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Holiday Guide Feature

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City Paper Holiday Guide 2008

The Festival Of Trees At Maryland State Fairgrounds Nov. 28-30.
Winter Party And Design Shop At The Contemporary Museum Dec. 5.
Belvedere Square Midnight Merriment Nov. 28.
Kwanzaa Family Day At The Baltimore Museum Of Art Dec. 21.
Take A Train Ride With Santa At The B&O Railroad Museum Weekends through Dec. 21.
The Polar Express In "4-D" At The National Aquarium Through Jan. 4.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told By The Baltimore Shakespeare Company At St. Mary's Outreach Center Dec. 5-21.
Baltimore School For The Arts' The Nutcracker Dec. 5-14.
A Cracked Night At The Howard County Center For The Arts Dec. 6.
Fells Point Olde-Tyme Christmas Dec. 13.
Ledisi's It's Christmas At Rams Head Tavern Dec. 22.
Christmas From Dublin Starring The Three Irish Tenors At Maryland Hall For The Creative Arts Dec. 7.
The Garden Of Lights At Brookside Gardens Nov. 22-Jan. 4.
Holiday Pet Portraits And Winter Open House At The Humane Society Of Baltimore County Dec. 6.
Ports America New Year's Eve Spectacular In The Inner Harbor Dec. 31.
Elf Nights At The Salvation Army Warehouse Dec. 17-18.

Holiday Guide 2008

Present Tense City Paper's 2008 Holiday Guide

Craft Work Local Crafters Prepare For The Holiday Buying Season | By Martin L. Johnson

Love Letters A Hampden Letterpress Makes An Impression | By Wendy Ward

Sweet Success A Local Baker Proves That Vegan Doesn't Necessarily Mean Bland | By Anna Ditkoff

Oy to The World Decorating a Chanukah Bush Is Prickly Business | By Charles Cohen

Mix Master Making a Music Mix in The Digital Age | By Michael Byrne

Ms. Flake's Guide to Last Minute Holiday Preparations | By Emily Flake

Nice Package City Paper's Annual Gift Guide

By Katherine Hill | Posted 11/19/2008

The jingle that jangles the oncoming holiday season may be but a faint whisper before Thanksgiving, growing louder as November comes to an end and December arrives, hopefully as bright as it is chilly. We have the jingle tingle already, and it's because working on this chock-full-of Nutcrackers seasonal calendar brought to mind how quickly New Year's Day comes, and how we want to make the most of the short winter days. We're taking time out from now to the end of the year to enjoy family and friends and all our fair city and surrounding areas have to offer. There are plenty of festive entertainments, traditional events, ways to help others, kid specific fun, candle-lit tours and open houses, and New Year's Eve celebrations, along with tons of, yes, shopping opportunities, but don't look at us like that--most craft fairs and bazaars are free and can provide inspiration for those on a limited budget, and who isn't? And, honestly, make your mad money mean something special by buying local, bringing your reusable sacks to carry your loot home, and recycling whenever possible. Cheers, good times, and see you next year.

Katherine Hill built the Holiday Guide snow fort and Wendy Ward threw snowballs at it. All photos are courtesy the party people throwing down.

Shopping!

A Greater Gift Holiday Overstock Sale, through Nov. 23, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays, Brethren Service Center, 500 Main St., New Windsor, (410) 635-8711, www.carr.org, free. Choose gifts from over 30 artists from 35 countries at the low, low price of 60 percent off.

Carroll County Christmas Farmers Market, through Dec. 13, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, Agriculture Center, 700 Agriculture Center Drive, Westminster, (410) 848-7748, www.carrollcountyfarmersmarket.., free. It's cold and the harvest is over, but there are still fresh goods for you in the form of greens, baked goods, eggs, nuts, jams, and jellies, plus music and crafts.

Maryland Christmas Show, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 21-22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 23, Frederick Fairgrounds, 797 E. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 898-5466, www.marylandchristmasshow.com, $6, children under 12 $3, parking $1. An entire holiday packs itself into seven large buildings and several big-top tents transforming the indoor space into buyable Christmas delights of arts, crafts, food, clothes, and more.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 20-21 and 23, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 22, Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 16 Chestnut St., Gaithersburg, (301) 990-1400, www.sugarloafcrafts.com, $7, children under 12 free. Bundle up for this outdoor Christmas shopper's paradise and take advantage of tables covered with the best in craft fair goods, including works by Rona Fisher, Robin Barr, Chee-Me-No, and Laurie Kleespies.

Festival of the Greens, Nov. 21-29, Cultural Arts Center, 15 W. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 662-4190, www.frederickartscouncil.org, free. View wreathes made by Fresderick artists, businesses, and community organizations before bidding on your favorite. Plus, scheduled holiday activities, movies, performances, and more to get the holidays started.

Potters' Guild of Frederick Fall Sale, 5-8 p.m. Nov. 21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 22-23, Cultural Arts Center, 15 W. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 662-4190, frederickartscouncil.org, free. Thirty potters display and sell their work and thoughtfully include an area where you can dump the kids so they can learn to throw and create work of their own.

St. Bartholomew Catholic Church's Winterfest, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 22, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 23, Manchester Fire Company Activities Building, York St., Manchester, (410) 239-8881, www.carr.org, free. Christmas crafts, games, baskets, a raffle, Santa, and a general store fill the fire hall for a community-wide weekend of holiday activities up north.

Christmas in Shipley Bazaar, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 22, Zion United Methodist Church, 2716 Old Washington Road, Westminster, (410) 833-6295, www.carr.org, free. Holiday gifts, treats, jams, pickles, baked goods, refreshments, and a kid-friendly Santa Shop build the foundation of this fair.

Holidays Shoppes, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Nov. 22, Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Road, (410) 825-6045, $1. There's not a church in town that isn't offering goods for stockings. Get a pre-Thanksgiving jump start in Towson for these one-of-a-kind special gifts and the Upscale Bakesale.

Frosty Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 28, Frederick Main Streets: Market and Patricks streets, Everedy Square, and Shab Row, Frederick, (301) 698-8118, www.downtownfrederick.org, free. Skip the parking-lot nightmare and take your economy-boosting consumerism to the streets where it helps the little guy. Restaurants are also participating, so look forward to real eats over at Mama Llardo's. Hot chocolate, carolers, and visits from Frosty the Snowman make parting with the plastic a little easier.

Holiday Artist Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 28, Cultural Arts Center, 15 W. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 662-4190, www.frederickartscouncil.org, free. Joining the Frosty Friday celebration when 25 Frederick artists display and sell jewelry, pottery, art, photography, and hand-crafted items.

Shop 'Til You Drop, daily Nov. 28-Dec. 12, 3200-3600 Belair Road and 3000-3200 Erdman Avenue, noon-2 p.m. Dec. 13, 3236 Belair Road, Bel Air, (443) 691-9671. Buy, buy, buy on Belair Road through mid-December to be eligible for a $250 prize from Vixxen Salon and take advantage of a visit from Santa, hot chocolate, and free gift wrap.

Moonlight Merriment: The Un-Black Friday Celebration, noon Nov. 28, Belvedere Square, 518 E. Belvedere Ave., (410) 464-9773, www.belvederesquare.com, free. You don't really want to drive to the mall, battle for parking, and risk your health and sanity in an enclosed space, do you? Try shopping at local businesses instead in a hotbed of City Paper Best of Baltimore winners and support your neighbors.

BAZAART, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 29, preview 5:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 28, American Visionary Arts Museum, 800 Key Highway, (410) 244-1900, www.avam.org, free, preview $20. Fifty regional artists bring papercrafts, metal, jewels, textiles, and the sublimely bizarre in one of the season's more unusual annual art sales.

Holiday Craft Fair, 4-7 p.m. Dec. 4, Park School, 2425 Old Court Road, (410) 339-7070, www.parkschool.net Park School faculty, alumni, parents, and students provide photography, jewelry, fiber art, Ugandan crafts, clothing and accessories, and more to fill the empty space under the tree.

Singular Sensations Annual Holiday Art Show, 5-8 p.m. Dec. 4, Columbia Art Center Galleries, 6100 Foreland Garth Ave., Columbia, (410) 730-0075, www.columbiaartcenter.org There's nothing wrong with getting priceless art at bargain prices, trust us. Functional pottery, collage, fiber, stained glass, and more visual candy is all priced under $150, making it a joyous season indeed.

Grace Preschool Christmas Bazaar, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 5, Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St., (410) 532-2235. Like buying your coworker's candy bars to benefit their kid's school, stop by Grace Preschool's bazaar, greens sale, and Chinese auction and feel good knowing your dollars spent on wreaths and baked goods help expand little minds.

Holiday Pottery Sale, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 5-6, Center for the Arts Ceramic Studio, room 3012, Towson University, 8000 York Road, (410) 704-2787, www.towson.edu/cofac, free. It's undisputed that the most frugal opportunity for securing great art is while the artists are young and broke. Hoarding for yourself is easy, but imagine how beloved you'll be around the homestead for gifting prized ceramics.

