Here are a few sprinklings of awesome things to do when you're not spending quality time with your family this Christmas week.
Tuesday, December 23
Video Game Night Limber Up Your Thumbs, Gramps Do modern video games confuse you? Do you long for a time when controllers had fewer buttons than the control panel of an Apollo spacecraft? Renfield's Corner (2603 Routh St.) will take you back to the magical days of video-games-gone-by -- the early '90s. At 9 p.m. every Tuesday, the Irish pub dusts off its collection of video-game consoles for Video Game Night, when customers can compete at new and classic arcade-style games such as Mario Kart 64 for the Nintendo 64, Dr. Mario for the original NES and the recent reboot of Mortal Kombat. If you fancy yourself something of a video-game wizard, you can even compete in a bracket-style tournament for the chance to win special prizes. Admission is free. - Danny Gallagher
Open Classical at Buzzbrews Today is the third annual ugly sweater night of the classical open mic series that happens weekly at the Buzzbrews on Lemmon Ave. Bring your own instrument and wear your ugly Christmas sweater. Lasts from 8-11:30 p.m.
Jazzy Christmas with John Holiday You know what you're missing? The smooooooth sounds of jazz. For the last month, you've been surrounded by jarring renditions of "Santa Baby" and resurrected Wham! Songs. Now your poor nerves are inflamed and the opening notes of "All I Want For Christmas Is You" have started to feel like an ice pick to the head. You may be powerless to stop the onslaught, but you can certainly take a respite and instead enjoy the honeyed, soothing sounds at The Holiday Experience: A Jazzy Christmas Celebration with John Holiday. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the aptly named Mr. Holiday will lend his countertenor pipes to holiday classics, plus gospel, jazz, R&B and classical numbers at The Kessler Theater (1230 W. Davis St.). He'll be joined by friends, including jazz vocalist Tatiana Mayfield, S-Ankh Rasa, Shelley Carrol, Neeki Bey, Kristin Yost and David Marquis. Tickets are $22.50-250 at prekindle.com. -Jennifer Davis-Lamm
Wednesday, December 24 Panther Island Ice Growing up in Texas, my visions of what Christmas should look like were always thwarted. In the movies and the songs there was all this talk of snow, but we were lucky if there was a nip in the air. Perhaps that's why the idea of an outdoor ice rink is so appealing to me. Of course, since the Anatole moved its rink indoors this year, you'll have to drive to Fort Worth's Panther Island Ice to hear the swish of a metal blade against the slightly melting ice. Sure, you may not need to bundle up, but at least you can leave with sore ankles and rosy cheeks. Panther Island Ice (223 NE 4th Street, Fort Worth) is open daily from 3-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 3-11 p.m. Fridays, and 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Regular admission is $11. More information at pantherislandice.com.
Merry Tuba Christmas You've survived the crowded shopping. You've suffered through Jim Carrey's desecration of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. You've sat through tassled titties celebrating the birth of Christ, and ironic Nutcrackers and -- shudder -- traditional Christmas chorale music. You're near the finish line, so take this day to relax. Head down to Thanks-Giving Square (1627 Pacific Ave.) at noon for TubaChristmas, where you'll hear scores of local tuba, sousaphone, euphonium and baritone players regale you with Christmas carols. It's free to listen, $10 if you want to join in and toot your own horn. Jeff Baker conducts. Visit tubachristmas.com or the Dallas/Fort Worth TubaChristmas Facebook page for more info. When it's over, go home, drink something festive and promise yourself you'll be less naughty next year. - Patrick Williams
12 Days of Christmas It's time to start figuring out how you're going to make time for all those memories this holiday season. Decide when you're going to shoehorn in that visit with Santa; schedule your holiday cocktail experiments; find the time to bruise your tailbone at a nearby ice-skating rink. So much to do between now and Christmas Day--so much pressure to do the Yule right. That's what makes the Dallas Arboretum's 12 Days of Christmas a no-brainer: an over-the-top display of 15-foot gazebos, fully decked out with decorations that represent each day of the popular Christmas carol. There will be maids-a-milking, colly birds, French hens and other various and sundry Christmas staples for true loves everywhere, festooned with 30,456 wooden berries and 28,328 rhinestones--all making for a glittery, family-friendly Christmas memory in a lush green package. And the best part is that it's so easy on your calendar--open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Sunday until Sunday, January 4, with evening hours from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and on weekends including November 28 and 29; December 26 and 27; and January 2 through 4. Tickets for daytime admission are $10 to $15; evening admission is $10 to $20. Visit dallasarboretum.org. -Jennifer Davis-Lamm
Thursday, December 25 #DrinktheTree If after a long day with your loved ones, a tequila shot and a $3 PBR chaser sounds appropriate, head over to The Rustic (3656 Howell St.) in Uptown. They're drumming up post-holiday business by offering that ultra-specific combo. Nothing says Christmas like being wasted at a bar in Uptown, right? If that's your thing, ditch your loving mother and join the event called #DrinktheTree. The Rustic classily chose to deck their halls with a Pabst Blue Ribbon tree in lieu of an evergreen, so you'll basically be helping them take down their seasonal decorations if you stop by from 6 p.m. till midnight on Thursday. Afterward, you can return that awful dress Aunt Sandy bought you. Orange is not the new black. More info at therustic.com.
