The Chinese food and movie combo on Christmas might sound like a cliché, but that was my reality when I was growing up. Back then, nothing was open on Christmas…except for the theaters and Chinese food restaurants. So, if you were Jewish and didn’t celebrate the holiday, that’s what you did.
Now that Christmas is part of my holiday repertoire thanks to my husband, I’m a little busier come Christmas Day. (What am I saying? Christmas brings a whole new meaning to busy for weeks leading up to it, especially with kids in the mix.) But even with my adopted holiday traditions to enjoy every December 25, I still like to get out for some activity, because that’s what the child in me knows.
These days, the world doesn’t shut down for the holiday. Along with movie theaters and Chinese food restaurants, plenty of other venues keep some hours on Christmas Day. In the vein of DC-area family fun, the Botanic Garden, Mount Vernon, parks hosting light displays, and the ice rink in Silver Spring (for a Chanukah event) will be welcoming visitors, though it’s the one day of the year that the Smithsonian is closed. And just about everything is open on Christmas Eve.
So, if your family is in town this weekend and looking for fun to complement your celebration or seeking activities instead of one, you’ve got some options. Including plenty of children’s movies in the theaters to precede or follow a good Chinese food meal. Merry Weekend! And a very happy holiday to all!
Santa Claus is Coming to Town… On Water Skis – On Saturday at National Harbor, you can catch Santa water skiing along the Potomac. And along for the ride will be knee boarding reindeer, the flying elves, the jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy! Now, that’s sure to be a spectacle that will get kids buzzing. While you’re at the Harbor, be sure to check out the rest of the Christmas on the Potomac holiday extravaganza.
Closing Up Shop for the Season – Saturday is your last chance to get a glimpse of Santa’s operations at his workshop on the Ellipse. The cute, little cottage where guests can pass through and view the charming facilities, then get a photo with St. Nick himself will be open for the last time this season on Christmas Eve from 11am – 3pm. It’s also open today and tonight, 12:30 – 4:30pm and 5:30-9:30pm. All of the other exhibits on the Ellipse – the National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, and other holiday display – will be there to visit through the holidays.
Let There Be Light Shows – After a big holiday meal, take a drive through one of the many light displays in the area. You can find details for all of them in this post about holiday events, but there are a few things to note this weekend: ZooLights is closed all weekend, Watkins’ Festival of Lights is open and FREE on Christmas evening, Symphony of Lights is open, Brookside Garden of Lights is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas evenings, and the Winter Lights Festival at Seneca Creek is closed on Christmas.
Chanukah Wonderland – Head to the Civic Center in Downtown Silver Spring for a day full of activities that celebrate the eight crazy nights. There will be Chanukah jewelry, cookie decorating, a coloring station, dreidel making, and more from 10am – 5pm. You can also enjoy Chanukah on Ice with skating, Jewish music, latkes from 3:30-5pm. Admission is $10.
Go Nuts – The Warner Theatre curtains close on The Nutcracker after Saturday. You can catch the final performances today at 2pm and 7pm or tomorrow at 11am and 3pm. Tickets range from $40-110, but you can check Goldstar for discount. Read the KFDC review of the Washington Ballet’s version of the holiday classic.
Season’s Greenings –Despite its location next to all of the museums, the U.S. Botanic Garden is not part of the Smithsonian (the Architect of the Capitol serves as the Acting Director). Hence, it’s not closed along with the rest of the galleries on the National Mall, and will welcome visitors all weekend. See the lovely, whimsical train display and replicas of DC landmarks constructed entirely of natural materials that make up the holiday exhibit, along with the permanent collections. Open 9am – 5pm, admission is free.
Portrait Story Days and Discovery Kits – On Saturday from 2-5pm, guests of all ages can drop at the National Portrait Gallery to hear a tale about Gertrude Stein and do an art project. For a fun DIY adventure at the Gallery, Portrait Discovery Kits are also available on Saturday from 1-4pm. They include “Seek and Find” cards, “Portrait Detective” and “Historian Guides,” and a “Compare and Contrast” activity using a doll. Visitors can check out kits at the education center, room E151, on the first floor.
Christmas at Mount Vernon – Celebrate the holiday at George Washington’s homestead, which will be open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The special holiday exhibit includes 12 Christmas trees, a gingerbread Mount Vernon, historical chocolate-making demonstrations (and tastings!), and more. Guests will also have the chance to tour the rarely opened third floor of the mansion to learn how the first First Family celebrated Christmas. And outside, Alladin the camel will be on view to recall the camel ol’ George himself bought for 18 shillings in 1787 for his guests’ enjoyment at Christmas. Admission is $15/adults, $7/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under.
The Great Outdoors – Dreams for a white Christmas may be dashed, but I, for one, won’t be complaining about the weather this weekend. Lots of sunshine and relatively warm temps will give you some more options for things to do. And this post about the DC area’s best places to spend a nice day outdoors with the kiddos has loads of ideas.
A Flick and Fried Rice – Whether you partake in the ol’ Chinese food and a movie on Christmas Day tradition or just seek an easy outing with the kids, here are several kids films playing this weekend (and note that the links are for 12/25, so be sure to change it if you plan to go on Saturday).
Adventures of Tin Tin
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked