Absolutely, head straight to Death Valley from Las Vegas. If Stovepipe Wells still has space at this late date, grab it. The holiday season is a popular visitor time in Death Valley. It’s a rustic resort with a Western feel and quiet atmosphere, but with all the amenities you want (restaurant and saloon, general store, gift shop, pool, and gas station). The other major park resort, Furnace Creek, is bigger and busier, with more services. I prefer Stovepipe Wells because it feels more like “being in Death Valley.” It also has more subdued night lighting, for better stargazing if you don’t want to drive elsewhere in the park.
No town is ideal as a base for seeing the park, especially for three days when you’ll need to drive back and forth each day. The closest town is Beatty NV, about 8 miles from the park boundary and 40 miles from Furnace Creek. No other towns are close enough to even be practical.
You will arrive after sunset, but with the amount of time you plan to spend in the park, you have plenty of time to see the sights and not miss anything major.
The most efficient way to get to the park from Las Vegas is to Pahrump, then NV Hwy 160, Bell Vista Road, Stateline Road, and CA Hwy 190. You can stop at Pahrump on the way and get groceries or whatever else you want; you’ll find supermarkets and Wal-Mart there.
If you want to return to Las Vegas the same way, be sure to go down Badwater Road as part of your visit. You can also return via Badwater and Shoshone; if you do that, be sure to drive back out 190 during one of your days to see Zabriskie Point, 20 Mule Team Canyon, and Dante’s View.