Cheap & Easy

The Best Bang for Your Buck Events in Portland This Holiday Weekend: Dec 22–25, 2023

Santa Clones, BIPOC Children's Book Fair, and More Cheap & Easy Events Under $15
December 22, 2023
Scout out the Santa Clones, but shhh, keep their location a secret! (Chris Willis)
There's only three more sleeps 'til Christmas! And between now and then, there's plenty to amuse you and your loved ones, from the return of the Santa Clones to FAM JAM // Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special and from the inaugural Portland BIPOC Children’s Book Fair to the traditional screenings of The Big Lebowski at Clinton Street Theater. For more ideas, check out our guide to the top events of the week.

Holiday hours may vary—please check venue websites directly for the most up-to-date information.

Jump to: Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Multi-Day



A Holiday Spectacular with Mitch & the Melody Makers Past Event List
The oldies tribute band Mitch & the Melody Makers will take a break from their regular gig as wedding entertainment to throw their annual holiday spectacular. The evening promises retro holiday hits and obscure treasures alike with appearances from special guests. There’s no telling what songs they'll cover, but I would love to hear something from James Brown's A Soulful Christmas. AV
(Mississippi Studios, Boise, $12)

A Very Depeche Mode Christmas with Constant Debauchery and Christmas Crackers Past Event List
If you consider yourself a true goth but just can't get enough of that good ol' Christmas cheer, then consider this the holiday party for you. Local Depeche Mode cover band Constant Debauchery is calling all festive new wavers to the Fixin' To for an evening of "merriment, presents, and assorted ridiculousness." Plus, the holiday-obsessed pop band Christmas Crackers will start the night with resonant originals like "Merry Christmas Britney" and "Broke Ass Christmas." AV
(The Fixin' To, St. Johns, $10)


Snap! Y2K: Ugly Sweater Xmas Party Past Event List
Resident DJs Colin Jones and Maxx Bass will spin some of your favorite holiday-centric pop favorites while you reenact the iconic "Jingle Bell Rock" dance routine from Mean Girls at this '90s and '00s throwback bash. Be sure to don your gayest knitwear for this one (can someone please recreate Lizzie McGuire's iconic unicorn sweater?!) AV
(Holocene, Buckman, $10)


Funky Holiday Sweater Skate Night Past Event List
In my opinion, roller skating rinks are better than ice skating rinks because you're not outside in the freezing cold. The Oaks Park rink is putting a spin on "ugly" sweater nights this holiday season and inviting you and your crew to don your best "funky" holiday sweater instead. Don't forget to take an #elfie! SL
(Oaks Park Skating Rink, Sellwood, $12)



Portland BIPOC Children’s Book Fair Past Event List
The city's inaugural BIPOC Children's Book Fair promises a free book from Black-owned bookstore Sistah Scifi for every attending child, but that's far from all—the fair, organized by Nebula Award-winning author K. Tempest Bradford and the Carl Brandon Society, will include appearances by authors Nisi Shawl, David F. Walker, Anita Crawford, and Diana Ma. Picture an old-school book fair with a justice-focused twist: The fair centers BIPOC-authored children's and young adult books in adventure, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, non-fiction, and other genres. LC
(Norse Hall, Kerns, $0-$5)


FAM JAM // Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special Past Event List
This screening of history's best holiday special, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special, honors the memory of Paul Reubens, everyone's favorite nasally, bow-tied, high-camp artiste who passed in July after a private cancer battle. (It's not all about him, though: Cher, Oprah, Grace Jones, Little Richard, and k.d. lang make appearances.) Pee-Wee's shiny postmodern sarcasm and half-toy, half-human, kitschy sincerity were far more influential than we gave him credit for. If you're in need of a little spiked-eggnog cheer, I recommend popping on an ugly sweater and taking this flick for a spin—it's even weirder, and better, than you remember. LC
(Tomorrow Theater, Richmond, $5)


Butter Coop Bakery Pop-Up Past Event List
The dessert pop-up Butter Coop Bakery will purvey its adorable confections, such as colorful cream puffs bursting with ube, matcha, and chocolate fillings and tiramisu (classic and matcha) adorned with tiny bear faces. Grab an iced pandan coffee, green Thai tea, or other fun little drink from An An for good measure. JB
(An An, Kenton)


