9 cheap and free things to do around Denver in December 2020

Eufemia Didonato

Maj. Jared Scott, makes sure NORAD’s Santa tracker is working correctly at Tyndall Air Force Base on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 in Panama City, Fla. (Heather Howard/News Herald via AP) Night light Golden shines a little brighter every December. Although the city’s annual Candlelight Walk is canceled, the holiday spirit […]

Maj. Jared Scott, makes sure NORAD’s Santa tracker is working correctly at Tyndall Air Force Base on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 in Panama City, Fla. (Heather Howard/News Herald via AP)

Night light

Golden shines a little brighter every December. Although the city’s annual Candlelight Walk is canceled, the holiday spirit and fun continues. Golden’s impressive holiday lights transform the city into a winter wonderland with the Clear Creek Walking Path, Golden History Park, Parfet Park and the Visitors Center spectacularly illuminated with an estimated 45,000 bulbs. You can also stroll through Golden to find 11 different holiday storyboards, each highlighting holiday traditions from cultures around the world. Plus, on Dec. 5, 12 and 19, look for holiday characters like the Grinch and elves strolling through downtown, spreading cheer with a little help from the Golden Hayride. And, each Friday before Christmas, experience new ice sculptures at various locations. Families can bundle up, pick up hot cocoa at a local coffee shop and enjoy a walk with holiday decorations and lights all around. For a full review of the city’s holiday schedule, go to visitgolden.com.

RELATED: Submit your house’s holiday lights for a chance to win $250 from Ace Hardware

Right on target

On Dec. 5 and 6, get 10 percent off Target gift cards in-store or online, up to $500. If you buy the maximum, it’s a savings of $50. The offer is only available via the store’s loyalty program, Target Circle, as the digital offer must be added to the account. The one-time-use discount is only valid for a single transaction, so make sure all of the gift cards are purchased at the same time. Smart shoppers should consider pre-paying for a few shopping trips in 2021 and purchase one or two high-value cards. Better yet, use the discounted gift cards on sale or clearance items (and/or with coupons) for optimum savings. target.com

Sweet dreams

You may not be able to go to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House to experience the Colorado Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the whimsical production from your couch. Rocky Mountain PBS will air special holiday broadcasts of the show in December at no cost. The show is a filmed performance of the full production, complete with orchestra, costumes, scenery and special effects. Here’s the schedule: Dec. 18 at 3 p.m.; Dec. 19 at 1 a.m.; Dec. 24 at 7 p.m.; and Dec. 25 at midnight. The Nutcracker also may be streamed for free on the Rocky Mountain PBS app, any time throughout the holiday season. For information about how to access the Rocky Mountain PBS channel in a specific area, visit rmpbs.org.

Freeze tag

This annual offer from Wendy’s will leave you a little chilly … er, frosty. If you want to top off your burger and fries with something sweet at a bargain price, get Wendy’s Frosty Key Tag for just $2. Then, every time you visit in 2021, flash your key tag and enjoy a free Jr. Frosty with any purchase. The cool deal pays for itself in just a few visits. The tags are available through Jan. 31, while supplies last, in-restaurant and online. New this year: You can also purchase a digital key tag via its app. davethomasfoundation.org

Gratitude flows

Starbucks is brimming with gratitude for our front-line and first responders dealing with the pandemic. For the second time this year, Starbucks is offering a complimentary tall brewed coffee (hot or iced) to any customer who identifies as a front-line responder, through Dec. 31. The offer can be redeemed at Starbucks company-operated locations and select licensed stores. Those eligible for the freebie include doctors, nurses, public health workers, pharmacists, dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, dentists and dental hygienists, mental health workers, hospital staff (including janitors, housekeeping, and security) and active-duty military. stories.starbucks.com/

Market place

With so many traditional holiday markets being canceled, there’s a little merry in seeing a new one pop up (literally) in Denver. Thanks to the same team that organizes the popular Fetch Markets, more than 30 local makers, designers and creators will present a one-stop outdoor shopping experience at the Cherry Creek Holiday Market on Fillmore Plaza. The marketplace will be filled with European chalet-style décor, twinkling lights and plenty of festive backdrops for holiday selfies. Enjoy live music from local bands, solo acts, choirs and carolers. Plus, the holiday essential warm beverages will be available for sale, including themed cocktails, hot chocolate, apple cider and coffee. The event is open Sunday-Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., through Dec. 23. Entry is free, but reservations are encouraged as market capacity is limited. cherrycreekholidaymarket.com

Tooth fairy

Many people fear the dentist not because of pain, but because of the cost. Comfort Dental is helping those who otherwise can’t afford care. On Dec. 23, the dental network is hosting its 37th annual Care Day with free services from 7:30 a.m. to noon. Patients are assisted on a first-come, first-served basis, so plan accordingly. Choose from a variety of basic dental services, from a cleaning to an extraction. More serious issues are handled individually, at the staff’s discretion. There are dozens of locations throughout Colorado. For more information, call 303-820-2273. comfortdental.com/care-day

Loyalty pays

Walgreens shoppers need to prepare for big changes with the drugstore’s popular loyalty program, Balance Rewards. The long-running program recently ended and transitioned into myWalgreens. Earn 1% in Walgreens Cash on all purchases and 5%  on Walgreens-branded products. Members can also expect to receive bonus offers for more rewards. Benefits also include personalized deals and product recommendations based on your purchase history. For existing Balance Rewards members, join by Jan. 31 to keep any existing rewards. walgreens.com

Santa watch

No need to worry, Santa is still on his way. The team at NORAD keeps close track of his sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer on Dec. 24. Curious kids everywhere can get updates on the big guy’s whereabouts from a computer or mobile device. Even before the big night, families can explore a digital Santa’s Village to play games, enjoy holiday music, read books and watch movies. And, just like Mr. Claus, the site can speak to children in many languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese. The command center’s tracking methods are top-secret, but Rudolph’s glowing red nose might help satellites track his journey. If NORAD can’t reassure kids that there will be presents under the tree on Christmas morning, nothing will. noradsanta.org

More freebies, discounts and deals at MileHighOnTheCheap.com.

Every month, Laura Daily and Bryan K. Chavez at MileHighOnTheCheap.com compile “Cheap Checklist” to help smart shoppers find freebies, discounts and deals. Send tips to [email protected] 14 to 21 days in advance.

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