10 must-sees this season

The tree really is smaller — because the previous one, a 40-foot Colorado blue spruce transplanted to the Ellipse some 30 years ago, blew over in a windstorm earlier this year. Also worth checking out are the individual state trees around the national one. 

2. Visit area hotels for holiday displays — Many of D.C.’s hotels in the area go all out for the holiday season. Worth checking out are the St. Regis, Hay-Adams, Omni Shoreham, Willard Intercontinental and the Mayflower Renaissance.

3. Check out the Gaylord National Resort’s ICE! exhibit — Since 2009, the Gaylord has hosted an annual exhibit made entirely of ice. This year’s theme is the movie “Madagascar.” Two million pounds of ice will be on display through Jan. 8.

4. Visit Mount Vernon for a candlelit tour — If a snowy day comes along this month, it’s worth taking the car to Mount Vernon for an evening tour by candlelight. There’s a certain historical romance to the grounds when snow is on the ground and the historical house is lit only by soft candlelight.

5. Visit the Capitol Christmas Tree — The Capitol Christmas Tree, located in front of the majestic Capitol dome, was lit Dec. 6. Bring visiting family to the tree for some perfect festive patriotic photo opportunities.

6. Visit the National Cathedral — The National Cathedral has multiple Christmas-themed events, including Dec. 10’s “The Joy of Christmas” concert. For more information on holiday events at the cathedral, visit nationalcathedral.org.

7. See ZooLights at the National Zoo — If you love the zoo during the warmer months, it’s worth visiting for their annual holiday event “Zoo Lights.” Animated lights, winter-themed crafts, carolers and of course the animals themselves are all part of the event.

8. Visit Old Town Alexandria for a Holiday Tour — Become more aware of the true meaning of Christmas, strolling through the quaint streets of the historical town located just outside of D.C. off the King Street Metro.

9. Consider donating to the Marine’s Toys for Tots Foundation — You’ve crossed everyone else off your list and if you’re considering donating to a charity, the Toys for Tots Foundation makes the holidays special for children in need. Living Social also currently has a deal on its website to donate to Toys for Tots.

10. Host a holiday party at your home — Take some time out from the hectic chaos of the season and host an intimate gathering at your own home. D.C. can be a stressful city as it is, and adding holiday preparations to the mix can be difficult. Spending time with family and friends on a quiet Friday evening is a great way to enjoy the season.