The holiday season is a time for fun with family and friends.
This month is packed with events and activities — and not all of them require expensive tickets. In fact, there is a lot to do and see in the metro area that won't cost you anything beyond some free time.
The following is a list of some inexpensive and free possibilities.
Pacific Life Sounds of the Season, holiday carols and live music, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays, through Dec. 28, Gene Leahy Mall and the Old Market, free.
Holiday Strolls, live music and hot beverages, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 22, Old Market, 12th and Howard Streets, free.
Harpist Anita Jaynes, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Abrahams Library, 5111 N. 90th St., free.
John Worsham, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Florence Library, 2920 Bondesson St., free.
Robert Glaser, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10, Sorensen Library, 4808 Cass St., free.
Metro Omaha Handbells, noon to 1 p.m. Dec. 11, W. Dale Clark Library, 215 S. 15th St., free; noon to 1 p.m. Dec. 12, Millard Library, 13214 Westwood Lane, free
Cecilia Jensen, strings, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 14, Cather Library, 1905 S. 44th St., free.
Mark Sorensen, French horn, 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Dec. 20, Swanson Library, 9101 West Dodge Road, free.
Kenneth Bé, lute, 7 p.m. Dec. 12, Bancroft Street Market, 2702 Bancroft St., $10.
“Holiday Under Glass” concerts, noon to 12:45 p.m., Grace University choral groups, Wednesday; Central High Singers and String Quartet, Friday; University of Nebraska at Omaha Chamber Choir, Dec. 11; Creighton University musical theater students, Dec. 13; Madrigali et al, Dec. 18; and Central High Singers and Hand Bell Ringers, Dec. 20, Joslyn Art Museum, 22nd and Dodge Streets, free.
College of St. Mary Christmas Concert, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Our Lady of Mercy Chapel, 7000 Mercy Road. $10 adults, $5 students.
“Nutcracker Delights,” music and dance from Ever After Productions, 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Dec. 13 and 14; 2 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 15, Bellevue Little Theater, 203 W. Mission Ave., Bellevue. $12.
Holiday concerts, various times between 10:30 a.m. and closing time on Saturday, Sunday, Dec. 14, 15, 21 and 22, Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St., $9 adults, $7 seniors 62 and older, $6 children ages 3 to 12, free for members and children 2 and younger, more information: durhammuseum.org.
Festival of Christmas Scholarship Concert, Grace University musicians and Millard South High School Choir, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Joslyn Art Museum. $10.
Holiday Spectacular, area dancers and singers, 7 p.m. Saturday, Bellevue Christian Center, 1400 Harvell Drive, Bellevue, $8.
Holiday concert from the Bluffs Arts Council and Omaha Area Youth Orchestras, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Iowa Western Community College Arts Center, 2700 College Road, Council Bluffs, free.
Bethlehem House Christmas concert, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1404 Castelar St., free.
Acoustic Sundays, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., JR Hoss, Sunday; Rick Spurgin, Dec. 15; Tracy Skretta, Dec. 22; and Jeff Tomes, Dec. 29, Soaring Wings Vineyard, 17111 S. 138th St., Springfield, free.
Members of the Heartland of America Band holiday concert series, 2 p.m. Sunday at Glenwood (Iowa) High School; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Bellevue East High School; 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at Gretna High School; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 and 21 at Papillion-La Vista South High School, free.
Sarpy Serenaders Barbershop Chorus, museum open house, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sarpy County Museum, 2402 Clay St., free.
“A Pathfinder Christmas,” concert, 2 p.m. Dec. 14 , Fremont High School, 1750 N. Lincoln Ave., Fremont, Neb.; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, St. Andrew United Methodist Church, 15050 West Maple Road, freewill offerings.
River City Mixed Chorus, “Rock-n-Roll Holidays,” 7 p.m. Dec. 14 and 4 p.m. Dec. 15, Lied Education Center for the Arts, Creighton University, 24th and Cass Streets. $15 general, $8 students.
Omaha area libraries offer a variety of ornament-, card- and decoration-making workshops as well as holiday story times and other fun activities. All are free. Visit omaha.com or area library websites for times and locations.
Food drive, during the Shine the Light on Hunger drive, many downtown venues and entertainment organizations are accepting donations for the Food Bank for the Heartland through Dec. 31.
