Cheap & Easy

The Best Bang for Your Buck Events in Portland This Weekend: Dec 8–10, 2023

ScanFair, The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition, and More Cheap & Easy Events Under $15
December 8, 2023
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The vendors at ScanFair are experts at achieving holiday hygge. (Nordic Northwest via Facebook)
There's no short supply of holiday cheer this weekend, thanks to cheap and cheerful events from ScanFair to The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition. Plus, pick up the perfect gift at an array of holiday markets including Crafty Wonderland, Portland Bazaar, and Unique Markets. For more ideas, check out our guide to the top events of the week.

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


FRIDAY

ACTIVISM & SOCIAL JUSTICE

Palestine 101 Teach In & Joint Struggle Panel Past Event List
As the siege on Gaza continues, many are feeling confused about how to speak truth to power and support the fight for Palestinian liberation. PICA will host this mask-required teach-in and panel on the Palestinian occupation led by the Oregon to Palestine Coalition, which will offer key context on the historical events that led to the creation of the Zionist state and the "legacies of Palestinian resistance." Panelists include Portland Black Panther Party co-founder Kent Ford, migrant justice grassroots organizer Marco Mejía, and a speaker from BAYAN Oregon, an "alliance of progressive Filipino youth, women and migrant workers in Oregon committed to the national liberation movement of the Philippines." You'll walk away with free print resources, too. LC
(PICA, Eliot, free)

FOOD & DRINK

Edgefield Pomegranate Cider Tasting Past Event List
Tart, juicy, ruby-red pomegranate is a perfect match for autumnal apples. McMenamins will show off this harmonious union in a refreshing cider "crafted with those unexpectedly gorgeous winter sunny days and warming weather in mind."
(23rd Avenue Bottle Shop - McMenamins, Northwest Portland)

PERFORMANCE

Home for the Holidazed Past Event List
Hallmark holiday movies have a certain reputation for rampant, charming idiocy—they're the perfect background noise for tree-decorating and cookie-assembling. This pay-what-ya-can improvised musical aims to do justice to the genre, complete with "tantalizingly tender moments and terrible tropes" that will have you believing in the spirit of Christmas, or whatever. The production will be presented by Portland comedy fave Nick Condon, so expect a steady stream of eggnog-flavored chuckles. LC
(CoHo Productions, Slabtown, Pay-What-You-Can)

WINTER HOLIDAYS

The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition Past Event List
Much like the traditional Christmas treat known as figgy pudding, caroling is a whimsical old-time image of the holiday season that seems to fade little by little, year by year—and that's why I am declaring this December Little Women Winter. That's right, I'm talking bonnets, handwritten letters, Christmas trees lit with real candles (that's safe, right?), boiled puddings, communal singing, and helping your neighbors à la the 19th-century coming-of-age novel. Summon your inner March sister at the annual Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition, which unites thousands of carolers (and timid bystanders) to sing holiday ditties. The top caroling teams will end the night with a very festive "sing-off" on the Figgy Pudding main stage with the potential to win up to $1,000. Velvet capes, top hats, and fur muffs are highly encouraged (by me). AV
(Pioneer Courthouse Square, Downtown, free)

SATURDAY

PARTIES & NIGHTLIFE

Tropitaal Desi Latino Soundclash with DJ Anjali, The Incredible Kid, and DJ Michael Bruce Past Event List
Latin American tropical sounds blend (or as the hosts describe, "clash") with rhythms from India to create a distinctive sound that perfectly soundtracks this recurring dance party. This time around, resident selectors Anjali & The Incredible Kid will spin genre-blending sets that focus on Latin, Caribbean, and South Asian music alongside special guest DJ Michael Bruce. AV
(Goodfoot, Kerns, $12)

SHOPPING

Free Monogramming At Parachute Portland
If you’re hunkering down for cozy season (which can involve spending 75% of the day in a bathrobe) like me, acquiring comfy clothing, bedding, and bath accessories is essential. Luckily, Parachute is here to help you reach optimal hygge. For one day only, they’re monogramming everything from robes to pillowcases to towels (same-day purchases only), so you can personalize a gift for the person in your life who has everything or expeditiously declare “Hands off, this is mine!” The chic home goods shop will provide seasonal drinks, light bites, complimentary gift wrapping, and other “festive surprises” while you peruse. JW
(Parachute, Nob Hill and Bridgeport Village, free)

