If you're drawing a blank on how to spend another weekend in quar, we're pleased to present you with our latest batch of social distancing-compliant ideas. Read on for the full list, from where to spot Queen Anne's snowy owl resident to ways to meet with Santa without exchanging germs, and from COVID-safe outdoor TVs showing the MLS Cup (go Sounders) to Hanukkah activities. For even more options, read our guides to the best online events this week and the best movies to watch this week.
Rent holiday movies from Scarecrow. Unless you're blessed with passwords to every streaming service out there, there are only so many Yuletide-appropriate holiday movies available to watch online. But if you have a DVD or VHS player lying around (or if you're working with a laptop that still has a disc drive), the shelves at Seattle's video store mecca Scarecrow (which you know well from The Stranger's Unstreamable column) have plenty of hard-copy options that run the gamut of classic and delightfully obscure (including Olive, the Other Reindeer, a 1999 animated musical starring Drew Barrymore and R.E.M's Michael Stipe). They happen to be hosting an online holiday special this Saturday where they'll talk about their festive offerings and give you chances to win prizes, so take notes and rent by mail, or make an appointment to shop IRL.
Cruise up to a drive-in movie. An activity usually designated to the summer months, drive-ins have been quite the handy tool for bringing people together and out of their houses while avoiding germ-spreading in the increasingly chilly COVID era. Drive-in screenings continue this weekend at Oak Harbor's Blue Fox (Croods 2, The Grinch, and Half Brothers on Friday-Saturday and Whidbey Island Dance Theatre's The Nutcracker and Elf on Sunday), the Skyline Drive-In Theatre over in Shelton (Croods 2 and Half Brothers all weekend), and Port Orchard's Rodeo Drive-In (Croods 2, Half Brothers, and Wander all weekend) are all are a-go if you're hankering for a mini-road trip.
Order Italian food and watch Cinema Italian Style. Comfort food is having a big moment right now, and not much is more comforting than a saucy plateful of carbs. For an Italian-themed night, try ordering out from Capitol Hill's beloved red-sauce institution Machiavelli, Beacon Hill's Bar del Corso, or Pike Place Market's fresh pasta purveyor Pasta Casalinga. Pair your Italian feast with a viewing of Cinema Italian Style, SIFF's weeklong mini-festival featuring the best in contemporary Italian cinema.
Sitting on Santa's lap is canceled this year, but the man in the red suit has access to Zoom and can take note of your kid's holiday wishes remotely or in a socially distanced fashion. The kind sir who usually spreads cheer at Nordstrom will make 15-minute video calls for $20 a pop, and he's also scooping up Christmas letters for free through December 20 at every location across the country. While the downtown Macy's is out of business, its virtual Santaland, which includes calls with Kris Kringle, reigns on. There's also Portable North Pole, where Santa records personalized messages for children with the help of his elves, the JingleRing, which connects kids to an inclusive array of Clauses to fit their needs, including Black Santa and ASL Santa, and Auburn's Virtual Visit with Santa this Saturday. If your little ones (or you, an adult) are dying to catch a glimpse of Santa in person without exchanging germs, you can do so in several places. On the corner of Greenwood Avenue North and North 76th Street, Dan Kemmis (affectionately known as the Seattle Santa) will hang out in a plastic tent adorned with North Pole-style decorations from 11 am-5:30 pm every day through December 23. He's also offering custom videos. There's also Renton's drive-through Shout Out to Santa this Saturday, where you can drop your letter in his hands and grab a doughnut and some kettle corn on your way out.
Give toys to kids in need. Needless to say, it's been a very tough few months for small organizations across the board, and the Pierce County outpost of Toys for Tots—the largest organization of its kind in the state—is among them. Due to the cancellation of several in-person toy drives and the inability of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to provide support due to COVID, they're short on their goal of helping 55,000 to 60,000 kids this year. In the spirit of the holiday season, you can donate to the cause directly, or you can give gently used toys through the drives featured in our charitable giving roundup. That list also includes places to donate essential items like food and winter clothing, as well as local organizations accepting donations (such as ours).
Hanukkah has officially rolled in with jelly-filled sufganiyot, chocolate gelt, and menorah lightings celebrating the triumph of the Maccabees and a very miraculous bit of oil. The holiday runs through December 18 this year, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate safely in the Northwest, including several drive-in menorah lightings in Seattle, as well as food and drink specials for takeout. Read our full roundup here.
Inventive COVID-safe holiday light displays are going strong to ease our seasonal depression and offer much-needed cheer in a socially distanced manner. We've rounded up all the Seattle-area options for 2020, from the Washington State Fair's Holiday Magic Drive-Thru to Seattle Center's Campus Luminata to the Woodland Park Zoo's WildLanterns.