Friday, December 26 I Can't Believe I Got This S*$& for Christmas?! Christmas is a time for giving and receiving, but it's also a time for returning. Everyone has received a gift that made them contemplate buying the giver a home test from the National Institute of Mental Health for their next birthday. The Dallas Comedy House (2645 Commerce Drive) has a novel plan for disposing of those unwanted Christmas gifts. Their I Can't Believe I Got This S*$& for Christmas?!? show will turn those worthless hunks of capitalist byproduct into the inspiration for improvised scenes for one special night. They'll even donate your unwanted items to charity. It's way better than making another dreaded trip to the mall or using the gifts as targets for skeet-shooting practice. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $8-$10 and they're available at dallascomedyhouse.com. -DG
Ralphie May First Comic Standing These days, people who claim they've been on "Last Comic Standing" are a bit like those who brag they've climbed Mt. Everest. Sure, it's impressive -- and there's no way you've got the gumption to do it -- but plenty of others do and have. Chattanooga, Tennessee native Ralphie May, however, can say he was the very first to win the comedy competition. He was destined to become a household name, regardless of that win and the leering spotlight of reality TV on his massive frame. He's got a razor-sharp wit and he fearlessly and gleefully tackles the kind of cutting material you'd expect from a famous road comic. He'll be at the Addison Improv at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25-$50 at stand-upmedia.com. -DG
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Saturday, December 27 Oh La La! Now that the visions of sugarplums are long gone, replace them with aerial silks and acrobatic tricks at Oh La La!, presented by Lone Star Circus at Dallas Children's Theater this week. Don't let the word circus fool you. There won't be any clowns or prancing horses -- just human feats that will reaffirm your child's belief in magic. It's become a holiday tradition for some Dallas families. See it at 7:30 p.m. Saturday or through January 4 at Dallas Children's Theater (5938 Skillman St.). Tickets available starting at $25 at lonestarcircus.com.
Once the Musical Among all the brassy Broadway numbers, loud and glitzy productions, and over-the-top musicals, there's this little gem of a sleeper that eschews the usual bombast and goes straight to the heartstrings. Once is the quietest of Broadway hits, enlisting an ensemble of musicians playing their own instruments on stage to tell the story of a Dublin busker who's on the brink of giving up his musical dreams. But then guy meets girl, and girl encourages guy to keep on keeping on--which he does, beautifully accompanied by her piano compositions. The play keeps much of the original music from the 2006 film of the same name, as well as all of the charm that made the tale of unrequited love and big dreams an unexpected hit. In its current incarnation, Once swept the 2012 Tony Awards, and is currently touring--hitting the Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora Street, for a run starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, December 28. Tickets are $30 to $150 at attpac.org; show times vary. -JDL
Sunday, December 28 Urban Theater: New York Art in the 1980s A great museum exhibition can serve as a time capsule. When The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth opens its newest exhibit, Urban Theater: New York Art in the 1980s, visitors will be sent back to one of the most exciting decades in contemporary art history. Think Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman, Julian Schnabel, and Andy Warhol for starters. Their work and more will be on display in this reexamination of an era that continues to prove influential. See it at The Modern (3200 Darnell St.) through January 4, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesdays - Sundays. General admission is $10. More information at themodern.org
Anna Bella Papp The minimalism of Anna Bella Papp's clay sculptures force the viewer up close. It's as though she's invited onlookers into an intimate moment with the art. For the tiny amount of space they actually inhabit, they imply much larger ideas. The Nasher Sculpture Center gives Papp her first museum exhibition as part of its small-scale Sightings series. See her work alongside the midcareer retrospective of Thomas Heatherwick in the main galleries, and marvel in the different ways sculpture interacts with architecture. Sightings: Anna Bella Papp opens to the public at 11 a.m. Saturday. The exhibition remains on display at the Nasher (2001 Flora St.) through January 18, 2015. Entry to the museum is $10. More information at nashersculpturecenter.org.