1. Thursday is your last chance to touch and play a piece of art as the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Eighth and F Sts., NW) holds a discussion about William T. Wiley’s handmade pinball machine and his other irreverent pieces at its free Punball: Only One Earth event from 5:30 to 6:30. Fire away on the machine, marvel at Wiley’s stick collages and sculptures, and learn what inspires the California artist.
2. Witness Angela Chaseberg assert her identity, pull away from her parents, and pine over Jordan Catalanowitz on Thursday as the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue presents My So-Called Jewish Life at 7:30. Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein, Slate editor David Plotz, and a handful of other local boldface names present a night of autobiographical stories pertaining to the Jewish faith in this celebration of Hanukkah. The cost is $12 at the door, but those purchasing tickets in advance get in for $10.
3. Clock out of work and step in to Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits (5544 Connecticut Ave., NW) for a free Friday tasting of Stone beer from 4 to 7. Stone representative Lee Marren will be handing out samples, talking about the company’s origins, and explaining the process behind the brewing. Must be 21 and older to sample.
4. Tired of window shopping along Georgetown’s posh M Street emporiums? Spend a refined evening browsing the neighborhood’s eclectic art scene at the Georgetown Gallery Gaze this Friday from 5 to 8. Fifteen art galleries will be offering free music, libations, and nibbles along with the art. For a list of participating galleries, click here.
5. After guzzling down free beer during Midtown Loft’s happy-hour giveaway from 5 to 6 on Friday, stumble around for a few hours and you’ll run into beer models pouring one of Italy’s most famous brews at the bar’s Peroni Party starting at 10. Between cheap $3 Peronis all night long and swaying to the Dave Matthews cover band Crowded Streets, you might feel like you were back in college.
6. If you can’t get enough art after the Georgetown Gallery Gaze (see above), head to the free holiday party at the Irvine Contemporary gallery (1412 14th St., NW) on Saturday from 6:30 to 8:30 to celebrate the opening of two new exhibits. “The Struggle to Right Oneself: A Survey” comes from Kerry Skarbakka and features superimposed photographs of individuals running through fire and falling to their death. For something a bit cheerier, visit Sebastian Martorana’s “Uncommisioned Memorials,” which consists of every-day objects sculpted in marble.
7. Take a break from your Christmas shopping in Chinatown and head to the National Gallery of Art on Sunday for its free Holiday Caroling concert at 1:30 and 2:30. Guest choirs lead sing-alongs for listeners of all ages inside the holiday-decorated West Building Rotunda.
8. Regardless of your faith, a trip to the Washington Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—a.k.a. the Mormon temple—in Kensington during the holidays is a must. With more than a half million lights illuminating the grounds, an outdoor Nativity scene, and nightly performances, this is one of the area’s premier holiday attractions. For a full list of performances, click here .
9. The Capital Irish Film Festival (the third-largest of its kind in the country) concludes Sunday with The Boys of St. Columb’s at the Goethe-Institut at 2 and Gabriel Byrne: Stories From Home at the E Street Cinema at 6. Tickets cost $10. To see a full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the festival’s Web site.
10. Round off the weekend by pre-gaming for the holidays with the Willard InterContinental’s (1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW) ninth annual free live music program. On Sunday from 5:30 to 7:30, an ensemble of students known as the Colonial Singers perform seasonal music from the 18th century in the hotel’s lobby. All are welcome.