In all the holiday rush and crush, it's important to take part in at least one traditional event with your kids, whether it's a holiday baking class or just a fun display, and a few events even come with feel-good lessons. The gingerbread edifices at Poste, for instance, will be donated to District ChopHouse for its annual Christmas day feast for underprivileged children. On your end, skip the mall and send the kids to crawl onto Santa's lap while you relax over a nice brunch (and a glass of wine). . . .

D.C. COAST: 1401 K St. NW; 202-216-5988. "Cajun Night Before Christmas" cooking class for ages 8 and older (accompanied by an adult). Decorate alligator spice cakes, bake "calas" (New Orleans-style fried rice fritters) and cut out gingerbread animals. Saturday 11 to 1. $50 per child; reservations, 202-222-0987.

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL: 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-342-0444. Thirty-inch gingerbread replica of the Washington National Cathedral and 14 decorator trees from Georgetown designers in the lobby through Dec. 27.

POSTE MODERNE BRASSERIE: 555 Eighth St. NW (in the Monaco Hotel); 202-783-6060. Gingerbread house contest for all ages. Drop off creations at the restaurant from 8 to 10 or 4 to 6 through Tuesday; vote on entries in the hotel lobby from Wednesday through Dec. 24.

ROOF TERRACE RESTAURANT: 2700 F St. NW (in the Kennedy Center); 202-416-8555. Brunch with Santa, Sunday and Dec. 18 from 11 to 3. Ages 12 and older $34; younger than 12, $17.

-- Eve Zibart

A gingerbread Washington National Cathedral at the Four Seasons.