Holiday Fun in So Cal for Working Nurses on a Budget


Holiday Fun in So Cal for Working Nurses on a Budget

By Suzanne Ridgway
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The kids are out of school for the holidays, you have relatives or other visitors in town, and you've taken a few vacation days from work. In spite of tight entertainment budgets, the last thing you want to do with a crowded house full of people is stay in and just stare at each other. Happily, there are plenty of festivities happening around Southern California during the next two weeks that will ensure everyone has fun and that are easy on the wallet. Here are some suggestions to make the most of the season without spending a lot of cash. Please check by phone or website for the latest information and details before heading out.

 Las Posadas at Olvera Street — free

 At Olvera Street, merchants and their families annually stage Las Posadas, a singing candlelight procession that re-enacts Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay before Jesus’ birth. A tradition going back centuries in Spain and Mexico, this is also one of the oldest seasonal events in Los Angeles and occurs every evening between December 16 and December 24 (Christmas Eve). Beginning at the Adobe Avila, costumed participants go door to door along the street of shops, singing songs and hymns in English and Spanish. They are turned away repeatedly from each place until finally they find shelter at the end. Then there is celebrating with pan dulce and champurrado (a type of hot chocolate), a ballet folklorico, a pinata for the children, and more music. The event is free and the public is invited. (213) 485-8372,;

Christmas Eve Performances at the Music Center — free

On Christmas Eve, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission will once again hold its annual free Holiday Celebration at the Music Center. Community and professional choirs, dance troupes, and various types of musical acts bring the spirit of many cultures and holiday traditions to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Last year, there were performances by 40 different groups. The event is free and runs all afternoon. No tickets or reservations are required, but admission is on a first-come, first-served basis. The program will be broadcast live on KCET.  

 Outdoor Ice Skating in So Cal — usually less than $10

Westfield Promenade Woodland Hills 6100 Topanga Cyn. Blvd at Erwin St — thru Feb. 6
Downtown on Ice Pershing Square, 532 South Olive Los Angeles, 90013 — thru Jan. 17
ICE at Santa Monica 1324 5th Street (at Arizona Ave.) Santa Monica, 90401 — thru Feb. 15
Irvine Spectrum’s Holiday On Ice 71 Fortune Drive, Irvine, 92618 — thru Feb. 21
LA Kings Holiday Ice 800 W. Olympic Blvd Los Angeles, 90015 — thru Jan. 1

For information and a description of each skating rink from Kayte Deioma, Los Angeles Travel Guide, go to and search "Los Angeles Ice Skating."

Christmas Tree Farms — Choose and cut your own tree — cheaper than store-bought

If you’d rather get away for a day and like your Christmas trees really, really fresh, there are several tree farms outside L.A. where you can select and cut down your own tree. (They don’t get any fresher than that!) Some of them are in places such as Claremont, Valencia and Santa Clarita. The California Christmas Tree Association has a website with locations for dozens of “Choose and Cut” farms where you can go choose and cut (or have them cut) your tree from among hundreds of trees growing in a Christmas tree forest. Don’t worry, it’s all renewable. For every tree cut, they plant at least one, sometimes three more. Call the individual farm for directions, details and services available before hitting the road.

Suburban Lights

Sadly, The DWP has cancelled their usual light display at Griffith Park this year, but there are other places that are well-known for resident-driven lighting and decorations that sometimes go for blocks and blocks. The Seaside Rancho section of Torrance (also known as Sleepy Hollow) near Roberts Road, off PCH; the Upper Hastings Ranch area near Alegria; or Woodland Hills’ appropriately-named Candy Cane Lane all put on a good show.            

Do yourself a favor, though, and park somewhat outside the perimeter of the busy area and walk in. Parking and traffic congestion can be a hassle nearer in. If you stroll through the neighborhood, you can really appreciate the fabulous decorations, and perhaps share your opinions about the best ones with other visitors who’ve come to appreciate the scene. There are no official organizations that organize these neighborhood displays, just informal neighborhood groups, so a further source of information might be the cities’ Chambers of Commerce or a realtor knowledgeable about the area.


For those wishing to celebrate their African heritage and cultural traditions, Kwanzaa celebrations occur the last week of December in various parts of the city. The observance of Kwanzaa is meant to bring “a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.” The largest local Kwanzaa event is usually held in the Leimert Park neighborhood at the end of December. The meaning and principles of this “Celebration of Family, Community and Culture,” are detailed on the website,
The California African American Museum, adjacent to the California Science Center at Exposition Park, also holds an annual celebration on the first evening of Kwanzaa, December 26., (213) 744-7432

Our favorite activity suggestion website...

If you need still more inexpensive entertaining ideas, either holiday-related or not, check out Just specify a range of dates and type in the keyword “free” for a list of no-charge activities all over the County.  

Whatever you do this season, it’s really about enjoying family and friends, appreciating what we have, and staying in the spirit, despite the crowds and the craziness.  A Happy Holiday to All!    

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