Moonlight Madness, 5-10 p.m. Dec. 5, Fells Point, (443) 691-9671, free. Jaunt from gallery to gallery as Fells Point stores extend their hours and galleries throw open their doors with reckless abandon for a series of openings.

Holiday Sale for ART MD, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 5, Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, (410) 313-2787, www.hocoarts.org, free. Open house and holiday sale plus a special award ceremony for HoCo's participating biennial artists.

Winter Party and Design Shop, 7-11 p.m. Dec. 5, Contemporary Museum, 100 W. Center St., (410) 783-5720, www.contemporary.org, $50, advance $45, members advance $25. Charm City digs the retro, and we're always looking for an opportunity to get our best smoking jacket out of the closet. This hip party welcomes our predilection for pipes and general grooviness, and includes a vintage design silent auction, cocktails, and shopping deals to match the wardrobe.

Downtown Dollar Days, Dec. 6-7, downtown, www.godowntownbaltimore.com Charm City museums and hot spots lower their admission for one dollar or less. For a list of the discounted admittance, check the web site and prepare yourself for visiting relatives. Sheesh, your parking will probably cost more than it will to bask in the glow of a good deal.

St. John Christmas Bazaar, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 6., St. John Catholic School, 43 Monroe St., Westminster, (410) 848-4744, www.carr.org, free. An indoor flea market, raffles, bingo, and a kids' shop up the expectations on this holiday bazaar. We're crossing our fingers for Catholic school cake.

Christmas Craft and Flea Market Show, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 6, New Windsor Fire Department, 101 High St., New Windsor, (410) 857-1209, www.carr.org, free. The items here run the gamut from Christmas crafts to Christmas collectibles.

Yulefest, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 6, Cross Street Market, 1065 S. Charles St., (443) 691-9671, free. Hang out with Santa at his street fair where holiday games, giveaways, and Christmas-themed entertainment take over Cross Street Market and the surrounding streets.

Holiday Extravaganza, noon-5 p.m. Dec. 6-23, Baltimore Clayworks, 5707 Smith Ave., (410) 578-1919, www.baltimoreclayworks.org, free. Miss out on Clayworks' famous WinterFest opening reception? There's plenty of time to browse works from Clayworks artists and choose a mug for grams or a purely decorative piece for your newlywed cousin. Plus, the Winterfest exhibit runs through Dec. 22.

Out of Hand Craft Show, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 7, Knights of Columbus, 201 Homeland Ave., (410) 433-9756. The KoC packs the room with 34 vendors, including Plum Blossom Kimono, AVL Studio, Bees in the Garden, and Heartwells, promising something for everyone.

!Merry Mart!, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 7, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, www.creativealliance.org, free. Knock out your gift list on Eastern Avenue with unique and creative offerings from local artists: Stuffed animals, pottery, glass, hand knits, jewelry, and handmade and homemade goods from more than 35 locals fill the room.

Holiday Bazaar, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 6, College of Notre Dame's Doyle Formal lounge and Dining Room, 4701 N. Charles St., (410) 532-5542, www.ndm.edu, free, breakfast with Santa $12, children ages 6-11 $7, children ages 2-5 $5. Unique gifts, gourmet foods, and typical bazaar items join a raffle and a meal with Santa until 11 a.m.; bring the kiddos.

Moonlight Madness, 8 p.m.-midnight Dec. 12, Federal Hill, (443) 691-9671, free. Dash between carolers to 30 shops with extended hours, free wrapping, and refreshments. Sounds like a good night for a nip of hot buttered rum at one of Federal Hill's cozy bars after all the "madness."

Holiday Craft Fair and Cookie March, Dec. 13, St. Matthew Church, 5401 Loch Raven Blvd., (410) 665-3682. Our Christmas dreams equal spending time with family and cookies marching into our maw. This craft and bake sale brings our wildest sweet dreams come true, where we can get a little or lot of everything.

Christmas Bazaar, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 13, St. Mary's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3978 Littlestown Pike, Westminster, (410) 346-7146, www.carr.org, free. Christmas crafts dominate the wares in this old-school bazaar.

A Greater Gift Seconds Sale, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 13, Brethren Service Center, 500 Main St., New Windsor, (410) 635-8711, www.carr.org, free. Get yer handmade crafts in the form of others' unwanted items; they're the same as or better than new and good for the environment.

Moonlight Merriment II, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 18, Belvedere Square, 518 E. Belvedere Ave., (410) 464-9773, www.belvederesquare.com, free. Last-minute shopping at the square includes a visit with Santa, a book signing with the Food Network's Warren Brown at Daedalus Books, and a performance by the Baltimore Men's Chorus.

Holiday Shopping Spree, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 18, Star Spangled Flag House, 844 E. Pratt St., (410) 837-1793, www.flaghouse.org, free. The Flag House extends its hours into the evening to offer its "historic style treasures" to stuff stockings for the person in your life whose flag pin has begun to fade from excessive wearings during campaign season.

Small Packages: Last Minute Maul, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 21, School 33, 1427 Light St., (410) 396-4641, www.school33.org, free. If you've driven to the mall and left empty handed but emotionally battered, or seen the parking and driven the other way, this market will fulfill your last-minute needs with handmade products, vintage items, natural body products, jewelry, and art from more than 20 artists.

Kid Stuff

The Polar Express in 4-D, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. daily through Jan. 4, National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt St., (410) 576-3800, www.aqua.org, $25.95, seniors $24.95, children $16.95. The 2004 film has been transformed into a 20-minute presentation minus the fluff and highlighting the most magical scenes into an all-senses experience. 4-D steps up from the typical 3-D experience, integrating the feeling of cold snow and the scents of cocoa as part of the presentation.

Ride the Train with Santa!, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 21 during the B&O Railroad Museum's Holiday Festival of Trains, B&O Railroad Museum, 901 W. Pratt St., (410) 752-2490, www.borail.org, $14, seniors $12, children $8, children under 2 and members free. Ride the train with Kris Kringle, plus check out the modeal train layouts and the museum's secret kids-only stop.

Holiday Festival of Trains at the B&O Railroad Museum: Ellicott City Station, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays Nov. 28-Jan. 25, 2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City Station, (410) 752-2490, www.borail.org, $5, seniors $4, children $3, children under 2 and members free. Features miniature Thomas the Tank Engine model layout and a brand new custom-built O-scale model.

Santa Trains, 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Nov. 29-30, Walkersville Southern Railroad, 34 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Walkersville, (301) 898-0899, www.wssr.org, $9, children $7, children under 1 free. Answer the nagging question as to how eight reindeer can haul the world's toys in one night: Santa also rides the rails. Each child gets an individual visit from the jolly old guy, plus hot chocolate and cookies in the museum.

Festive Families, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays Dec. 1-31, Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9000, www.thewalters.org, free. Drop in to the Walters weekends through the season to celebrate winter traditions from all over the globe.

Fridays After Five, 5-9 p.m. Dec. 5, National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt St, (410) 576-3800, www.aqua.org, $8. December's Fridays After Five celebrates holidays from around the world with activities, food, and films.

Snackin' with Santa, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 6, Hilltop Elementary School, 415 Melrose Ave., Glen Burnie, (800) 856-9868, www.harbormusiccompany.org, suggested donation $7, $25 for a family of five. With holiday treats and crafts, a visit with Santa, and carols with the Harbor City Music Company Chorus and a cast of characters including Sprite, Sprout, Spruce, Olive, Frosty, and Pink.

Breakfast Buffet with Santa, 8:30-10 a.m. Dec. 6-7 and 13-14, B&O Railroad Museum, 901 W. Pratt St., (410) 752-4287, www.borail.org, $27.50, children $17.50, members $17.50, children members $12.50. Santa loves more than just milk and cookies, he loves breakfast, too. Let the kids butter up the guy at breakfast before exhausting their syrup high on the trains.

Santa's Stops, noon-2:30 p.m. Dec. 6, Harford Road, (443) 691-9671, free. Santa makes the rounds by way of his antique fire truck, visiting Pizza Plus (5440 Harford Road); Red Canoe Bookstore Cafe, where the kidlets can write their wish lists (4337 Harford Road); and Great Soul Wellness Studio (4711 Harford Road), where you can make memories with your camera.

Trolleys, Treats, Treasures, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 6, 3700 Eastern Ave., (443) 691-9671, free. Grab a treasure map and ride the trolley through Eastern Avenue like Jack Sparrow seeking the Fountain of Youth. X marks the treats, prizes, crafts, and pictures with Santa.

Egg Babies Orchestra, 3 p.m. Dec. 6, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, www.creativealliance.org, $5, members $4, children 3-10 ages $3, children under 3 free. An afternoon of adult-tolerable, kid-friendly songs from Egg Babies Orchestra ensures that your kid will be the hippest on the block; get the family into the holiday spirit with covers of Elvis Costello and holiday tunes.

