Let’s be clear: If you can’t find something you want to do on this special Saturday, you’re not trying. (Note that this isn’t a complete list of all events on Dec. 7, as we’ve left out, for example, holiday markets and pop-up bars that run for most of the month, as well as sold-out concerts.)
I want to get the kids out of the house.
Yes, the Nutcracker Family Day at the Smithsonian American Art Museum features dancers from the Washington Ballet performing highlights from Tchaikovsky’s holiday masterpiece, but it adds a behind-the-scenes look at how the annual D.C.-themed production comes together, courtesy of artistic director Julie Kent. Also included: Winter crafts and a scavenger hunt, and hot chocolate for purchase in the museum cafe. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free.
Handel’s “Messiah” is one of the most beautiful and recognizable pieces of music associated with the holidays, but with a run time over two hours, it’s not meant for all audiences. Think of Washington National Cathedral’s “Family Messiah” as a greatest hits version of the famous oratorio, performed by the Washington National Cathedral Baroque Orchestra and Choir, and one where you won’t get dirty looks if you have to get up to take the kids to the bathroom. Noon. $25-$45.
Do your kids have a crafty side? Introduce them to the joys of snail mail at the Smithsonian Holiday Card Workshop at the National Postal Museum. On Saturday and Sunday, the museum’s card-making stations will be stocked with stickers, rubber stamps, shiny paper, shaped scissors, markers and everything else budding Hallmark artists need. When they’re done, kids can mail the cards (with the postal museum’s special postmark) and explore the festively decorated museum, including train cars and trucks to sit in. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.
I want to finish my shopping early.
This is a bumper weekend for holiday shopping, especially if you want to avoid chain stores. Click on the event link for a full description of vendors.
The Heurich House Museum’s annual Christkindlmarkt, held in the garden behind Christian Heurich’s preserved 19th-century Dupont Circle mansion, features 25 local vendors selling handmade crafts and gifts, as well as beer, mulled wine and food. The historic home, which is decorated for a Victorian Christmas, is open for self-guided tours during the Saturday and Sunday markets, as well as a Friday night VIP event. Noon to 8 p.m. $10-$13.
The National Zoo’s ZooLights has again partnered with the crafty Grump Holiday Market, welcoming two dozen vendors on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. (About half the artisans rotate each day.) Expect a fun, hip mix of clothing, prints and candles, in addition to the zoo’s glowing decorations. 5 to 9 p.m. Free.
Dear Black Santa, making its debut at Smith Public Trust in Brookland, brings together a dozen African American vendors offering skin care, hair products and books, plus DJs, raffles and a visit from Santa. 1 to 4 p.m. Free.
Washington’s broad international community is reflected in the Christmas bazaars that pop up every holiday season. There are three to choose from on the 7th. The Sons of Norway concludes its two-day Holiday Festival and Bazaar at Christ Lutheran Church in Fairfax. Browse tables full of sweaters, books and crafts; snack on baked goods, cheese and flatbreads in the cafe; meet a pair of fjord horses and watch dance performances. (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.) The Friends of the German International School in Potomac offer their own take, selling hand-carved wooden ornaments and gifts from Saxony, as well as sausages and mulled wine, while the school’s choir performs (11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.) The biggest of them all is the SWEA Bazaar at the House of Sweden — more about that below.
“Christmas in Middleburg” is a name that lends small-town nostalgia to tony horse country. A full day of activities, including caroling, a craft fair and a pet show-and-tell, lead up to two processions down historic Washington Street. First, at 11 a.m., mounted fox hunters wearing bright pinks ride down the street with a pack of dogs. After lunch, the real parade begins, with antique firetrucks and cars, floats, horse-drawn carriages and, of course, Santa. The day continues with wine tastings and snacks at the town’s restaurants. 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.
Alexandria’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade serves as a seasonal counterpart to Old Town’s famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Sure, leprechauns are nice, but the tartan-clad Scots march with Santa. The parade includes drummers, dancers, bands, classic cars, Scottie dogs and Scout troops in its long column, which ends with a bagpipe concert at City Hall. 11 a.m. Free.
Festively decorated boats fill the Potomac on Saturday night, as Alexandria and the Wharf host holiday boat parades a few hours and miles apart. Alexandria gets an early start, with Santa arriving by fireboat at the Torpedo Factory at 3:30 p.m. The neighborhood is filled with activities, including a pop-up Port City beer garden and craft-making stations in Waterfront Park, before the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights begins in earnest at 5:30 p.m. Upstream, the D.C. Holiday Boat Parade at the Wharf begins at 7 p.m., with fireworks at 8 p.m. Arrive early for ice skating, live music and a beer garden with s’mores.
