Diablo Glass and Metal lets you craft your own special holiday gift: a blow-your-own glass ornament. In its Dec. 10-11 workshops, instructors lead beginners through the basics of glass-blowing and ornament-making. Picture yourself decked out in goggles and special gloves, sweat from the ovens pearling on your brow, carefully twirling a vividly colored blob of molten glass until it magically congeals into a strikingly unique object. You may need to make more than one so you can keep one for yourself. If youd prefer to skip the huffing and puffing, Diablo will offers artisan-made wares at its annual holiday sale Dec. 3-4, featuring works by resident and visiting artists in glass, jewelry, ceramics, photography, and hand-painted giftware. The event also includes a student show and live glassblowing demonstrations.
Diablo Glass and Metal holiday sale Dec. 3-4, 11 a.m.-!5 p.m. Ornament-making workshop, Dec. 10 and 11, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $195. 123 Terrace St., Boston. 617-442-7444. www.diabloglassandmetal.com
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts December Sale, now in its 25th year, is the granddaddy of New England holiday art sales, with more than 4,000 original works by roughly 700 SMFA faculty, alumni, and students. The show includes everything from jewelry to sculpture, and is especially rich in paintings of all sizes, styles, and prices. You can find affordable, high-quality work by up-and-comers, or you can snag a high-end piece by one of the schools well-known alums, many* 'of whom donate all of the proceeds from their works to the schools scholarship programs.
SMFA December Sale Dec. 1, noon-8 p.m. Dec. 2-5, noon-6 p.m. 230 The Fenway, Boston. 617-369-3718. www.smfa.edu
Massachusetts College of Art (Mass Art) Holiday Sale has been around since 1983 and nicely complements the SMFAs December Sale. This smaller show is more craft-oriented, offering pottery, jewelry, textiles, glass, and fiber arts. While most of the 150 contributors are students, the quality in past years has been excellent. Its a great place for more modest gift ideas, such as ceramic mugs or hand-woven chenille scarves.
Mass Art Holiday Sale Dec. 5-10, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tower Auditorium, 621 Huntington Ave., Boston. 617-879-7710. www.massart.edu
For 25 years, the best local choreographic antidote to too many Nutcrackershas been Boston Liturgical Dance Ensembles A Dancers Christmas. This festive and sweetly moving work celebrates the human and spiritual dimension of the Christmas story, from the mystery and magic of Gods love to a lively medieval Christmas celebration to a modern-day finale that sets a suite of dances to popular carols. This year, the 18-member company is joined by guest artist Andy Lebeau, formerly with the Paul Taylor Dance Company; 30 adults and 20 children will also perform.
A Dancers Christmas Dec. 9-18 (Fri-Sat at 7 p.m., Sun at 8 p.m.) Boston College, Robsham Theatre, 28 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill. 617-552-4002. $25, $15 seniors/children. www.blde.org
Not the Nutcracker gets its central idea right into the title. The dance revue mixes jazz, hip-hop, and modern styles in a satirical look at the season and features pieces by Boston-based choreographers Bill McLaughlin, Jim Viera, Michelle Chasse, Sybil Huggins, Tommy Coye, Lillian Carter, and Jeannette Neill. The concert also showcases a piece by New York dancer/choreographer Stephen Reed.
Not the Nutcracker Dec. 2-3, 8 p.m. Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-353-8725. $20, $15 seniors and children under 12.
12 Dancers Dancing: A Christmas in Cambridge is a lively show that brings together nine local companies. Featured performers include Rainbow Tribe, Kelley Donovan and Dancers, Disco Brats, Synergy, Amara, Brookline Academy Dance Company, Caroline and Company, Kathy Hassinger Dance Company, and Dance Edge. Rose Carlson, artistic director of Devanaughn Theatre, makes a special guest appearance.
12 Dancers Dancing Dec. 17 at 8 p.m., Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. Dance Complex, 536 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-547-9363. $16.
