The holiday season is upon us. And with it come opportunities for a trip to a grand place like Filoli, or a shopping spree at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, or an elegant Valle Monte League fashion show and brunch to raise money for worthwhile causes.
Perhaps the most lavish of all these events is the one held at Filoli in Woodside, a stately property that is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Each Christmas, the 36,000-square-foot Georgian Revival residence morphs into a splendid site all gussied up in standout holiday finery. It's a sight to behold.
Each year, a theme is selected to inspire the way the mansion is decorated. This time it's "Let There Be Magic!" While your eyes feast on the décor, be sure to stop to listen to the live music.
Visitors from all over the Bay Area also head to Filoli to get a jump start on holiday shopping. Most, if not all of the rooms on the first floor, as well as the garden area, are crammed with goodies. I'm drawn to the pantry and kitchen, with their delectable toffees, sweet toppings, candy, vinegars, spices, mustards, preserves and snacks.
To participate in the festivities, you must make reservations. Some events are sold out, but you still can sign up to shop or indulge in the fine foods. Costs range from $25 (for members) to shop to $150 (for nonmembers) to attend a dinner party. Events begin Friday and run to Dec. 1.
Filoli -- located about 35 minutes north of San Jose off Interstate 280 -- is at 86 Cañada Road, Woodside. For details, call 650-364-8300, ext. 508. Or go to www.filoli.org. The money raised helps to preserve the mansion and its magnificent grounds for future generations.
Shop for a cause
Lots of us like shopping for a good cause. But when I know animals will benefit, count me in big time. I'm ecstatic about the annual holiday sale supporting Walnut Creek's Lindsay Wildlife Museum.
Here you will discover all manner of animal-inspired gifts for every age group -- clocks, science kits, jewelry, puppets, puzzles, books and games, as well as apparel. Prices: $3-$60.
And for the person who has everything, how about the gift of sending someone to spend two hours with museum animal keepers? The recipient of your thoughtfulness can spend time preparing and feeding resident animal ambassadors and even assist with a public presentation. If preferable, one could work with the eagle handlers.
The Lindsay Wildlife Museum is at 1931 First Ave., Walnut Creek. Sale hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 925-935-1978, or http://wildlife-museum.org.
Without a doubt, some of the most stunningly decorated Christmas trees in all of Silicon Valley will star at a series of glittering parties held Nov. 29-30 by Valle Monte League.
"Christmas Tree Elegance" -- as it is generally known -- celebrates its 45th anniversary with "The Music of Christmas" as its annual theme. If you have never been to one of these functions, consider treating yourself or purchasing a ticket as a present.
Each of the four events combines silent auctions, an elegant fashion show and tempting treats served at a morning coffee, an afternoon tea, a brunch and splashy grand finale. Reservations are being accepted for the coffee and closing extravaganza.
The highlight of these occasions is seeing a batch of Christmas trees gorgeously trimmed by leading Bay Area designers. Beneath each one, you will find an incredible cache of gifts donated by generous businesses. Attendees buy raffle tickets in hopes of winning one of the sumptuous prizes.
Sure, all of this glitz is impressive. But the chief reason to attend is to help raise funds for worthy organizations: the John XXIII Multi-Service Center, Centre for Living with Dying, Family and Children Services, Services for Brain Injury, as well as the Alzheimer's Activity Center.
Make a point to be at the San Jose Doubletree Hotel at 2050 Gateway Place -- just off Highway 101 near Mineta San Jose International Airport. Tickets are $75-$175. For details, call 408-278-8001, or go to www.vallemonte.org.
Industrious volunteers at the Lace Museum are busy making their famous lace-covered ornaments. Prices are as low as $5. I heap an assortment of these glass orbs accented with antique lace into a crystal bowl. It's a simple and easy way to add interest to any room.
While at the museum, be sure to see "The Holiday Exhibit," running through Jan. 14. The show features a group of antique dolls caught in the act of making lace; getting ready for bed; hanging their stockings on the fireplace and decorating the Christmas tree.
The Lace Museum, a nonprofit incorporated in 1981, is at 552 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale. The sale and exhibit began Tuesday. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. There is no admission fee. For information, call 408-730-4695, or go to www.thelacemuseum.org.
One of my favorite places to shop during the holidays is at Old Towne Antiques Mall in Pleasanton.
You'll find nearly 100 vendor spaces spread out in a 10,000-square-foot building. There's a huge variety to please any collector on your holiday gift list.
During a recent visit, I put a dent in my shopping list when I found an interesting cookbook, a glittery brooch, a Santa Claus figurine and several postcards.
Old Towne Antiques is at 3440 Stanley Blvd. The store is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Details: 925-484-2446, or www.oldetownantiuqesmall.com.
Contact Steven Yvaska at email@example.com or 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190.