I want to hear some great music.
Want to belt out the songs of the season with thousands of other singers? The Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-Along brings the U.S. Marine Band to the Filene Center for a night of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with audience participation: Bring a bell to shake during “Jingle Bells” and a candle to carry during a “Silent Night” processional. Festive holiday attire is suggested. Gates open at 2:30 p.m. and close when the park hits capacity. 4 p.m. Free.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington has a wide breadth of material in its annual Holiday Show at Lincoln Theatre, making it the show of choice for those who want more than rote performances of “What Child is This” and “Silent Night” — the level of camp matches the soaring vocals, there are tap dance numbers and visual gags, and the religious standards mesh well with the cheekier, sexier numbers. 8 p.m.; also Dec. 14-15. $25-$65.
The 26-year-old Night of 100 Elvises is as over the top as the King was. The convention-cum-party takes over Baltimore’s Lord Baltimore Hotel for three straight days, but Saturday is the night to rock: two ballrooms and a Viva Las Vegas Lounge, each with at least a dozen bands and Elvis tribute artists performing from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. If you can tear yourself away from Young Elvis or ’68 Comeback Elvis (or even Vegas Elvis, no judging), you’ll find Elvis ice sculptures, a legally binding Elvis wedding chapel, showgirls, concession tables hawking fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and more Elvis impersonators than you can shake a tub of Brylcreem at. 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. $60-$85.
I want an only-in-Washington experience.
Do you get extra cool points for buying your mom holiday decorations, a new scarf or a beautiful crystal bowl at the Swedish Holiday Market at the Swedish Embassy? Maybe, maybe not. But even if you don’t find anything, you’ll get to sip mulled wine, eat meatballs and watch a traditional Santa Lucia procession on the water in Georgetown. The market, organized by the Swedish women’s organization SWEA in partnership with the embassy, is perennially popular, with thousands of visitors, so purchasing advance tickets is strongly recommended. (The ticket, $6 in advance for everyone older than 10, includes “fika,” a coffee paired with ginger snaps or a cinnamon roll, and a cup of glogg.) The market, which fills both levels of the House of Sweden, is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., while the Santa Lucia and caroling begins at 5 p.m. $6 in advance, $10 at the door.
You might not get an invitation to tour the White House Christmas decorations, but anyone can purchase a ticket to see the first president’s home fitted out for the holidays. The guided tour of Mount Vernon by Candlelight — lit by both lantern and candle — takes in the historic house, but also talks about life in the kitchens and slave quarters. There are demonstrations of 18th-century dancing and a visit with a camel, an animal George Washington brought to Mount Vernon in 1787, as well as a reminder of what Revolutionary War soldiers experienced in the winter. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 22. $26.
The holidays were the best time of year when you were a kid. Capture some of that special feeling, complete with Saturday morning cartoons, at Spoons, Toons and Booze at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse, a throwback day of sugary breakfast cereals, costume contests, party games and Christmas-themed episodes of He-Man, the Smurfs and other retro cartoons. Except this time, no one’s going to tell you not to go back for a third helping of Cap’n Crunch Christmas Crunch from the all-you-can-eat cereal bar, and you can pair your cereal with a Sonny — a White Russian cocktail with some Cocoa Puffs floating on top. Wear an ugly sweater, get your picture taken on Santa’s lap and try not to think about the plot holes in “He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special.” Noon. $15.
Americans like to play up Santa as a jolly soul who brings gifts to good boys and girls. For some reason, they rarely talk about St. Nicholas’s companion Krampus, a goat-horned demon who carries chains and punishes bad children. Krampus, popular throughout Central Europe, has become more popular in the U.S.: Krampusnacht returns to H Street NE for the eighth year. The fun begins with a family-friendly party at Gallery O on H at 5 p.m. with games, a costume contest and a visit with Santa. Krampus then leads an hour-long procession of masked performers, drummers and dancers around the bars and restaurants on H Street at 7:15, before returning to the gallery for an after-party featuring fire-eaters, magicians and other entertainers. Proceeds benefit the National Center for Children and Families to buy presents for children in the D.C. foster system. 5 to 11 p.m. Suggested donation $15.
Sterling’s Rocket Frog Brewing welcomes 10 taps of friends for its Winter Warmer fest, including Three Notch’d, which is bringing a bourbon barrel-aged version of its Biggie S’mores stout. There will be plenty of Rocket Frog to go around, including a barrel-aged imperial stout, with burgers from Simply Juicy Baby food truck and music by Darien Saiidifar. 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. $35, which includes 10 drink tickets.