Visit a Christmas tree lot. With December in full swing, now is a perfectly acceptable time to fill your home with the scent of aromatic pine needles that will possess your cat, if you have one. If you don't trust yourself with an axe, a handful of nearby lots are open for the season with pre-cut options, including Carpinito Brothers, City People's Garden Store, Swansons Nursery, Urban Feed and Garden, and Molbak's Garden + Home. For those and more options—including places to get wreaths and poinsettias—check out our holiday foliage roundup.
Other notable weekend events:
Candy Cane Lane
1920s-era Tudor homes in Ravenna have been boasting impressive light displays every holiday season since 1949. Drive along Northeast Park Road taking in Nutcracker-themed havens complete with sleighs, reindeer, sugar plum fairies, and blow-up candy canes galore.
NE Park Road, Ravenna (Friday-Sunday)
Save your car a spot at Chabad of Shoreline's drive-in Hanukkah experience, where you'll witness a grand menorah lighting and family-friendly entertainment over refreshments brought to your window.
Shoreline Stadium (Sunday)
Riding on their Guinness World Record win as the town with the greatest number of illuminated Christmas trees in one location (an impressive 797 conifers), Shelton's Christmastown will return with COVID-safe holiday activities like a self-guided lights tour, their famous illuminated Christmas tree maze, and a gingerbread challenge.
South First St, Shelton (Friday-Sunday)
Stroll down a pleasant lane in Maple Valley adorned with lights and photo-worthy wonderland displays.
21401 244th Ave SE, Maple Valley (Friday-Sunday)
Drive-In Menorah Lighting Chanukah Celebration
Chabad of Kirkland's drive-in menorah lighting will be bolstered by an LED light show, individually wrapped sufganiyot, and swag bags.
Jordan River Moving & Storage, Kirkland (Sunday)
Spanaway Park will bring back its festive light displays for drive-through spectators to enjoy.
Spanaway Park (Friday-Sunday)
Holiday Magic Drive-Thru
The Washington State Fair is bringing a host of yuletide activities to its Puyallup grounds that visitors can enjoy from the safety of their cars. From light displays to fair food to a prize-bearing scavenger hunt to cheery music on SANTA FM 101.5, there's lots to choose from to warrant a mini road trip. You can even add Snowflake 3D glasses to make the displays look even more magical.
Washington State Fair Events Center, Puyallup (Friday-Sunday)
Kent Parks Candy Cane Lane
Santa will reunite with Kent's light-up reindeer at the Kent Valley Ice Centre (aka Hogan Park at Russell Road) for drive-through visits with families. All kiddos will come away with free hot cocoa and candy canes.
Hogan Park at Russell Road, Kent (Saturday)
Light up the Mansion
The original lights of Puyallup's Twinkle Lane will be repurposed for the Meeker Mansion's holiday light drive-through.
Meeker Mansion, Puyallup (Friday-Saturday)
Lighted Boat Cruise
The Rainier Yacht Club will cruise the west side of Mercer Island and along to Andrews Bay with the Meydenbauer Yacht Club in tow. Watch their twinkly vessels from the shore.
Various locations (Saturday)
Nine local artists have created light installations around Pioneer Square, viewable in a COVID-safe manner throughout the holidays.
Various locations, Pioneer Square (Friday-Sunday)
Santa Cruises the Highlands
Old Saint Nick is making a pre-Christmas trip to Issaquah families via a socially distanced cruise route.
Grand Ridge Plaza, Issaquah (Sunday)
Phinney Drive-in Menorah Lighting
Savor jelly-filled, individually wrapped sufganiyah from your car while Chabad of Northwest Seattle lights up an extra-large menorah.
Phinney Neighborhood Association (Sunday)
Socially-Distanced Renton Chanukah Spectacular!
Head to Renton Tech's P2 parking lot for a giant drive-in menorah lighting, a gelt drop (courtesy of the Renton Fire Department), music, pre-packaged treats, and more socially distanced fun.
Renton Technical College (Sunday)
SnoCo Chanukah Drive-Through
Chabad Center of Snohomish County (aka ScoCo) will have a five-foot ice menorah (courtesy of Cascade Sculptures) set up at this drive-through lighting, where they also promise a meet-and-greet with Judah Maccabee reincarnate, Hanukkah doughnuts and treats, and menorah kits.
Lynnwood City Hall (Sunday)
Winter Glow at PowellsWood
Experience 12 nights of socially distanced winter magic as the Federal Way garden lights up with holiday displays.
