‘Ho, ho, ho, who wouldn’t go?’ Holidays for less

The holidays mean Santa baby; tree trimming, family, food and fun! 

The spirit in the city is different this time of year. If your holiday spirit has been awakened, you are already in the swing of things. If you are having trouble getting started though, you may need a little help. Try doing holidays on the fly (and mostly free).

In the heart of downtown Dallas, the Downtown Wanderland beckons you to eat, drink, shop and be jolly for the holidays.  Hosted by Downtown Dallas Inc., this holiday sidewalk fair has lots of free things to offer through Dec. 17. 

Main Street is alive with pop-up markets Thursday to Saturday with live music and visits with Santa Claus. There will be a live screening of the film“The Polar Express”on Friday night and whimsical window displays at Neiman Marcus will entertain those waiting in line for a photo op with Santa (call ahead for times). events.downtowndallas.com/downtownwanderland

For those wandering through Richardson, the lawn next door to City Hall is decorated like Santa’s village for the season. Each year, the city brightens up the area with lighting exhibits and gingerbread-style houses full of fun for the tiny ones. There are rides available on the miniature train, photo ops with Santa and live entertainment to get visitors into the spirit.  It’s free, Thursday- Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. through Dec.18. www.cor.net/index.aspx?page=1303

You can also visit the gardens of Christmas at the Dallas Arboretum during the “12 Days of Christmas”exhibit. A creative team from the Dallas Opera worked together to create a lighted interpretation of “A Christmas Carol.” Beneath the 12 gazebos are elaborate scenes and captivating characters featured in the timeless Dickens classic. 

Also at the Arboretum, the historic DeGolyer House boasts halls with hundreds of Santa figurines. For those too grown up for Santa, you can enjoy elegant evening dinners, music and a holiday market for your gifting pleasure. Holiday-themed teas are also on the menu. www.dallasarboretum.org/ 

For those with more whimsical tastes, the Labyrinth Walk Coffeehouse in Oak Cliff is hosting the Winter Solstice Celebration on Dec. 17. 

You can align with the cosmos beginning at 6 p.m. for an indoor ceremony to celebrate the seasonal return of the light. Music, dancing, drumming and storytelling are among the attractions. The event is free, but donations are appreciated. www.labyrinthwalkcoffeehouse.com/wsc2016.html

Other freebies around town include the Trains at NorthPark from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Jan. 8. Ride the trolley to Oak Cliff for a nominal charge and explore the Bishop Arts District for free, or take the DART D-Link for a cost-efficient ride around town. 

You can enjoy the holidays without spending a lot of money!