Expert Picks

Your Weekly Guide for What to Do, See, Eat, and Drink in Chicago: December 16–22

Photo courtesy of Aster Hall

This week in Chicago, sing along to “Hallelujah,” ski with Santa, shop for ceramics, and celebrate the holidays Hawaiian-style.

Photo courtesy of Wilmot Mountain

December 16 and 17: Do-It-Yourself Messiah 
If you prefer a DIY take on the holidays, indulge in a Chicago tradition since 1976. Chicagoans will join a world-class conductor, soloists, and a volunteer orchestra of musicians to perform Handel’s Messiah, complete with the “Hallelujah” chorus. The 44th annual event allows you to lend your voice to the holiday chorus. Details: 7 p.m., at Harris Theater; $15
—Jessica Mlinaric, Music

December 19 and 20: Ski With Santa at Wilmot Mountain 
You can sit on his lap, sure, but why not hit the slopes and ski with Santa! Wilmot Mountain is a close drive from Chicago and it’s a great chance to get out and ski. Santa will be on the slopes that weekend, too, and around for dinner afterward with Mrs. Claus and the elves for pictures in the photo booth and free cookies after dinner. Details: 3–8 p.m.
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

December 19: Gnarly? Or Nice? Ceramics Market at GnarWare Workshop 
Visit the beloved ceramics studio for its very first market, where artists will sell their one-of-a-kind wares. Pick up anything from a hand-built Absurdist sculpture to a functional, wheel-spun bowl for yourself—and everyone else on your gift-giving list.
—Claire Voon, Art

Photo courtesy of Flourescents/Facebook

December 20: First Annual Pop-Punk Xmas 
Do the holidays make you want to scream? Subterranean is encouraging you to belt some tunes before you see your family with the first annual Pop-Punk Xmas. Local pop-punk outfits Fluorescents, Invictus, Four Stars, the Kozmic Kicks, and Wolf Rd will lead you in letting it all out. Details: 8 p.m., at Subterranean; $8
—Jessica Mlinaric, Music

December 21: Christmas Candlelight Tours at the Glessner House 
This festive, near-electricity-less, 45-minute tour will take you back to the late 19th century. Docents lead you through the historic house, which is decorated for the holiday season, including a live fir tree and a dining table laden with fine settings for a period-appropriate feast.
—Claire Voon, Art

Photo courtesy of Glessner House/Facebook

December 21: Gingerbread Decorating at Aster Hall 
Take a break from holiday shopping for a bite to eat at downtown’s Aster Hall. The glam food hall is hosting a gingerbread decorating event where you’ll get four gingerbread cookies and a premade gingerbread house. The event scores you a $30 gift certificate to the hall that you can use for lunch or another day. Details: 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m.; $50, which includes a $30 Aster Hall gift card
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

Through December 21: Mele Kalikimaka Hawaiian Pop-Up at Cerise  
In case your idea of Christmas fun involves jetting off to someplace warm (and who could blame you), then head to the rooftop bar at Virgin Hotels Chicago for a Hawaiian-themed holiday pop-up running through December 21. Dubbed Mele Kalikimaka, the shindig at Cerise brings lots of sunny, beachy decor; live entertainment; tiki drinks; pineapple upside-down cake, and more tropical fun.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

Through December 22: The First Deep Breath 
Diane Jones has been dead for six years, and her family throws a memorial celebration in her honor every year. When her brother, Abdul-Malil, the person their father blames for Diane’s death, gets out of prison and comes home, the entire family is forced to confront some long-hidden secrets. This play is celebratory, epic, and oh so human. Details: At Victory Gardens Theater
– Tanuja Jagernauth, Theater

Photo courtesy of Kostali

Restaurant Opening of the Week: Kostali 
One of the most acclaimed chefs in Chicago (and one of my personal faves), Carrie Nahabedian, strikes again with Kostali at the Gwen Hotel. The menu at this chic and Riviera-esque restaurant skews toward the French-Mediterranean, featuring plenty of fish and spices and breads and heady sauces. On the drinks side, her cousin Michael Nahabedian mans an impressive wine list, while Peter Vestinos is on craft cocktail duty.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage