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Holiday Fun Two Ways: Blowout vs Shoestring Budget

The holidays are upon us, and the opportunities to get out and enjoy the sights and the sounds of the season are numerous here in Music City! The choices can be almost overwhelming (see the Nashville Mom’s Blog Holiday Guide)! If you need a little guidance, here are a few ideas to help you blow your budget while doing the holidays up in high style. But wait! If you want to enjoy some Christmas cheer and still have cash left over to play Santa Claus, you’ll probably need some more economical options too. Without further ado, I present to you: Holiday Fun Two Ways—a short list of Nashville holiday happenings, one version in which cost is not a consideration paired with a “shoestring budget” alternative companion.


There’s so much to do at the Opryland complex during the holidays that a visit here can quickly become be the mother of all blowouts—especially if you bring the whole family. If you or your mate just got a fat, end-of-year bonus, though, you can really live it up. However, if you’re still scratching off lottery tickets in vain, you can definitely still enjoy Opryland. Just slip on a comfy pair of shoes, and bring your own snacks.

Photo from the Opryland Hotel website

Photo courtesy of Opryland Hotel website

Blowout: Make your way to ICE! This year, the classic poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is brought to life in 2 million pounds of colorful ice sculptures. You can even take a ride down a two-story-tall ice slide. ($15-$42)
The Opryland folks don’t want you to miss “America’s #1 holiday show,” the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes, which is returning for its final season at the Grand Ole Opry House. ($25-$95)
By now, you’re probably getting hungry, so hopefully you booked a table at the Old Hickory Steakhouse and are set to enjoy a perfectly cooked Black Angus steak alongside a refreshing bourbon cocktail.

Shoestring: You can also have a lovely time (and get plenty of festive photo-ops) simply walking around the grounds of the Opryland Hotel—inside and out—for free! (Nominal parking fee may apply.) Enjoy more than two million dazzling Christmas lights and the unique holiday décor located throughout the expansive atrium which is a year-round botanical garden. Be on the lookout for the Christmas trees decorated by country artists and other celebrities throughout the resort. Kids love running along the paths, marveling at all the bright lights, and—chances are—their sense of wonder will rub off on you.
You can also bundle up and explore the outside grounds, which include a large, illuminated nativity scene and features special lighting effects and an audio rendition of the biblical story of the birth of Christ.
Opryland happenings on-going now through January 3.

Home Alone

photo courtesy of Nashville Symphony website.

photo courtesy of Nashville Symphony website.

Blowout: Settle into your seat at the opulent Schermorhorn Symphony Center and watch the holiday classic Home Alone. This event features composer John Williams’ score performed live by the Nashville Symphony while the movie plays on the big screen. Whether or not you’ve seen this funny and heartwarming family movie, this is the way to do it. Saturday, Dec. 6th, 7 pm ($30-$66); valet parking ($20)
While you’re out downtown, treat yourself to dinner before the show. Etch, longtime Nashville chef Deb Paquette’s latest venture, is at the top of many critics’ and diners’ “best of” lists—for good reason. Entrees include creative takes on meat, fish, and vegetarian fare. Appetizers include a drool-worthy butter tasting. (Entrees range from $21-$38)

Shoestring: Have an old-fashioned family movie night at home! Rent or stream Home Alone for just a few dollars ((or check it out for free from the Nashville Public Library). Order a pizza from your favorite Nashville pizza joint—inspired by Kevin, the young hero of the movie. (We suggest refraining from telling the delivery guy to “leave it on the doorstep and get the hell out of here,” however!) Bonus activity: Have a family dance party to Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree!

Gingerbread House Making & Photo with Santa

Photo by Tina VonHagel

Photo by Tina VonHagel

Blowout: Cheekwood: Tour Nashville’s premier botanical garden, all decked out for Christmas. This year, they have upped the ante with live reindeer and a chance to visit Santa in his workshop. Cheekwood is also offering gingerbread house decorating workshops for adults only as well as for families. The family gingerbread workshops take place Saturday, December 6 and Saturday, December 13 from 10 am – 12 pm.
If you want a photo keepsake of your children with the man in red, portraits with Santa are available on select Fridays and all Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 am to 2 pm.
Admission to Cheekwood: $7-14; family gingerbread workshop: $45-60; photo with Santa: “additional fees apply.”

Shoestring: Buy a gingerbread house kit and make it yourself at home; if you don’t have the time or inclination for that, bake up a batch of gingersnap cookies—they’ll taste better than the house anyway!
As for the photo with Santa, stop by Bass Pro Shop at Opry Mills to get a FREE photo with Santa. They also have kids craft and activity tables set up for while you wait. (Every day until December 24.) If you’re really not into baking, you can stroll down to Sweet Cece’s and get a frozen yogurt!

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