Plant a Tree (or something): It isn’t spring but darn, it feels like it. Makes you want to get your hands dirty and do something to green up the land. How about heading to a nursery and finding out what the experts suggest putting in the ground. Plant it and spend the New Year watching it grow.
Music, Music, Music: It wouldn’t be Christmastime without the charming Nutcracker. The Santa Barbara Festival Ballet is staging its production at the Arlington Saturday at 2:30 and 7 p.m. and on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., Santa Barbara’s only fully orchestrated live performance, the ballet folks say. The Montecito School of Ballet is staging The Night Before Christmas and Les Patineurs at the Lobero on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The Westmont Christmas Festival is scheduled Friday at the college at 8 p.m. and Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church, also at 8. La Arcada shopping mall will be presenting concerts from noon to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday and next weekend.
Parade of Lights: To many, the single-file parade of boats from the harbor, their lights glistening on the water, is a highlight of the season. (You can’t get this in Bakersfield.) The 21st Parade of Lights takes place Sunday. From 3-5 p.m. there’s Santa’s Village, with real snow and Santa, followed by the boat parade at 5:30, finishing off with a fireworks display.
Speaking of Parades: Not to be outdone by State Street, Milpas folks will be stepping off in their annual holiday parade Friday at 6 p.m. Bands, tykes in Santa hats, and dance groups.
Dining: The Tee Off, celebrating its 50th anniversary, will be rolling back its prices to 1956 levels Sunday and Monday. You can fill up on a prime rib dinner for $5.95, chicken for $4.95, top sirloin for $6.25, and a shrimp dinner for $5. First come, first served. Doors open at 4 p.m. at 3627 State St. Ruben Soto, Tee Off chef since 1980, also oversees the newly opened Kona Ranch House in Goleta. John Scott owns both restaurants, along with The Harbor and Longboard’s on Stearns Wharf, El Paseo, and Harry’s Plaza Café, plus Scotch & Sirloin in Ventura.
Free Flick: There’s no charge to see the screening of the 1976 film All the President’s Men, Saturday at 6:30 p.m., at the Marjorie Luke Theatre in Santa Barbara Junior High. A $10 coffee and snacks reception will follow. It’s the kickoff of the Heroism in Journalism film festival of occasional movies, raising funds for beleaguered News-Press journalists. The film will be preceded by a 5-6:15 p.m. reception at Arnoldi’s Café, 721 Cota St. Admission is $50 and all proceeds will go to the Journalists Loan Fund. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served and the journalists will be there to meet guests. Speakers at the reception and film will include international investigative reporter Ann Louise Bardach, Reagan biographer Lou Cannon, and former ABC and NBC correspondent Sander Vanocur.
Night of the Little Pines: Noche de los Piños at the classic Casa del Herrero on Saturday night not only involves fine food and music but also an auction of tabletop Christmas trees created by local authors, writers, designers, architects, and others. (It’s sold out.) Kevin Costner’s, a tree laden with baseball memorabilia relating to his Field of Dreams film, was a hit at Wednesday’s preview. The main house, 1387 East Valley Rd., is decorated in period-style original to the Steedman family. Reservations required at 565-5653 ($125 for non-members). Tours are scheduled today, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with advance reservations ($25).
Champagne Afternoon: All Champagnes are not alike, as you can find out Saturday, 2-4 p.m., at the Wine Cask. For $70 you can taste various sorts of the bubbly and snacks, and buy bottles of the good stuff at discounted prices for attendees.
Visiting Mr. Green: You might say that the current Ensemble Theatre production, Visiting Mr. Green, has a twist of the Scrooge element. A grouchy old guy is holed up in a New York apartment when there’s a knock at the door. What follows is a friendship that gradually develops between two men, each with deep family issues and painful secrets that play out in dramatic fashion, issues that many of us face in our own lives. (Through Dec. 17.)