Houston Zoo's Zoo Lights
Even the most stringent observers of the rule that says "it's not time for all things Christmas until Thanksgiving has been given its full and proper due" will be hard-pressed to avoid getting into the holiday spirit while enjoying the Houston Zoo's life-sized LED creatures, the 30-foot-tall Christmas tree, the special Texas-themed light display, and the rest of the stunning decorations. The animals are all mostly sleeping as people pass by, but the concession stands do sell hot chocolate. Pro-tip: Make your beverage even more festive with peppermint schnapps, and thank us later.
Now through Jan. 12, 5–10 p.m. 6200 Hermann Park Dr. Ticket prices vary.
32nd Annual Uptown Holiday Lighting
Once you've ingested the annual glut of holiday calories on Thanksgiving Day, you can stay home and watch football, of course, or you can just head on over to Uptown for its annual holiday lighting. The event, which even includes free parking, starts with holiday music and concessions at 4 p.m. and culminates with a holiday singalong and a countdown led by Saint Nick himself as more than 300 trees light up, followed by a fireworks display and coordinated light show.
Thursday, Nov. 28; 4–7 p.m. at Post Oak Blvd. Free.
The Alley's Fully Committed
If you don't feel like taking a direct approach to getting into the spirit of things, we suggest checking out this one-man play at the Alley. The show features Sam, a wanna-be actor working a thankless day job answering the reservation line for a high-end, uber-popular New York restaurant. Sam (played by Dylan Godwin, who embodies all of the characters in this show) is scrambling while the phone is ringing off the hook with dozens of demanding clients who are calling at the last minute to book a table. Meanwhile, Sam is just trying to finish his shift early so he can go spend the holiday with his newly widowed father.
Runs through Dec. 29. Tickets start at $47. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave. 713-220-5700. More info and tickets at alleytheatre.org.
Main Street Theater's The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley
For those wanting a dash of Jane Austen with their holiday entertainment, we advise taking in the Main Street Theater's sequel to last year's Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. This show takes place during the same timeframe, but depicts what's going on below stairs with the staff.
Runs through Dec. 22 at Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Blvd. Tickets $10 to $52. Go to mainstreettheater.com for more information.
Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker
And for the more classically inclined, we suggest this annual favorite tale of Clara, the Nutcracker Prince, the Rat King, and, of course, the wonderfully creepy godfather, Drosselmeyer. Whether you go for the beautiful dancing, the superb music of Tchaikovsky, or to wonder what Clara must have eaten to give her such decidedly weird dreams, you won't be disappointed.
Nov. 29—Dec. 29. Tickets start at $35. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Ave. 713-227-2787. More info and tickets at houstonballet.org.