SS. Peter and Paul School will host its annual Christmas Festival this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, at the school. The festival will also feature the sixth annual "One-Stop" Holiday Gift Shop on Saturday only.

All proceeds from the festival will benefit the pre-K through eighth-grade school.

"We have a lot of different things going on during the festival," said Michele Bauder, festival co-chair and a PTO volunteer at SS. Peter and Paul School.

The school hall will be decorated for the holidays, and crafts and cookie decorating stations will be set up for families. Homemade food and baked goods will be available for purchase.

"The kitchen serves delicious food, and the ladies in the kitchen do a great job of keeping the line moving," she added.

An annual highlight of the festival is Santa's Workshop, which is sure to be a favorite of families with young children. The workshop is a chance for children to shop on their own and find the perfect gift for parents, grandparents and siblings, and features inexpensive toys, jewelry, and novelty items.

"These are all of items that kids enjoy buying for their family members," she added.

On Saturday, the festival will also feature a gift shop and various events at Lehighton Borough Auditorium. More than 30 vendors will be selling holiday merchandise and gift items. Most vendors are small business owners from the local area.

"You can get your shopping done and support local and small businesses in a more relaxed atmosphere. It's one on one interaction, and you won't be waiting in long lines," she said. "We make a point to limit the vendors selling one type of thing. You're getting a lot of different vendors with different merchandise." Gift shop items will include children's toys and books, pet items, seasonal crafts and decorations, and scarves, hats and jewelry.

A professional photographer, T & R Productions Photography of Jim Thorpe, will be on site Saturday at the Gift Shop. She will have a holiday backdrop for families who wish to have a holiday portrait taken. Families can purchase a photo package, to be delivered in time for the holidays, or purchase their photographs on CD immediately after the session and print out the photographs that they need.

A mini health fair and free blood pressure screenings will also be provided by Coordinated Health.

An old-fashioned trolley will be available on Saturday to shuttle shoppers between the main festival and the gift shop.

"The little kids get a kick out of tacking the trolley back and forth. You can go have lunch at the festival, then ride the trolley down to the borough building to do some shopping," she said.

Bauder noted that the festival and gift shop are one of several community-based events that allows the school to reach out to local residents.

"We have been trying to do more community-based events, rather than events that just focus on our school families," she said. "We would like it if everybody in the community could come out, because without the community this is just a school building. We appreciate everything that people do for our kids."

In addition to the festival and gift shop, SS. Peter and Paul is also hosting a snack and story time with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Friday, December 7 at 6:30 p.m.

"Santa will tell a story and spend time with each kid," said Bauder. "We've tried, over the past few years, to set up a fun atmosphere," she added, noting that there will be an electric fireplace and rugs to make the hall more festive. Space is limited. Reservations should be made as soon as possible by printing out a registration form at www.ssppschool.org [1] or by calling (610) 554-0621.

SS Peter and Paul School is located at 307 Coal St. in Lehighton. Festival hours will be Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The Holiday Gift Shop will be held at the Lehighton Borough Auditorium, located at 110 North Third Street in Lehighton. Gift Shop hours will be 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information visit www.ssppschool.org [1] or call (610) 377-4466.