Cheap, free and more deals in Colorado this December

National Cookie Day

Cookie lovers will like “the way the cookie crumbles” on National Cookie Day. From Dec. 3 to 5, Insomnia Cookies is offering three sweet specials to celebrate the day. Anyone can stop by for a free Classic Cookie of their choice – no purchase necessary. (The offer also applies to delivery orders placed on its site. However, a $6 delivery minimum applies.) Plus, “cookie monsters” can enjoy a 12-pack of Classic Cookies for $15 or four-pack of Deluxe Cookies for $10. And, finally, members of the shop’s CookieMagic club enjoy a free six-pack of cookies. Even sweeter, through Dec. 31, new club members get their first month at no cost with promo code SWEETMAGIC. There are four shops in Colorado — Boulder, Denver (2) and Ft. Collins. insomniacookies.com

Target gift cards

Target is at the top of the list for many holiday shoppers and its gift cards are highly-coveted. However, bargain hunters know it’s nearly impossible to get a discount on the cards. That’s why this weekend special is right on target for savings. On Dec. 4 and 5, get 10 percent off Target gift cards in-store or online — up to $500. If you buy the maximum allowed, it’s a savings of $50. The offer is only available through the store’s loyalty program, Target Circle, as you must add the digital offer to your account. The one-time-use discount is only valid for a single transaction, so make sure all of the gift cards (in whatever denominations) are purchased at the same time. target.com

Santa PetSmart

Meow-y Christmas! Santa Claus even knows when furry family members have been naughty or nice. And, because they’re family, pet parents have to include them in all of the holiday traditions, including sitting on the big jolly guy’s lap. Four-legged family members can get a complimentary photo with Santa at PetSmart on Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19 — from noon to 3 p.m. each day. Schedule an appointment at petsmart.com/2021-photos-with-santa.html. Photos can be taken on your personal device or on a store device. If you choose the latter, the photo will be delivered via e-mail. For added fun, download the PetSmart app to use themed photo filters. petsmart.com

Holiday Ice Show

Ice is nice, especially when it’s a beautiful Holiday Ice Show and at the right price for budget-minded families: Free. Figure skaters present three shows at South Suburban Sports Complex and Family Sports Center on Dec. 10, 11 and 12. Skaters perform to traditional holiday music and Santa makes an appearance at the finale. Admission is free. Performances are at South Suburban (6580 S. Vine St.) in Centennial on Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 3:15 p.m. Then, on Dec. 12, at Family Sports (6901 S. Peoria St.) at 3:15 p.m. If you’re in the holiday spirit, bring some nonperishable items to any performance for donation to SECOR Food Pantry. ssprd.org

Boulder’s Freezie Fest

Celebrate winter and all things snowmen in Downtown Boulder. This year’s annual Freezie Fest (1300 Pearl St.) is on Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy visits with Santa, train rides on the Snowflake Express and loads of holiday crafts and activities along the Pearl Street Mall and beyond. Admission is free. It’s designed for kids ages 12 and under, but those of all ages can chill out and enjoy the family-friendly event. While you’re there, check out the creative and festive window displays at select Downtown Boulder businesses. They’re competing to be crowned “best in show”, as part of the shopping district’s annual holiday window display contest. boulderdowntown.com

McDonald’s Holiday Giveaway

McDonald’s and superstar performer Mariah Carey are making the holidays merrier by unwrapping a daily deal with their 12 Days of McDonald’s Deals. The fast-food giant is giving away the pop icon’s favorite menu items daily through its app – The Mariah Menu. From Dec. 13 to 24, customers can enjoy a different menu item for free each day with a $1 minimum purchase.

Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • Dec. 13 – Big Mac
  • Dec. 14 – McChicken
  • Dec. 15 – bakery item
  • Dec. 16 – Chicken McNuggets (6-piece)
  • Dec. 17 – cheeseburger
  • Dec. 18 – Hotcakes
  • Dec. 19 – McDouble
  • Dec. 20 – apple pie
  • Dec. 21 – Sausage McMuffin with Egg
  • Dec. 22 – double cheeseburger
  • Dec. 23 – sausage biscuit
  • Dec. 24 – chocolate chip cookies (2- or 3-pack.)

