’Tis the season for treating yo’self, and Austin businesses are here to lend you a helping hand with a series of special events – ugly sweater contests, crazy good drink specials, Santa pictures, and more – guaranteed to get even the Grinchiest among us in the spirit of the season.
This weekend is particularly packed with Christmas activities. On Friday, December 14, 6pm, the folks at Argus Cidery are hosting an Intro to Mulled Cider class at the Carpenter Hotel. For $25, they’ll teach you how to make cider (which you can drink during the class) and you’ll take home spice kits in swing top jars – the perfect hostess gift or basis for your own DIY cider adventures – as well as a Carpenter Hotel tote bag and gift.
Saturday, December 15, is chock-full of foodie-friendly Christmas activities. Santa will be paying a visit to Le Politique during brunch service, 10:30am-1:30pm, to enjoy a special meal of French favorites like the croque madame, eggs benedict, and pain perdu with poached apples. Guests are invited to say “Joyeux Noël” by taking a few keepsake photos with the man of the hour, and to secure their spot on the Nice List by donating a brand new toy to Le Politique’s toy drive benefiting Caritas of Austin.
Late that evening, you can keep the fun going by celebrating #ATXmas at Craftsman’s themed Christmas bash, running from 6pm-2am. There will be drink specials courtesy of Dickel Whiskey and Dos Equis, including $8 holiday cocktails like their house-made Bourbon Hot Chocolate with homemade whipped cream and cinnamon; plus, $5 beers, and food specials like $1-off meat skewers from Botteco Espeteria and $1 Gochujang chicken wings from Alley Cat. And when you’re tipsily stuffed with chicken, you can climb onto their extra Instagram-friendly, inflatable, house-sized Santa couch.
If you struck out with Papa Noël (maybe you forgot to say merci), try your luck at Hotel Ella’s Santa’s Workshop on Sunday, December 16. This annual event, which runs 11am-2pm this year, invites children of all ages to kick off the season of giving by donating to Caritas of Austin – which is asking for new toys and books as well as school and art supplies – in exchange for a photo with Santa in the Ella Parlor. Afterward, head over to Goodall’s Kitchen for brunch, or check out their drink specials and kids’ holiday crafts.
The Carpenter Hotel is also hosting a grownup friendly Yuletide Yoga + Holiday Market combo on the 16th. ATX YOGA GIRL will be on site to lead a community yoga class at 10:30am before sending newly limber attendees out into the holiday market (featuring complimentary massages) running from noon-4pm. The market will feature hot beverages and freshly baked pastries available for purchase, as well as handcrafted jewelry, clothing, macramé, and art from Austin-local artisans like Baja Basics, Live Love Relax, To the Moon, Water Color ATX, Jeva Design Fitness Lab, Gather Goods, Stitch and Stone ATX, Bellabox ATX, Ubuntu Life, A Little Light, the Onikas, and Sandra Dahdah Photography.
Austin’s Park n’ Pizza is fully embracing elf culture this season. For the 12 days leading up to Christmas (December 13-24), the entire park will be transformed into a Buddy the Elf wonderland known as “Buddy’s Park n’ Pizza.”
They’ll be screening a Christmas movie quote- & sing-along marathon above the full-service bowling alley for $12 per hour, and, of course, there will be elf-themed food like Buddy’s Breakfast Spaghetti and an Elf’s Food Group flight. “This time of year is about making memories and spreading all the happiness we can,” said Austin’s Park n’ Pizza President Michael Goss. “With every donation of two canned goods, guests can enjoy a free yellow snow cone. All donations collected during the 12 days will be donated to a local food bank. Every event we do is tied back to the community, and this 12-day spectacular is no different.”
Several local bars are doing an advent calendar of rotating drink specials throughout the month of December, an event just a little more exciting than opening up those tiny doors to find stale hunks of milk chocolate. At Mean Eyed Cat, they’re slinging treats like $4 seasonal Jack Frost Juice and Candy Cane shots, as well as spirits like Finlandia Vodka, Tres Agaves Tequila, and Cathead Vodka. Lavaca Street Bar South Lamar is running all night happy hours, with deals like $6 hot cocktails, $2 tall boys, and $5 frozen drinks of the day. The Wheel is doing $7 Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and Negronis. And Lala’s Little Nugget has a full week of rotating specials, including $4 pours of the draft of the day on Wednesdays and Lala’s Mules for $5 every Sunday.
Speaking of Lala’s, they’ll be hosting their Christmas bash Thursday, December 20, 6pm-2am. As well as Sierra Nevada and Victory Brewing specials and tipples from their jolly holiday drink menu, they’ll be celebrating their year-round, every-day-is-Christmas lifestyle with an ugly sweater contest.
Fonda San Miguel is also decked out in their traditional over-the-top seasonal decor, with the restaurant transformed into a holiday wonderland complete with winter garlands, Christmas trees, and dazzling white lights. Have enough margaritas and you might just think it’s snowing.
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