Holiday Celebrations, Tea, (and Spiked Hot Chocolate)


The Westin St. Francis executive pastry chef Jean-François Houdré and his sugar castle.

The Bay Area is now going full-tilt boogie into holiday celebrations and events, so I thought I’d round up some fun options for you, and, if you have them, your little ones.

Starting with tonight, Tuesday November 23rd, The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa is hosting a Holiday Open House. There will be a 12-foot tree and village lighting ceremony, a 10-foot tall gingerbread replica of the Claremont, carolers, hot apple cider and cocoa, and even a visit from Santa Claus (wow, he’s in town early)! 5pm-7pm. 41 Tunnel Rd., Berkeley.

More holiday housing: The Westin St. Francis is unveiling one of the county’s largest sugar castles this Wednesday November 24th at 10am in the Main Lobby. The event is open to the public, and complimentary hot chocolate will be served. Executive pastry chef Jean-François Houdré will unveil his signature 12-foot rotating holiday sugar castle that weighs over 1,200 pounds. The Sugar Castle will be on display through January 3rd. 335 Powell St. at Geary.

Now, let’s talk adult beverages, shall we? Especially when the Union Square crowds are making you crazy, you need a place to slow down and drink some calming medicine. Seasons Bar & Lounge is letting guests customize their hot chocolate with all kinds of boozy options, and there are some other holiday beverages available at $14 each. And right on Union Square, CLOCK BAR will offer a selection of holiday drinks.

Just in case you are suffering through the Black Friday insanity, stop by E&O Trading Co. San Francisco for lunch, happy hour (available from 3pm-6pm), or dinner, and the restaurant will watch over your holiday purchases with a complimentary shopping bag valet. 11:30am-9pm. Friday November 26th only. 314 Sutter St. at Grant.

Also, on Friday November 26th, the Macy’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is at 6pm on Union Square.

From December 4th-19th, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 2pm-4pm, you can partake in the annual St. Francis Holiday Tea. You can enjoy artisan teas from Mighty Leaf or Red Blossom Tea Company, followed by a selection of tea sandwiches, freshly baked black currant scones and seasonal berries with Devonshire-blend cream, preserves, and assorted petits fours. (Although I think I’d prefer the Royal Tea, which includes the complete tea service with a glass of Gloria Ferrer.) Complete tea is $39 for adults; with Red Blossom Tea $42; and $20 for children 12 and under. $45 adults Royal Tea; with Red Blossom Tea $48. Reservations are required; call 415-397-7000.

The Sir Francis Drake is debuting its new Tea Under the Tree service this holiday season. You’ll be able to enjoy an afternoon tea, complete with tea sandwiches, freshly baked pastries, and artisanal tea. For those looking for a little more holiday cheer, a menu of hand-crafted cocktails is also available. The tea is available weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas (November 26th, 27th, 28th, and December 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 18th, and 19th) from 1pm-4pm. $40 per person for adults, and $20 per person for children. It takes place in the Lobby Mezzanine—and there’s a 20-foot tree. 450 Powell St. at Post. For reservations, call 415-395-8555.