A gust of holiday spirit is sweeping through the local area as numerous family events begin in early December in celebration of the season. The first week of December is chock full of Christmas concerts and early appearances by Santa Claus and his helpers.

LMU CHRISTMAS GALA — Annual Christmas Gala choral concerts presented by the Loyola Marymount University Department of Music will take place at 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, December 7th and 9th, at the Sacred Heart Chapel, 1 LMU Drive, Westchester.

Under the direction of Dr. Mary Breden, director of choral activities, the Consort Singers will present Laud to the Nativity by Ottorino Respighi. The Women’s Chorus and Concert Choir will perform shorter seasonal arrangements of several traditional European carols. The ensembles will combine for a finale with a performance of Cantus Natalis, a new work by Z. Randall Stroope.

Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for children and senior citizens.

Reservations, (310) 338-7588.

SANTA’S VILLAGE — A holiday event for families, the fourth annual Santa’s Village and the Festival of Trees, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, December 2nd, at the Westchester Emerson Community Adult School, 8810 Emerson Ave., Westchester. Admission is free.

Mrs. Claus and The Clausettes are scheduled to arrive by the “North Pole Express Train” at 9:30 a.m. and Santa Claus is to come by helicopter at 10 a.m., according to organizers.

The day’s highlights include train rides, photos with Santa, a coloring contest, face painting, temporary holiday tattoos, gingerbread cookie decorating, letters to Santa and craft projects with Santa’s elves.

An array of treats and holiday baked goods will be on sale.

Santa’s Take-A-Break Movie Theater will screen holiday movies throughout the day. The event will also feature a silent auction, a holiday boutique and “Art on the Green” show and sale.

Information, (310) 994-9904.

HOLIDAY TEA TIME — Old-fashioned holiday tea time gatherings to benefit the Airport Marina Counseling Service will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday, December 4th, at the Inn at Playa del Rey, 435 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey; and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, December 5th, at the Channel Road Inn, 219 Channel Road, Santa Monica. Donations are requested to benefit Airport Marina Counseling Service’s new children’s center.

Information, (310) 574-1920.

JAZZ FROLIC — Vintage jazz treasures with winter-themed lyrics will be performed at “The Great Blizzard of ’06,” a musical event organized by pianist and musical historian Brad Kay, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 5th, at the Unurban Coffee House, 3301 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Onstage with Kay will be a lineup of chanteuses, crooners and jazz instrumentalists including David Barlia, Marea Boylan, Sharon Evans, Rick Rogers, C.J. Hincks, Indira, Flo Lawrence, Paula Robinson, Mikal Sandoval, Nick Santa Maria, Mews Small, Karin Spritzler, George Vannoy, Claudia Vossanine, Dick Miller, Dave Dolsonm, Dan Weinstein, Tom Marion and Mark Fletcher.

Songs to be performed by the revolving door cast include “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Ill Wind” and “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.”

Tickets are $15.

Information, (310) 822-4139.

MANSFIELD CHAMBER SINGERS — The Mansfield Chamber Singers, under the direction of Kenneth Wells, will present two concerts with the theme of “Light!” in Santa Monica the first two Sundays in December.

The first concert is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday, December 3rd, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 958 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica. The second performance is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, December 10th, at St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 1227 Fourth St., Santa Monica. Free-will donations are requested for the concerts.

The programs feature classical music from the 17th to 21st centuries. Selections include Mozart’s Mass in C, Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, and Ralph Vaughn Williams’s Five Mystical Songs.

In addition, the program will include Odekha, by early 17th century Jewish composer Salamone Rossi; Yiddish songs by Mark Zuckerman; Heavenly Light, by A. Kopylow; and Irish Christmas carols arranged by Frank Ferko.

The 30-voice Mansfield Chamber Singers have been performing in the local area since 1979. In recent years, the group has sung at Carnegie Hall and toured in Europe.

Information, (310) 471-1247.

SHOPPING CART TREE — Artist Anthony Schmitt was commissioned this year to form a 33-foot-tall Christmas tree built from 83 shopping carts stacked on top of one another. The sculpture stands sheltered in the outdoor courtyard of the Frank Gehry-designed Edgemar Center, 2435 Main St., Santa Monica, and is lit each night at 5 p.m. until Friday, January 5th.

Edgemar owner Abby Sher commissioned Schmitt to create the tree, which has been decorated this year with a combination of icicle-white and cobalt-blue lights with large silver and clear balls reflecting against the bright steel shopping carts.

A smaller display of lighted shopping carts on the street just in front of Edgemar serves as a guide for those interested in viewing the larger sculpture.

Information, (310) 399-3666.

A CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION — “A Christmas Celebration,” an yearly holiday concert featuring performances by the Santa Monica College Concert Chorale and other groups, will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, December 2nd and 3rd, at the First United Methodist Church, 1008 11th St., Santa Monica.

Each year, the concert features special guest narrator actor Peter Graves.

Performed this year will be Schubert’s Magnificat, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Christmas carols, including a sing-a-long segment with the audience.

In addition to the Santa Monica College Concert Chorale, the Chancel Choir of the First United Methodist Church, the Los Angeles Concert Orchestra and the Spirit of L.A. Ringers (on handbells) will perform. The conductor for the evening is Santa Monica College music professor James E. Smith.

Featured soloists will be soprano Barbara Smith, mezzo soprano Erin Wood, tenor Rolando Sanz and bass William Trabold.

Suggested donation is $15 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors.

Information, (310) 393-8258.

FRIENDS OF ANIMALS — A holiday boutique, with gift items including holiday dÈcor, collectibles, toys, crafts, estate items and homemade baked goods will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, December 1st, at the IHOP Restaurant, 8600 Sepulveda Blvd., Westchester.

Proceeds from the boutique benefit the Friends of Animals Foundation, which provides veterinary care and training, and provides homes for homeless and orphaned cats and dogs.

The Foundation also provides educational programs for youths in the care and humane treatment of animals.

Information, (310) 670-5215.

ALL ABOUT SANTA — All About Santa, a romantic holiday musical comedy for children and families where audience members boo the villain, cheer the hero and root for the heroine, is being performed at noon and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through December 21st, at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica.

The show, written and directed by Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo, follows a newly appointed Santa as he tries to prove his worth to retired Father Claus, save the spirit of the holidays from the diabolical machinations of his evil twin, and find the nerve to win the heart of the future Mrs. Claus.

In addition to regular showtimes, two special winter-break performances will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, December 19th and 21st. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $10.50 for children 12 and under. Information, (310) 394-9779 ext. 2.

ABBOT KINNEY HOLIDAY — A “Holiday Extravaganza on Abbot Kinney” event with decorations, carolers and special guests, including Santa Claus, is planned from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, December 8th, along Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. Merchants along the boulevard will stay open late with their own holiday festivities for customers. Local firemen will collect toys for the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department toy drive benefiting the local community at 6 p.m. in The Brig parking lot, 1515 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Information, (310) 396-3772.

HOLIDAY HOOPLA — Ocean Park Library invites children ages three through seven to “sleigh on down” for some holiday stories and a puppet show at 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 5th, at the library, 2601 Main St., Santa Monica.

Admission is free, but tickets must be picked up after noon on the day of the performance.

Information, (310) 392-3804.