Family Nights, Victorian Christmas celebrations, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, General Dodge House, 605 Third St., Council Bluffs. $10 per family (two adults plus children younger than 18).
Ethnic Holiday Festival, celebrate the season with various traditions, crafts and entertainment, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Durham Museum, $9 adults, $7 seniors 62 and older, $6 children 3-12, free members and children 2 and younger.
“Home for the Holidays” celebration and open house, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Omaha Home for Boys, 4343 N. 52nd St., free.
Historic Homes Tour, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Joslyn Castle, 3902 Davenport St.; Storz Mansion, 3708 Farnam St.; and Barmettler House, 622 N. 38th St. $20. On Friday, park at Joslyn Castle or St. Cecilia west and northwest parking lots; on Saturday, park at those lots plus Kiewit lot across from Storz Mansion or the Duchesne lot across from Barmettler House. Shuttles will circulate among parking areas.
Holiday Fun with the Rose Theater and juggler Joey Fratelli, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Regency Court, 120 Regency Parkway, free.
Holiday in Rockbrook, family entertainment, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Rockbrook Village, 108th Street and West Center Road, free.
Prairie Christmas, old-time Christmas celebration, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Saunders County Museum, 240 N. Walnut St., Wahoo, Neb., freewill donations of money or canned goods.
Holiday Market with crafts, food and entertainment inside a big tent, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aksarben Village, 67th and Center Streets, free.
Wells Fargo Family Festival, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, downtown at Wells Fargo Bank, Omaha Children's Museum, Durham Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, W. Dale Clark Library and the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Barn (trolley service will connect venues), free.
A Day With the Dodges, costumed re-enactments of the Dodge family, staff and visitors, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, General Dodge House, $7 for adults, $5 for seniors (over 62), $3 for students 6-16, free for children 5 and younger.
Story Time With Mrs. Claus, 11 a.m. Dec. 11 and 18, Santa's Workshop at Shadow Lake Towne Center, 72nd Street and Nebraska Highway 370, Papillion, free.
Holiday Market, arts and crafts, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 14, El Museo Latino, 4701 S. 25th St., free.
Christmas in Calhoun, variety of activities and events, all day Dec. 14, Frahm House and the Washington County Museum in Fort Calhoun, mostly free, more information at fortcalhoun.org.
Holiday Fun with Momaha and Learning Express, story time and crafts for kids, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 14, Regency Court, free.
Ice Spectacular, Blade & Edge Figure Skating Club, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 17, Sidner Ice Arena, Fremont, Neb., canned good donations.
Holiday Gala on Ice, Blade & Edge Figure Skating Club, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 19, Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St., canned good donations.
Pancakes and Pajamas story time and breakfast, 9 a.m. Dec. 19, La Vista Community Center, 8116 Park View Blvd., $1 per diner (register by Dec. 16 at the community center).
Hot Wheels Holiday Drag Races, 3 p.m. Dec. 23, La Vista Community Center, free (cars will be provided if you don't have one).
Irish Christmas, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Dec. 16, Father Flanagan House Museum, 14153 Grodinsky Circle, Boys Town, free.
Christmas Stamps and Historic Creches, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Dec. 31 (closed Christmas Day), Boys Town Visitors Center and Music Hall, free.
Gingerbread at the Tabernacle, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Dec. 29 (closed Christmas Day), Kanesville Tabernacle, 222 E. Broadway, Council Bluffs, free.
Gingerbread Festival, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, through Dec. 29 (closed Christmas Day), Mormon Trail Center, 3215 State St., free.
Gingerbread Village, all day through the holidays, Magnolia Hotel Lobby, 1615 Howard St., donations to Ronald McDonald House.
Historic General Crook House Museum, Victorian Christmas elegance, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Jan. 3 (closed Christmas Day), Fort Omaha, 30th and Fort Streets, $6 adults, $5 seniors and students, $4 children 6 to 11.
Mistletoe & Holly Victorian Christmas exhibit, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays (closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day), General Dodge House, 605 Third St., Council Bluffs, $7 for adults, $5 for 62 and older, $3 for ages 6-16, free for members and children 5 and younger.
Poinsettia Tree and other holiday plants, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day), Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St., $6 adults, $3 children 6-12, free members and children 5 and younger.
