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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cheap Date Wednesday: New Orleans Christmas Edition!

Ha, what a joke. I used the word "cheap" in a Christmas post! Nothing about Christmas is cheap!  But if your gift lists have already thinned your wallet, here are some ideas for less-expensive ways to celebrate the season in New Orleans.
Of course you have to do the Christmas traditions. On Sunday the 19th you can actually spend the whole day in celebration. Park in the quarter early to get a spot and take a French Quarter Christmas decorations walk as the sun goes down. Make your way to St. Louis Cathedral by 5 pm for the Cathedral Christmas Concert. As soon as you leave, cross the street and join the carolers in Jackson Square for a chance to make your own music and listen to local celebrities and politicians attempt to carry a tune. You can buy hot chocolate there, but if you're still cold when you leave, may I suggest Sucre? It's not even remotely cheap, but it's cheaper than (some) dinners, so if you skip a meal you can maybe afford one little cup of cocoa. TOTALLY WORTH IT. While you're there you can pick up gifts for the hard-to-shop-for.
If you have kiddies, you could start your celebrating a little earlier: City Park is having a snow day on the morning of December 19th at Dreyfous Meadow. It's free, it opens at nine, and you can stay until the snow melts.
Perhaps you don't have kids, but maybe you have guests. Or maybe you were planning an extravagant celebratory dinner with your insignificant other. You must try a reveillon menu! Select from participating restaurants here. You get a splurge dinner for a slightly-less-than-splurge price. For a lower-cost option, enjoy free live jazz by the amazing Jeremy Davenport at the Davenport Lounge in the Ritz-Carlton. All you have to do is find your own parking and buy the cheapest drink for this to be a $20 date (Pretty sure the beers are $10 at the lounge). But what could be more special than the Ritz-Carlton at Christmas? An even cheaper alternative is the Christmas Choirs at the Hotel Monteleone. Admission is free to hear high school choirs throughout the season. I imagine some of them are pretty ghastly but you'll feel good for encouraging budding musicians.
It's a tradition to take family and friends to Christmas in the Oaks at City Park, and at $7 for a walking tour it's not pricey. Basically it's lots of lights and kids and Mr. Bingle. It's less crowded on a week night. Instead of buying expensive coffee there, go to Brocato's when you leave...with everyone else. Seriously. The line will be 700 people long, but it moves fast and you can get spumoni, which I would kill a puppy for.
A more-tacky alternative to Christmas in the Oaks is the Miracle on Fulton Street. The miracle is fake snowfalls and lots of pink and purple gauze. Not top on my list of Christmas things to do, but if you're there at the right time there's live jazz on the stage. Check the schedule out before you go.
If you still need to get some shopping done, go to Magazine street on the weekends. They're hosting "Merriment on Magazine" which is basically...nothing...really, it's just a Christmas-themed attempt to sell you something. But Magazine is always fun for window shopping, too.
And of course, there's the Christmas Tradition, as David calls it.  When he was growing up, his Dad would take the kids out on Christmas Eve (no doubt so his mom could finish wrapping!) and bring them to the Roosevelt hotel to admire the Christmas tree and other decorations. Then they'd stop at Langenstein's for fancy pre-prepared food and cold cuts and make a picnic dinner at the park. Now that the Roosevelt is reopened, we can make this a tradition again.
What traditions do you celebrate each year?


  1. Love Christmas in New Orleans.... even if there is no snow. My favorite part was just going for a run along the street car line and checking out all the mansions lit up for the holidays.

  2. Wow, there is lots to do in NO! My favorite cheap date w/ my boyfriend is ice skating. The rink is sponsored by my employer and if you have a check card or credit card issued by this employer, skate rentals are free. So it's a totally free date for us!

  3. I love that tradition. We all get together for soup on Christmas Eve. And pretty much just seat for 24 hours straight.

    YAY for our holiday weight gain tradition!

  4. Wow!! We do not have that many things going on in Utah. I will have to visit New Orleans for Christmas one year. Love all the dates rock. P.S. I hate it when classes don't kick my your bootcamp class!

  5. I'm pretty sure you could work for the N.O. chamber of commerce! Sounds lovely.

  6. Yay! As I was reading through this, I was thinking, I HAVE TO tell her about the Roosevelt! And then, you said it at the very end. I actually stayed there; when they were first re-opening they had basement bargain rates. It was awesome! And I agree about Fulton Street. Cheesy! But it is right next to Gordon Birsch, so if you hate it, you can at least have a beer. Or you can go to Rock n Sake, which is also not cheap but they have the most excellent Dragon Roll.

    BTW I made your pumpkin choc chip cookies, and I was a bit skeptical about the lack of butter, but they were delish!