Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cheap Chick Holiday Guide

Now that you're done slathering that mayo onto your last turkey sandwich, it's time to think about the other holidays coming up in December. NYC is magical this time of year and you don't have to be a Scrooge to enjoy all the city has to offer during the holidays. Here's a list of happenings and activities to keep you busy until next year!

Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center (tree lighting at 8:55 p.m.)

Dec. 3, 2008
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

It may be crowded, but the famous tree-lighting ceremony is an iconic NYC tradition watched the world over. Why not be a part of it? Of course you can avoid the crowds and walk past the lit tree later in the season, both activities are free.
Cheap Chick Info: Free, but take note that it will be crowded!
Location: Rockefeller Center, Rockefeller Plaza, From West 48th Street to West 51st Street between 5th and 6th Avenues
Subway: B,D,F,V to Rockefeller Center/47-50th Street station, N,R,W to 49th Street and Seventh Avenue, or the E to Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street.

Indie and Small Press Book Fair
Saturday December 6th, 10 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Sunday December 7th, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
My fellow bibliophiles will love this free event! This annual fair is a great source of book-related holiday gifts as well as workshops related to writing and publishing. I think my favorite purchase was a homemade book with an old-fashioned poem on the perils of snoring.
Cheap Chick Info: Free, but donations of $1 or $2 are encouraged.
Location: New York Center for Independent Publishing, 20 West 44th Street
Subway: N,R,Q,W, 1,2,3,A,C,E to 42nd Street-Times Square, 4,5,6 to Grand Central

St. John the Divine St. Nicholas Day Celebration

Saturday December 6th, 9:45 to 3 p.m.
This is an all-day festival celebrating St. Nicholas Day with theater, music, poetry, storytelling, dance, comedy, workshops, and a crafts fair.
Location: St. John the Divine Episcopal Cathedral, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Subway: 1, 9 to 112th Street

Bust magazine Holiday Craftacular
Sunday December 14th
10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The same-title magazine hosts this annual craft fair, $2 gets you in and once inside you'll have access to vendors across the country hawking wares such as purses, clothing, jewelry, books, baked goods, and ornaments. These crafty gifts aren't all cheap, but fellow cheap craftsters who make the effort should find some bargains to put under the tree or in the stocking.
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Location: Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street
Subway: 1 to 18th Street, 2,3 14th Street, A,C,E to 14th Street, N,R,W,Q, 4, 5, 6 to Union Square

Lighting of the World's Largest Menorah

December 21, 5:30 p.m. (other nights various times)
Come watch the first candle being lit on this oversized menorah. The lights will be lit each night of Hanukkah, and festivities include food, folk dancing, and music.
Location: Near Central Park at 5th Avenue and 59th Street
Subway: N,R,W to 5th Avenue

Kwanzaa Fest 2008
December 28, 2008
Museum of Natural History
12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The museum is hosting this event, which will include dance and gospal performances as well as special Kwanzaa foods served at the food court.
Cheap Chick Info: Free with museum admisison (like the Met admission is suggested so pay what you wish, except for the special exhibitions.)
Location: 79th Street and Central Park West
Subway: B (weekdays only) or C to 81st Street

Holiday Exhibitions and Displays

A Literary Christmas at the New York Public Library
On display from December 5, 2008 to January 4, 2009.
Holiday-related writings will be on display at the library and include a copy of Charles Dickens'
A Christmas Carol, a Christmas-themed T.S. Eliot book,
Christmas greetings by James Joyce, Sean O'Casey, E.E. Cummings, and Maurice Sendak; and a Christmas letter from Jack Kerouac to his future wife, Stella Sampas.
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Location: Humanities and Social Sciences Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Ave.
Subway: 4,5,6 to Grand Central, B,D,F,V to 42nd Street, 7 to 5th Avenue, Grand Central

Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
November 25th through January 6th, 2009
Come see this large Christmas tree displayed in the Medieval Sculpture Hall decorated with eighteenth-century Neapolitan angels and cherubs and be sure to catch tree lighting ceremonies as well:
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays at 4:30 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays at 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30 p.m.
Cheap Chick Info/Tip:
The museum suggests a $20 admission price, but visitors may actually pay what they wish, The Cheap Chick has paid as little as 50 cents and been able to enter the museum. Simply tell the admission clerk you would like to make a donation and give them the amount of money you wish to pay.
Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 5th Avenue at 82nd Street
Subway: 4,5,6 to 86th Street

