Offbeat Christmas Traditions for Angelenos

Let's face it. When you live in Los Angeles, you can't exactly "do" Christmas like the snowier parts of the country. We can't really relate to Frosty the Snowman. There's no dashing through the snow. But we still do our best -- putting up our trees, hanging our lights, parading our boats, and sipping our ciders -- all in a way that feels very Californian.

We can certainly dream of a white Christmas, but we're allowed to make our holiday traditions a little different. And L.A. is the perfect place for people of all types to take their own unique spin on the conventional, tried, and true.

Here are five of some of the wackiest ways of celebrating the most wonderful time of the year -- at some places that you can visit all year long:

Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein
Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein

1. Have a Hoppy Holiday visiting the Bunny Museum
Of course, the most obvious time to visit a house chock full of bunnies would be Easter, but hop on over to the Bunny Museum for the added treat of Santa bunnies and a tannenbaum of trinkets related to the lovable hare. And if you're lucky, you'll get to actually cuddle with a real rabbit! You can even make this an annual visit to the "hoppiest" place on earth, because the museum is sure to have added to their collection over the course of a year. The ceramics, figurines, and stuffed animals have multiplied just like a bunch of...well, rabbits. Give yourself plenty of time to explore every corner of this house, which is so full of bunnies that the museum has outgrown it.

Photo: Logan's Candy
Photo: Logan's Candy

2. Do the Peppermint Twist at Logan's Candies
This time of year, everyone and their mother, grandmother, and great-aunt is at See's Candies, but if you'd like your holiday season to be slightly less predictable, go the mom and pop route and visit Logan's Candies, in Ontario since 1933. The real draw during the holiday season is their candy-making demos (now through December 28), when you can watch the artistry behind their candy cane craft and witness ribbons of sugar transformed into a sweet snack. Their candy canes come in the traditional red-and-white peppermint flavor and range from cinnamon (with an added green stripe), to cherry, and -- for those with a truly adventurous palate -- root beer, twisted in brown, orange, and yellow. It's almost as big for Valentine's Day, when you can get chocolate-covered strawberries (in a bouquet), chocolate marshmallow hearts, and of course the requisite heart-shaped box of chocolates.

Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein
Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein

3. Watch Bob Baker Marionette Theater 's Puppet Production of The Nutcracker
The shows at Bob Baker Marionette Theater always feel a bit like Christmas any time of year. There's always a sense of wonder and magic as you watch these misfit puppets sing and dance and maybe sit on somebody's lap. But when you need a little Christmas during sunny December in beautiful old L.A., take in a show during their run of the "Nutcracker," which has a distinctly wintry feel with snow princesses and a big ol' gold tinsel tree. It's an annual tradition that's been around for decades, but still, so many Angelenos have never been. If you visit during the week, you're likely to mingle with some tiny tikes on a school trip, but don't be shy -- get there early to get a primo seat on the floor next to the "stage" area.

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4. View Christmas Traditions Through the Ages at Grier Musser Museum
If you haven't bothered to put up a tree or deck any of your own halls, pay the Grier Musser Museum a visit. This Victorian house museum (a Huell Howser favorite) is a repository for a permanent collection of antiques and other vintage collectibles and a rotating cast of seasonal decorations. This time of year, you'll find dancing Santas, mischievous elves, singing angels, a nutcracker with a belly full of dancers, and oh so much more. And it's special because it's not just a museum -- it's also the museum director's own home. So after she guides you through the house, room to room, turning on all of the animatronic ornaments, she'll feed you cookies and punch in her kitchen. If you can't go home this Christmas, you can go to the Grier Musser home to feel some Christmas nostalgia. And if you visit at other times throughout the year, you can witness the house transform from one holiday theme to another. Valentine's Day and Halloween are also not to be missed.

5. Buy the Holiest of Pumpkin Breads at Monastery of the Angels
These cloistered Dominican Contemplative Nuns have withdrawn from the world, and when they're not praying, studying, or performing daily morning mass, they make delicious delights that you can buy in their gift shop any day of the week but Sunday, any time of year. Their monastic life has brought us peanut brittle, hand-dipped chocolates, and the offbeat holiday favorite, pumpkin bread. For the last 40 years, treats like these have helped pay the bills for the nuns -- including their healthcare -- so when you pick up a loaf (or three), your holiday shopping is for a good cause. And you can't order their goods online, so you'll have to visit their convent in Hollywood. Stock up and give loaves of the pumpkin bread as gifts (as does former council member Tom LaBonge), or freeze them so you can enjoy them all year long.

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