The holidays can be an expensive time of year. Between buying gifts for friends and family, hosting holiday get-togethers, and/or funding travel to your loved ones’ soirees, your budget (and your credit score) can wind up taking a big hit.
Fortunately, scouring for deals, planning ahead and trimming your gift list can help you curb costs. There are also some free events and offers out there that can lift your spirits (and may save you a buck or two).
Here are some family-friendly events and holiday freebies that are happening this month. Keep in mind, most of these events or offers are local, but you may be able to find similar ones in your area by checking local municipal websites, calling your parks and recreations departments and reading community boards or newspapers.
Watch Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito star as neighbors with a competitive decorating streak during a free screening of Deck the Halls at Central Green park in Katy, Texas on Dec. 12.
Sousaphone enthusiasts better mark their calendars for Merry TubaChristmas! at the Kennedy Center in D.C., where hundreds of tuba players will convene to jam out to some holiday tunes on Dec. 16.
Dec. 18 is Free Shipping Day, a national holiday known to those who love to shop in their underwear. Make the most of it, money savers.
D.C. Residents can also check out the White House Historical Association’s annual holiday exhibit, featuring the largest White House gingerbread replica ever designed by its former pastry chef Roland Mesnier. The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. now through Dec. 22.
New York City’s Department of Parks of Recreation is hosting two free events at its local parks, including a holiday spectacular (featuring photo opps with Santa) in Queens on Dec. 19 and a Manhattan-based screening of the popular movie A Christmas Story on Dec. 20.
A giant display of model train buildings? All inside a grand building with 22-foot-high cathedral ceilings? Yep, we’ll be making our way to North Bloomfield, Ohio, for Trains in the Town Hall, held every Wednesday evening (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and Saturday (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.) this month.
Catch a scenic tour of the Bricktown canal aboard the Bricktown Water Taxi in Oklahoma City.
Also in Oklahoma City, see Joe B. Barnes Regional Park become a twinkling wonderland of lights with more than 100 light displays, including the 118-foot Christmas tree festooned with 9,000 bulbs.
From Dec. 16 to 20, kids can visit the Southern Holiday Express — or Rudy, as visitors call it — on the north side of Union Station in Kansas City. Walk through the colorfully decorated train cars, no tickets required.
Certain credit card holders may be able to score free coffee, WiFi, snacks, complimentary gift wrapping and other small freebies at holiday lounges in their local mall. You can call your issuer to see if they have any lounges open this year or if your rewards credit card entitles you to other holiday perks, like free shipping or free concierge shopping services, during the season.
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