The Delines: Christmas in Atlantis Single Release Show Past Event List
If you love spaghetti westerns, classic country music, and tragic Christmas carols, then the Delines might be your new favorite band. The seven-piece country-soul outfit, which consists of members from the Minus 5 and Richmond Fontaine, will celebrate the release of their new single "Christmas in Atlantis" with a special Christmas Eve-Eve concert. AV
(Polaris Hall, Humboldt, $15)


A Christmas Carol Past Event List
This interactive reading of Charles Dickens's dependable Yuletide delight sees performer Thom Bray star as Dickens himself. In the mid-1860s, the English novelist took the stage to offer "bah, humbug"-filled dramatic readings of A Christmas Carol to sold-out crowds. Bray's interpretation of the experience will channel that old-school literary magic with Ebenezer Scrooge, ghosts, grumpiness, and plenty of Victorian flair. LC
(CoHo Productions, Slabtown, $5-$20)



Die Hard Past Event List
"We're gonna need some more FBI guys, I guess." Bruce Willis kicks German terrorist Arsch (in the form of a mustachioed Alan Rickman) in this holiday fave. The plot doesn't really matter, because you're going to have a blast either way, but imagine being taken hostage during an office Christmas party and overhearing stuff like "Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho." That would certainly be a blow to my holiday spirit, but Die Hard is one of the most beloved Christmas flicks of the last half-century, so what do I know? LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12)



The Benson Hotel 2023 Gingerbread Masterpiece Past Event List
The Benson has unveiled its 2023 gingerbread masterpiece: a giant replica of Neuschwanstein Castle, the German architectural feat that Walt Disney modeled Sleeping Beauty's castle after, both at Disneyland and in the film. Going on 52 years, this holiday tradition takes hours of work for bakers and decorators to complete, especially since every part of the creation is edible, from 150 pounds of handmade gingerbread to 50 pounds of marzipan and buckets upon buckets of royal icing. SL
(The Benson Hotel, Downtown, free, Friday-Monday)

Christmas Festival of Lights 2023 Past Event List
Don your hat and gloves, gather your loved ones, and get excited for one of Portland's favorite holiday traditions. The Festival of Lights transforms the Grotto into a magical place where twinkling lights and joyful songs guide your way. The plaza tent will host puppet shows at the beginning of every hour, followed by the Grotto Carolers and their merry tunes. Don't miss the Chapel of Mary's "cathedral-like acoustics" with nightly performances from local choirs. SL
(The Grotto, Sumner, $5-$18, Friday-Monday)

Creatures of Christmas Past Event List
Mysterious creatures from Nordic lore will stop by Nordic Northwest this holiday season, including the 13 Icelandic Yule Lads (don't worry, they were banned from tormenting children in 1746), a Swedish Yule goat (cute and tied to ancient Pagan festivals), Danish and Norwegian nisse (gnome-like dudes with conical caps), and the Finnish Santa, Joulupukki, who looks a lot like the American one these days. While you're there, don't miss Ole Bolle, Thomas Dambo's own mythical creature (a giant troll made of recycled materials). LC
(Nordic Northwest, Metzger, free, Friday-Monday)

Light Up St. Johns! Ugly Sweater Holiday Events Past Event List
Hot chocolate, cookies, and gaudy sweaters abound in St. Johns this year, where you can drop by this weekend for the tail end of an ugly sweater photo contest and a scavenger hunt, plus lots of decorated windows throughout the district. Don your own hideous sweater for photo ops and pop into local businesses like Final Form PDX, Revolutions Bookshop, Vinyl Resting Place, and Weird Sisters to check some names off your shopping list with unexpected gifts. LC
(St. Johns Business District, St. Johns, free, Friday-Monday)

Peacock Lane Past Event List
Portland's very own "Christmas street" is back at it this year with its charming Tudor homes decked out in lights and garland, running now through New Year's Eve. If you choose to explore the lights by foot, bundle up and don't forget to stop by the free cocoa and cider booth for extra warmth. You can also enjoy the decorations from inside your car, just be sure to drive slowly to take it all in and ensure everyone (inside and outside of cars) is safe! Can you spot all the iconic characters? We hear the Grinch is on the loose. SL
(Peacock Lane, Sunnyside, free, Friday-Monday)

