Holiday dates that won’t break the bank


Let’s face it. During the holiday season, money gets a little...shall we say, tight? With electronic gadgets, the latest handbags and accessories, and high price tag holiday dinners, our wallets are squeezed within an inch of its life. Instead of letting your dating life take a nosedive during the festivities, switch over to interesting and fun budget dating ideas to keep sparks flying and the love (or lust) alive.

Tree lightings and holiday parades

Snuggle up with your sweetie for a festive and cheerful evening of lights and goodies. There are so many tree lightings around town where lovers and children alike can grab a cup of hot coco, listen to live music, take photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and enjoy the holiday spirit with the rest of the community. And the best part: These events are free!

For a full list of tree lightings and events, check out our list of things to do in December, here.

The cartoon character Olivia the pig makes her way down the parade route at the 40th annual Holiday Bowl Parade.

The cartoon character Olivia the pig makes her way down the parade route at the 40th annual Holiday Bowl Parade.

(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Paint nights

Get creative with your bae at two popular locales in San Diego county. During the month of December, Miss B’s Coconut Club (Pacific Beach) and Park 101 (North County), are presenting holiday paint nights to the artistic local set (or anyone who just likes to be a kid for an evening). Both locations happen to offer the evenings for $25, which includes all supplies including paint, brushes, a canvas and apron. Get in the holiday spirit at Park 101 with their seasonal cocktail, Wreck the Halls, crafted with amontillado sherry, Lillet Blanc, pomegranate, grapefruit, cinnamon and citrus.

For tickets to Miss B’s Coconut Club, visit

For tickets to Park 101, visit

Movie night under the stars

If painting isn’t your jam, Park 101 has another budget holiday option available. Every Wednesday evening in December, check out the sunset movie series, featuring holiday favorites like Home Alone, Christmas Vacation and ELF. To keep the budget in line, split a meat and cheese board for perfect shared munchies, or sweeten up with ice cream scoops and sandwiches. Tips: Check out the website for this year’s movie titles, plan to arrive early to grab seats by the firepit, and snag Happy Hour deals before the show starts.

3040 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad, 760.434.2217,

December Nights, Balboa Park

Now in its 41st year, this annual event is perfect for those on a budget who want to get into the spirit. Held on Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8, the festivities include free admission to the museums on both evenings from 5-9 p.m. (score!), live performances from carolers to ballet, music, theatre, food, shopping and an epic tree lighting in the organ pavilion. Dance with your sweetie and sip hot cocoa to the sounds of the season without breaking the bank.

Throughout Balboa Park, 1549 El Prado,

Tour the city of lights

Take yourself and your honey back to childhood days with a cozy trolley ride this holiday. The Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Lights and Sights Tour costs a budget-friendly $25 per adult and includes a 75-minute ride through Old Town, Embarcadero, Garrison Street, and Balboa Park, along with holiday facts and traditions, carol singing, and all-around merriment. Reservations are required, and required check-in time is 30 minutes to departure. Dates include Dec. 7-23 and Dec. 26-30 at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. timeslots. Tips: Park for free at Old Town Market, located at 4010 Twiggs St., and skip Dec. 7 or 8, as Balboa Park is closed for December Nights.