Christmas in the Park, 4-8 p.m. Dec. 6, Garrett Park, 3rd and Patapsco streets, (443) 691-9671, free. An entire evening of family fun that runs the gamut of every tradition: hot bevies around the fire, hands-on activities and ornament crafts for the tree, a family sing-along backed by the local church, a grand arrival from Santa, and a photo session where kids can dress up like the sweet little angels they've (hopefully) been all day. Makes us exhausted to think of it, but we're pretty stoked to hang out in a live Christmas play.

Holiday Traditions and Crafts in Miniature America, noon-2 p.m. Dec. 8, Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, 844 E. Pratt St., (410) 837-1793, www.flaghouse.org, $15, members $10. Artists specializing in miniature artwork guide children in creating their own miniature worlds and ornaments, using everyday objects.

Skate with Santa, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 9, Shake and Bake Family Fun Center, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave., (443) 691-9671, free. Grab your scarf, mittens, and ice-skating skills for a lap on the ice with Santa.

Holiday Breakfast, 8:30-10:30 a.m. Dec. 13 and 20, Maryland Zoo, 1876 Mansion House Drive, (410) 396-7102, www.marylandzoo.org, $35, members $25, children under 2 free. You could pay for a flight to the Arctic Circle or camp in Norway for breakfast with Santa and Frosty, or you could venture to the Maryland Zoo in Druid Hill Park for far less.

Silhouettes for the Holidays, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 13, Homewood Museum at Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, www.museums.jhu.edu, $40. Turn your home into a Victorian Christmas mansion via silhouettes of your darling children with the assistance of Anne Leslie, a portraitist cut-paper artist, one of the only a few in the Mid-Atlantic.

Santa's Magic Workshop, 4-7 p.m. Dec 13-14, Martinak State Park, Denton, 137 Deep Shore Road, (410) 820-1668, www.dnr.state.md.us/publicland.., free, donations suggested. Travel to Caroline county to go back in time to ye olde days of Christmas filled with cabins, train gardens, pinecone bird feeders, and an illuminated campground.

Edible Crumbs and Delectable Tales, 1-3 p.m. Dec. 14, Evergreen Museum and library at Johns Hopkins University, 454 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, museums.jhu.edu, $10, members $6. Make and decorate gingerbread people with icing, dried fruit, and candies while listening to dramatic readings of holiday classics.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 20, Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, www.portdiscovery.com, $11.75. Dance in a kiddie wonderland--the dry, warm, white, fuzzy kind--before hangin' out with Bubbles the Clown and making a gingerbread house brick-by-brick, plus Pets on Wheels.

Christmas for Kids, 11 a.m. Dec. 20, Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, (410) 523-7070, www.baltimorechoralarts.org, $13. This annual family-favorite concert features Christmas Carols from Baltimore Choral Arts under the direction of Tom Hall plus special guest appearances from Santa and Ronnie the Reindeer.

Dreidel Hunt, 7:30-10 p.m. Dec. 20, Rosenbloom JCC, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., (410) 356-5200, www.jcc.org, free. Join the Jewish Community Center for a treasure hunt, where X marks the dreidel, and spirit of Hanukkah. The candy-filled hunt will end with a dreidel-spinning competition and prizes.

A Taste of Milldale for Winter Break, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dec. 24, Rosenbloom JCC, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., (410) 356-5200, www.jcc.org Camp Milldale staff and friends host a winter camp during regular school hours (with additional early drop-off and late-stay available). Games, trips, and activities are planned for the kids, making for one less day at home you need to plan.

In the Month of Kislev Chanukah Celebration, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 25, Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd St., (410) 732-6400, www.jewishmuseummd.org, $15, members $10. Chin up, gentiles. Daniel Barash entertains and educates the whole family in this shadow-puppet workshop, which is followed by a puppet parade. It's time to move up from making a duck with your index fingers.

Winter Break Open House, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 30-31, Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd St., (410) 732-6400, www.jewishmuseummd.org, $15, members $10. Go wild with hands-on entertainment, arts, and crafts; you've been counting down these last days, fill up the last few with great activities.

Nutcrackin'

A Wintry Mix Dance Concert, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Nov. 21-Dec. 6, 2 p.m. Dec. 7, Stephen's Hall Theatre, Towson University, 8000 York Road, (410) 704-2787, www.towson.edu/cofac, $20, seniors and students $10, children 12 and under free. Washington Ballet guest artist Rungiao Du joins Towson University faculty and students for a winter-based concert which crosses several genres.

A Cracked Nut, 1 and 3 p.m. Dec. 6, Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 Ridge Road, Ellicott City, (410) 480-1686, www.hocoarts.org, $5. A unique take on the classic holiday ballet from Kinetics Dance Theatre's senior and student companies, fusing ballet, jazz, swing, and hip-hop in a refreshing performance.

The Nutcracker, 7 p.m. Dec. 5, 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 3 p.m. Dec. 12-14, Schaefer Ballroom at Baltimore School for the Arts, 712 Cathedral St., (410) 624-2103, www.bsfa.org, $15, students $10. Baltimore's most talented youth and potential inspiration for Step Up 4 present the classic song-and-dance about a magical kitchen utensil.

The Nutcracker Ballet, 7 p.m. Dec. 6, 2 p.m. Dec. 7, Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn, (410) 636-6597, www.chesapeakearts.org, $20, members, students, and seniors $17. The Mid-Atlantic Dance Company presents dancing candy, a fleet of ballerinas, and mice with swords. No wonder this classic ballet is a family tradition.

The Joffrey Ballet: The Nutcracker, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11-14, 1:30 p.m. Dec. 12-14, Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC, (202) 467-4600, www.kennedy-center.org, $47-$150. Make a day trip for this critically-acclaimed ballet, which follows Russian tradition to a T and with the aide of precise, over-the-top sets, transports the audience to its magical Victorian Christmas.

The Nutcracker, 8 p.m. Dec. 12, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 2 p.m. Dec. 14, Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., (301) 600-2828, www.weinbergcenter.org, $11-$25. The New York City Ballet lends Megan Fairchild, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Andrew Vetette as the Cavalier, and Alexander Ritter from the Suzanne Farrell Ballet in Frederick's 29th year presenting Tchaikovsky's Christmas tale.

The Nutcracker, 6:30-8 p.m. Dec. 13, 3-5 p.m. Dec. 14, Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, (410) 667-7974, www.baltimoreballet.org, $15-$25. Baltimore Ballet with guest stars from the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre performs, yeah, The Nutcracker.

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 19-21, Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., (410) 685-5086, www.nutcracker.com, $25-$85. The Moscow Ballet returns to Charm City for a limited three-day engagement to perform Christmas's number-one ballet.

Case of the Missing Nutcracker, 7 p.m. Dec. 20, Maryland Hall for the Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 280-5640, www.marylandhall.org, $43, seniors $36, students $23, children $10. Use the skills developed over decades of playing the classic board game Clue to help poor Clara crack the case and solve the mystery of the missing nutcracker.

Holiday Stage

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 8 p.m. through Nov. 23, the Hippodrome, 12 N. Eutaw St., (410) 837-7400, www.francemerrickpac.com, $25. When you're done being a bit of a Scrooge yourself, indulge your family in this award-winning production of the Seuss classic.

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy with Charles Ross, 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 21, Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St., (410) 332-0033, www.centerstage.org, $28-$30. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we wanted the Millennium Falcon under the tree. That didn't happen, but the excitement from those days lives on in a one-man presentation of the three greatest space westerns of all time.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Nov. 28-Dec. 21, 2 p.m Dec. 7 and 21, Laurel Mill Playhouse, 508 Main St., (301) 452-2557, www.lauralmillplayhouse.org, $13, students and seniors $10. We just don't think it's really Christmas without Barbara Robinson's 1972 classic about the intimidating Herman family's pageant takeover, and we're happy to revel in the crass characters and the play's heartwarming holiday message.

Post-Turkey Improv, 8 p.m. Nov. 28, the Strand Theatre, 1823 N. Charles St., (888) 745-8393, www.bigimprov.com, $7-$10. Snap yourself out of your turkey-and-cocktails coma with this holiday-inspired improv performance.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular, 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 2 and 8:30 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. and 1, 4:30, and 8 p.m. Saturdays, noon and 3:30 and 7 p.m. Sundays Dec. 2-7, 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., (410) 347-2006, www.baltimoreareana.com, $31-$81. Better than seeing it on NBC and cheaper than driving to New York, this extravaganza presents holiday cadets lining-up for their go-going shiny, sparkly holiday performance right here in B-more.

The Butterfingers Angel, Mary and Joseph, Herod the Nut, and the Slaughter of 12 Hit Carols in a Pear Tree, 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays Dec. 3-Jan. 4, Rep Stage 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, (410) 772-4900, www.repstage.org, $15-$30. A contemporary and creative Christmas story of a crazy family that turns holiday tradition on its head.