Santa Clones Past Event List
Are you ready for a Santa scavenger hunt? Local artist Chris Willis has once again hidden an army of over 400 miniature Santa statues at a secret location. This annual "Santa Clones" tradition started in 2011, and you can head over to Willis's Instagram to solve the clues and find the jolly display lit from 4 to 11 pm daily through January 1. If you discover the location, keep it a secret so others can experience a little surprise and delight, too. SL
(Free, Friday-Monday)

Woodsy Winter Village and Ice Rink Past Event List
A new ice skating rink and marketplace is popping up at the west end of the Morrison Bridge this holiday season! Ice skating will be open every day except Christmas, costing $20 for adults and $12 for kids under 12, including skate rental. Pro tip: spend at least $20 at a central city business (peep the map to see what qualifies), bring your receipt, and get a $5 discount on your skate ticket. If you need a little help on the ice, you can pay an extra $10 for an unreasonably cute skate aid named Bobby the Seal. The marketplace will feature local vendors, food trucks, warm beverages, and a "cozy lounge" with board games and warming pods. SL
(Morrison Bridgehead, Downtown, Friday-Monday)


The Big Lebowski Past Event List
Although the Clinton Street Theater changed hands last year, the historic movie house's new owners will continue a longstanding tradition of screening The Big Lebowski in magical 35mm for the holidays. Nothing says Christmas in Portland like laughing alongside an audience of folks sipping sake-based White Russians—if you haven't made it a tradition yet, now's the time. LC
(Clinton Street Theater, Hosford-Abernethy, $8, Friday-Sunday)

The Boy and The Heron (Subbed and Dubbed Screenings) Past Event List
Over the last 30 years, Studio Ghibli has become legendary for its lush visuals, emotional and affecting storytelling, and poetic, intelligent approach to nature and the more-than-human world. One of its central figures is (duh) cofounder Hayao Miyazaki, who has made some of the studio's most revered flicks (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki'sDelivery Service among them). He's also the most endearingly idiosyncratic director, like, maybe ever, and has announced, then broken, his retirement a total of four times. Never change, Miyazaki!! Anyway, if you're a Ghibli fan, you probably know all of this and are already jazzed for his first feature film in 10 years, The Boy and The Heron. It's a hand-drawn, semi-autobiographical fantasy that seems likely to fall in line with all of the reasons you love him already. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12, Friday-Monday)

The Iron Claw Past Event List
In The Iron Claw, an insanely jacked Zac Efron dons a shaggy wig and a pair of tiny shorts and hits the wrestling ring. He plays one of the Von Erich brothers, a real-life inseparable clan that made waves in the early '80s professional wrestling world while navigating a family "curse" and a domineering dad. Jeremy Allen White is in it, too, so expect lots of sweaty zaddy moments, tacky costuming for the gods, heartfelt reflections on brotherhood, and a side of self-destruction. LC
(Cinema 21, Northwest Portland, Friday-Monday)

It's a Wonderful Life Past Event List
Already before World War II, the world of the villain in It's a Wonderful Life, the robber baron Henry F. Potter (portrayed by the stern face of Lionel Barrymore) was long over. The glory period of his kind did not rise from the combined ashes of the First World War and the Crash of 1929. But no one knew what was to come next. Would the USA become another USSR? The 1930s were called the Red Decade for a good reason. Was the hero of It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (played by the drawl of James Stewart), a Red? Sure looked like it in 1946. STRANGER SENIOR WRITER CHARLES MUDEDE
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $9-$12, Friday-Sunday)

Poor Things Past Event List
Real Lanthimos heads know that he doesn't direct anything without dystopic, black comedy underpinnings and plotlines that make audiences ponder why they're on the planet at all. He is weird, as directors should be, and you're either in or you're out. This time around, he's adapted a '92 Scottish novel for the screen, painting the picture of a young woman (played by Emma Stone, who is raven-haired and looks charmingly bananas) brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist (played by my famous dad, Willem Dafoe). Best part? Poor Things "saved" my other dad, Mark Ruffalo, from "depressed dad typecasting." Praise be. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12, Friday-Monday)

Rare Exports Past Event List
When Pietari infers that the covert mountain drilling project near his northern Finnish home has unveiled Santa Claus's tomb (a logical conclusion, in my opinion), things get complicated. His dad captures a weird feral guy in his wolf trap, a bunch of hairdryers and radiators go missing, and suddenly, the tale of the old man with the bag doesn't seem so cheery—in fact, Santa might be an evil, child-stealing creep. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $9-$12, Saturday-Sunday)


BB-POP Breakfast Burrito Pop-Up Past Event List
The self-proclaimed "lovechild of a speakeasy and a dive bar" The Uncanny will sling tortilla-wrapped bundles of savory goodness at their new breakfast burrito pop-up. Look forward to hangover-slaying combos like the "Easy BB" (French-style soft scrambled eggs, hash browns, queso, jack cheese, spiced beans, pickled red onions and jalapeños, crema, and pico de gallo) and the "Cali Vegan BB" (scrambled tofu, French fries, house-made vegan chorizo, vegan cheese, guac, spiced beans, pickled red onions and jalapeños, vegan sour cream, and pico de gallo), along with Proud Mary coffee and crushable brunch cocktails like "The Cat's Meow" (cocoa cachaça, blackstrap rum, espresso liqueur, tahini orgeat, coffee, and vegan whipped cream). If for some reason burritos aren't your thing, you can also get the same fillings heaped in a bowl. JB
(The Uncanny, Boise, Saturday-Sunday)

Dongzhi: Tangyuan Vs. Jiaozi Past Event List
In celebration of Dongzhi, a traditional Chinese festival that takes place during the winter solstice, Lan Su Chinese Garden will host this playful face-off between two of the holiday's most beloved foods: tangyuan, a dessert made of chewy glutinous rice balls in a broth or syrup, and jiaozi, a type of pleated dumpling. (Personally, as a diehard dumpling devotee, I'm Team Jiaozi all the way!) Sample the delicacies, cast a vote for your favorite, and snap a Polaroid selfie with adorable jiaozi and tangyuan plushies. One lucky person from the winning team will receive a $25 restaurant voucher. JB
(Lan Su Chinese Garden, Old Town-Chinatown, Free with garden admission, Friday-Saturday)

Sleigh Love Past Event List
Sleigh the day with a menu of delightfully tacky holiday-inspired drinks and other nostalgic treats at the cocktail bar and restaurant Hey Love. The vibe is described as "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation but more, and located in a cocktail-soaked indoor jungle." Sample offerings include "Noggy by Nature" (an eggnog slushie) to "Toboggan Time" (Hey Love's signature frozen spin on Irish coffee, made with a Rumplemintz float, whipped cream, and candy cane sprinkles). DJs will add to the chaotic merriment starting at 9 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. JB
(Hey Love, Buckman, free, Friday-Monday)


Nutcracker Cracked Family Show Past Event List
Set to the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, the Portland Puppet Museum will present its idiosyncratic rendition of the magical Christmas tale again this year using over 84 "transforming rod puppets." The 45-minute show is short enough to keep even the wiggliest kid enchanted, and afterward, they can scope out the hundreds of puppets on site. LC
(Portland Puppet Museum, Sellwood-Moreland, $15, Saturday-Sunday)


The Makers Fair Holiday Market Past Event List
This 11-week market will feature 140 local craftspeople all under one roof, so consider your gift-giving list trounced. Vanquished. Utterly defeated. If you are the type of person who starts stressing about "the holidays" long before they're here (aka me), never fear: You'll find pretty much everything under Santa's sun, from woodturned decor to vintage goods, candles, and holiday treats, at the gargantuan pop-up. LC
(Rejuvenation, Buckman, free, Friday-Saturday)

Omiyage Holiday Store Past Event List
The Japanese American Museum of Oregon’s pop-up holiday shop offers distinctive Japanese-inspired gifts created by local artisans, from origami objects to curated vintage and art. Head there to shop for that "person who has everything," and feel good about your purchases—proceeds benefit JAMO and help them on their mission to preserve and honor the history and culture of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest. LC
(Japanese American Museum of Oregon, Old Town-Chinatown, free, Friday-Saturday)