Ice skating, daily through Jan. 11 once weather allows ice to form. Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 8 p.m. Sundays (closed Dec. 24 and 25), University of Nebraska Medical Center Ice Rink, between 40th and 42nd Streets, from Dewey Avenue to Emile Street, $7 (includes skate rental), call 402-559-0697 to check on closings due to weather conditions.
Ice skating, Dec. 13-Jan. 5, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 1 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, ConAgra campus, 10th and Harney Streets, $5 (includes skate rental).
Public skating, Moylan Tranquility Iceplex, 12550 West Maple Road, $8 (includes skate rental), check skate times at moylaniceplex.com; Motto McLean Ice Arena, 5015 S. 45th St., $4 ages 6 and older, $5 group, $3 skate rental, for skate times call 402-444-4955.
“Freezin' for a Reason,” fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House includes skating, waffles, face painting, balloon animals and other fun, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, UNMC Ice Rink, $7.50 per person.
Skating Extravaganza, Blade & Edge Figure Skating Club, 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 21 and 22, ConAgra campus ice rink, canned good donations.
Little Bethlehem, Living Nativity plus other sites and characters from the biblical town, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Dec. 13, 14 and 15, First Christian Church, 20794 Highway 92, Council Bluffs, free.
Living Nativity, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Faith Christian Church, 2201 S. 132nd St., free.
Living Nativity, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Dec. 14 and 15, St. Robert Bellarmine Church, parking lot at 119th and Pacific Streets, event includes a cast, stable animals and music. Free.
Living Nativity, 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 22, St. Gerald Catholic Church, 7859 Lakeview St., Ralston, free.
North Pole Winter Wonderland, family activities, Santa, sleigh rides, lights, 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. through Jan. 1, Northboro, Iowa, free.
Winter hikes, Mahoney State Park, Two Rivers Recreation Area and Louisville State Recreation Area or many others (visit www.outdoornebraska.ne.gov), $5 a day for permit.
Santa is magically visiting lots of places in the area in addition to shopping malls. Sometimes he'll just listen to children's wish lists. Other times he may read a story, have a snack or participate in an activity with visitors. A few of his locations:
Durham Museum, 810 S. 10th St., 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17. Regular admission fees apply.
Omaha Children's Museum, “Milk & Cookies With Santa,” 500 S. 20th St., 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, $20 per child, $5 per adult.
Beresheim House, 621 Third St., Council Bluffs, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, free (photos with Santa will be allowed).
Saddlebrook Library, 14850 Laurel Ave., 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, free.
Mockingbird Cupcakes, 17306 Lakeside Hills Plaza, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14 and 21, free.
Scheels' “SantaPalooza,” 168th Street and West Dodge Road, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, free.
Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St., noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, $6 adults, $3 children 6-12.
Bookworm, “Santa Paws,” 87th and Pacific Streets. Noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, pet photos with Santa, $15 donation for Hearts United for Animals.
Best Buy, “Story Time and Cookies,” Village Pointe, 168th Street and West Dodge Road, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 14, free.
Eagle Hills Golf Clubhouse, “Breakfast With Santa,” 501 Eagle Hills Drive, Papillion, $7 (tickets must be purchased by Dec. 11), call 402-597-2041.
La Vista Library, 9110 Giles Road, 10 a.m. Dec. 18, free.
NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATIONS
“Art Along the River,” New Year's Eve celebration of the arts throughout Council Bluffs, various locations, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 31, admission buttons are $10.
First Night of Play, pizza dinner, goodie bags, face painting, balloon artists, dancing and concert with Dino O'Dell, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 31, Omaha Children's Museum, 500 S. 20th St., $10 members, $14 nonmembers.
Noon Year's Eve, party with the Doo-Dads, crafts and other activities, noon ball drop, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 31, Durham Museum, 810 S. 10th St., $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for children 3-12, free for members and children 2 and younger.
Noon Year's Eve at the Zoo, party, kids' activities and balloon drop, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 31, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, $13.50 for those 12 and older, $12.50 for seniors 65 and older, $9 for children 3-11, free for children 2 and younger and zoo members.
Fireworks Spectacular, 7 p.m. Dec. 31, Gene Leahy Mall, 14th and Farnam Streets, free.