Cheap fun now that your shopping is done

For those of us done with our holiday shopping, this week is on cruise control — a few days of enjoying seasonal music, savoring a cup of Christmas cheer and sampling smells of cinnamon and pine in the air.

But there’s one more expense you may not have put much thought into this month: entertaining kids out of school for the holidays and playing host to visiting friends or relatives.

Whether you have a whole houseful or just a cozy couple, here are some ideas for spending quality time while spending hardly any money:

Get some exercise. Go hiking on one of the beautiful trails around metro Atlanta. For an all-day hike, pack sandwiches and apples for a lunchtime stop. Try Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park for a dash of Civil War history or Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville for scenery.

Sightsee. Take in the lights in a well-decorated neighborhood. If “looking” isn’t enough for children in your car, turn it into a game. Collectively choose the top five houses along the way and then rank each one to determine which house on your tour wins best of show. Or bring a thermos of hot chocolate from home and stroll through a free attraction like Centennial Olympic Park’s Holiday in Lights in downtown Atlanta.

Cook up some fun. Bake holiday cookies together, and make sure everyone gets in on the act. Start an assembly line to mix the dough, roll it, cut cookie shapes, place them on the cookie sheet and put them in the oven. When the cookies are taken out and have cooled, start another assembly line for frosting, sprinkles and candies. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with large glasses of milk.

Turn some pages. Read a classic together: “The Night Before Christmas” or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” are good options for gatherings with small children. For adult gatherings, take turns reading from a favorite novel (points go to the most theatrical narrators) while sharing some good wine.

Paint the town red. Or blue. Or whatever your creative genius imagines. Provide one or two inexpensive watercolor sets, add paper and — voilà! — instant painting party. If they need ideas, encourage children to paint holiday scenes. Be sure to cover the table or floor with newspaper or similar covering for messy painters.

– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter

See a great deal I should know about? Email me at ldavidson@ajc.com. You can also follow me on Facebook or on Twitter @atlbargains.

9 comments Add your comment

Lauren needs to go back huntin' bargains

December 21st, 2010
8:57 am

Where are the bargains? Last week you posted “Gone deal huntin’” and took some time off. So, where are the deals? In today’s Toys R Us circular, there is a Black or White Wii for $199 and a $50 Gift card with purchase. Net purchase price is $149. This is better that the $169 Black Friday price. Do you need some more help finding bargains for fellow Atlantans?

Jodi

December 21st, 2010
10:25 am

^^^^ Thanks, I need to check out Toys R Us for that Wii deal.

Lauren Davidson

December 21st, 2010
10:36 am

Cool! I’ll be posting some deals later as well.

JoeV

December 21st, 2010
11:08 am

Lauren needs to go back huntin’ bargains

December 21st, 2010
8:57 am

You need to get life and remember that this is a free blog on a free website. Your expectations are set WAY too high! Thanks for the blogs Lauren.

BTW, Walmart is offering the same deal on the Wii. Although I would consider Walmart’s deal to be the better value b/c a Walmart GC has more buying power than a Toys “R” Us GC. You can’t buy necessities at Toys “R” Us.

ladilovely

December 21st, 2010
1:34 pm

YOU ONLY LET THE ONES THAT ARE GLORIFING YOU THRU. TYPICAL

CHIPSHIRLEY.COM

December 21st, 2010
2:04 pm

HERE’S A GREAT GIFT IDEA! THE CENSUS JUST GAVE US A NEW U.S. HOUSE OF REP. SEAT!

GIVE ATHENS OUR SEAT!

GIVE A VOICE TO THIS REGION OF GEORGIA!
THE NEW DISTRICT SHOULD BE FROM OCONEE COUNTY WEST THROUGH ATHENS!
CHIPSHIRLEY.COM

Whatever

December 21st, 2010
2:44 pm

That says all I need to know about a political candidate/opinion – your advertising is on a “bargain” blog.

Get a life.

Tuckergirl

December 21st, 2010
3:02 pm

Hey, Lauren! Found a deal on Atlanta on the Cheap you might want to share. Through January 3, 2011, kids bowl free at Suburban Lanes. The deal is good for one free game per day per kid. The games need to be purchased before 6:00 p.m. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include shoe rental. They’re located on 2619 North Decatur Rd, Decatur. Not a bad deal!

Lauren needs to go back huntin' bargains

December 21st, 2010
4:52 pm

Dear JoeV:
I actually have a very good life. I’m merely comparing the current bargain hunter to her predecessor Ms. Cash. Through this post, Lauren has not posted anything really added value to this section. Not sure how free this post is unless Lauren works for free. Hey JoeV, you might need to learn the definition for free. Advertisers, subscription, etc pay for the running of the AJC the last time I checked!