Don't Miss December 2011

Family-friendly movies and games everyone's talking about.

Donald McDermott

Holiday Songs Reinvented

Cherished Christmas songs take on a brand-new feel with the release of Celtic Christmas. Putamayo World Music presents the festive CD that offers Celtic interpretations of Christmas classics from Ireland, England, Scotland, Canada and the United States. To purchase a copy and receive more information on Putamayo World Music or Putamayo Kids, check out www.putamayo.com.

Hallmark’s the Spot

The Hallmark Channel rings in the holiday season with three delightful original films. Sir Roger Moore makes his long-awaited return to television in A Princess for Christmas on December 3. Believing is easier when Santa Claus happens to be your dad as Vicki Lawrence, Vivica Fox and Maria Thayer help portray in Annie Claus is Coming to Town on December 10. And a theater director learns to trade his arrogance for humility when Melissa Gilbert stars in The Christmas Pageant on December 11. Check your local listings to tune in.

Triple Play

Rediscover Steven Spielberg’s cinematic masterpiece and its two blockbuster hit sequels in the recent three-disc release Jurassic Park: The Ultimate Trilogy. All three films, Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, engage audiences with amazing special effects, breathtaking cinematography, deleted scenes and an array of bonus features. Find the set in stores or online.

It’s Better to Give

Kohl’s Department Stores remind shoppers that giving great gifts can still be affordable. Through the end of December, more than 1,000 Kohl’s stores are distributing some of Nancy Tillman’s illustrated books and plush toys for just $5. As part of the Kohl’s Cares for Kids program, the chain is donating 100 percent of the net profits from the sale of the books and toys to benefit children’s health and education initiatives nationwide. The box set, as well as other delightful holiday items, can be found in Kohl’s stores and at www.kohls.com.

Stocking Stuffer

Just in time for fulfilling people’s wish lists, Classic Media and Big Idea Entertainment unleash The Original Christmas Classics Blu-ray box set. The family compilation contains four of the most beloved holiday TV specials of all time, including Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and Frosty Returns. For added seasonal entertainment, pick up the new VeggieTales holiday-themed DVD, VeggieTales The Little Drummer Boy. Both releases are available now.

Heart of the Matter

On December 4, check out the GMC channel’s premiere of The Heart of Christmas. The tale is inspired by the true story of a boy named Dax struggling with leukemia who is told that he will not live to see Christmas. When the community pulls together to create Christmas in October just for Dax, a busy executive played by Candace Cameron, author and former child star of the hit show Full House, decides its time to rearrange her priorities and improve on her relationships with her children. For local show times, log onto www.watchgmctv.com.

Befriend Barney and Thomas

What better way is there to get your little ones into the spirit of the season than with two joyful DVD releases from Lionsgate and HIT Entertainment? Everyone’s favorite purple dinosaur journeys to Santa’s workshop to share the gift of friendship in Barney: A Very Merry Christmas— The Movie. Then join the festive fun with Thomas, Percy, Gordon and other engine buddies in the magical new tale Thomas & Friends: Merry Christmas Thomas! Both titles are sold in stores and online.

Profiles in Courage

Students across the country are encouraged to write an essay describing an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official for the 2012 JFK Profile in Courage National Essay Contest. Sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and generously supported by John Hancock Financial, the contest honors the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. The winner of the competition receives a $5,000 cash prize and an additional $5,000 to grow in a John Hancock Freedom 529 college savings plan. Essays are accepted through January 7. 2012. Log onto www.jfklibrary.org for full details and to enter.

Getaway at Home

Take a well-deserved trip to some of the world’s most exotic locations without ever leaving your living room. Go Vacation, the amazing new game from Namco Bandai, gives up to four players of all ages a chance to experience surfing, skydiving, horseback riding, kayaking, tennis, fishing, skiing, snowboarding, street racing, dancing and other activities in different locales. Featuring the action of an adventurous getaway without the time, planning and expenses, Go Vacation is compatible with the Nintendo Wii.

This column appeared in the December 2011 issue.