The giveaway is only available via a digital offer in the McDonald’s app – not in-restaurant. Our tip: The least expensive menu item for the additional purchase requirement is a fountain drink (any size), which sells for just one dollar. mcdonalds.com

Golden Character Meet & Greet

Spend a magical day in Golden meeting and mingling with family-favorite holiday characters along Washington Avenue. “Jingle On The Avenue, A Holiday Character Mingle” is set for Dec. 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Little ones are sure to be delighted and there will be plenty of photo opportunities (perfect for social media), live music and lots of festive holiday fun for the whole family. Enjoy complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides, meet-and-greets with characters, Newfoundland dog cart rides and hay wagon rides with Santa. visitgolden.com

TubaChristmas

Up to 300 tubas, euphoniums and other low-register brass instruments spread holiday cheer on Dec. 19 at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The music is in the air from 11 a.m. to noon. It’s all part of TubaChristmas 2021, a nationwide series of free concerts performed by local, volunteer musicians. This marks the 47th year for Denver’s participation. The “orchestra” assembles only hours before show time to rehearse its “heavy metal” tunes. Afterward, jump on the free 16th Street Mall shuttle and explore downtown for holiday shopping and more festive fun. Thankfully the event is on Sunday because metered parking is free in Denver. tubachristmas.com

Wendy’s Key Tag

This annual offer from Wendy’s will leave hungry bargain hunters a little chilly…er, frosty. If you like to top off your burger and fries with something sweet, you will definitely want to snag Wendy’s Frosty Key Tag. For just $2, the key tag unlocks a free Jr. Frosty with any purchase, every time you visit the fast-food restaurant in 2022. The cool deal pays for itself in just a few visits, given a Jr. Frosty regularly sells for $1.49. The tags are available for purchase in-restaurant and online through Jan. 31. You can also buy a digital key tag via its app. Sweetest of all, 85 percent of the proceeds benefit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. wendys.com

Hallmark Free Card

These days receiving a greeting card in your mailbox is extra special. However, sending one requires a little time and effort. Hallmark has the solution with its Sign & Send option. All that’s required is just a few taps, swipes and clicks from your smartphone. Shop online for the same Hallmark cards you’d find in-store. Add your personal message by uploading your handwritten note to be printed inside the card. Then, Hallmark stamps and mails it. Through Dec. 31, Crown Rewards members can send one of the personalized greeting cards for free with promo code SIGNANDSEND. The offer is only valid on eligible greeting cards at Hallmark.com and requires U.S. billing and mailing addresses. hallmark.com

Recycle Holiday Lights

Do you have broken, burned-out or impossibly tangled sets of holiday lights? Don’t toss them, recycle instead for free. Thanks to the City of Denver’s recycling program, locals can recycle holiday lights from Dec. 6 to Jan. 8, 2022, at two locations. Light strings and wires for incandescent, LED and “icicle” lights are all acceptable. However, bubble (liquid-filled) and neon lights are not. Drop off your unwanted or broken holiday lights at Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-Off (7400 Cherry Creek S. Dr.) or Blue Star Recyclers (953 Decatur St.). Hours vary by location, so check first before making plans. Once you’ve recycled your lights, get ready to light up next year by shopping big box store holiday clearance sales that start Dec. 26. denvergov.org

Donate Winter Clothing

The holidays are all about sharing kindness. Still, it’s merrier to give something and get something in return. As part of its Shed Your Coat winter clothing drive to benefit The Gathering Place, Denver design studio YellowDog encourages locals to donate winter clothing items in return for a free print item. Here’s how it works: Through Dec. 31, for every item on their list you drop off at YellowDog (3881 Steele St.), choose between a free Hug Your Dog art print or Mile High City metallic art deco poster. They need: Winter coats, winter hats, warm gloves, wool socks, heavy sweaters, blankets and sleeping bags. Drop off clean, gently-used items Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. yellowdogdenver.com

Harkins Theatres Loyalty Cup

Movie lovers will want to drink up this offer from Harkins Theaters. The movie theater chain is selling its 2022 Loyalty Cup. For $7 (includes first drink), get the reusable cup and sip on $2 soft drink refills every time you visit in the new year. And what’s going to the movies without popcorn? My Harkins Awards members can add Popcorn Perks to their account at any time for $30. The buttery benefit gets customers a free medium popcorn every time they go to the movies for 12 months or 36 popcorns, whichever occurs first. If you munch on the maximum allowed, it’s just 84 cents per popcorn. You can purchase the two offers at the box office or online. The chain has two locations in Colorado — Arvada and Denver. store.harkins.com

Downtown Fireworks

Once again, Downtown Denver is the place to be for two spectacular fireworks show, one for those seeking an earlier evening at 9 p.m. (especially families) and a second light-up-the-sky extravaganza at midnight on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. Both shows are identical and run about 8 minutes. Best viewing is the mile-long 16th Street Mall. DJs will spin music from 8 p.m. to midnight to keep revelers entertained. Between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., RTD Light Rail trains will not cross the 16th Street Mall and MallRide shuttles will stop temporarily during the two fireworks shows. Cheers to a wonderful 2022, Denver! downtowndenver.com

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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