Christmas: No matter what you're doing, you'll want to put a hat on it (as our weird Uncle Bob says). Fortunately, relief from the relatives and/or revelry for those whose religion is Old Saint Drink is but a short crawl away on Xmas Day. Bonus: General jollity makes for happy cheersing with strangers and, possibly, some up-close-and-personal comfort and joy after closing time. (All of these bars are recommended for everyday use, too.)
If Santa gave you a little extra cash, you could do far worse than to take it immediately to the Zig Zag, tucked away below Pike Place Market. They're opening at 7:00 p.m. to serve what many say are the city's—and some of the world's—finest cocktails. The Zig Zag is nice but not at all stuffy, with favorable lighting conditions. They're anticipating a festive crowd; call ahead if you're bringing a group.
More excellent craft cocktails may be found up on Capitol Hill at Liberty, with sushi in case you're hungry. (If you've had trouble getting a seat before, note that Liberty is expanding into the former florist's next door sometime soon.) Across the street, ham dinner may be engulfed at the Canterbury starting at 3:00 p.m. (if I were you, though, I'd go for the soup, made by the awesome Janice Vaughns of Calamity Jane's in Georgetown—get the gumbo). The C'bury was de-cobwebbed and spruced up recently, and the faux-olde-Englandiness looks merrier and brighter without loss of any crucial diveyness. In honor of the season, the suit of armor wears a golden garland and a party hat, the moose's antlers are thoroughly decked, and there's lots of lights and a tree. Put some Led Zeppelin on the jukebox, and it's holly-damn-jolly.
Like the Canterbury, the Eastlake Zoo Tavern is an old-school Seattle classic, and it would want us to point out that it's got a better-endowed shuffleboard table (and more pool, and even billiards in case frustration is your thing). The Zoo will be opening "around 5 or 6" for X-mess, the man on the phone said, depending on when the people who're working feel like showing up. That's the spirit!
Those who want a very karaoke Christmas have two delightful Greenwood dive options: the nautical stylings of the Baranoff or the 1970s Chinese-Americanism of the Rickshaw. Dedicate "Happy Birthday" to baby Jesus for extra credit.
And a few more: In Ballard, the Loft has the extra good tidings of happy hour all night, starting at 4:00 p.m.; the BottleNeck Lounge, there for you on Madison at 6:00 p.m.; Moe Bar on Capitol Hill, open at 8:00 p.m.; and the inimitable 5 Point near Seattle Center, serving emergency drinks all the time—except for the four hours from 2:00 to 6:00 a.m., when you're on your own, elf.