How I’ve Turned My Bad Habits into Your (free) Holiday Fun!

So I have this really bad habit. I’m pretty much every marketing person’s dream come true. I sign up for every single company/organization email list and very rarely unsubscribe. Why? Because I have this irrational fear of missing out on an amazing deal or fun event. Kind of like Gmail Hoarders?

It really became a problem. Aside from important work, volunteer, & personal emails, messages piled up unread. Those that I skimmed were left sitting around in my flooded inbox. Before I knew it, my inbox was at 7,500+  messages! It got very overwhelming and frankly very useless. So I finally buckled down and got it organized. Hooray!

It took me about a month, but I figured out a system to get it under control. To the left is my insane way of keeping my gmail inbox sane.

Yes it’s a little bit crazy, but it works wonders. And guess what — now I’m organized enough to share all my gold-mine finds!

As you can see in blue, I have a label called: “Consume.” Email newsletters than I subscribe to end up being filed under these sub-labels and contain coupons, groupons, new restaurant openings, festivals, and more! 

Today I’ll be sharing things that fall under the sub-label “$D:” events and happenings in my city! With the holiday season, the amount that we are pressured  to “Consume” can be overwhelming with expenses like gifts, parties, and checking off endless lists.

So, I decided to compile a list of FREE Christmas events in San Diego. Perhaps I’ll see some of you this December! If you’re not in San Diego, I recommend subscribing to local publications. I do CityBeat and DiscoverSD. 

(Also, if you need Google organizing assistance, feel free to email me for a consultation and I’d love to help! diningattiffanys@gmail.com)

 FREE Christmas Events in San Diego!

12/7-12/8: December Nights at Balboa Park
Friday, December 7 (5pm-10pm) & Saturday, December 8 (12pm-10pm)
This is one of the most popular events in San Diego since it’s the largest, free community festival in San Diego, all themed around the holidays! Somehow, after living in San Diego for over 20 years, I’ve never been. I’m so excited to finally go tomorrow because all of the museums have free admission (5-9pm), there is live music and performances, artisan vendors are selling fun gifts, and of course — there will be TONS of food to try from around the world!

I’ve heard that parking is a complete pain, so here are some options:
Brave the Traffic: Park along Park Boulevard at Inspiration Point and at the San Diego Zoo.
Be environmentally-friendly: Public transportation is available by taking the trolley to the City College Station and taking Route 7 to Park Blvd. Always check with the bus driver to make sure you’re on the correct bus! You can also call 511 to speak with a transit operator. All-day MTS passes are $5.
 – Brave the crowds: You can park at at Tailgate Park at Imperial Ave. and 13th St.($5) or the City College Lots between 16th and B street (free). My friend said that she tried this last year and there was an extremely long wait for the shuttle, so beware!
Get some exercise (I sure will!): Be sure to wear a jacket/scarf, park in a neighboring area, and walk! 

12/9 Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade at Gaslamp Hilton Park
Sunday, December 9 || 3pm Gaslamp Hilton Park, 401 K (lol) St 92101 (4th &K)
First I’ll start with a story. So this one time I was walking through a very crowded farmers market after work, still wearing my knee-length work skirt. I saw a lady come toward me walking her  irresistibly fluffy dog. I knew that if I didn’t move out of the way fast, the dog would graze against my bare leg since it was so crowded. And you know what I did? I just let it happen. 

2012 Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade presented by Downtown Ace HardwareI really needed to pet the adorable, fluffy dog but since there was no time/space to stop and ask the lady,  I brushed up against the dog out of snuggly desperation.
 
Yes it’s true — I’m a dog-creeper.

So, if you’re like me and love creeping on dogs, or ever if you have a healthier appreciation for animals, I think you’ll enjoy this event!

I hope I can attend because I’d love to see (and perhaps kidnap) some cute animals in holiday gear! I think you can sign up for a $15-$20 fee if you’d like to be in the parade with your pet. Click on the picture for more information (and scroll down for the information unless you’d like to be subjected to a montage of bikini-clad women frolicking around Gaslamp). There is also a free pet expo from 1pm-5pm.

