At the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, where an international Christmas tree displays ornaments from 225 luxury hotels in 52 countries, children may sign up for a series of puppet shows or storytelling times. During these children’s hours, from now through Dec. 28, hot chocolate, holiday cookies and miniature fruit tarts will be served. Prices: $15 for children ages 10 and under and $25 for adults per event. In addition, guests are encouraged to bring a new toy to donate to the hotel’s Toys for Tots campaign. For dates and times, call (714) 240-2000.
The only Orange County first-time recipient of an Award of Excellence from the Wine Spectator Magazine this year is John Dominis restaurant in Newport Beach. The magazine each year honors restaurants around the world for the superiority of their wine lists.
The new Rex in Fashion Island is now open for lunch. Look for such salads as peppered Muscovy duck breast with balsamic vinaigrette and poached salmon with honey mustard, priced from $9.50 to $12.75. Entrees vary from petite bouillabaisse with rouille croutons to salmon au poivre with Gewurtztraminer buerre blanc and Zinfandel sauce. Entree prices: $10.75 to $18.50. Reservations: (714) 644-4400.
Children may breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel from 8 to 10 a.m. The cost--$5 for children under 12, $7 for ages 13 to 16, $10 for adults--includes holiday entertainment and Polaroid photos. Reservations: (714) 540-2500.
Murder on the Menu in South Coast Plaza Village is the newest entry in O.C.'s mystery dinner roster. It differs from the others (at Scott’s Seafood Grill in Costa Mesa, Hubert’s in Santa Ana, and Dial M murder mysteries at various locations) in that you go first to the presentation of the mystery in theater format. Then a limousine transports you to your choice of restaurants: Gustaf Anders, Fortune, Gandhi, Reuben’s Restaurant, the Village Farmer (formerly the Good Earth) or Verdugo’s. After you’ve dined, you return to the theater for the denouement of the mystery. Activities begin at 7 p.m. every Saturday; $65 per person includes limo, show, dinner and champagne. Reservations: (714) 722-3016.