One of the things we’re doing to try to keep the overall costs down without making the kids feel like they didn’t get to go or do anything is keeping a sharp eye out for low or no cost fun things to do with kids.
Last week we had the dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker, which could be a little hard for the general public to duplicate – we got our tickets through Captain Adventure’s autism program, and most of the other people in the audience were friends, family or students at the college where the performance was held.
This week’s “big” thing is a bell choir performance being put on in a local library – out in Ripon, California. It’s free, and family-friendly. As a former bell ringer, I’m loving this opportunity to expose my kids to what the heck I’m talking about when I reminisce about being in a hand bell choir.
To find these sorts of things, I look first at the library’s own website. From preschool story time to professional clown performances, bell ringers to arts and crafts, the library offers a nice array of family-friendly stuff to do for little or no cost. In our area, these things are often poorly attended, as well – I suspect because many of us commute long distances, and frankly getting home and organized enough to go back out again in time to arrive by 6:00 at the library is a task beyond most of us.
Another good place to look is in the local newspaper…if you have one. Our little corner of paradise is so small we no longer have a daily newspaper (it comes out a couple times a week these days). You don’t need to subscribe to get the events, just go to Google and put in your nearest big dot on the map. You can easily find stuff like Holiday cheer, a listing from the Stockton Record of parades, festivals, cool places to see bright lights and so forth.
Speaking of which, we’ll probably be giving them just one more week to put on their finishing touches, but it is almost time for our annual “putter around town looking at lights” night. We have some very enthusiastic Christmas decorators around here, with one entire neighborhood taking the thing to extremes each and every year. So, I load up the Denizens and we go for a good old fashioned “little drive,” puttering through the neighborhoods to shriek and giggle about all the lights and statues and whatever-all-else our neighbors have scattered all over their homes.
Sure, a lot of these things are hardly Cirque. The parades aren’t Disney, the craft projects aren’t Martha Stewart, etc. etc. etc.
But they are inexpensive, and local – the thing that made the holiday parade fun wasn’t that it was just ever so brilliant a performance. It was the kids saying, “Oh! That’s officer Steve, he talked at our school!” or “Isn’t that our mayor? He talked at our school, too!”, not to mention the wild screaming and waving when friends from school were in the parade oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh, performing with their cheer squad or gymnastics or church groups.
Yeah. My ears are still ringing from those encounters.