The holiday season is meant to be a time of gift-giving and celebration with family and friends. But for big-city dwellers, it sometimes seems more like an obligatory season of anxiety as we rush to get our shopping done in time and on budget.
Don’t let holiday stress leave you feeling frazzled this year: Try out these tips for saving money over the holiday season in Calgary.
Free and affordable holiday-themed events
Why spend money on yet another night out when there’s so much to do in Calgary for free? Check out these all-ages events and attractions around town:
Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
Every year, two CP Rail trains are decorated in LED lights and equipped with a traveling stage in preparation for a journey across Canada and the U.S. to collect donations for local food banks. This year will be the Holiday Train’s 20th tour. Live performers will include Terri Clark, Sierra Noble, and Kelly Prescott.
The train will stop in Calgary on Saturday, December 8 from 6:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at Anderson C-Train Station – South C-train parking lot. Admission is free – donations to the Food Bank are appreciated. View the train’s full schedule here.
Lions’ Festival of Lights
From December 1, 2018, through January 8, 2019, view Calgary’s most spectacular drive-by Christmas lights display in Confederation Park along 14th St NW, open nightly from 6 p.m. to midnight. The showcase is a massive team effort arranged by volunteers and sponsors that attracts 57,000 visitors per day. The Festival is now 99% green, with over 450,000 LED light bulbs.
The Lougheed House museum, located in Calgary’s Beltline, is a beautiful Victorian mansion and national historic site. Every holiday season, the house is decked out in Christmas trees, wreaths, and lights by Calgary’s best interior designers. Among this year’s events are house tours and live performances of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Lougheed House is located at 707, 13 Avenue SW and is open Wednesday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular admission to the house is just $25 for the whole family, with free access to the on-site Shop and Restaurant. Parking is free. For details on upcoming special events at Lougheed House, visit the website.
New Year’s Eve Outdoor Celebration
Get down to Olympic Plaza for Calgary’s best all-ages NYE celebration, with games, activities, and fireworks hosted by the City of Calgary and the new Central Library. Additional free events will take place at the Central Library and the Municipal Atrium at City Hall.
Fireworks start at midnight. Free hot beverages will be provided by the Tim Horton’s Truck. Check the City’s website for updates on the event.
Save big on gift shopping
This year, skip the last-minute shopping crowds at Chinook Centre! Try these tips for making gift giving easy and affordable:
Search Kijiji for high-ticket items at discounted prices. Every day, new items are listed on the local buy-and-sell platform, including electronics, musical instruments, clothing, collectors’ items, sports equipment, tools, toys, and books. Subscribe to the free Kijiji Alerts service to get email notifications about new items that match your search criteria.
Check for Calgary deals on Groupon. The popular couponing site lists promos by local restaurants, spas, gyms, automotive and home services, entertainment venues, and more. You can also order discounted items from online merchants.
Visit a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Get a practical gift that’s sure to be used: Visit a local ReStore to shop thousands of items at 40-60% below retail prices, including washers and dryers, stoves, fridges, furniture, paint, flooring, bathroom fixtures, and home decor items. ReStore purchases go toward supporting local families through affordable home ownership.
Give something thoughtfully homemade. Check Pinterest for DIY Christmas gift ideas, from edible arrangements to homemade soaps and spa ingredients.
Re-define your family’s traditional gift exchange. For instance, suggest that each person make an anonymous donation of whatever they can afford to a local charity. For Christmas parties and corporate gatherings, make gift-giving fun and affordable with a white elephant gift exchange game. Consider putting a cap on the amount that can be spent per gift.
Deck the halls on a budget
If it’s your turn to host this year, be sure to visit one of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore locations in north or south Calgary for steeply discounted rates on home design items, lighting, furniture, construction materials, and other holiday décor.
While you’re at it, consider swapping out some of your existing furniture – ReStores accept new or gently used furniture and appliances, and you can even request a free pickup.
With a bit of planning, you can enjoy the holiday season and ring in the new year with money in your pocket.
Author bio: Chloe Brittain is a native Calgarian with a sincere appreciation for chinooks and winter sunshine. She provides virtual assistant and audio transcription services to Calgary businesses and professionals. Visit Chloe’s blog for tips on interview transcription and small business productivity.