Holiday Improv Comedy Spectacular, 8 p.m. Dec. 5, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, www.creativealliance.org, $10-$12. Bring your silly holiday hat and favorite phrase--we've got dibs on figgy pudding and bah humbug!--for Baltimore Improv's three-set on-the-spot performances.

Frosty the Snowman, showtimes vary Dec. 5-Jan. 4, Adventure Theatre, 7300 Macarthur Blvd., Glen Echo, (301) 320-5331, www.adventuretheatre.org, $12-$15. Like, one of our favorite holiday stop-motion animation television specials ever, this play follows the antics of Frosty, a snowman come to life one day.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told, 8 p.m. nightly, 5 p.m. Sundays Dec. 5-21, St. Mary's Outreach Center, 3900 Roland Ave., (410) 366-8596, www.baltimoreshakespeare.org, $25, seniors and students $20, children 6 and under free. The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival takes the Christmas classics into their own hand--Rudolph, the Grinch, Frosty, George Bailey, the Magi--and spins them all into a fast, one-serving presentation.

Holiday Spectacular, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12-23, Meyerhoff, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.bsomusic.org, $25-$60. Sandi Patti hosts the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's newest holiday tradition, with Broadway performances, the African Children's Choir, and tap-dancing Santas. We wondered what Santa did in the spring, but now we know he boned up with re-runs of Dancing with the Stars.

Hack and Slash Christmas Special, 8 p.m. Dec. 12, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 13, Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn, (410) 636-6597, www.hackandslash.com, $25-$50. Escape the doe-eyed, tear-filled lessons of the holidays with a hilarious spin on the dependable hilarities this time of the year: boozing, collect calling, and chicanery.

A Christmas Carol, 8 p.m. Dec. 12, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 2 p.m. Dec. 14, Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 600-2828, www.weinbergcenter.org, $25. Sit back as one of the only guys who didn't lose it all in the market finds compassion in his heart for the peons around him.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 7 p.m Sundays Dec. 12-21, Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St., (410) 276-7837, www.fcpt.org, $17, Sunday matinees $15, select cheap seats $10. We just don't think it's really Christmas without another run of Barbara Robinson's 1972 classic about the headstrong Herman family full of totally relatable kids and less-than-perfect adults.

Stoop Holiday Hoopla: A Charm City Seasonal Spectacular, 7 cocktails and music, 8 p.m. show Dec. 15, the Meyerhoff, 1212 Cathedral St., (800) 838-3006, www.stoopstorytelling.com, $20. The Stoop series features holiday-themed tales while house-band regulars Caleb Stine and the Brakemen will be joined by Abby Mott, Salim, and members of Wye Oak. In addition to the ruckus on-stage, the series will present Westsiders Marching Band, caroling, and karaoke as a means to cause a brouhaha over the holidays.

T'was the Night Before Christmas, 10:15 a.m. and noon Dec. 16, Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn, (410) 252-8717, www.chesapeakearts.org, $6.50. The most popular story about dancing cookies the jolly old man from the North is brought to the stage.

Slay Ride, 8 p.m. Dec. 19-20, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn, (410) 252-8717, www.chesapeakearts.org, $16, members $14. Step away from the dancing baked goods and crotchety old men for something compelling: a murder mystery.

Trixie and Monkey's Holiday Spectac-u-thon, 7 and 10 p.m. Dec. 20, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, www.creativealliance.org, $16, members $14. It would seem weird to celebrate the season with burlesque, but in Charm City the season isn't fulfilled without the city's most beloved duo. Joined by pals Dirty Martini, Miss Astrid, and Dr. Lukki, the team is bent on keeping the tradition of twirling, dangling, and shimmying through the holiday.

Remembering Bing, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20, Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn, (410) 636-6597, www.chesapeakearts.org, $18, members $15. Jamie Zemarel portrays Bing Crosby in this retrospective of the man who brought us a "White Christmas" and the yearning for the ones we used to know.

Traditions

Baltimore's Thanksgiving Parade, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 22, intersection of Pratt and Howard streets through Pratt Street and Market Place, free. We've challenged Rockefeller Center's tree with our monument and New Year's Eve in Times Square with Harborplace, and we rival the ridiculously long and network-television-coated parade with one of our own, the only one with a Batmobile. Batman and Robin are joined by Santa, Chesapeake Synchronized Skating, floats, Shake and Bake Rollers, giant inflated turkeys and snowmen, and marching bands. Be sure to be there for Santa's official arrival downtown, and bring the kids so he knows what they want.

Photos with Santa, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 11 am.-6 p.m. Sundays Nov. 22-Dec. 24, Harborplace Gallery, 200 E. Pratt St., (410) 332-4191, www.harborplace.com, $20-$40. Dress 'em up like it's school picture day and dump 'em on Santa's lap for the yearly, obligatory, traditional picture with Santa. No crying.

Pre-Thanksgiving Vegetarian Potluck, 5 p.m. Nov. 23, North Baltimore Mennonite Church, 4615 Roland Ave., www.vrg.org, $4. Turkey Day is a source of grief for vegans and vegetarians, but it doesn't have to be. Make your favorite meat-, fish-, fowl-, dairy-, and honey-free dish and give thanks with your like-minded community. Be sure to write the ingredients on an index card and bring serving utensils so that the holiday is as stress-free as possible.

Turkey Trot, 8 a.m. Nov. 27, First United Methodist Church, 424 Main St., Laurel, (301) 776-0442, www.laureladvocacy.org, $25 registration. Trot five kilometers to benefit Laurel, and, since it's on Thanksgiving, avoid your pesky relatives. Registration closes Nov. 23.

Miracle on 34th Street, 6 p.m. nightly Nov. 28- Jan. 1, 34th Street between Keswick Road and Chestnut Avenue, Hampden, free. We don't know where you should park, only that it's worth the trouble, as every house on the block is sublimely covered in lights and decorations, making Hampden the most spirited neighborhood in town.

A Monumental Occasion, 6 p.m. Dec. 4, Mount Vernon Place, 600 block of North Charles Street, (410) 244-1030, www.godowntownbaltimore.com, free. We could cut down a hundred-year-old tree and drag it across the country, but that's not very green. Instead, watch the nation's oldest monument to the first president glow like a homing beacon and celebrate with fireworks, hootin', hollerin', and carolin'.

Waverly Wonderland, 7-8 p.m. Dec. 5, 33rd and Greenmount streets, (443) 691-9671, free. Bundle up as Waverly hits the switch on its neighborhood Christmas tree.

Fells Point Olde-Tyme Christmas, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Dec. 6, Fells Point, (443) 691-9671, free. Fells Point transforms into the workaholic 'hood after welcoming Santa via tugboat; photos with Santa, cooking demos, the Police Athletic League Choir, a Christmas tree sale, and wreath making dominate Broadway Square; Broadway Pier hosts a Punch and Judy show; and Warren Brown hosts a cake-off in his new digs before lighting the tree downtown with the mayor. Plus, a history lecture, a boat parade, and music from the Irish Men's Choir and Crabs for Christmas.

The Mayor's Christmas Parade, 2 p.m. Dec. 7, starting at Poly/Western High Schools, Cold Spring Lane through 37th Street, (410) 366-0726, www.mayorschristmasparade.com, free. Line 2.5 miles of Hampden sidewalk to watch the city's annual Christmas parade, featuring Harleys, Ravens, marching bands, Boumi Temple performers, floats, and Miss Yuletide, the little crowned Queen of Christmas.

Fells Point Olde-Tyme Christmas, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 13, Fells Point, (443) 691-9671, free. Fells Points presents a part two of an Olde-Tyme Christmas, presuming you've recovered from the flurry activity from last weekend. A gingerbread-making session follows the morning's Figgy Pudding Race, plus an open market shopping spree, an eggnog contest, a history lecture, shopping, strolling carolers, a magician, and a hand bell choir.

Holiday Traditions, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 13-14, Evergreen Museum and Library at Johns Hopkins University, 4545 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, $1. Holiday music, decoration workshops, and shopping form the foundation of the JHU celebration.

Kwanzaa Family Day, 1-5 p.m. Dec. 21, Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive, (443) 573-1700, www.artbma.org, free. Enjoy an afternoon of learning about Kwanzaa with tours that focus on the sixth principle, Kuumba (Creativity), and see it brought to life with performances by Fritete African Drum and Dance Ensemble and Lesole's Dance Project, storytelling with drums by Baba Jamal Koram, and a hands-on drum-making workshop using recycled objects.

Kwanzaa Celebration, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 27, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, 830 E. Pratt St., (443) 263-1800, www.africanamericanculture.org, $1. Celebrate Kujichagulia, the second day of Kwanzaa, dedicated to self-determination. Films, performances, educational and art workshops will make up this jam-packed day of celebration.

