It’s always easy to find ways to spend money during the holiday season, but here are some ideas for those looking to cultivate a little festive spirit without dropping any cash. Theater lovers, cocoa connoisseurs and competitive caroler—there’s something for everyone in our area’s eclectic array of holiday happenings. You might even stumble across Mr. and Mrs. Claus along the way.


Photo: Annette Benedetti

Lighting of Maddax WoodsIf the traffic on Peacock Lane or the fees for other holiday light shows have you hesitating, here’s an alternative option in West Linn. Follow the lighted holiday trail through the woods to the viewing platform on the Willamette River.
Dec. 1- 31
4:30-9 p.m.
5785 River St., West Linn

Milwaukie’s Umbrella Parade
The Umbrella Parade takes place from the Adams Street Connector down to City Hall with Milwaukie’s High School Band leading the way. Festivities and treats are available for all at City Hall, where the tree lighting will occur. Don’t forget to go all out on those umbrellas, as prizes will be awarded in several categories. Santa makes an appearance and cookies and cocoa will be also be provided. Please park in downtown Milwaukie on the street or utilize the public parking lot located across Main Street from City Hall, which is between Jackson and Harrison St.
Dec. 3
3:45 p.m. (parade), 5 p.m. (tree lighting)
The parade will convene at the Adams Street Connector next to the Main St. Light Rail platform.

Free activities are available from start to finish at this event, put on by the Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance, including live music and theater performances, a free family holiday movie, rides on a double-decker bus and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. For those who are itching to get an early start on gift-buying, local businesses will also be offering discounts on merchandise and the charity-minded can participate in the toy drive by dropping unwrapped toys and children’s clothing at various drop-boxes along the event route. All donations go directly to the Rafael House of Portland, assisting domestic violence survivors.
Dec. 3
10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
SE 13th Ave. and Bybee to Tacoma Ave. (see website for participating businesses)

Holiday Performance by Olympian Skater Brian Boitano
Boitano, who won the gold medal in figure skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics, will be skating to “Silent Night” at the Lloyd Center rink in this free performance. Fans can also enter a contest online or at the Lloyd Center customer service kiosk to be one of 20 who will have the opportunity for a meet and greet experience with the Olympian.
Dec 3
11 a.m.
953 Lloyd Center


photo: USAGHumphries via Flickr

The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition
While you’ll have to provide your own figgy pudding, the competitive caroling is free at Pioneer Square’s 3rd Annual Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition, and there will be plenty of it as various groups will be belting out their best holiday favorites to earn your loudest cheers. Audience participation determines the winners in this fun, family event.
Dec. 9
5:30-7:30 p.m.
701 SW Sixth Ave.

26th Annual Tuba Christmas Concert
More cowbell? How about “more tuba!” That’s what you’ll get at this Portland holiday mainstay as nearly 300 tubas play popular holiday tunes in a group sing-along like no other.
Dec. 10
1:30-3 p.m.
701 SW 6th Ave.

Crafty Wonderland Holiday Art and Craft Market
It’s like Etsy throwing a party in your neighborhood! Crafty Wonderland features over 250 vendors selling handmade goods from the bizarre to the beautiful. Admission is free, but you may want to bring along some extra cash for that unexpected, perfect gift you’ll want to pick up for that special someone on your list.
Dec. 10 and 11
11 a.m.-6 p.m.
777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd.


Milwaukie Winter Solstice and Christmas Ships Viewing
Milwaukie drops another holiday favorite at the Milwaukie Riverfront Park where solstice revelers can enjoy a bonfire, hot cocoa, carolers and holiday pie as they take in a great view of the Christmas Ship Fleet. Park in downtown Milwaukie and access the park via the Harrison Street and McLoughlin Boulevard crossing.
Dec. 17
4:30-8 p.m.
Milwaukie Riverfront Park
Whale Watching
If the silver bells of the city are getting to be a bit much, why not head out for a more natural holiday experience at the Oregon Coast? They may not carol for you, but the whales of the Pacific Northwest will certainly inspire some wonder. Whale Week begins just two days after Christmas with viewpoints up and down the Oregon Coast.
Dec. 27-Dec. 31
Various locations on the Oregon Coast


What’s your favorite free thing to do with your kids? Tell us in the comments below!
—Ty Adams