by CC Parker
illustrations by Emily Brooks
Last fall, my husband and I decided it was time for our children to see Theatre In The Park’s A Christmas Carol. A friend suggested seeing a matinee at the Durham Performing Arts Center, then an early dinner at The Angus Barn on the way back to Raleigh.
Ira David Wood III’s riotous interpretation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale has become a Raleigh holiday tradition. My mother took me to the premiere performance 41 years ago – of course, no one knew at the time what a smash hit it would become.
The Angus Barn was a perfect spot for dinner, especially at such a festive time of year. For children, it is heaven on earth: unbridled snacking on the scrumptious gingerbread men plattered throughout the lobby, an elaborate antique gun collection displayed in the waiting area, and an upside-down Christmas tree. Live “elves” toss candy down to patrons from the rafters. (For adults, a libation from the Wild Turkey Lounge is a lovely bonus. Ho ho ho.)
Imagine my shock when I called for A Christmas Carol tickets the week after Halloween and, alas, all the good seats were sold out! Stumped, I called The Angus Barn to secure a table and, yet again, there was no room in the inn for the Parkers. Sold out – and it was the first week of November!
Not long after my botched plan, I unpacked our 20-year-old Christmas decorations and realized that I could not resuscitate the wreath bow for our front door. It looked pathetic: a little, flaccid blob. I called Davenport at Five Points, my favorite place for all things green and decorative, to order a new bow. Carlette Peters, Davenport’s effervescent proprietor, was happy to make the bow on such short notice. The only caveat was that they had already sold out of her ribbon. Again, I couldn’t believe it – the holidays had truly snuck up on me. I was unprepared.
Obviously, times in Raleigh have changed: You have to make a reservation, order your tickets, and place your holiday orders a little earlier these days.
But perhaps my loss can be your gain. With that in mind, here’s one Raleigh native’s guide to preparing for the holiday season – it’s a Five Points-centric list, reflecting just one perspective, so take it for what it is: My personal picks. At the very least, you won’t be left with nowhere to go, nothing to see, and a sad and crumbled wreath bow like me!
Buy your tickets
A Christmas Carol
Theatre In The Park
This year is the 41st anniversary, and there’s no telling what Ira David has up his sleeve. Both DPAC and Raleigh Memorial Auditorium offer fabulous venues for this hilarious Raleigh tradition. December 9-13 (Raleigh Memorial Auditorium) and 17-20 (DPAC); $30-80; theatreinthepark.com
The classic story with a splash of magic will be performing in Durham and Raleigh, too. December 12-13 (DPAC) and 18-27 (Raleigh Memorial Auditorium); $37-105; carolinaballet.com
Raleigh Little Theatre
Another long-running Christmas tradition, Cinderella has returned to its home in the rose garden. The stepsisters are worth repeat visits. December 4-20; $33; raleighlittletheatre.org
Order your Christmas cards and thank-you notes
Longtime owner Jeana Young offers Christmas cards, holiday cards, and thank-you notes. Stock up on paper plates for Christmas Eve dinner as a gift to your spouse. The Alexan at North Hills, 4209-125 Lassiter Mill Road; 919-781-0351; paperbuzz.com
If It’s Paper
A fabulous variety of packaging will showcase your homemade goods (or re-packaging if you’re pretending the treats were made in your home). They also have lots of options for paper plates, napkins, and all sorts of wrapping boxes and accoutrements. Ridgewood Shopping Center, 3546 Wade Ave.; 919-615-4333; ifitspaper.org
Stock your freezer with dinners for your family
NOFO @ the Pig
When in doubt go to NOFO for any and everything. You can fully stock your freezer from any number of local sources: casseroles, ham biscuits, caramel cakes, ice cream, Bloody Marys – the list goes on and on. 2014 Fairview Road; 919-821-1240; nofo.com
Unexpected house guests? Impromptu Christmas cocktails at your house? They are famous for their ham rolls (Amen) but everything in their freezers is divine.
627 E. Whitaker Mill Road; 919-828-2270; ladyfingersofraleigh.com
Make your restaurant reservations
The Angus Barn
Magic is in the air! Gingerbread cookies are offered in the lobby as a special treat at Christmas. Live “elves” toss candy to patrons from the rafters. As always when families dine at The Barn, children are invited to find a prize in the treasure chest and can decorate their own cake in the kitchen. 9401 Glenwood Ave.; 919-781-2444; angusbarn.com
Irregardless Cafe and Catering
They are open Christmas Eve 5-9 p.m. and Christmas Day noon-8 p.m. I’ve been told that Christmas Eve diners are also participants in an ad-libbed “play-along” with instruments provided by Irregardless. 901 W. Morgan St.; 919-833-8898; irregardless.com
Admit it: At some point you will have had one too many ham biscuits. Kanki is open Christmas Eve until 9 p.m. 4500 Old Wake Forest Road, 919-876-4157; Crabtree Valley Mall, 4325 Glenwood Ave., 919-876-4157; kanki.com
Family outing to buy your children’s annual Christmas ornament
Don’t let the antiques scare you. Ben and Ross buy all sorts of well-priced ornaments that are darling, though you may want to pick up a new piece of Imari while you’re at it. 2003 Fairview Road; 919-755-1110; acquisitionslimited.com
They have ornaments that will become your heirlooms. The Alexan at North Hills, 4209 Lassiter Mill Road; 919-785-0787; shopquintessentials.com
NOFO @ the Pig
When in doubt go to NOFO for any and everything. 2014 Fairview Road; 919- 821-1240; nofo.com
Bailey’s Fine Jewelry
Christopher Radko and more. Cameron Village Shopping Center, 415 Daniels St.; 919-829-7337; baileybox.com
Fluff up your wreath
Davenport at Five Points
A week’s notice is appreciated, and they are happy to use your ribbon. Prices start at $35. 2007 Fairview Road; 919-834-0336; davenportat5.com
Logan Trading Company
Family-owned and always reliable. Prices start at $30. Seaboard Station, 707 Semart Drive; 919-828-5337; logantrd.com
NOFO @ the Pig
When in doubt go to NOFO – I think you get it by now. 2014 Fairview Road; 919- 821-1240; nofo.com
Christ Church Greenery Sale
Pre-order various greenery, or buy the day of the sale. Plus, there’s lots of food to stock your own fridge or give as gifts. December 6, 10 a.m. – 12noon; 120 E. Edenton St.; 919-834-6259; christchurchraleigh.org
And then, treat yourself…
House of Landor
Find the perfect outfit: Mary Beth Paulson has a flair for modern and stylish high-end vintage clothing at affordable prices. Located within Finds vintage furniture store, 2009 Progress Court; 919-605-0982
Parlor Dry Bar
Blow out your locks – they have lots of looks to choose from and glasses of champagne to heighten the experience. Crescent Cameron Village, 402 Oberlin Road; 919- 665-9816; parlordrybar.com
Personal stylists Helen Wallace and Alex Long put it all together in a way that jives with your own clothes. They’ve got the magic touch. Appointments via style-hawk.com
Spray on a holiday glow here, where you can choose from several shades of brown. I personally love their logo. 3040 Berks Way, #102; 919-523-2569; toastarts.com