Festive Music

With One Voice: An Evening of Fine Music, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Nov. 22, St. John Catholic Church, 43 Monroe St., Westminster, (410) 876-1233, www.carr.org, $12. Carol Wolf and county chorus groups fill the stage with holiday cheer to benefit Carroll County Domestic Violence Safe House.

Yuletide Caroling, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, noon-6 p.m. Sundays Nov. 28-Dec. 24, Harborplace Gallery, 200 E. Pratt St., (410) 332-4191, www.harborplace.com, free. Stroll through the harbor for the first time in--what is it now, years since you've braved the fannypack crowd?--to bask in the multitude of performances from community and school choirs.

Merry Tuba Christmas, 3 p.m. Nov. 29, Francis Scott Key Mall, 5500 Buckeystown Pike, Frederick, (301) 432-7121, www.tubachristmas.com, free. A late-afternoon holiday concert from area tubists should facilitate the mad dash for presents.

An Annapolis Family Christmas, 3 p.m. Nov. 29, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., (410) 280-5640, www.marylandhall.org, $18, children $13. Christmas music packaged as family fun in this busy afternoon of activities in song with headliners from the Baltimore School of Rock, Doug Segree, Dan Haas, Angie Miller, the Remnants, and Matt McConville.

Magical Month of December, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily Dec. 1-31, Lexington Market, 400 W. Lexington St., (410) 685-6169, www.lexingtonmarket.com, free. School choirs, marching bands, and community groups sings carols daily in Baltimore's oldest market.

Holiday Brass Concert, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 2, Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., (410), 464-4020, www.cathedralofmary.org, $10-$25. The International Women's Brass Conference presents its annual brass concert, featuring seasonal music with assistance from organ, choir, carols, and sing-alongs.

Christmas with Choral Arts, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, Basilica of the Assumption, 408 N. Charles St., (310) 523-7070, www.baltimorebasilica.org, $25-$75. World famous soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme joins Tom Hall and Baltimore Choral Arts in this holiday concert.

Christmas with Aaron Neville and His Quintet, 8 p.m. Dec. 2-3, Ram's Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, www.ramsheadtavern.com, $73.50. The acclaimed Neville brother participates in a now annual tradition of spreading Christmas cheer in Annapolis.

Sounds of the Season: Peabody Brass Ensemble, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 4, Leith Symington Griswold Hall at Peabody Institute, (410) 659-8100, www.peabody.juh.edu, free. Woodwinds and brass celebrate the season through classic carols, following, and within walking distance of the Washington Monument lighting.

NPR's A Jazz Piano Christmas, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC, (202) 467-4600, www.kennedy-center.org, $35. Join the Kennedy Center and NPR for the industry's top jazz pianists and holiday songs. The annual tradition will be recorded for broadcast.

Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah, 8 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 a.m. Dec. 6, Meyerhoff, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.bsomusic.org, $26-$60, 8 p.m. Dec. 5, Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, (301) 581-5200, www.strathmore.org, $25-$80. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra plus the Morgan State University Choir blend jazz, funk, gospel, and rock to reinvigorate Handel's religious sing-along.

Handel's Messiah, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.bsomusic.org, $25-$75. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra provides a traditional alternative to its myriad of Handel-based performances, drawing on the Concert Artists of Baltimore for its voice and featuring Edward Polochick as conductor.

Capitol Bones Big Band: Kenton Christmas Event, 8:15 p.m. Dec. 5, Center for the Arts Harold J. Kaplan Concert Hall, Towson University, 8000 York Road, (410) 704-2787, www.towson.edu/cofac, $13, seniors $7, students $5. Inspired by Stan Kenton, Capitol Bones Big Band performs holiday thematic swing music.

Dave Tucker's Big Band Christmas, 9 p.m. Dec. 5, Ram's Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, www.ramsheadtavern.com, $34. The nation's greatest jazz drummer performs big swing Christmas tunes and hits from the group's album Better Days Ahead.

Winterfest, 2 p.m. Dec. 6, Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., (301) 600-2828, www.weinbergcenter.org, free, canned donations requested. Party with Mr. and Mrs. Claus as they sing and dance to holiday classics, performed on the Wurlitzer.

Merry Tuba Christmas, 3 p.m. Dec. 6, Harborplace Amphitheater, 200 E. Pratt St., (410) 332-4191, www.harborplace.com, free. The tubas are back with their human partners to play hard for your shopping and wandering entertainment.

Holiday Sing, noon-2:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 1-4 p.m. Dec. 8, Harborplace Amphitheater, 200 E. Pratt St., (410) 332-4191, www.harborplace.com, free. Project your own vocals into the crowd of many other, ahem, untrained vocalists while the prowess of community choruses from across the city keep the beat.

Mid-Atlantic Symphony, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, Community Church at Ocean Pines, Rt. 589, Ocean City, (888) 846-8600, www.midatlanticsymphony.org, $35. Selections of La Boheme join The Nutcracker Suite, and frosty carols, covering the greatest hits of the Christmas season.

National Philharmonic Choral Masterworks: Handel's Messiah, 8 p.m. Dec. 6, 3 p.m. Dec. 7, Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, (301) 581-5200, www.strathmore.org, $29-$79, children under 17 free. The National Philharmonic Chorale takes the reins for this traditional presentation of Handel's Christmas favorite, featuring Esther Heideman, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Petillo, and Kevin Deas.

Hard Travelers, 8 p.m. Dec. 6, Ram's Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, www.ramsheadtavern.com, $22.50. Our reindeer odes are usually backed by flutes and organs, but tonight the multi-member legend travels to Naptown to dispense its blend of holiday-infused folk with banjos, a mandolin, acoustic bass, and fiddle.

Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra, 4 p.m. Dec. 7, Loch Raven High School Auditorium, 1212 Cowpens Ave., (410) 617-1524, www.gbyo.com, $10, students $5. The area's most talented youth perform highlights from Handel's Messiah and a heap of Christmas and Hanukkah favorites.

Bach Christmas Concert, 4-5 p.m. Dec. 7, Christ Lutheran Church, 701 S. Charles St., (410) 752-7179, www.bachinbaltimore.org, free. The Bach Concert Series presents its first cantata from Bach's Christmas Oratorio, under the direction of T. Herbery Dimmock.

Christmas with the Canticle Singers, 5 p.m. Dec. 7, Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., (410) 668-8807, www.cathedraofmary.org, $10-$15. Visiting conductor Leo Wanenchak conducts the renowned Canticle Singers of Baltimore.

Peter White's Christmas, 5 and 8 p.m. Dec. 7, 6 and 9 p.m. Dec. 8, Ram's Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, www.ramsheadtavern.com, $50. Instead of a fat man in too-small red suit, we get a smaller man in a too-big red suit, replacing the hearty "ho ho ho"s with smooth jazz. Suddenly, this grown up version is a lot more fun.

Christmas from Dublin starring the Three Irish Tenors, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 263-5544, www.marylandhall.org, $31-$36. Celebrate a traditional Irish Christmas with Dublin tenors Ciaran Nagle, P. J. Hurley, and Kenneth O'Regan through traditional Christmas music.

A Rockapella Holiday, 8 p.m. Dec. 9, Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, (301) 581-5200, www.strathmore.org, $21-$55, children under 17 free. Carmen San Diego's backup group serenades with two sets of Christmas favorites.

Rob Levit and Friends Holiday Showcase, 7-7:30 p.m. Dec. 10-11, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis, 801 Chase St., (410) 263-1906, www.marylandhall.org, $10-$15. Artist-in-residence Rob Levit presents classics, world, and original Christmas songs.

Christmas Festival, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 11, Basilica of the Assumption, 408 N. Charles St., (410) 464-4020, www.baltimorebasilica.org, $100-$175. This cathedral choir concert benefits the Jenkins Senior Living Community and performs traditional Christmas hymns.

A Celebration of Christmas, 7 p.m. Dec. 11, 8 p.m. Dec. 8, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis, 801 Chase St., (410) 263-1906, www.annapolischorale.org, $42. The Annapolis Chorale and Annapolis Chamber Orchestra doubleteam to fill Naptown with holiday spirit in this standing-room-only performance.

Raul Malo's Christmas Party, 8 p.m. Dec. 10, Ram's Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, www.ramsheadtavern.com, $39.50. Our winters can be cold and bitter, a glaring opposite of the joyfully mild holiday in Miami. Luckily for us, globetrotting Malo brings the Floridian heat and the Mavericks for a warmer, soulful, celebration.

NSO Pops: Happy Holidays!, 7 p.m. Dec. 11 and 14, 8 p.m. Dec.12-13, Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC, (202) 467-4600, www.kennedy-center.org, $20-$85. Marvin Hamlisch conducts this National Symphony Orchestra Pops tradition, which is probably more current than one of his Barbara Streisand-based soundtracks.

