Inspired by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Spirit to the Max
For the well-intentioned but over-the-top holiday.
Start the old-fashioned Griswold family Christmas by chopping down your own tree: Tromp through the woods with (or, you know, without) a saw and a permit (fs.usda.gov) or skip the frostbite and cruise for tree farms in Issaquah. Trinity Tree Farm (trinitytreefarm.com) offers complimentary cocoa and cider and expert tree wranglers to lash that Douglas fir to the Subaru.✭ Watch electric bills spike. Garden d’Lights (gardendlights.org) strings half a million bulbs around Bellevue Botanical Garden every year, while the Helmstetler Family Christmas Spectacular in West Seattle (westseattlelights.com) syncs some 54,000 lights to music on 101.9 FM.✭ Pay tribute to crazy Cousin Eddie at one of Hotel 1000’s weekly Ugly Holiday Sweater Parties (hotel1000seattle.com). Battery-powered sweaters encouraged.✭ Avoid a holiday dinner disaster by attending the free Holiday Boot Camp at Willows Lodge in Woodinville (willowslodge.com). Barking Frog chefs share appetizer and dessert recipes, and a mixologist spices up your hot toddy.✭ Try this Seattle substitute for eggnog in a Bullwinkle mug: a blue blazer at Vessel (vesselseattle.com). This far flashier cocktail involves master mixer Jim Romdall setting your whiskey punch on fire.
Inspired by A Christmas Story
Gifts and Gags
For a celebration so nutty that shooting your eye out is an actual risk.
Find a good Santa who won’t shove a boot in your kid’s face. We hear the big guy at U Village has an extra twinkle in his eye, and the Wing Luke Museum has a sweet Asian American St. Nick. But the downtown Nordstrom’s Kris Kringle (shop.nordstrom.com) is still the best, inheriting the mantle from the old Frederick and Nelson snowbeard (who might have actually been Santa).✭ If the dogs get to the holiday turkey before you do, the next best thing is Wild Ginger’s signature fragrant duck with steamed buns and plum sauce (wildginger.net)—the bird is so tender you’ll forgive Fido and crew their transgressions. ✭ Triple dog dare someone to take the Polar Bear Dive (promotionevents.com) into Lake Washington after the Resolution Run 5k on New Year’s Day. Or just triple dog dare someone to get out of bed on New Year’s Day. ✭ Order this year’s Red Ryder BB Gun: the remote-controlled Syma S107/S107G helicopter (amazon.com) that you can fly indoors. Good luck wrestling the controller away from Dad. ✭ See a show at the house that fostered A Christmas Story: The Musical. Broadway’s Elf: The Musical arrives at 5th Avenue Theatre (5thavenue.org) on November 30—sadly, without a singing and dancing Will Ferrell.
Seattle comedian Emmett Montgomery has the cure to the winter blues in our original series, Seattle Winter and You. Episode 1: "Our Enemy, the Sun."
Inspired by How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Grinch List
For those whose hearts are three sizes too small.
All those cheery holiday memories—all the noise, noise, noise. Why doesn’t anyone talk about the time the angry three-legged reindeer attacked the family? In Wing-It’s (wingitpresents.com) annual improv comedy show, Uncle Mike Ruins Christmas with bawdy retellings of audience members’ anecdotes. ✭ If you prefer Jack and Coke to milk and cookies, join the stumbling caravan of pub-crawling Santas as it spreads holiday sneer across Seattle on December 15. It’s Santarchy! ✭ The wholly unholy Christmas parody Wisemen returns to ACT (acttheatre.org), where the law firm of Goldberg, Frankenstein, and Murray investigates Joseph of Nazareth’s paternity suit and the shady corporate dealings of Santa Inc. ✭ How can we celebrate when the planet’s about to combust? SIFF Uptown honors the Mayan calendar with an Apocalypse Film Festival (siff.net) and—if we make it past December 21—a postapocalypse music video party. ✭ Even a Grinch breaks at some point. Indulge in some rare roast beast at John Howie Steak in Whovue (johnhowiesteak.com) and a little night music when the Whos sing carols—competitively—around Westlake Center in the Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner Caroling Competition.
Inspired by A Charlie Brown Christmas
For finding the true meaning of the season.
