A 'Star Wars' trainwreck, cheap beer, and other free things to do (bring toy donations)

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This week we have cheap beer with a costumed character, free cider with Santa, an amazing Star Wars TV special, and an ugly sweater party. In the spirit of the holidays, many of these events are free when you bring a new toy donation. So grab any extra gifts you have at home or pick something up and get into the holiday spirit(s).

Ugly Sweater Party
In a land of ice and snow, ugly sweater parties are the costume contests we need. This Tuesday, the VFW is getting into the butt-ugly holiday spirit as people will gather to drink in toasty comfort. There will be music, snacks, and drinking, plus mistletoe for those who need an excuse to get a little randy. Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Uptown VFW, 2916 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis.

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The 11th Annual Star Wars Holiday Special
Forget The Empire Strikes Back or The Last Jedi, The Star Wars Holiday Special may just be the best Star Wars thing out there. It aired once in the late '70s, and it sucked so hard that people lost their jobs, actors refused to talk about it, and George Lucas shakes his fist at God anytime it's mentioned. Decades later, a benevolent hoarder with a VHS began circulating this thing and people realised that it was actually... totally awesome. There are Wookiees who look like they live in an '80s sitcom, there is an animated short that dazzles stoners, there's an oddly homoerotic set from Jefferson Starship, and there's a song from Bea Freakin' Arthur telling everyone to go the fuck home and sober up. It's the perfect holiday special for our modern era of post-irony. The special will air three magical times this Wednesday at BLB. Folks come dressed up, and the folks who host it will be collecting toys and cash donations for Toys for Tots. 4, 7, 10 p.m. Wednesday. Admission is free with a new, unwrapped toy donation. Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-825-3737.

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Santa comes to Sociable
Naw, you're not too old to hang with Santa, especially when he's helping your score a free pint. At this chill party at Sociable, revelers will be able to warm their insides with Fat Bike hot mulled cider (there will be a non-alcoholic cider as well for kids and non-drinkers). Bring a new unwrapped toy donation to score that free pint. Pics with Santa will be encouraged, and Minneapolis Craft Market will be on hand for any gifts you still need to check off your shopping list. 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday. Sociable Cider Werks, 1500 Fillmore St. NE, Minneapolis.

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A past visit from the Hamm's Bear at Skinner's in St. Paul Sue Kelly

Meet the Hamm’s Bear
The Hamm’s Bear is a 65-year-old mascot borne of an era when it was okay to use cartoons to peddle adults-only products. Though the beer bear is now semi-retired, he is still much loved in Minnesota, showing up on collectibles, in beer- and local-history exhibitions, and there’s even a six-foot statue paying tribute to him in the Seventh Street Mall. This Thursday, some dude will be putting on the Hamm’s Bear costume and showing up at Skinner’s. It’s not creepy; just roll with it. During the happy hour, folks will be invited to pose with him for pictures, shop memorabilia, and enjoy canned Hamm’s for $1. 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. Skinner's Pub and Eatery, 919 Randolph Ave., St. Paul; 651-291-0146.


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