The Still, Still Warmth of a Soft Snowball, 7-8 p.m. Dec. 12, 3-4 p.m. Dec. 14, Central Presbyterian Church, 7308 York Road, (410) 337-8811, www.centralpc.org, free. Chancel Choir performs traditional Christmas hymns, but snowballs hurt. That's all we're saying.

A Taste of Tuba Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 12, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, www.creativealliance.org, $16, members $13, or non-perishable food donation. The Peabody Ragtime Ensemble performs holiday jazz favorites, from ragtime to big band, shaking up the sound of traditional carols.

Cantate Domino: Songs to Celebrate the Season, 3 p.m. Dec. 13-14, Jim Rouse Theater for the Performing Arts, Trumpeter Road, Columbia, (410) 203-0664, ext. 5, www.peabody.jhu.edu/events, $5 advance. Peabody Institute's Children's Chorus presents a concert under the direction of Doreen Falby to remind you to enroll your talented children in extracurricular activities before it's too late.

Baltimore Consort Christmas Concert, 8 p.m. Dec. 13, Baltimore Basilica, 409 Cathedral St., (410) 385-2638, www.baltcons.com, $20, seniors $15, students $10. The Billboard Top-10 multicultural outfit performs traditional, Appalachian, and Nova Scotian balladry in honor of the holiday season; presented by An die Musik.

A Bedazzling Winter Celebration, 2 p.m. Dec. 14, the Walters Museum, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9000, www.thewalters.org, free. The Walters presents caroling ensemble Joyous Voices in conjunction with its current exhibition, Bedazzled: 5,000 years of Jewelry. We suggest you leave the denim jacket you decorated with your Bedazzler at home.

Music at the Mansion: Christmas Cheer, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 14, the Engineers Club at the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion, 11 W. Mount Vernon Place, (410) 625-3525, www.cabalto.org, $25, seniors $22, add brunch for $27. Concert Artists of Baltimore's Chamber Music Series includes this holiday treat in a beautiful Mount Vernon historic mansion and features a pre-show brunch or high tea for those who like to spend a little more time and money.

Love Songs for the Holidays: Carla Dirlikov and Michael Gallant, 3 p.m. Dec. 14, Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn, (410) 636-6597, www.chesapeakearts.org, $22. Love songs meet cute for the holiday season.

A Christmas Noel, 3-5 p.m. Dec. 14, Christ Episcopal Church, (410) 799-9321, www.procantare.com, $13-$17. This annual concert from the Columbia Pro Cantare Chamber Singers presents old and new carols a capella.

Morgan State University Choir Annual Christmas Concert, 4-7 p.m. Dec. 14, Car J. Murphy Fine Arts Center and James E. Lewis Museum of Art at Morgan State University, 2201 Argonne Drive, (443) 885-4440, www.murphyfineartscenter.org, $10-$25. This annual crowd-pleasing and critically acclaimed concert presents traditional, spiritual, and gospel-style Christmas music under the direction of Dr. Eric Conway.

Music in the Valley presents: The Canticle Singers, 5-7 p.m. Dec. 14, St. Johns Church, 3738 Butler Road, (410) 771-4117, www.stjohnsglyndon.org, $10-$20. Baltimore's much-loved women's chamber choir presents a Christmas program to be followed by an audience-wide carol sing-along and reception with the Canticle Singers.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, 4-6 p.m. Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 20, Maryland State Boychoir Center for the Arts, 3400 Norman Ave., (410) 668-2003, $12-$22. The candlelight performance opens with processional "Once in Royal David's City" and follows with traditional carols including the world premiere of Canadian composer Eleanor Daley's "Christmastide."

David Benoit's Charlie Brown Christmas, 6 and 9 p.m. Dec. 18, Ram's Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, www.ramsheadtavern.com, $35. Watching a Charlie Brown special before every major holiday (and sometimes President's Day) is a tradition, and the music from it is as much a part of pop culture as the hijinks. Benjoit takes us through Snoopy's world over the icy ponds and to Charlie's Christmas tree.

A Cabaret Holiday, 7:30-8 p.m. Dec. 18, Germano's Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, www.germanostrattoria.com, $10. Carolyn Black-Sotir returns to the stage with an explosive cabaret dedicated to the season, performing holiday favorites and promising an experience and full of surprises.

Westminster Ringers' Hand bell Concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, Scott Center for the Performing Arts at Carroll Community College, 1601 Washington Road, Westminster, www.thewestminsterringers.org, $12, seniors and children $10, $10 advance, $8 children and seniors advance. This audition-only group presents traditional Christmas classics.

Sing-Along Messiah, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, (410) 523-7070, www.baltimorechoralarts.org, $25, students $12.50. Because Handel's Messiah requires audience participation, Goucher has stepped up to make sure things are done right, pulling in its chorus, orchestra, and the audience for an auditorium-wide sing-along.

Helicon Winter Solstice Concert, 3:30 and 8 p.m. Dec. 20, Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, (410) 243-7254, $28, $25 advance. The internationally renowned folksters perform for the whole family, presenting winter-inspired music from the corners of the world

A Festival of Lessons and Carols for Christmas, 5-7 p.m. Dec. 21, Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., (410) 464-4020, www.cathedralofmary.org, free. Traditional carols and Christmas anthems are sung in an English tradition by the cathedral's choir.

The Washington Chorus: Music for Christmas, 5 p.m. Dec. 21, Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, (301) 581-5200, www.strathmore.org, $15-$60. Grammy Award-winning Washington Chorus implores audience participation in this candlelit holiday smash. The chorus is joined by Coral Cantigas, Washington's Latin-American chorus, and Annandale High School's Chamber Singers.

Ledisi: It's Christmas, 7 p.m. Dec. 22, Ram's Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, www.ramsheadtavern.com, $49.50. The woman behind "Alright," from Meet the Browns, and a twice Grammy-nominated soul songstress performs Christmas songs.

Washington Symphonic Brass Holiday Celebration, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22, Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, (301) 581-5200, www.strathmore.org, $29-$40. Critically adored Washington Symphonic Brass rings in the season with "Greensleeves," a Christmas countdown, and a Hanukkah medley. Sections were selling out as we went to press, so act fast!

Merry Kixmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 26, Ram's Head Live, 20 Market Place, (410) 244-1131, www.ramsheadlive.com, $32, $28 advance. Heavy hair-metal locals Kix want to wish you a Merry Christmas. It's going to be as extreme as the year Kiss saved Santa.

A Chanukah Feast in Concert, 8 p.m. Dec. 27, Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, (301) 581-5200, www.strathmore.org, $21. The arts finally recognize that holidays outside Christmas exist, drawing the biggest Jewish talent from the Sinai Mountain Boys to the Alexandria Klezet, Robyn Helzner Trio, and Grown Men for a joyous Hanukkah celebration.

Open Houses and Tours

Hershey Park Christmas Candylane, 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 5-10 p.m. Fridays, noon-10 p.m. Saturdays, noon-9 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 31, Hershey Park, 100 W. Hershey Park Drive, Hershey, PA, (800) 242-4236, $9.95, children 2 and under free. Chocolate and candy canes and rides, oh my.

Mingle at the Mill, 5:30-7 p.m. Nov. 20, Clipper Mill, 2010 Clipper Park Road, (443) 573-4460, free. Artists open their studios to let you ogle their trades in painting, metal working, and sculpting, in addition to selling their wares inside the crafty business surrounding the lovely bonfire in the courtyard.

Winterfest of Lights, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 5:30-10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Nov. 20-Jan. 1, Inlet lot and Northside Park, 127th St., Ocean City, (410) 250-0125, www.ococean.com, $4, children under 11 free. Bundle up tight and hop on a trolley for a spin around an 800,000-bulb animated light display covering OC's nautical culture (marlins, a shark attack, and ocean waves) and the symbols of the holiday season, such as polar bears.

Lights on the Bay, nightfall Nov. 21-Jan. 4, Sandy Point State Park, 1499 Log Inn Road, Annapolis, www.aahs.org, $14 per car. Anne Arundel Medical Center presents this drive-thru festival of lights featuring a North Pole penguin village and undersea adventure among 70 displays and three tunnels in two miles. Children can go on a treasure hunt in the snow on the beach searching for holiday loot.

Yuletide at Winterthur, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 22-Jan. 4, Winterthur, Del, (410) 228-7953, www.winterthur.org, $22, seniors and students $20, children $12, members $5. Tour H. F. du Pont's mansion as it was meant to be decorated during the holidays, with the greens in 15 exquisite rooms and the yule log in the fire,; special exhibit Feeding Desire offers an in-depth view at the du Pont family's . . . utensils. Worth the drive!

The Garden of Lights, 5-9 p.m. Nov. 22-Jan. 4, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1400, weekdays $15, weekends $20, $15 advance. Drive through a topiary wonderland of 700,000 spectacular lights, where evergreens are turned into everyblues, everyellows, and everreds. Every tree, shrub, and plant is covered in lights; the indoor conservatory includes a train garden and wreath sale.