Ongoing – Gingerbread Village at Manchester Grand Hyatt
December 1 – December 31 || 1 Market Pl  San Diego, CA 92101, Grand Lobby
 Gingerbread Village Project at the Manchester Grand HyattIf you’re downtown, check out the 5th Annual Gingerbread Village and Gingerbread Hotel in the Grand Lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt! The gingerbread houses are created by elementary students and the Gingerbread Hotel is a replica of the hotel it sits in! Vote for your favorite and the hotel will donate $2000 on behalf of the winning elementary school.

The Hyatt is also a drop-off location for Toys for Tots, so be sure to bring unopened toys if you’ve got ’em to gift the children in our community that are in need. The nearby Seaport Village area is bound to be decked out for Christmas so that can be your next stop!

Ongoing – Christmas Light Neighborhood Displays
So I’m blessed to come from a family that has a fine appreciation for things that look nice. My parents subscribe to HGTV magazine and I’ve watched way more HGTV Design Star than E! or MTV. Because of this, one of my favorite Christmas traditions is driving around to see Christmas Light Displays and picking our favorites (we also judge how nice people’s lawns/landscaping look the rest of the year, but that’s another story..). Here are some ideas from some of my friends:


 John B. told me about..
..Belardo Lights, 11/24-12/26, 5:30pm-10pm

I am definitely going to visit Belardo Lights this year. It’s a family-owned light display synchronized with holiday music! They are located at 5306 Belardo Dr. 92124. Tune in to 89.7 to hear the synchronized music. The best parking is across the street heading down the hill. 

If that doesn’t sound incredible already, wait until you read their story. The organizers are a father along with his two sons who have both been diagnosed with autism at a young age. It’s really moving to see how Christmas lights have become more than just a fun display, but for a father to connect with his children and reach out to others. They also raise money for the National Foundation for Autism Research. As I write this I’m tearing up a little, I can’t wait to see it in person and support this amazing family. If you go, sign their guestbook, share your thoughts, and leave an inspirational message for the two brothers. 

 George Z. & Kristen S. said they’ve visited the neighborhood displays in..

..Chula Vista, 12/11-12/26, 5pm-10pm
This is a great option if you’re in the South Bay! There is a  Christmas Circle between First and Second Ave., off H St. & 1st Ave.

Ella B. suggested..  
..Point Loma (I couldn’t find time/date info, please share if you know!)

Christmas in beachy areas always reminds me of spending the holidays in Hawaii with my sister. Check out some lights in Point Loma and head over to the nearby Shelter Island for a romantic holiday evening! Take Interstate 8 heading west towards Nimitz Blvd., turn left onto Nimitz, then turn right onto Chatsworth, then left onto Garrison.


Sharon H., Analise D., Abby I., Lukas S., Kristen S., Nat R. and I highly recommend..

..Christmas Card Lane
This is a must-see in San Diego. A whole neighborhood decks out their houses in lights and giant wooden Christmas Cards. I went last year with some friends. Be sure to find the house with the large, front yard train set. It’s amazing! They also serve hot cocoa and cider. Yum!

This wonderful neighborhood is located at Oviedo Street – off Black Mtn. Rd. and includes Twin Trails, Carmel Mtn. Rd.,Ellingham St., Renato St., Oviedo St., Twin Trails Dr., Barrymore St., Totherham Ave., Talca Ave., Talca Ct., Allenbrook Way, Davenport Ave., Amber Sky Ln.

Are these neighborhoods too far? Click here for more!

I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am with my newly organized Gmail inbox. After being a little over-committed this year, my new system saves me so much more time so I can relax and enjoy the holidays. I hope my email madness has now been channeled into your joy and fun this Christmas season.

Stay tuned next week for more Christmas Cheer!

With love,
Tiffany R.
Dining at Tiffany’s

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