Things to Do

Jane Austen’s Birthday, an Ugly Sweater Party, and Hanukkah Fun: Things to Do in Washington, December 10-13

Plus: Trying out AR from the Smithsonian.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hi everyone,

We’ve got cooking classes, ugly sweaters, and Hanukkah fun.

Celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday and attend a talk about Austen-era men.

Here’s what you should check out this weekend:

Sagittarius season: Celebrate the birthdays of literary stars Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen. The Folger Shakespeare Library will host a lyrical evening online as a tribute to Dickinson with a virtual tour of her bedroom in Amherst and a reading of her classic verses from poet Dorianne Laux. Join Dumbarton House virtually to make tea sandwiches and brew your own hot drink for a tea time birthday for Jane Austen. Author Carrie Bebris, known for her Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery novels, will share her funny lecture on old-time romance, “Gallants, Rakes, and Dandies: A Field Guide to Regency Males.” Dickinson: Thursday 12/10 at 7:30 PM; $5-$15, buy tickets here. Austen: Sunday 12/13 at 1 PM; $16, buy tickets here.

Outdoor party: Get your ugliest holiday apparel (masks included) for Wunder Garten’s “Girl What? Ugly Sweater Party.” Drag queen hostesses Crystal Edge and Katrina “The Hurricane” Colby will lead the fun night of seasonal drinks and firepits. Thursday 12/10 at 6 PM; Free, register here.

Kwanzaa: Tune into the Banneker-Douglass Museum’s virtual Kwanzaa celebration. Hear spoken word and live music, join a gift-crafting session, see the lighting ceremony, and explore the Kwanzaa cooking tutorial for tips on making your own feast. Friday 12/11 at noon; Free, register here.

Merry and scary: You know about Krampus, but what about Jólakötturinn? The Yule Cat of Iceland eats kids, not cookies, on Christmas. Learn about this creepy kitty and other monsters at the Profs and Pints online talk, “You Better Watch Out.” Friday 12/11 at 7 PM; $12, buy tickets here.

Yum: Take the Zoom cooking class “Jewish Flavor: Fried Feast” from Sixth&i this weekend. Chef Vered Guttman will walk through pampushkes (Ukrainian fried potato balls), makroud (date cookies from Tunisia), and various other delicious dishes. Sunday 12/13 at 6 PM; $12, buy tickets here.

Get baked: If you’re already in holiday-cooking mode, try making one of these cookie recipes from DC friar and Great American Baking Show winner Andrew Corriente.

Hanukkah takeout: If you’re ordering in for the upcoming holiday, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 great places where you can find latkes, brisket, challah, matzo ball soup, and tons of other scrumptious meals. Don’t sleep on the “menorah-tinis”!

Trees, trinkets, and treats: We’re compiling some of our best recommendations for ways to celebrate the holidays around town, including gift ideas, winter cocktails, seasonal markets, and more. Explore Washingtonian’s holiday guide here.

Something new: 

See dancing boots from the original Broadway production of The Wiz using AR.
You can now see dinosaurs come to life (virtually, of course) using AR with the Smithsonian’s new fun IG filters. I wrote about the interactive images here:

Virtually visit the currently closed Smithsonian in a totally new way: with augmented reality. On Wednesday the institution released ten AR filters on Instagram that viewers can use to see museum objects up-close using the app’s camera. You can try placing a life-sized virtual triceratops on your dinner table or zoom in to see a space shuttle. The new interactive tool walks through fun facts about the artifact and encourages people to take photos with the 3-D image. Considering Smithsonian museums recently closed again due to the pandemic, this could be a fun way to keep exploring the vast collections.

The handful of items includes a green hat by milliner Vanilla Beane from the National Museum of African American History & Culture and a skeletal mammoth courtesy of the National Museum of Natural History. Using AR, viewers get an intimate look at objects like the elaborate “Cosmic Buddha” of the National Museum of Asian Art’s collection, which features detailed Buddhist scenes you might not catch in person. Platform boots from The Wiz actually dance in front of you.

Instagram partnered with the Smithsonian as well as other museums to expand its educational AR offerings on its platform, Spark AR. Eager art enthusiasts can virtually travel and see works from France’s Palace of Versailles and Le Grand Palais.

Click through the descriptions to see where the item comes from and learn about its history. It’s just one way that arts institutions are trying to keep museum-goers engaged while people stay home, and it’s part of a greater expansion into digital archiving that makes these fascinating objects more accessible to everyone.

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.