Grand Central Holiday Train Show
Nov. 24, 2008 to January 19, 2009
Grand Central Terminal, Transit Museum Gallery Annex
This annual display, sponsored by Lionel depicts a railway journey from Grand Central Terminal to Santa's workshop at the North Pole. This year's exhibit also includes a scale model of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Gallery & Store Hours: Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cheap Chick Info: Free! Plus don't miss the free holiday light show on the main ceiling!
Location: Grand Central Terminal
Subway: 4,5,6,7,Shuttle to Grand Central Terminal

New Year's Eve Ball Display at Macy's
Through Dec, 10th, 2008
You can see this FREE iconic end-of-year symbol on display at Macy's even before New Year's Eve.
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Macy's Department Store at 34th Street and Broadway
Subway: N,R,Q,W,B,D,F,V to 34th Street

Activities and Shopping
Holiday Marts
It's always free to browse the booths at the city's holiday marts. There are shops set up at Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, Union Square, and Grand Central Terminal.

Housing Works Sale
Housing Works Bookstore
Take 30% off already discounted books, movies, and CDs.
Location: 126 Crosby Street
Subway: B,D,F,V to Broadway-Lafayette, Downtown 6 to Bleecker Street, and R,W to Prince Street

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Ride

New York Botanical Garden
November 23rd, 2008 through January 11, 2009
Take a train ride through the gardens and see New York City landmarks such the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building made of natural materials including cinnamon sticks and orange slices. You may want to purchase tickets in advance from the website here:
Cheap Chick Info: Regular adult tickets are $20, plus the cost to get there. It is a little more than the Cheap Chick would usually spend but she got carried away with listing holiday events.
Location: New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx
Subway: The easiest way to get there is to take a Metro-North train to the Botanical Garden stop.

Ice Skating
Natural History Museum Polar Rink
November 22nd, 2008 through February 28, 2009
Skate around a 17-foot-tall polar bear decorated with pine boughs and lights
Cheap Chick Info: $10 (includes skate rental)
Location: 79th Street at Columbus Avenue
Subway: B (weekdays only) or C to 81st Street

Bryant Park Pond
October 25, 2008 through January 25, 2008
Work off the calories you've accumulated by eating too many Christmas cookies by taking a few turns around this outdoor rink. Admission is free but skates are $12 to rent. Be aware that the rink isn't huge so it can be crowded, which might make novice skaters a little nervous and there are usually lines to rent skates and check belongings.
Location: Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library, between 40th and 42nd Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenue
Cheap Chick Info: Skating is free but skate rental is $12.
Subway: B,D,F,V to 42nd Street, 7 to Fifth Avenue

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cheap Chick Thanksgiving Guide

If you're like the Cheap Chick and will be around the city during the Thanksgiving holiday, don't despair, there are plenty of free and cheap things to do during the long weekend:

See the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons before the parade. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving you can see the balloons that have been blown up for the parade (for free!) on the Upper West Side between 77th and 81st Streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue from 3 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Look closely that night and you might see the Cheap Chick under the Shrek balloon!

Of course you can also watch the parade for free as well, just be sure to get there early before the crowds gather. The parade officially starts at 9 a.m. at 77th Street and Central Park West.

At Canstruction, you can see sculptures created out of ordinary objects such as tuna cans, water bottles, and soup cans. The Cheap Chick highlights of this year's display included a panda bear with bamboo, Mr. Potato Head, and the head of Olympian Michael Phelps, complete with goggles. The event is free, but visitors are encouraged to donate a canned good that will go to someone in need. Canstruction is open through Thanksgiving (and beyond) and is located at the World Financial Garden with hours beginning at 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Of course Herald Square, Union Square, and SoHo will be a madhouse on Black Friday so you can wait one day to check out Housing Works White Saturday sales, with free hot chocolate and cookies at all the thrift store locations. The sale lasts from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at all stores (here's a link to store locations:

Also, don't forget that volunteering is always free, think about contacting a church or other charitable organization about serving a Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate than yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Cheap Chick in the City! Look for the Cheap Chick NYC Holiday guide coming soon!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dead Sea Scrolls for Zero Dollars

On Saturdays the Jewish Museum is free so the I decided to check out the museum's exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. After passing through a metal detector that would make Homeland Security proud, undergoing a mandatory bag check, and being told by a beefy security guard that the only way I could wear my jacket in the museum was by tying it around my waist, I finally made my way to the exhibition-I understand the need for security in these troubled times, but it's a bit jarring to visit a museum and to feel like you'll hear, "Please keep your chairs in an upright position" in a manner of minutes.

