont, a century-old farm, for fresh trees, wreaths and garlands. Nestled in Glenmont, family-owned Kleinke's Farm has Balsam, Fraser and Silver Special trees available for sale from Quebec, Canada. Make sure to pop into the 1800’s Dutch barn for festive wreaths and decorations.

Bake Cookies & Treats 

Did you know that Albany's 400 year-old history has ties to the origins of Christmas cookies? Get the scoop from local writer and Albany Cooking School founder Deanna Fox. After diving into that quick Albany history lesson, add baking cookies or treats to your holiday traditions list! Searching for a few recipes with ties to Albany? Local blogger My Saratoga Kitchen Table has a recipe for a Dutch cookie called Jan Hage. Earlier this year, Historic Cherry Hill shared a recipe for "olecooks," an early version of a doughnut, from Maria Van Rensselaer’s 1768 receipt book. Edible Capital District has a recipe for a vegan pear doughnut provided by Cider Belly Doughnuts that is definitely worth trying! Albany Cooking School also has you covered with recipes for profiteroles, ice cream and more!

More into cookie decorating than baking? Stuyvesant Plaza's Bountiful Bread has holiday cookie decorating kits with Christmas tree cookies or gingerbread boys & girls available through December 24. Indian Ladder Farms is also selling a cookie decorating kit and a cupcake decorating kit perfect for the holiday season. 


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Capital Holiday Lights In The Park

Capital Holiday Lights in the Park is Albany's signature event during the holiday season. Now in its 24th year, this festive experience has always been socially distanced as it is a drive-through holiday light show! Marvel at Washington Park aglow with thousands of shimmering lights depicting iconic holiday symbols such as trees, Santas and menorahs. If your family has never experienced the magic before, this year is the perfect time to start incorporating it into your holiday traditions. 

Holiday Card Photos

Albany's rich history has another holiday claim to fame! Albany merchant Richard H. Pease printed the first American Christmas card around the mid-1800s. The lithograph (featuring a family surrounded by holiday gifts, food and drink) is in the Albany Institute of History & Art's online exhibit called The Capital Region in 50 Objects. Continue this historic holiday tradition today by posing your family at an Albany landmark for a holiday card photo! Snap a photo of your family near the glittering holiday trees at the Empire State Plaza or New York State Capitol Building. If you are more of an outdoorsy group, head to John Boyd Thacher State Park or the Albany Pine Bush Preserve for a picturesque backdrop. Or, completely eliminate the fuss and leave the photos to the professionals at the Pine Hollow Arboretum! On December 12, Herd Path Photography is offering mini-sessions with a holiday scene at the Pine Hollow Arboretum's Spruce Room. Sign up here

Paint Ornaments

Get crafty and paint your own ornaments! This is a festive DIY activity that will entertain your little ones and put everyone in the holiday spirit. Local artist Kayleigh’s Kanvases has a pop-up at Colonie Center this holiday season. Pick up festive ornament painting kits featuring snowmen, reindeer, penguins and more! Her paint kits are also available for purchase onlineThe Pottery Place, located in Stuyvesant Plaza, is offering art to-go! Order online and pay for a 3D Ornament Kit or choose an ornament such as a penguin, feather, snowman, flower, or ugly sweater. Choose your colors and pick up the ornaments at the studio. Once you have finished painting at home, bring the ornaments back to the studio to be fired and glazed! Ten Broeck Mansion also has free children’s ornament kits available in the mansion's outdoor garden kiosk.