ZooLights, 6-8:30 p.m. Fridays-Sundays Nov. 28-Dec. 14, Sundays-Saturdays Dec. 18-30, closed Dec. 24-25, the National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC, (202) 633-4800, www.nationalzoo.si.edu, $12, members $6, $200 groups of 25, children under 2 free. It's weird how bundling up in layers and walking around in the dark invigorates our need for cocoa and Eskimo kisses. The zoo fills its grounds with more light displays than ever before and opens its animal houses in hopes you won't get it on too hard.

Wassail at the Walters, 5-8:30 p.m. Dec. 4, the Walters, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9000, www.thewalters.org, free. Warm cider--wassail--meets art activities and special after-hours tours before the monument's lighting.

Victorian Christmas Celebration, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 6, Julia A. Purnell Museum, 208 W. Market St., Snow Hill, (410) 632-0515, www.purnellmuseum.com, $2, children $0.50. We don't know what it is about the winter season, but it brings out our desire for long lace gloves, tea in the afternoon, and refined conversation. We usually end up less sophisticated, though, and seat our furniture with creepy Victorian dolls instead. Get the satisfying trip in time at the authentic place, and not our living room.

Holly Tour, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 7, Mount Vernon Cultural District, 1221 N. Calvert St., (410) 539-440, www.hollytour.com, $25. Thirteen Baltimore properties, including Monumental Life Insurance, Empire-style residences, windows of every style, and historic buildings, form the backbone of this historic tour focused on examining holiday decorations and architecture in one of the few sanctioned activities aimed at staring at other people's homes.

Historic Sykesville Holiday House Tour, 12:30-6 p.m. Dec. 7, Sykesville Gatehouse Museum, 7283 Cooper Drive, Sykesville (410) 549-5150, www.carr.org, $20. Tour Sykesville's most historic and decorated homes. When you're done, maybe MarthaStewart.com can explain how those halls are decked and how to keep them flame retardant.

The Christmas Story in Art, 1-2 p.m. Sundays Dec. 7-14, the Walters Museum, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9000, www.thewalters.org, free. Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year for one hour on your day off at the Walters, which houses the nation's most impressive collection of Renaissance era art.

Homewood by Candlelight, 5-7 p.m. Dec. 8, Homewood Museum at Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, www.museums.jhu.edu, $6, members free. View Homewood as it may have looked in the early 19th century, with garlands and boxwoods and music from the era, plus eggnog and cookies in the wine cellar. What, no wine?

An Ever Green Evening, Evergreen Museum and Library and Johns Hopkins University, 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 4545 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, www.museums.jhu.edu, $6, members free. JHU presents an evening centered on its collection of thematic Christmas trees decorated by Baltimore's best designers. All trees come with an empty floor for you to fill with unwrapped gifts for area charities.

Holiday Tour, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays, noon-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays Dec.12-14, Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster, (410) 386-3880, www.carr.org, $2.50, children under 6 free. Tour the Carroll County Farm Museum while its halls are decked as they were during its heyday and check out the farmhouse, also decked out and open for tours.

Holiday Open House, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 13, Deep Creek Lake, 898 State Park Road, Swanton, (301) 387-7314, www.dnr.state.md.us/publicland.., free. See Santa by the lake and remind him of that time he didn't give you a pony like he promised and ask for an upgrade to camping gear for many happy state park returns.

Mistle-aneous

Festival of Trees, noon-9 p.m. now through Dec. 13, Town Mall of Westminster, 400 N. Center St., Westminster, (410) 857-5944, www.carr.org, free. Gander at 30 artificially decorated trees. This year's theme is Around the World, with trees representing China, Germany, Italy, Holland, and Mexico.

Holiday Management, 7-9 p.m. Nov. 19, Govans Boundary Methodist Church, 5210 York Road, (410) 435-2600, free. The holidays can be incredibly stressful and difficult. This workshop from NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore provides a discussion on coping with mental illness during the season, plus coping strategies.

Candlelight Evening, 7-10 p.m. Nov. 21, B&O Railroad Museum and Historic Ellicott City, 2711 Maryland Ave., (410) 461-1945, www.ecborail.org See Ellicott City and the B&O's train collection by candelight in this historic tour of town. The museum offers special deals plus era-matching ginger cookies and warm lemonade.

Turkey Trot, 9:30 a.m. Nov. 22, Eagle's Landing Golf Course, 12367 Eagles Nest Road, Ocean City, (410) 213-7277, www.eagleslandinggolf.com, $45. It's nearly impossible to find an available attraction in OC after Halloween, but Eagles Landing is open until almost Thanksgiving and their not-quite-yet closing includes a family tournament and a pre-Turkey Day feast where the "run" is more about the swing of the iron than of the motion of your legs.

The Great Westminster Train Show, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 23, Agriculture Center, 700 Agriculture Center Drive, Westminster, (410) 848-4929, www.carr.org, free. The agriculture center is stuffed to the gills with train displays and includes trains for sale, which we suspect will pump your desire for the most outlandish and over-the-top under-the-tree display yet, or remind you of that Sopranos episode and make you take cover.

Winter Tree ID, 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Nov. 23, Patapsco Valley State Park, 8020 Baltimore National Pike, (410) 461-5005, www.dnr.md.us/publiclands/cent.., $2. It takes more than counting rings to learn about a tree; ID trees in winter with the same ease as a collegetown bouncer scans IDs on a Friday night.

Fall Champagne Tasting, 2-5 p.m. Nov. 23, Elk Run Vineyards, 15113 Liberty Road, Mount Airy, (410) 775-2513, www.elkrun.com, free. Taste Elk Run's sparkling wines, designed for oysters, foie gras, and escargot, in the 18th century home originally owned by winemaker Fred Wilson.

St. Nick's Pet Pics, 6-9 p.m. Mondays Nov. 24-Dec. 15, Harborplace Amphitheater, 200 E. Pratt St., (410) 332-4191, www.harborplace.com, donation requested. Dress your own Santa's Little Helper like Rudolph, a four-legged turkey, or Santa through the array of costumes for a special photo shoot with the big guy.

Victorian Christmas, 6 p.m. Nov. 28-Dec. 31, Berlin, (410) 641-4775, www.berlinmdcc.org Berlin transforms its windowfronts into storybook displays (remember Woody's?!) and offers horse and carriage rides, tours, a Victorian-era fashion show, and tea parties.

Santa's Arrival, 7 p.m. Nov. 28, Everedy Square and Shab Row, East and Church streets, Frederick, (301) 662-4140, www.fredericktourism.org, free. After weeks of stopping traffic in downtown Frederick to hang the lights in anticipation of the Big Red Guy's arrival, Frederick is ready to host Santa during a weekend of festive sensory overload.

Victorian Christmas, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 29-30, Brunswick Railroad Museum, 40 W. Potomac St., Brunswick, (301) 834-7100, www.brrm.org, free. A 1900 Brunswick railroader Christmas for the family is performed by living history interpreters. When it's over, bask in the warm glow of technology around a model display.

Cozy's Tree Lighting Extravaganza, 7 p.m. Nov. 29, Cozy Restaurant, 105 Frederick Road, Thurmont, (301) 271-4301, www.cozyvillage.com, free. Stand by with Santa as the Cozy staff hit the switch to set thousands of little bulbs alight.

Holiday Hors d'oeurves Workshop, 6-10 p.m. Dec.1-3, Baltimore International College Culinary Arts Center, 17 Commerce St., (410) 752-4710, www.bic.edu, $130. We're onto you and your all mayo-based dips, and Chef Tony Talucci is here to help. Resuscitate your reputation at the next gathering with elegant eats.

Holiday Cakes and Pastries, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 1, 5, and 15, Baltimore International College Culinary Arts Center, 17 Commerce St., (410) 752-4710, www.bic.edu, $130. Holiday goodies need to be better handmade than from the box, but the precise measurements can be overwhelming. Chef Tony Talucci guides the way through cooking sweet treats for the season.

Festival of Wreaths, Dec. 3-7, Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster, (410) 848-7272, www.carr.org/arts, free. Bid on a unique, handmade wreath from a selection of 220 in the silent auction and if you win, proceeds benefit the Carroll County Arts Council.

Festive First Friday, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 5, Hamilton Gallery, 2927 Hamilton Ave., (443) 653-2120, www.hamiltonarts.org, free. The Herring Run Artists Network shows off its best in screen printing, oil, watercolors, photography, jewelry, pottery, and more, all in the spirit of selling it to you.

Holiday Spirits Pub and Restaurant Crawl, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 5, Hamilton-Lauraville, free. Eighteen of Hamilton's restaurants throw open their doors for a magnificent feast. By the time you reach midway, you'll be holding your gut and crawling on your knees to the next door. If it's too much, the neighborhood hosts round two Saturday at noon.