Anya Roberts-Toney: Water Witch Moon Mother Past Event List
I gushed about Anya Roberts-Toney's work in a piece for Art & About PDX a few years back, so it's safe to say I'm stoked to see her return to Nationale for another solo exhibition of jewel-toned compositions, which typically contain equal parts feminine revelry and illusive unease. Sneak peeks on her Instagram reveal a move toward bolder, more color-forward compositions in oil-on-linen, but Roberts-Toney maintains a dreamy sensibility that always reminds me of that one episode of Wishbone where he travels to the Eloi's futuristic, pink-tinged fruit garden from The Time Machine, in the best possible way. (If you have no idea what I'm referencing, why not remedy that by spending some time with Water Witch Moon Mother?) LC
(Nationale, Buckman, free, Friday-Sunday; closing)

A Sense of Place: the Art of George Tsutakawa Past Event List
One of George Tsutakawa's gargantuan fountains once graced the Lloyd Center, and they still stand at the Seattle Public Library's downtown branch and the Memorial Gates of Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle-born but educated in Japan, the sculptor's public works blend Pacific Northwestern and Japanese aesthetic sensibilities; they also seem to draw inspiration from Abstract Expressionism, feeling both ambitious and personally expressive. Tsutakawa, who passed in '97, created over 70 bronze fountain sculptures in the US, Japan, and Canada, and his artistic process was complex, spanning a wide variety of mediums like sumi ink and woodblock printing. (I highly recommend looking him up on YouTube and watching a documentary or two.) A Sense of Place: The Art of George Tsutakawa is the first Oregon exhibition of his work. LC
(Japanese American Museum of Oregon, Old Town-Chinatown, $0-$8, Friday-Sunday)

Converge 45 Contemporary Arts Biennial Past Event List
The free, citywide art exhibition Converge 45 is in full swing, with artists showcased across over 15 venues in Portland, including college campuses, the Portland Japanese Garden, and Pioneer Square. The biennial's theme, Social Forms: Art as Global Citizenship, takes on topics of Amazon deforestation, indigeneity, citizenship, and immigration, and aims to amplify the voices and experiences of people of color, so you're bound to find a cause you can get behind. LC
(Various locations, free, Friday-Monday)

Elefant Medium Past Event List
Jeffry Mitchel's solo exhibition concludes the year's programming at this Portland staple gallery. Furniture pieces made of ceramic and wood feature, alongside prints in wonderful hand-crafted frames. The lightheartedness of Mitchel’s work—which is often characterized by whimsical florals and animals—is adeptly timed as we enter the holiday season. PORTLAND MERCURY CONTRIBUTOR ASHLEY GIFFORD PETERSON
(PDX CONTEMPORARY ART, Slabtown, free, Friday-Saturday)

Helen Frankenthaler: Works from The Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation Remind List
The holidays—and the end of the year in general—tend to prompt a fair amount of self-reflection, rumination, and lofty plans for the new year. (I know it can't just be me.) Enter Helen Frankenthaler, the towering 20th-century Abstract Expressionist painter and printmaker whose lit-from-within, stained-and-poured techniques will stop you dead in your tracks and ease your existential woes. You can catch a cross-section of her woodcut, intaglio, lithograph, and screenprinted works in this exhibition, which centers her original contributions to printmaking. LC
(Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Pearl District, $0-$10, Friday-Sunday)

Secret Room Work•Shop Pop-Up Past Event List
Risograph print studio and comics and art publisher Secret Room Press has joined the other lovably artsy weirdos at Lloyd Center and opened a sparkly new pop-up art gallery and print shop. The Secret Room Work•Shop home to Life on Earth: A RISO Art Show, "a RISO art show showcasing over 25 cartoonists from the Pacific Northwest and beyond," plusweekly events and workshops and a curated selection of books, cassettes, vinyl, and VHS. Drop by the next time you're headed to Floating World Comics. LC
(Lloyd Center, Lloyd District, free, Friday-Saturday)

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