Saturday, December 13, 2008

Super Saturday Savings - Holiday Festivities

The Holidays are such a wonderful time to make family memories and create traditions. For years now, we have put together a "to do" list of what fun adventures we will go on each weekend.

Why did we start doing this? Well, it was always so easy to say we were going to do this or that, and we just never got around to it. There was often times an excuse. The baby napped too long. We have to get shopping done. Etc, etc.

We found, that if we made this list around Thanksgiving...we stuck it on the refrigerator.....we were much more likely to get out and mark items off the list. They became the priority. We want the kids to have these memories. We look at it every Friday night and decide which activities we are marking off that weekend.

But, being a frugal family, we also want things that don't cost us unbelievable amounts of money. And, believe it or not, there are ways to do this ( at least in Cincinnati ).

Some of our traditional free visits?

  • Tree Lighting in Downtown
  • Niederman Light Display
  • Macy's Downtown Celebration ( Fireworks, Santa climbs down the building, free carriage rides, free train display, free trolley rides, free visits with Santa, free hot chocolate, etc )
  • Local Christmas Parade

Katie at Cincinnati Cents has a great list of many free activities in our area. Click here.

What fun free events are going on in your area? I bet if you look, there are a few. And, it is a great time to pack up the kids...bundle them from the cold ( if you live up North ) and head out. These memories will last forever.

I STILL remember our Christmas traditions. We would ride the train/tram ( what was it called ) to downtown Cleveland. Once there, we went to Higbee's ( I believe it was called at the time ) and went to see the talking Christmas tree, go to the Children's Santa Shop ( only us little kids could get in and buy for our families ). Mom and Dad always made it special. Or, how about Dad always getting SOO mad about the Christmas lights? It is so true, he would have this little box he would sit and go thru each light to find the one that didn't work, so he could fix it. Meanwhile, ranting and ravings....SOO funny! Love you, Dad!

OK..maybe it is a bit fuzzy in some parts. But, I remember other fun things about those visits downtown. I know the escalators got narrower and narrower as you went up ( and became wooden ). I always thought that was very cool!

I remember always feeling so safe, and loved during the Holidays. My Aunt Karen and Uncle Russell came in from out of state with my cousins. I remember my Grandma's homemade Christmas cookies. She had a HUGE container filled ( or multiple containers, I should say ) with them. They had frosting and sprinkles. Yummy! She also had Ginger flavored cookies..yuck! I sure do miss her.

But, I am happy to say that my Aunt and Uncle still come in for Christmas and my kids love them as much as I did as a child ( and still do ). Christmas is always such a happy time for everyone, but especially for a child. And, it is not all about the gifts and that one is the excitement and joy of being all together with your extended family.

As I got older and into High School, I remember fun activities all the school kids did together. One of my favorites? Caroling for cans. We would get SOOO many of our class ( I am talking 30 or more kids at time ) to go caroling. Not only was it fun, but we asked for canned food donations after singing. And, it was even more fun because we were always in a competition with neighboring schools to see who could collect the most food!

My point to this post is that it is possible to make wonderful memories and make it special for your family and with friends! And, often times, it can cost very little.

This is where my post should stop...but.....

With that said....I have to say...tonight we headed to the Beach Waterpark for their Holiday celebration. We met my friend, Lili, and her family. Lili, being as frugal as myself, was excited to get our kids out and together for the Holidays. And, we both thought we had found a great deal!

We had gotten coupons in the mail for Kids to Get in Free and Adults were only $10 a ticket. We thought, what the heck. $20 for a family of 5 is not that bad of a deal. They have carriage rides, slides, a show, Ice Skating, Pony Rides, etc, etc. Now remember...these were coupon can be more expensive if you buy at the gate.

We get in, was not what we expected. We had to pay for everything ( almost ) once we got in.

Basically there were two slides open for all visitors ( wait forever ) that were free and a merry go round. The carriage ride was $5 per person 4 and older. That means, we would have had to pay $20 to ride the carriage. Ice Skating was the same. ( Ok...I kind of expected skate I was OK with this one ). The pony rides were $4 per kid. There is another $12. I was wondering what that entrance fee was for? My poor son went down the slide daughter and youngest rode the merry go round once...and then we just wandered around.

I am still glad we went to see what it was all about. And, I was glad to spend the evening with friends...but the money would have been much better spent elsewhere during the Holidays ( Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights is one of our favorites ) Live and Learn! And, make sure you read the fine print on a so called "good" deal!

So, with all my rambling done for the night ( sorry ), I hope you are having a Happy Holiday with your family.....are finding fun activities and enjoying the time together, too!


plin said...

Your family are lovely!

Thanks for all the money saving tips you gave in this blog. It really helps especially when you have little ones running around.

Holley V said...

Awesome photos, Carrie! How old are your kids? They look like their similar in age to mine--8, 6, 3. :)
Thanks for all the terrific information you provide!

Angie said...

Beautiful family, Carrie! The calendar idea is a great idea for making sure things get accomplished. I agree that these years of making memories for our kids are so important. We used some B1G1F meal coupons at Culvers last evening (under $14 to feed 5 of us!), then headed over to the Columbus Zoo to see the Wildlights display (membership = free entrance for this event!). If you've not ventured this way, it's well worth it! They 'choreographed' the lights w/Christmas music over a loud speaker around the main big pond area...fantastic display!

Glad you're family is thriving in the fun activities this time of years. Happy Holidays. :)


Carrie @ said...


My eldest son is 6, my daughter is 4 and my baby is 1.

So, pretty close in age. :-)

They are fun, aren't they? Love being a Mommy!

Leesie said...

Thanks for sharing the pictures Carrie! You are all sooo beautiful. We try to go into New York City (we live about an hour or so away) to see all the wonderful sights, lights, decorations, etc. It is still free even though we drive which means tolls and gas and it is only once a year. We also go for a walk with our lab in our hometown village, which has some great shops. We window shop, look at all the Christmas decorations and to see the village tree. Yesterday was awfully cold here, but tonight it was perfect to do just that - and we did!