PowellsWood Garden, Federal Way (Friday-Sunday)
FOOD & DRINK
Celebrate National Cocoa Day on Sunday (or any day). Why not observe this holiday by sipping some sort of chocolaty concoction as the strains of the Vince Guaraldi Trio play gently in the background? If you'd like to venture beyond Swiss Miss, try hot chocolate bombs, one of the latest trends sweeping TikTok—you simply drop a sphere into a mug of warmed milk and watch the chocolate dissolve to reveal hot cocoa mix and pillowy marshmallows. Art of the Table's grab-and-go market is currently selling house-made hot cocoa bombs with crushed peppermint stick bits, and the pop-up bakery business Sweet Nothings and More, which offers delivery throughout Seattle on Sundays, is also offering their own peppermint candy-encrusted versions. If you're up for a project that involves tempering chocolate, you can also create your own with a tutorial like this one (a great homemade gift idea). More classic cocoa options include Cafe Presse's decadent Parisian-style chocolat chaud, which is like drinking a melted chocolate bar, or The Dane's peppermint schnapps-spiked chocolate Peppermint Party cocktail.
Drink dark beers. Dark times call for dark beers, and the Seattle area is blessed with a wealth of wintry brews to cut through the gloom. Looking for ideas? Peddler Brewing is serving Snow Beer'd Winter Ale, Skull Kraken Stout, Import/Export Nitro Stout, and Night Rider Sour Dark Saison (which are all $5 a glass right now for Dark Beer Week), Fremont Brewing is offering their WINTERSKÖL chocolate stout, and Reuben's Brews, which just took home nine medals at the 2020 U.S. Beer Open Championship, has a festive Reuben Claus (a holiday version of their award-winning Robust Porter infused with peppermint and cocoa nibs). Reuben's is also currently offering an Advent Calendar to count down the days to Christmas with beer—stop by their taproom or to-go store to earn a punch on your card, and you'll win a prize for every six punches. Plus, plan ahead for Flying Lion's Dark Beer Fest next weekend.
Other notable weekend events:
Champagne Showdown Virtual Tasting Event
Though it's not possible for Downtown Spirits to host their yearly bubbly wine extravaganza in person this year, they're bringing all the sparkle to you. Order a discounted champagne basket with eight highly rated fizzy wines and taste along with their four tasting showdown battles, and learn about Brut, Rosé, and Demi-sec champagne from a panel of experts.
Downtown Spirits, Downtown (Saturday)
Poindexter's Good Cheer Shop
Stop in to Poindexter's Coffee for a market with natural wine, holiday spirits, local gifts, vinyl, and even a "Santa phone." Local pop-ups like Sweet Nothings and More and Macadons will be onsite to provide some sweet holiday treats.
Poindexter Coffee, University District (Saturday-Sunday)
Miracle on 2nd
In 2014, New York bar owner Greg Boehm temporarily transformed his space into a kitschy Christmas wonderland replete with gewgaws and tchotchkes galore. Now the pop-up has expanded to more than 100 locations all over the world and will be returning to Belltown’s Rob Roy this year. The specialty cocktails are no ordinary cups of cheer: Beverages are housed in tacky-tastic vessels (a drinking mug resembling Santa’s mug, for example), bedecked with fanciful garnishes like peppers and dried pineapple, and christened with irreverent, pop-culture-referencing names like the “Bad Santa,” the “Yippie Ki Yay Mother F**r,” and the “You’ll Shoot Your Rye Out.” This year, the pop-up will be available for to-go orders only, with "a lot of amusing decor and twerking Santas to elbow bump as you walk through to pick up your take-home kits. Photo ops, a chance for a quick shot, and 15 minutes of holiday delight will all be yours!" Nearby sibling Navy Strength will host the spin-off holiday-tiki-themed pop-up called "Sippin' Santa," which asks you to "imagine Santa on a surfboard instead of a sleigh and palm trees instead of pine," with patio tables available by reservation and cocktails, glassware, and kits available for takeout.
Rob Roy, Belltown (Friday-Sunday)
Open Vault: Rare & Holiday Aquavit Night
The Viking-themed beer hall will pluck some rare aquavit finds from their cellar, including holiday-flavored options and varieties from Norway, Denmark, and the Midwest, plus some of the last remaining bottles of Old Ballard Liquor Co. holiday aquavits and skogen (spruce tip). A special "snaps" menu with one-ounce pours will be available in Skål's beer garden.
Skål Beer Hall, Ballard (Friday)
Slow and Low
Ethan Stowell Restaurants chef Kris Kalinczok will share his favorite winter comfort food, braised meats, with this limited seasonal menu featuring slow-cooked lamb shank or short ribs. Each combo comes with roasted winter vegetables, creamy polenta, roasted wild mushrooms, chicory salad, and an apple hand pie.
Bramling Cross, Ballard (Friday-Sunday)
Turn to local businesses for your holiday shopping. If you need somewhere to start, check out our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide for a roundup of our favorite things from Seattle authors, artists, food businesses, and more (like Ijeoma Oluo's new book Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America or subscriptions to local wine clubs). We've also compiled a guide to this season's best holiday markets and shopping events, like the South Park Swap Meet, the Full Moon Virtual Market, and the Kirkland Winter Market this weekend, along with a list of branded merch items from places like Dick's Drive-In and Hood Famous Bakeshop. If you plan accordingly, you won't even have to leave your house to check off everyone on your list.
