Altared states: Even if you're the sort who never sets foot in a church, the Capitol Hill Holiday Church Tour still has its charms. Not only do you get to see the nooks and crannies of five lovely old meetinghouses decorated to the gills while partaking of refreshments and musical entertainment with no strings attached, you'll also lend a hand to Capitol Hill United Ministries, the interfaith community-service coalition that's throwing the annual event. Participating churches include Capitol Heights Presbyterian, 1100 Fillmore St.; First Baptist Church, 1373 Grant St.; Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 915 E. 9th Ave.; 6th Avenue United Church of Christ, 3250 E. 6th Ave.; and St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, 1280 Vine St. Tickets for the tour (from 1 to 4 p.m.) are available in advance at the King Soopers at 9th Ave. and Corona St. for $5 (kids under twelve free); call 388-4186.

A bunch of blowhards: Sure, but they have to be. And they'll use the soft touch at the 20th Annual Christmas Tuba Concert, a euphonious effort put on by area tuba players of all sizes, shapes and ages. Metro State College professor Bill Clark, who courageously instigates and directs the whole thing every holiday season, is hoping for 200 big, fat horns this year--the biggest group to volunteer yet. Those wanting to participate can register between 9 and 10 a.m. at the St. Cajetan's Center on the Auraria campus. After a 10 a.m. rehearsal, the tuba troupe will heft its way over to Larimer Square for a free 1 p.m. open-air concert. Clark says the show must go on, regardless of weather; for details call 556-2727.

Monday December 19 The Monday comics: Denver must be a very funny place--it's been home to several successful stand-up comedians, among them Louis Johnson, Jeff Harms and Lori Callahan. Those giggle-meisters spend most of the year on the stump, but they always come Home for the Holidays to take part in a fundraising comedy event at George McKelvey's Comedy Club, 10015 E. Hampden Ave. For the $10 admission price (and whatever canned foods you can spare), up to twenty comics will make you chuckle, snicker and outright guffaw--and they'll donate their usual fees to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Reservations are recommended--doors open at 7 and the fun begins at 8; call 368-8900.

Tuesday December 20 Gardens party: "Bright Lights, Big City" ought to be the theme song tonight when Denver's own Lannie Garrett and Her Big Band appear as part of a holiday concert series at the Denver Botanic Gardens. While the sixteen-piece band warms up, you can stare happily at the Gardens' spectacular Blossoms of Light display; then Lannie serenades you like the slinky big-city gal she is. The music happens inside the John C. Mitchell II Hall beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is $11 ($9 DBG members); call 370-8187 for tickets and information. The Gardens are at 1005 York St.

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