Add up gifts for your family and friends, wrapping paper, bows, a turkey dinner, cupcakes for your kids' classmates, stocking stuffers for co-workers, a Christmas tree, Christmas tree ornaments and tinsel, lights for the house, throw in an inflatable Santa for the front yard, and suddenly the reason for the season seems to be a not-so-covert plan to part you from all of your money.
And that's not counting the tickets to holiday shows and movies that are everywhere. We can't help you with the gifts or inflatable Santa, but we can help you find some low cost entertainment.
We're keeping our suggestions to events with admission prices under $12 a person (for a family of four, that's still almost $50 minimum). Let's start with some free stuff - and it is out there if you're willing to attend on an off-night, see not-famous-yet performers, sit in the back half of the theater or drive a little ways.
For young kids -
For Families -
Christmas entertainment doesn't have to be all about Santa and reindeer. Some events have a decidedly sardonic take on the holidays. The Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow Market Square Park Annual Holiday Movie Extravaganza - National Lampoons' Christmas Vacation. Chevy Chase stars as Clark Wilhelm Griswold, the head of the Griswold clan and in charge of spreading Christmas cheer.
It's no surprise, he does a really bad job of it. A really, really bad job.
Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and written by John Hughes, the 1989 Christmas Vacation is being screened, thanks to Alamo Drafthouse's Rolling Roadshow, outside at Market Square Park, so dress accordingly. And yes, you can bring a food and non-alcoholic drinks. Hey, bring the dog; this is one Christmas event where they're welcomed.
7 p.m. December 13. Market Square, 301 Milam. For information, call 713-524-0661 or visit marketsqaurepark.com.
For grown-ups -
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Chevy Chase isn't the only one to have a bad Christmas attitude. Over at Stark Naked Theatre, Scott Burkell is performing in his new show, Ho Ho Humbug. With some humor and some acerbic insights, Burkell recounts his time working as a Macy's Santa (including how he ratted out another Santa and took his job and what fun it was for a skinny guy to be packed into a ton of padding so he could look the part).
The show usually costs $25 to $40, but there's a pay-what-you-can performance on December 22.
7: 30 p.m. December 22. Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street. For information, call 832-866-6514 or visit starknakedtheatre.com.