mon musThe annual Holiday Gift Gallery returns to the Monmouth Museum with a Friday evening reception.

While the Santa Express has yet to hit the tracks of the Greater Red Bank Green, one of the season’s earlybird vehicles of hyperlocal holiday cheer makes its annual appearance beginning this Friday evening, when the Monmouth Museum hosts the opening of its annual Holiday Gift Gallery in Lincroft.

It’s introduced with a free reception from 6 to 9 pm at the Nilson Gallery of the museum, located on the campus of Brookdale Communiy College, the traditional setting for the NJ Emerging Artists series of exhibitions, and an appropriate place in which to feature a one-of-a-kind selection of artworks, crafts, jewelry, ceramics and seasonal decorations handmade by some of the Garden State’s most creative people.

Best of all, the Gift Gallery continues through January 10 during regular museum hours  — offering beyond-eleventh-hour shopportunities for seasonal stragglers. Park in BCC lot 1.

Returning to the main gallery of the Monmouth Museum this Sunday is one of those traditions without which the holidays on the Green just wouldn’t be the same: the annual Model Train Display that’s delighted generations of all-ages enthusiasts.

It’s a connection that scores of  locals missed when it took a hiatus a few years back, but when the trains rolled once more in 2014, they boasted new cars, a fully updated network of track, and an accompanying exhibit that celebrated the role of the “iron horse” in America’s history and imagination.

Expanding into different modes of holiday travel this year, the exhibit Trains, Planes and Automobiles introduces itself with a free-of-charge reception between the hours of 4 to 6 p.m. and a collection of photographs, art and memorabilia that illuminate the many ways in which we go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house.

Accompanied by the museum’s Holiday Tree, the display remains on view during museum hours through January 3, 2016. Admission during regular hours is $7 per person; free with valid student or staff ID from Brookdale Community College.