Buying art off the walls of a gallery seems like something that only happens in movies about rich people, but that doesn't have to be the case! In addition to buying pieces layaway-style, which many local galleries allow for upon request (including Traver, J. Rinehart, and Greg Kucera), purchasing mini works is a great, cost-conscious way to go if you're looking to gift something to a very special someone who loves gallery hopping. This weekend brings two perfect opportunities: SOIL's 25th annual Not So Silent Auction (which Jasmyne Keimig details here) running through Sunday and Gallery 110's Holiday Sale of Small Works with little gems by its resident artists that you can buy in person until December 26.
Other notable weekend events:
Holiday Pop-up Shops in Westlake Park
A rotating set of local Seattle Made vendors will sell their wares in Westlake Park on Saturdays in December.
Westlake Park, Downtown (Saturday)
Kirkland Winter Market
Stroll through downtown Kirkland and browse winter produce, dried flowers, artisan foods, and homemade crafts from local businesses.
Marina Park, Kent (Friday-Saturday)
SPASM - South Park Swap Meet
Support artists and small businesses in Seattle's South Park neighborhood at this in-person shopping event co-presented by the Punk Rock Flea Market. Be sure to wear a mask and keep your distance. Hand sanitizer will be available for all customers.
Big Top Curiosity Shop, South Park (Saturday)
Winter Solstice Holiday Market
New vendors will usher in the season at the Fremont Sunday Market's Winter Solstice Holiday Market.
Fremont Sunday Market (Sunday)
OTHER PICKS & HAPPENINGS
The Seattle Sounders are headed to the MLS Cup this Saturday after clinching the berth (we love to say that) at the Western Conference Final against Minnesota United on Monday. Hooray! Watch them take on Columbus Crew from Ohio's Mapfre Stadium on Fox Sports 1 at 5:30 pm from the comfort of your own living room, or head to a sports bar with a COVID restriction-compliant outdoor patio, like the ones at Beveridge Place Pub, Populuxe Brewing, the Pine Box, or the Growler Guys.
Visit the snowy owl in Queen Anne. Much to the delight of residents, a majestic snowy owl from the Northern tundra has alighted on a rooftop in Queen Anne and has made its home there, at least for now. Birdwatching amateurs and experts alike have flocked to the area to catch a glimpse of this bucket-list bird, which is very rarely ever sighted in this area. If you'd like to see this Arctic angel for yourself, fill up a Thermos with your hot beverage of choice, pack a camera or some binoculars, and stop at nearby Top Pot Doughnuts beforehand for some doughnuts to snack on during your expedition, then head to 2207 1st Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119, where the bird is currently roosting. Afterward, you can grab some takeout from nearby Eden Hill Provisions or Lazy Susan and have a picnic in scenic Kerry Park. Inspired to learn more about the elusive bird? Get yourself a copy of Seattle-based author Paul Bannick's new book from Mountaineers Books, Snowy Owl: A Visual Natural History—if you plan ahead, you can even order a copy and pick it up at Queen Anne Book Company.
Get high and sing karaoke while you watch octopi dissections on YouTube. The Stranger's High-Brr-Nation column, which graces Slog every Friday at exactly 4:20 pm, invites you to take a bong rip, a special brownie nibble, or a luxurious dab at the end of a long week and join resident editorial staff as they also get high and do stuff at home. Last week, Rich Smith regaled you with his long love of food vids. The week before, Jasmyne Keimig belted Mistki's "Nobody" in virtual karaoke. Make it a part of your Friday tradition.
See a new art installation on the waterfront. Waterfront Park's Future Forward Artist-In-Residence, Takiyah Ward, asked local artists to consider "How do we honor our elders, determine our self, and protect our youth?” In response, Devon Midori Hale and Chi Moscou-Jackson's artist collective Psych-Pop has created Present, an installation of light sculptures on view at the newly rebuilt Pier 62 on view through December 30. "These large time-capsular pod lanterns contain the seeds for a future culture we want to plant," writes the collective. "This framing might suggest a desperate final attempt at survival, with life flung across a long, treacherous passage."
Other notable weekend events:
Inside Out Open Studio & Exhibition
Brooklyn- and Mexico City-based artist Marela Zacarías returns to her original practice of mural painting in this floor-to-ceiling exhibition, which surrounds a wooden-framed pyramid inspired by the emblematic Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Xochicalco, a Meso-American archeological site close to Zacarías’ family home in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
MadArt, South Lake Union (Friday-Saturday; closing Saturday)