Christmas Parade, 11 a.m. Dec. 6, Coastal Highway, Ocean City, (410) 524-9000, www.ococean.com, free. Forget the neon bikini huts across the town, they're closed for the season, giving way to the more deserving floats, marching bands, and beach pride.

Decorating with Fresh Wreaths and Greens, 11 a.m. Dec. 6, Valley View Farms, 11035 York Road, (410) 527-0700, www.valleyviewfamrs.com, free. Greens designers guide you through the best way to deck the halls, windows, lamps, railings, and doors with boughs of holly, fa la la la la.

Holiday Pet Portraits and Winter Open House, 1:30-6:30 p.m. Dec. 6, Humane Society of Baltimore County, 1601 Nicodemus Road, Reisterstown, (410) 833-8848, www.baltimorehumane.org, $5-$15. Professional photographer Mary Swift turns Baxter and Ella into the little angels you know they are at this session, which includes an open house for adoptable pets, craft activities, a performance by the Harbor City Chorus, and refreshments. Proceeds will benefit the shelter.

Christmas on Main Street in Sykesville, 5-9 p.m. Dec. 6, downtown Sykesville, (410) 549-9005, www.carr.org, free. Santa trades in the reindeer for a PETA-friendly fire truck at this Main Street celebration of Christmas.

Party in Pigtown, 7-10 p.m. Dec. 6, Historic Gaslight Square, 1401 Severn St., (443) 691-9671, free. Party with a pig in a Santa suit and get a kiss from your honey under the mistletoe at this neighborhood party.

Holiday Craft Workshop, 1-3 p.m. Dec. 7, Soldier's Delight, 5100 Deer Park Road, (410) 461-5005, www.dnr.md.us/publiclands/cent.., $2. When you were a kid, a cra(p)ft from nature was rolling a pinecone in peanut butter and calling it a day. Join others around a fire this year and make significantly more sophisticated gifts--cards, ornaments, bookmarks, and more--with the instruction from park naturalists.

The Figgy Pudding Fun Run, 9 a.m. Dec. 13, Broadway Square, 900 S. Broadway, (410) 675-6297, www.fellspointdevelopment.com, $35, pre-registration $30. The classic 5K takes a new spin, winding runners through historic--and scenic--Fells Point. Luckily, runners don't need to carry a figgy pudding trifle through the neighborhood, and as an added bonus, participants are awarded with a free Guinness at Slainte Irish Pub after the race. That's a race we can get behind.

Jingle Bell Parade, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 13, Monument Street, (443) 691-9671, free. Santa breaks from the mold--firetrucks, sleighs, Cadillacs--and arrives at this parade in style in a Hummer. The old man needs a reliable ride to weather harsh participation. He's joined by the Oriole Bird, a steel drum band, and state Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, who leads a prayer before the event's kickoff.

Pick-a-Card: Holiday Cardmaking Workshop, 1-3 p.m. Dec. 13, Evergreen Museum and Library at Johns Hopkins University, 4545 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, $5. Arts meet crafts in this workshop on making Victorian-era Christmas cards. Drop one in the mail to put your Hallmark-inspired friends to shame.

Helping Others

Operation Christmas Child, Nov. 17-24, (410) 692-0112, www.samaritanpurse.org The world's largest giving project needs shoeboxes for needy children. Which toys, school supplies, candy, warm wishes, and holiday cheer make up the contents are up to you. Hundreds of collection sites dot the state.

Giving Back Campaign Holiday Drive, Nov. 17-Dec. 19, PMJ Foundation, (410) 258-7555, www.pmjfoundation.org This grass roots effort focuses on bringing financial help, along with clothing, toys, and educational and household items, to local families through your donations. Drop off locations include all Eastern Savings Banks, Curves for Women on Belair Road, and Tuxedo Zone in Highlandtown. Visit the web site for more locations, as well as an address to send monetary donations.

Poinsettia Sale, order 12:30-6 p.m. through Dec. 3, Baltimore Animal Rescue Care Shelter, 301 Stockholm St., (410) 396-4695, www.baltimoreanimalselter.org, $15. Show the family how thoughtful you are with more than a card; send a 17" tall plant to show your good will. Proceeds from your purchase of the winter rose will benefit BARC's spay and neuter program, and if you order up to 10, you industrious impresario you, BARCS will deliver the order to your door.

Stuff-a-Bus, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 22, White Marsh and Ellicott City Giants, (410) 737-8282, www.mdfoodbank.org MTA, Giant Food, and Mix 106.5 team up for year 19 with drop-off locations across the state to bring food to hungry families.

Festival of Trees, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 28-29, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 30, Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road, (410) 923-7300, www.festivaloftrees.kennedykri.., $10, children and seniors $5, children 4 and under free. More than 500 trees transform the Fairgrounds into a winter wonderland where kids ride reindeer ponies, party with Milkshake, go wild in Santaland theme park, and listen to Matt Stover and BJ Surhoff read Christmas stories. There's fun stuff for you, too, with 100 craft boutiques, a remote control racetrack, and a silent auction.

Grief Workshop, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, Gilchrist Hospice Care, 555 W. Towsontown Blvd., (443) 849-8251, free, registration required. Helpful information and planning suggestions are the focus of this workshop dedicated to lending support for coping with the holidays.

Holiday Bazaar and Greens Square, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 5, Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St., (410) 532-2235, free, proceeds benefit Grace UMC. Gifts from local artists, overnight packages, restaurant gift certificates, and tickets to sporting events are available in this sale and pick-a-prize auction.

Christmas Village Bazaar, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 6, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 1108 Providence Road, (410) 560-0410, free, proceeds benefit the community. Take care of your shopping, benefit the community, and grab a hot lunch in one place at this event which features homemade goods, crafts, plants and flowers, games, and even pics with St. Nick.

An Annapolis Christmas, 7 p.m. Dec. 15-16, Ram's Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, www.am-fm.org, $30. Support the non-profit dedicated to relieving local musicians who are unable to perform via this emergency relief fund, with the assistance of the greatest holiday cheer: giving.

Elf Nights, 6-9 a.m. Dec. 17-18, Salvation Army Warehouse, 3800 Buena Vista Ave., (410) 366-6030, www.volunteercentral.net, free. Business Volunteers Unlimited Maryland's Volunteer Central's giving you a last minute opportunity to get on Santa's Good List by donated your time selecting and sorting tons of toys and clothing to be given to children through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program.

WBAL Morning Show, 5:30-9 a.m. Dec. 23-24, Valley View Farms, 11035 York Road, (410) 527-0700, www.valleyviewfamrs.com, free. WBAL-FM's Dave Durian brings his morning show to Cockeysville to raise money for the WBAL Radio Kids Campaign with the assistant of local personalities and choirs.

New Year's Eve!

Midnight Noon, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 31, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-5225, www.marylandsciencecenter.org, $14.50, seniors $13.50, children $10. Give the kids their own "midnight" celebration before bed with arts and crafts, a ball drop at noon, and performance from local kiddie band Milkshake.

Noontime New Year, noon Dec. 31, Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, www.portdiscovery.com, $11.75. Children can toast in the New Year with milk and cookies while learning how New Year's Eve is celebrated around the globe before they get shuffled off to babysitting grandparents so their moms and/or dads can ring in the New Year like before they had kids.

Hooray for Hollywood, 8 p.m. Dec. 31, Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., (301) 600-2828, www.weinbergcenter.org, $150, $125 advance, $500 VIP limousine and hotel package. Get glammed up and send out 2008 in style with a 10-piece band, indulgent food, an open bar, a nostalgic countdown, a swanky party bag, and a casino room.

New Year's Eve with the Mahoney Brothers, 8 p.m. Dec. 31, Recher Theatre, 512 York Road, (410) 337-7210, www.rechertheatre.com, $25. Ring in the New Year with the closest thing you can get to the Beatles. The modernly fab dudes promise costume changes as they progress through the sets, and admission includes dinner and a champagne toast.

A New Year's Eve At the Kennedy Center, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 31, Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC, (202) 467-4600, www.kennedy-center.org, $50-$90. You have some friends you can stay with? No? A nice little hotel room might make a sweet holiday gift for your honey if you're heading to the nation's capital on the craziest night of the year, even if you do spend it at the freaking Kennedy Center.

Ports America New Year's Eve Spectacular, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Dec. 31, Inner Harbor, (877) 225-846-673, www.bop.org Who cares about dirty ol' Times Square? We don't! Hang with the hons and fellas in your hometown's waterfront instead, where the crowds are just as rowdy, the ball is just as shiny, and firecrackers light up the last of the 2008 night sky.

Related stories

Holiday Guide Feature archives

More Stories

The Holiday Guide (11/18/2009)
Our guide to getting through--and enjoying--the holiday season

Shopping (11/18/2009)

Kid Stuff (11/18/2009)

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