WINTER HOLIDAYS

Trackers Holiday Faire Past Event List
Trackers, an outdoor gear store that puts on youth nature camps, is hosting their 10th annual Holiday Faire. Find gifts at the artisan craft fair, enter your creations in the cookie contest, show off your ugly sweater, and help decorate a communal tree. We also recommend getting some of your holiday stress out with an archery or axe-throwing session. Trackers will be collecting new, unwrapped toys to donate to Toy & Joy Makers, a local toy drive that gives gifts to families in need. SL
(Lloyd Center, Lloyd District, free)

SUNDAY

EXHIBIT

World Forestry Center Discovery Museum Free Sundays Past Event List
Thanks to a generous grant, the World Forestry Center is throwing open the doors to its wood-filled Discovery Museum for free on Sundays through December 17. Learn about the Northwest's forests and their role "as a habitat, a place for recreation and reflection, a critical resource, and more" through an engaging variety of exhibits and documentaries, including Obscurity: Life Inside the Smoke, in which six Portland-area artists explore wildfire smoke through new works. LC
(World Forestry Center & Discovery Museum, Washington Park, free)

FILM

THE NUMBERZ // Presents Black Horror Movie Night Past Event List
The Numberz, aka "Portland's Black radio station," will kick off its new collaborative quarterly series with PAM CUT, which plans to "highlight the perspectives of Portland’s communities of color through themed nights, spirited discussions, and creative activations." First up? A Black horror movie night, complete with music and screenings of the feature flick The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster and the short film Swipe Left by horror writer/director Sommer-Breeze Martin. Pro tip: Grab a Sleepaway Camp (it's a s'mores espresso martini) from neighboring bar The End after the show. LC
(Tomorrow Theater, Richmond, $16)

LIVE MUSIC

Jessica Moss Past Event List
On her 2022 album, Galaxy Heart, Montreal-based violinist and composer Jessica Moss moves between tense violin studies to ethereal works with layered vocals. Despite capturing a range of feelings, the album is cohesive with minimal compositions about the natural world. As press materials explain, "Galaxy Heart is cosmic music of dark matter and interstellar dust, of gravitational waves and celestial grit that connect messy terrestrial life—with its human, animal, natural suffering and beauty—to chaotic and unruly universal forces." She will support the album alongside local multimedia artist Avola. AV
(Polaris Hall, Humboldt, $15)

SHOPPING

Lo Que Es Para Ti Mercado: A BIPOC Makers Market Past Event List
Picture this: You are inhaling tamales. You are listening to dope music spun by DJs Espina Letal and La Flor. You are looking cute in a photo booth. You are shopping BIPOC vendors for gifts that will make your friends say, "What the fuck? Where did you get this? This is awesome." Intrigued?! Then I suggest hitting up Nunca Siempre's mercado this weekend, which'll be conveniently staged at Lollipop Shoppe so you can sip cocktails while you peruse the goods. LC
(Lollipop Shoppe, Buckman, free)

WINTER HOLIDAYS

Pet Photos with Santa Paws Past Event List
To our mild disappointment, Santa Paws isn’t a dog dressed up as Santa Claus like we were imagining but is instead the typical man in a red suit. However, he is taking the time to take photos with your pets, which is still pretty darn cute. Get the purr-fect picture for your holiday card at Portland Animal Welfare Team's second annual PAW-liday Extravaganza, and donate to help them with their mission of providing free vet services and pet supplies for families experiencing financial hardship. There will be hot cocoa and mulled wine (get both!), festive treats for people and pets, and crafts for the whole fam. SL
(Portland Animal Welfare Team, Madison South, $15 suggested donation)

MULTI-DAY

FILM

Dream Scenario Past Event List
Fans of last year's Everything Everywhere All at Once will likely dig Dream Scenario, which continues A24's recent propensity for gonzo dream sequences and madcap visuals with a fun plotline: Nicolas Cage stars as a typical dude whose life flip-flops when he begins appearing in millions of people's dreams. If that sounds familiar, you're not wrong—it seems likely that the film was inspired by This Man, who allegedly began appearing in dreams back in 2006. Does this mean we'll start to see more flicks based on old memes, guerilla marketing tactics, and internet hoaxes? I'm here for it. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12, Friday-Sunday)

Kuchar Festival Past Event List
Twin brothers and cult legend, no-budget independent directors George and Mike Kuchar made kitschy magic on Super 8 and 16mm film; the duo's queer, avant-garde style explored sexuality, identity, and everyday life with a campy, surreal sensibility that inspired Lynch, John Waters, and Gregg Araki. Sound incredible? I agree! A selection of Kuchar flicks will continue to screen this weekend, including a 16mm screening of The Devil's Cleavage on December 8, followed by Death Quest of The Ju-Ju Cults and Corruption of The Damned, a "beautifully filthy film about homosexuality," on December 9. LC (Clinton Street Theater, Hosford-Abernethy, Friday-Saturday)

Muppet Christmas Carol Past Event List
Die HardScroogedNational Lampoon's Christmas VacationThe Gingerdead Man starring Gary Busey. They're all very good Christmas movies! But my all-time favorite, the one holiday film that wins out year after year, is The Muppet Christmas Carol. The classic tale is narrated by Gonzo and (the wildly underappreciated) Rizzo the Rat, with Kermit as the earnest Bob Cratchit and Michael Caine as the grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge. But to really appreciate the magic of the movie, first read this fascinating Vulture interview with songwriter Paul WilliamsThe Muppet Christmas Carol was the first Muppet movie made after Jim Henson died in 1990 and it's also the first movie Williams scored after getting sober, so all the heartfelt moments about appreciating life and the people you love in songs like "It Feels Like Christmas" and "Thankful Heart" vibrate with genuine love, grief, and gratitude. Good luck not sobbing your eyeballs out now that you know that, sorry! STRANGER ARTS EDITOR MEGAN SELING
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, Sold Out, Saturday-Sunday)

Saltburn Past Event List
Emerald Fennell's latest film is nothing if not polarizing ("Saltburn is the sort of embarrassment you’ll put up with for 75 minutes. But not for 127," says the New York Times), but as the world's preeminent Barry Keoghan stan, I have to at least entertain the idea that it has legs. Saltburn is billed as a "wicked tale of privilege and desire" (oOoOo) that sees an Oxford student attempt to infiltrate the aristocratic world of a classmate on an "eccentric family’s sprawling estate." (Has anything good ever happened at a "sprawling estate?") If you like Agatha Christie and drugs, this one might hit. LC
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, 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-Sunday)

FOOD & DRINK

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, Saturday-Sunday)

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-Sunday)

2nd Annual Holiday Lights Wine Walk Past Event List
Traipse through picturesque Abbey Road Farm at night, illuminated by dazzling holiday lights. You'll get to grab a glass of wine before touring the goat barn, vineyard overlook, poultry pasture, toolshed, silo garden, and pig pasture, all decked out in their holiday best. Fertie's BBQ will sling succulent smoked meats for dinner, and the trailer will offer warm treats and candy canes. Plus, proceeds will be donated to a different charity each weekend. JB
(Abbey Road Farm, $5, Friday-Sunday)

PARTIES & NIGHTLIFE

Laser Taylor Swift Past Event List
Are you ready for it?! OMSI's Planetarium will glow with a lavender haze in honor of pop music's mother, Taylor Swift. Sing (or scream) along to a mix of Swift's hits, which will be synchronized with a trippy laser show. Whether you consider yourself a Swiftie or not, I think it's time to enter your laser dome era! AV
(Kendall Planetarium at OMSI, Hosford-Abernethy, $7.50, Friday-Saturday)

PERFORMANCE

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)

SHOPPING

Crafty Wonderland Holiday Art and Craft Market Past Event List
Find one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list at Crafty Wonderland, one of Portland’s OG indie markets. This holiday shopping extravaganza features over 250 artists, designers, and crafters selling wares from ceramic dumplings to bow ties for cats. Grab tickets for Friday's preview night to get first dibs on the goods and a free drink at the bar, or save money on Saturday and Sunday timed-entry tickets (they're just $4, and you can stay as long as you like). SL
(Oregon Convention Center, Lloyd District, $4-$25, Friday-Sunday)

The Labor Market Past Event List
In the wake of the historic WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, film crews and entertainment-related union members are banding together for this weekend-long market and maker fair. IATSE Local 488, which represents regional film, television, and commercial crew members, will host the market, where visitors can snag "original works of art...made by film workers" and "treasures seen on the screen in locally filmed TV shows and movies." Plus, the original entertainer, Santa Claus, will make an appearance. LC
(Goldsmith Blocks, Old Town-Chinatown, free, 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-Sunday)

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-Sunday)

Portland Bazaar Past Event List
A holiday market for procrastinators, the Portland Bazaar is open the two weekends right before Christmas. Even if you wait, you'll still be getting top-quality goods from over 160 local artists, makers, and small businesses whose wares range from organic undies to canned wine. And if you're really strapped for time, they have custom gift wrapping available, so this market has you covered even if gift-giving isn't your love language. SL
(Premier Gear & Machine Works Building, Slabtown, free, Saturday-Sunday)