Instead of trying to get around The Nutcracker, BalletRox director Tony Williams, a former principal dancer with Boston Ballet, transformed the ballet into a multicultural celebration reflective of the world we live in. Well, yes, there are some waltzing flowers and some dancing mice, but Williams sets the story in an urban apartment in Boston, where ballet rubs noses with hip-hop, jazz, tap, and swing dance. Tchaikovskys familiar score is interspersed with the soulful strains of Duke Ellington. A core group of professional dancers, including former Boston Ballet favorite Adriana Suarez, are joined by more than 50 children of all shapes, colors, and sizes. This is a Nutcracker with attitude.
Dec. 10, 11, 17 & 18 at 2 p.m., Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Dorchester 866-468-7619. www.ticketweb.co*m $15-$35.
Nobody does yule better than the Swedes think of the sumptuous holiday scenes in Fanny & Alexander. For 20 years, the Swedish Yuletide, a traditional Christmas fair in Boston features arts and crafts, music and dancing, and childrens activities such as making traditional decorations and plucking treats from the fishing pond. Sip hot, spicy glogg and munch on a variety of traditional foods: meatballs, shrimp sandwiches, and waffles. A highlight of the festival are the St. Lucia processions (at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.), with the Queen of the Light leading her entourage of white-clad candle-bearers as they sing traditional songs to bring hope of sunnier days to come.
Swedish Yuletide Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-!4 p.m. Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston. !877-793-2267. $5 adults, $1 kids. www.sweaboston.org
Its The Messiah season, but musical offerings with an international flavor give this years holidays a little different spin. One of the worlds great classical guitarists Christopher Parkening teams up with acclaimed baritone Jubilant Syke for a program featuring traditional carols as well as heartfelt spirituals and lively folk songs from around the world. The classically trained Sykes is known for his rich, expressive voice and the interpretive depth he brings to pop, jazz, and classical styles. The eloquent Parkening, considered by many to be the musical heir of the legendary Andres Segovia, will contribute several solo numbers as well.
Christopher Parkening & Jubilant Sykes Dec. 2, 8 p.m. Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St., Boston. 617-482-6661. $41-$61. www.celebrityseries.org
Musica Sacra turns its attention to warmer climes with Feliz Navidad, four centuries of music from Spain, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and other Spanish-speaking lands. This celebration features carols heard throughout the Spanish-speaking world, penned by composers ranging from Victoria to Villa Lobos.
Feliz Navidad Dec. 17, 8 p.m. First Congregational Church, 11 Garden St., Cambridge. 617-349-3400. $15-$40. www.musicasacra.org
The Boston Cameratas best-known holiday program is x Puer Natus Est: A Medieval Christmas.x This special chamber version featuring five singers and instrumentalists explores traditions of France, Italy, Provence, Germany, and England and looks at song and poetry ranging from the Christian Nativity to pagan solstice celebrations.
A Medieval Christmas Dec. 10, 8 p.m. First Parish Church, 20 High Road, Newbury. 866-427-2092. $18-$28. www.bostoncamerata.org*
Theatre and Comedy
ImprovBostons 5th Annual Holiday Spectacular taps into those aspects of the season that make us feel like wed rather eat a whole fruitcake than watch those sugarplum fairies cavort one more time. The evening includes music, video, comedy sketches, and improvisation that promise a good belly laugh for even the Scroogiest among us. The Holiday Spectacular, directed by Don Schuerman, is bound to be an irreverent skewering of all the season holds most dear. Some m*aterial may not be suitable for all ages.
ImprovBostons Holiday Spectacular Dec. 15-17, 23, and '30 at 8 p.m., also Dec. 16-17 at 10 p.m. 1253 Cambridge St., Cambridge. 617-576-1253. $15. www.improvboston.com
A Bucket Full O Christmas Cheer, offers another offbeat take on the season, as an aspiring playwright tries to assemble a Christmas show in Boston, only to become hopelessly tangled in her own plotlines. The new comedy is written and produced by Elizabeth Deveney.
A Bucket Full O Christmas Cheer Dec. 22-23, 8 p.m. Devanaughn Theatre, 791 Tremont St., Boston. 866-811-4111. $18. www.theatermania.com