SANTA MONICA—The city’s “Extra Bedroom” program returns in time for family and guests to attend the largest-ever Main Street Holiday Party on Saturday, December 7.

The city’s annual party returns with far more activities, parties and fun for the whole family than ever before. Gary Gordon, Executive Director of the Main Street Business Improvement Association (MSBIA), told Canyon News that as of now, 57 local businesses have signed up to throw holiday parties for the event. “That’s about double from what we had last year, and we’re really excited about that,” Gordon said.

The holiday party extravaganza begins at 5 p.m. with the spectacle of Santa arriving by fire truck to the lawn of the California Heritage Museum located at2612 Main Street, south of Ocean Park Boulevard. The tree lighting festivities will begin on the museum lawn at 6 p.m. with accompanying traditional holiday music performed by the Samohi Choir. Families that would like to take free photos with Santa are advised to bring their own camera.

The holiday parties also kick off around 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Gordon said that each holiday party will vary from place to place, with holiday offerings such as discounts, beverages, snacks, sweets, door prizes and more.

Around 6:30 p.m., Santa will lead the Candlelight Walk to light the famous Shopping Cart Tree, which is built every year by Anthony Schmitt, in the Edgemar Courtyard with contemporary-alternative holiday music performed by the bands Off Their Jingle Bell Rockers and Th3 Trip. After the tree lighting, the three music groups will carol down the street and provide entertainment for all at the holiday parties.

This year also brings the first “My Main Gift” Instagram competition. The contest, which began at midnight on November 21 and ends on December 20 at 4:59 p.m., allows people to take a photo of a gift at participating Main Streetbusinesses that they would like to receive and upload it to Instagram with the hashtag #MYMAINGIFT. The MSBIA judges will then randomly select a winner to receive their Instagram gift. Main Gift wishes should be valued at $100 or less.

A Main Street sidewalk sale will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8.

The Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau announced that the Extra Bedroom program is back to help community members accommodate all the friends and family coming to visit over the holiday season. Fourteen Santa Monica hotels, including the Ambrose Hotel and the Oceana Beach Club Hotel, are offering special hotel discounts and amenities to locals upon proof of residency from November 13 to January 25, 2014.

Kelly Nagle, Communication Manager of the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Canyon News that the whole philosophy behind the Extra Bedroom program is that “we know many Santa Monica residents are limited in space or might themselves want their own vacation…so during the holidays we try to offer guests and their families discounted rates and amenities.”

The Extra Bedroom program discounts provide “another option for family and guests visiting from out of town and those who might want a stay-cation to enjoy the beautiful Santa Monica scene and hotel hospitality over the holidays,” Nagle said.

The Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau will also be extending a holiday welcome at their new visitor’s center located right by the famous Shopping Cart Tree at 2427 Main Street, where the Communication Manager said they will be offering treats and connecting with visitors and locals during the Main Street Holiday Party on December 7.