Portland Indigenous Marketplace Pop Up Past Event List
Portland Indigenous Marketplace, which celebrated the opening of its new Buckman office space (housed within the Center for Native Arts and Cultures, formerly Yale Union) this year, will host a three-day holiday market featuring handcrafted goodies by Indigenous and Black vendors. Each Indigenous Marketplace seems to get bigger and better—this time around, there'll be 10-12 different vendors each day, so you're sure to find some unique options for everyone still on your gift list. LC
(Center for Native Arts and Cultures, Central Eastside, free, Friday-Saturday)

Spectrum Art Market Presents HoliGAY Market Past Event List
Spectrum's annual holiGAY market returns this weekend, and will be back for a second weekend in December. Don't miss this curated shopping experience featuring local LGBTQ2SIA+ artists and vendors, where you can find gifts like ceramics, home decor, accessories, and retro-reflective wear. Art demos will be happening throughout both weekends, giving a behind-the-scenes look at how different crafts are made! SL
(Lloyd Center, Lloyd District, free, Saturday-Sunday)

Unique Markets: Portland Holiday Market Past Event List
Shop from over 135 up-and-coming designers, artists, and brands at this highly curated market. Tickets include a free tote bag, but we recommend bringing a few extra for all the goodies you'll pick up. This market fashions itself as a festival, with DIY activities, a family fun zone, arcade games, a photo booth, DJ sets, and more. Feel your holiday stress melt away as you sip on tastings of hot and cold mate while someone wraps your gifts (for free!). SL
(Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Lloyd District, $10-$40, Saturday-Sunday)

VISUAL ART

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. I'm looking forward to local textile legend and Seneca Nation member Marie Watt's Chords to Other Chords (Relative). LC
(Various locations, free, Friday-Sunday)

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. MERCURY CONTRIBUTOR ASHLEY GIFFORD PETERSON
(PDX CONTEMPORARY ART, Slabtown, free, Friday-Saturday)

Nona Faustine: She was a culmination of all things in Heaven and Earth Remind List
Brooklyn-based photographer Nona Faustine's She was a culmination of all things in Heaven and Earth encompasses a decade of her explorations into "the perseverance and strength of Black life," including selections from her lauded self-portrait series White Shoes and the new domestic life series Mitochondria. Of the fresh series, Faustine explains: "I wanted to show the quiet, normal moments of this family of African-American women: our everyday life, our happy moments, our down moments. Mitochondria is a family album, a visual diary of our intimate lives." LC
(lumber room, Pearl District, free, Friday-Saturday)

Rick Bartow: What the Crow Knows Past Event List
Rick Bartow, an enrolled member of the Mad River Band of Wiyot Indians, Vietnam War veteran, and leading voice in the contemporary Native American art movement, passed in 2016. Those unfamiliar with his work shouldn't miss this exhibition of his printing collaborations with Mika Aono and master printer Seiichi Hiroshima of Moon and Dog Press. Bartow's expressive, gestural style comes to life in brilliant mark-making and naturalistic storytelling. LC
(Froelick Gallery, Pearl District, free, Friday-Saturday)

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-Sunday)

Shriek of Color Remind List
We told you about The Lobby—a Southeast exhibition space that rotates artworks from Molly McCabe’s personal art collection in the most recent Fall Arts Guide, but there's a new exhibition there that just opened and is worth your notice. Shriek of Color is focused on the “profound influence of color in art” and invites viewers and passersby to experience color in works from several painters; Sam Gilliam, who was legendary in the color field, Joan Snyder's gestural abstraction, and the expressiveness of self-taught Matthew Wong. PORTLAND MERCURY CONTRIBUTOR ASHLEY GIFFORD PETERSON
(Ellen Browning Building, Richmond, free, Friday-Sunday)

WINTER HOLIDAYS

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-Sunday)

Christmas Ships Parade Past Event List
You'll have the chance to see more than three ships come sailing in during the 69th annual Christmas Ships Parade this year. During chilly evenings in the first half of December, decorated ships will head up and down the Columbia and Willamette rivers, bringing holiday joy to the crowds gathered onshore. Grab a thermos of hot cocoa and make sure to check the schedule; we're aiming for nights when both fleets make an appearance in the same spot for maximum sparkly ship sightings. SL
(Various locations, free, Friday-Sunday)

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-Sunday)

ScanFair Past Event List
The one good thing about winter in the PNW: it's prime hygge season. Fill your home with authentic Scandinavian coziness from the dozens of vendors at this market, while enjoying traditional food and drink like æbleskiver (Danish pancakes), kardemummaflätor (cardamom braids), and lefse wraps. There will be live entertainment from folk music and dances to meatball and pickled herring eating contests. You can even meet Joulupukki (the Finnish Santa Claus) and go on a scavenger hunt to find all the hidden gnomes. SL
(Oregon Convention Center, Lloyd District, $8-$12, Saturday-Sunday)

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