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Christmas Craft Party at Grandma Dianne’s in Lakewood Village!

Grandma Dianne's Annual Christmas Craft Party

Everyone had a blast at Grandma Dianne's Annual Christmas Craft Party!

For the 14th year in a row hundreds of locals gathered this past weekend at Grandma Dianne’s house on Montair Ave. in Lakewood Village in North East Long Beach to kick-off the holiday season with food, fun, and crafts.

The tradition started in 2003 with just six kids making two crafts each. Over the years, the fun and activities have multiplied and so have the number of kids who attend each year. Of course, they bring along their parents who have just as much fun as the kids helping with crafts, enjoying holiday treats, and catching up with each other over the soothing sounds of classic holiday tunes.

Christy Di Leo & Ellen Henry

This year over 80 children attended Grandma Dianne’s house. The youngest was an 8-month-old. The oldest was 15…

That is till I showed up and stole the show. That’s right…no better way to get in the holiday spirit than to attend Grandma Dianne’s annual party and no point in attending if you’re not going to participate!

So here’s how Big John’s big day went:

It all started at the gingerbread house station. Lucky for me Grandma Dianne’s elves had already put together the graham cracker house so all I had to do was decorate. I asked for advice from the other kids and they said, “Lots of icing first then whatever candy you want on top.” Smart advice, but an even smarter move by one of the girls who was pretty much hiding the chocolate bowl from me and keeping it to herself.

Grandma Dianne and her Helper Elves!

Grandma Dianne and her Helper Elves!

After washing lots of excess icing off my hands I headed to the tree ornament station. Once again the elves had done most of the grunt work, building the tree out of old toilet paper rolls. All I had to do was paint it green and glue down the decorative buttons. With which I did a “very good job,” said grandma Dianne.

The Peanut Snowman station was a breeze…a little yarn for the hat and scarf and the rest was sharpie work. I’m a wizard with unwashable markers.

The last station was the big one. Separating the true Christmas Spiriters from the kids that were just going through the motions. Snowman Cans and Holiday Plates.

To help with the “spirit” part, some of the elves encouraged me to grab a glass of the warm holiday cider that the adults were drinking. It was a delicious homemade recipe by Grandma Dianne’s daughter Bev. Find more of her creations at

I aced the Snowman Can which was pretty much just a plug and chug job. But the plate…that was the creative part. There were no rules, no guidelines, just an empty white plate and a basket of markers. Sounds scary right?

Wrong. Did I mention I’m a wizard with unwashable markers? I completed the most complex design of the day (or so the elves said, they gave out compliments like they were free). Baked the plate for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Farenheit, and I had my very own unique holiday creation.

It was a heck of a day, I think all involved would agree. I showed up too late to get a picture with Santa Claus, but a final picture with Grandma Dianne and all my completed ornaments fit the bill.

John & Grandma Dianne

John and Grandma Dianne. Look at those awesome crafts!

I tip my cap to Grandma Dianne, her daughter Bev Whittenbury and her daughter-in-law Karen Wall for throwing a truly great neighborhood and family event and for making life great in the 908. They also raised over 100 toys donated by the guests for “Giving Children Hope” a Cypress-based charity that collects life essentials for under-privileged youth.

All the guests agree that this tradition is one of Long Beach’s finest. Christmas Season isn’t officially here until Grandma Dianne’s Craft Party. And as they say, once you come you’re always welcome back.

I can’t wait to see Grandma and the Elves in 2018…next year I’m wearing my pajamas like everyone else.

John and his new friends

John and his new friends!


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