Our new favorite tradition is hearing the Jose Gonzales Trio (strawshop.org) cover Vince Guaraldi’s breezy jazz score to the Peanuts cartoon; Schroeder has nothing on piano man “Juicy” Gonzales. ✭ Take a spin around the Winterfest Ice Rink at Seattle Center (seattlecenter.com) or Bellevue’s outdoor Magic Season Ice Arena (magicseason.com), two reliable pop-ups that are notmade of polymer. Anyone wonder why Capitol Hill’s rink isn’t back for a second year? ✭ Rather than lecture like Linus, Black Nativity (stgpresents.org) relies on the poetry of Langston Hughes, choreography by Brooklyn’s Jamel Gaines, and the soaring refrains of Pastor Patrinell Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir to tell the tale of the baby in the manger. ✭ There’s no better time to rock Shermy’s zombie move or Violet’s awkward vogue than Lo-Fi’s soul nights (thelofi.net), when the dance floors are always packed and no one’s judging. ✭ Avoid crass commercialism with a spiritual concert: The Sunday-night Compline at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral (saintmarks.org) draws as many as 500 twentysomethings to quiet meditation with the monastic chants of the all-male choir.
Episode 2: "Books, Books, Books."
Inspired by a Christmas Tale
Ooh La La La La
For savoring the discreet charms of the French bourgeoisie.
For all black sheep returning home this season, dress to impress. Nothing says “I don’t need you!” like a pile of cashmere sweaters from Margaret O’Leary (margaretoleary.com). ✭ Soften the matriarch of the family by taking her to Georgian Tea at the Fairmont Olympic (fairmont.com/seattle), where even an in-law looks good in the soft glow of the chandeliers. Provence-inspired Boat Street Cafe (boatstreetcafe.com) sets a fine table for your Frenchie family reunion. ✭ Look like Catherine Deneuve (for a day at least) by letting Devan White at Shine in the Market (shineinthemarket.com) style your locks. Just ask for the “bourgeois housewife.” ✭ A day of decadence wouldn’t be complete without revisiting Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker (pnb.org) with its 187 dancers, storied Maurice Sendak sets and costumes, and Boeing--engineered Christmas tree that grows to 28 feet.
Episode 3: "Everything's Better When Wet."
Inspired by miracle on 34th Street
For kids, and adults who yearn to be kids.
The season officially starts on Black Friday with the Macy’s Holiday Parade (holidaysinseattle.com) wending through downtown Seattle’s shopping streets and, on the Eastside, with the man-size toy soldiers marching down Bellevue’s Snowflake Lane (magicseason.com). ✭ Lest you risk coming off as a crazy old codger, soothe yourself with a spa day at Salish Lodge and Spa (salishlodge.com), where complimentary soaking pools mean it’s always adult swim. ✭ Take the Kris Kringle diet and stock up on shortbread, chocolate chip, and gingerbread men at CookieFest. They’re made with love by the city’s top bakeries and culinary programs, and proceeds support Seattle Milk Fund (seattlemilkfund.org). ✭ We believe mightily in ACT’s A Christmas Carol (acttheatre.org), going strong in its 37th year, with veteran local actors rotating in as Scrooge and ghosts arriving via trapdoor in ever more creative ways. ✭ Even the most hardened six-year-old will hear angels singing when the Northwest Boychoir lends its voices to A Festival of Lessons and Carols with members of Northwest Sinfonia (seattlesymphony.org).
Episode 4: "Melting the Seattle Freeze."
Inspired by love actually
For those in search of a warm body for the coldest months of the year.
Hit on a politician. We hear former city council member Peter Steinbrueck might be available soon. ✭ Skip the coworker dalliance after the office party and try Grouper instead (joingrouper.com). It’s a by-invite social club that matches up your posse with their posse for drink dates. If you’re three guys, they send three girls…or three guys, depending on your preference. ✭ Whether you’re learning Portuguese (seattlelanguages.com) or how to play the drums (schoolofrock.com) to impress a love interest, it’s always a smart move to self-improve. ✭ Warm up on stouts at the Winter Beer Fest (Dec 7 & 8, washingtonbeer.com) while faking a British accent. It’s a good way to pick up Americans. ✭ Pickwick plays a dance-happy soul set on New Year’s Eve at Showbox at the Market (showboxonline.com). All you need to do is show up and, you know, bump into a new friend.