So many ways to celebrate

Still need to get into the holiday spirit (or avoid it at all costs)? Check out our holiday activity guide for something to suit everybody — and we mean everybody.

For the Scrooge

If your goal each December is to get as far away as possible from Santa-ish saccharine, your best bet is to grab a ticket to the off-Broadway hit "Stuffed and Unstrung," which takes the Jim Henson Co.'s puppeteers and puppets and gives them a shot of scotch and an open mic.

The West Coast premiere of this uncensored improvisational comedy and variety show from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, features the actual crew and puppets that generations have grown up with — but like the puppet musical "Avenue Q," it's strictly for adults. Hosted by comedian Patrick Bristow, the show features 80 Henson puppets taking audience suggestions for skits and songs, while their six puppeteers are in full view onstage.

One of the puppeteers in "Stuffed and Unstrung" is Academy Award winner Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson. Now the co-chief executive of the Jim Henson Co., along with his sister Lisa, Brian Henson also is working on other projects including a film version of "Fraggle Rock."

Tickets are $38 to $55. Call (949) 854-4646 or visit

For the purist

Pacific Symphony is gearing up for its Holiday Organ Spectacular featuring noted organist Todd Wilson, curator of the E.M. Skinner pipe organ at Severance Hall in Cleveland.

The concert, at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, also will feature soprano Lori Stinton and instruments including a harp, cello, trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba. The evening presents a blend of sacred hymns and holiday favorites, as well as a Christmas carol sing-along.

Tickets are $25 to $79; many sections have very limited seating available. Call (714) 755-5799 or visit

For the socialite

Stop by party organizer Kalida's latest singles affair at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Wyndham Hotel, 3350 Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa. Cover for the holiday dance party is $10; bring an unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots. An included dinner will be from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., followed by a deejayed dance party. Average age is 30 and older.


For the wishful

The debate continues, but some contend there's no better place to take a child for their annual visit with Santa than at Roger's Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Newport Beach.

Santa sits in his sleigh atop the original Disneyland bandstand gazebo from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to hear each child's wish. Roger's Gardens, considered one of the most beautiful home and garden stores in the world, also offers plenty for parents to partake in — whether it's their stunning Christmas décor displays or their extensive collection of Steinbach nutcrackers and ornaments.

Call (949) 640-5800 or visit

For the future ballerina

Also at the Irvine Barclay Theater, the Festival Ballet Theatre Company brings its beloved holiday ballet "The Nutcracker" for an all-ages audience through Christmas Eve. The show includes more than 100 children from throughout the Southland performing with professional dancers — including special guest artists.

Tickets are $35 for children younger than 12, $37 for seniors and $40 for adults. Call (949) 854-4646 or visit

For the traditionalist

Does it get any more familiar than the boat parade? Newport Beach's 102nd annual Christmas Boat Parade (and the light displays on the homes around the bay) has become a holiday institution for generations of locals, rain or shine, whether it's seen from aboard a boat, at a prime restaurant table or on foot while strolling along North Bayfront on Balboa Island.

The parade runs nightly through Sunday, and begins at 6:30 p.m. near Bay Island before concluding there about 9 p.m. A special fireworks display will be launched from the Balboa Pier to close this year's parade about 9 p.m. Sunday.

Viewing is free; meal and boat ticket prices vary. Visit

For the gourmand

Enjoy Christmas Eve dinner at Bayside Restaurant, 900 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, with a choice of two prix-fixe menus at $38.75 and $47.75 per person; the restaurant's standard menu will be available as well. The lower priced option includes a soup of the day or romaine salad; main course selections like soy glazed Atlantic salmon or a boneless pork rib rack chop; and any dessert from the menu. The more expensive option comes with a compressed Maine lobster salad and grilled filet mignon with Madagascan green pepper sauce. Live entertainment begins at 5 p.m.

Call (949) 721-1222 or visit

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