Take your pick of events from holiday-oriented plays, concerts and fundraisers. There's even a suggestion for a place with unique gifts that (gasp!) isn't the mall. But if you hate reading lists of events, then maybe you should cuddle up with your piece of coal and your friend Scrooge.
An Afternoon of Class: You don’t have to spend your Sundays slumped in the couch while popping Cheetos and watching the Patriots obliterate yet another team. There’s TiVo for such things. However, there is nothing to record a performance of the “Sacred and Profane” for you. I have your attention now thanks to the word “profane,” don’t I? Well settle down. This is a performance by the New England String Ensemble and will feature the works of Haydn and and Strauss. Also performing will be Katherine Griffith, the winner of the Ensemble’s Flute Competition Showcase. Sunday, Dec. 2, 3 p.m. at the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in Boston. Tickets: $25-$45. Call 781-224-1117.
Hear Original Xmas Songs: Amazing. Someone had the audacity to write original Christmas songs instead of cutting a holiday album with the same old stuff that gets piped into every retail store this time of year. So thank you Chris Trapper, for taking the time to put on a holiday show and selling your album of original songs “It’s Christmas Time” (which you describe as “very, very festive”). Trapper’s sound is best thrown in the indie alt-acoustic box, which essentially means he’s a man with a guitar who sings about the emotional side of life. Saturday, Dec. 1, 8 p.m. at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge. Tickets: $20. Call 617-876-6837.
A Reagle Show: For 25 years, people have started their holiday celebrations with the Reagle Players’ “It’s Christmas Time” show. Why? Because it’s a show that combines all the great things people love in Christmas productions and packs it into one “spectacular” experience. And if you can only take 10 minutes of the “Nutcracker,” then this is the show for you. Those 10 minutes are in this show. There’s also the Victorian carolers, a Nutcracker-esque ballet dance, and even a “Living Nativity” scene. This year’s special guest star is Sarah Pfisterer who was in Broadway’s “Show Boat” and “Phantom of the Opera.” See this and be completely entertained this holiday season. Through Dec. 16, Fridays 7 p.m., Saturdays noon and 4 p.m., Sundays 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Robinson Theatre in Waltham. Tickets: $20-$42. Call 781-891-5600.
Play Detective: Santa has heard your pleas from your childhood. You finally get to be a detective and, better yet, you don’t have to deal with those pesky things like schooling and learning how to shoot people. Instead, all you have to do is attend a performance of the Tony-Award winning musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” The musical is based on the Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name (and a novel he never completed due to his natural demise). Since he never finished it, the ending is up for grabs. This is where you come in. Towards the end of the production, when it seems the actors are about to reveal the solution, the musical will turn to you to determine the conclusion of the show through a “series of unique voting events.” Now if only they’d give you a detective certificate for you to bring to high school reunions. Through Dec. 15, Wednesdays and Thursdays 7:30 p.m., Fridays 8 p.m., Saturdays 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sundays 3 p.m. at the BCA’s Calderwood Pavilion in Boston. Tickets: $46-$54. Call 617-933-8600.
Football and Fundraising: The wars overseas trudges on and while there’s a lot of attention on the fallen service men and women, there is some collateral damage that many seem to forget. When those brave soldiers fall, they leave behind families, and sometimes young children. To help those children who may be dealing with their first Christmas without a parent, the Ahern Family Charitable Foundation will hold a fundraiser for Operation Ensuring Christmas, a non-profit that helps children of American soldiers killed since Sept. 11, 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fundraiser is a buffet luncheon with billiards, bowling and a six-foot high definition projection screen showing the 108th Annual Army-Navy football game. Saturday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m. at Kings (50 Dalton Street, next to the Hynes Convention Center and Hilton Hotel). Tickets: $20. Call 617-212-1508.
Blind ambition: The soul and stage presence of the gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama is an awe-inspiring event, especially during their Christmas show, a production that seems to bring out the best in the Boys. Yes, the three main vocalists are actually blind. The concert is sure to be a great way to get in the holiday mood. And it will probably also turn you into a lifelong fan of the group. Friday, Dec. 7, 8 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston. Tickets: $31. Call 617-876-4275.
Forget the Mall: Yeah, you read that right. Drive away from the crowds, the packed parking lots and the incessant vocal clamoring of the nearest child going “But I waaaaaaannnt it!!” (look, if I can’t have lawn darts than neither can you). Instead of the insanity, check out the 33rd Annual Crafts Showcase where more than a 100 artists will be selling their unique and “best present ever” holiday gifts. All proceeds from the gifts benefits the educational programs at the Brookline Arts Center. And jazz fans take note: On Dec. 9 at 10 a.m. there will be a jazz brunch with Tom Pendergast at the Fireplace Restaurant (costs $35-$40). Through Dec. 16, Thursdays noon to 8 p.m., Fridays through Sundays noon to 6 p.m. at the Brookline Arts Center. Free. Call 617-566-5715.