Along with good cheer and charity, the holidays can also bring anxiety and depression. Livers bulge like Santa's bag of toys as people boozily cope with shopping, cooking, entertaining, family and financial struggles, among other stressors. This First Thursday, set aside your stress and take a stroll through brightly lit downtown Boise. Below, we've highlighted a few First Thursday events that might help you forget about the hassles of the holiday for a little while, and where you might even be able to cross a couple of names off your gift list.
Block Party on South Eighth Street
For the past few months, navigating the sidewalks around Eighth and Fulton streets required slogging through the dirt and mud of some major new landscaping. Renovations are done and the block is ready to unveil its facelift with the South Eighth Street Block Party, including neighbors Ballet Idaho, Renewal Home, Foothills School of Arts and Sciences, Boise Farmers Market, Opera Idaho, Boise Philharmonic, Boise Contemporary Theater and more. Swing by Ballet Idaho and the Academy to see flash mobs with mini mice, Clara, Fritz and other beloved characters from The Nutcracker, and warm up with a bonfire, marshmallow roasting and hot chocolate. BCT opens This Wonderful Life, a one-person reimagining of holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life. Drew Barr directs Tom Ford, who portrays more than 30 characters in the story of how an angel helps everyman George Bailey realize how different life would have been had he never existed. Renewal offers wine tasting and hosts local artist Ed Anderson as he shares new outdoor-inspired works. Boise Farmers Market holds it indoor winter market, featuring live music, artwork, fresh-from-the-farm delights and more. Foothills School opens its doors for The Art of Science and the Science of Art, in which upper school students share projects from this semester. Ballet Idaho, 501 S. Eighth St., 208-343-0556, balletidaho.org.
Bricolage and Boise Art Glass
For the eighth year, these two neighboring hotspots are hosting what has become a destination event: the annual Holiday Open House. Even folks who don't usually head downtown for First Thursday make a point of hitting this lively party at the corner of Myrtle and Sixth streets. This year's shindig includes live music by The Two Tones, free beer and scrumptious baked goods by H Bakery. At Boise Art Glass, $40 and 30 minutes nets a cool take-home from a "Make Your Own Ornament" session. At Bricolage, check out the opening of Taking Liberties: 60 Seconds, an exhibit of new work by Erin Cunningham. The works, which will be on display through New Year's Eve, are paintings of fireworks, and Cunningham will add new pieces each week in a metaphorical build-up to a grand finale. Bricolage, 418 S. Sixth St., 208-345-3718, bricoshoppe.com; Boise Art Glass, 530 W. Myrtle St., 208-345-1825, boiseartglass.com.
Downtown's nerd nirvana opens its annual student photography show with work from Timberline High students. These picture-taking prodigies and their teacher will be on hand to answer questions and the photos will be on display through Sunday, Dec. 15. 6-8 p.m., 421 S. Eighth St., 208-323-6721, maclifeboise.com.
Washington Trust Bank
Unlike It's A Wonderful Life's Mr. Potter, these Boise bankers are in the giving spirit this holiday season. Washington Trust is offering free carriage rides around downtown (rides leave from the corner of Ninth and Bannock streets); or be one of the first 20 people in line at Aspen Leaf Yogurt from 5-6 p.m. or City Peanut Shop from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and get $20 from Washington Trust to spend in the store. 5-9 p.m., 901 W. Bannock St., 208-343-5000, watrust.com.
Winter Window Gallery Stroll
Big-city department stores have nothing on downtown Boise businesses when it comes to displays. Each year, the Downtown Boise Association asks local artists to lend their uniquely creative skills to the holiday landscape. From Flying M to The Modern Hotel, artists such as Ellen Crans-DeAngelis, Bryan Moore, Rick Walter and more have festooned storefront windows with everything from cute to classy to a little creepy, all in the spirit of the yuletide. See the windows (see First Thursday Listings, Pages 16-18) and then, through Sunday, Dec. 15, vote on your favorite at Downtown Boise Association's Facebook page. downtownboise.org.