The scrolls (which to my surprise were not whole, but actually in fragments) were displayed under glass cases in a clean, crisp space with various facts and quotations displayed on the dark blue walls. I learned that the earliest scrolls were written in 270 BCE (before the common or Christian era) and were discovered in 1947 in 11 cases along a five mile stretch of cliffs in the Judean desert. Almost as interesting as seeing the actual scrolls (at least I thought) were the artifacts found with the documents. These included objects relating to the scrolls such as the scroll wrapper, a beige cloth the scrolls were wrapped in, the stone vessels that held the scrolls, and more everyday items including coins, an inkwell, cups and plates, a comb, and even a pair of sandals. According to the movie being played, the Bedouin who found the scrolls sold them to an antiques dealer in Bethlehem.

The Dead Sea Scrolls while interesting, was not as extensive as I had thought, so I decided to check out the rest of the museum. In a small corner tucked away between some artwork there were Holocaust relics from Thereisenstadt and the Lodz ghetto, as well as a spoon used at Auschwitz, money used in the ghettos, and various yellow stars worn by Jewish people during that time period.

One of the other exhibits that caught my eye was a cafe setting where you could sit and listen to conversations from cafes around the world. The museum also houses exhibits about anti-Semitism, Israeli immigration, the history of Judaism, and materials relating to the Jewish sabbath and holidays such as Passover.

Source: The Jewish Museum
Cheap Chick Info:
Free on Saturdays! Otherwise $12 for adults, $10 seniors, and $7.50 for students.
Location Info: 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York, NY
Subway: 4, 5, 6 to 86th Street, 6 to 92nd Street

Sunday, November 2, 2008

(Cheap) Culture for the Couch Potato

If you find it hard to leave the comfort of your couch, but want to be able to tell your friends and co-workers that you actually did something over the weekend, then throw off the blanket, take off the sweats, and put that half-eaten bag of potato chips into the trash and head to the Paley Center for Media.

Despite numerous name-changes (such as the Museum of Broadcasting and the Museum of Television and Radio) the Paley Center is a great place to spend an afternoon catching up on your favorite and forgotten TV shows. For just $10 (less than a movie ticket!) you can spend an entire day at the museum (it opens at 12 p.m. and closes at 6 p.m. except for Thursdays when it's open until 8 p.m.) viewing classic and current TV shows in one of the museum's viewing areas, which range from small rooms to large-scale auditoriums that seat hundreds of people.

Here you can see Lucille Ball stomping grapes in a classic I Love Lucy episode, the pre-Elaine Seinfeld pilot, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode, and the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Other options may include specials and documentaries on topics such as women in TV and stand-up comedians.

If you're feeling nostalgic for your own childhood favorites (and I'm looking at you Bananna Splits fans...), you can head to the third floor where you can select the TV show of your choice from the museum's computer database and then view it on a private console with headphones. My personal poisons have included the "Getting Davy Jones" episode of The Brady Bunch and the Ally McBeal pilot. Once you find yourself humming the Cheers theme song one too many times (as I did) you might want to check out some of the museum's art and photography exhibits (some are in displayed in the hallways while others are in the museum's main gallery on the first floor), which have previously included art inspired by the TV show Family Guy.

The Paley Center also hosts events and public programs though many are out of the Cheap Chick's budget range, with prices starting at $20 and up, but there are some great programs if you want to splurge!

Here is a link to some upcoming events:

Cheap Chick Tip: Get to the museum around 4:45/5:00 p.m. and admission is free for the last hour the museum is open. Shh. Don't tell them I told you this!

Cheap Chick Info: $10, Free last hour of the day.
Location Info: 25 West 52 Street, New York, Closed on Mondays.
Subway Info: E or V to Fifth Avenue and 53 Street; N, R, or W to 49 Street and Seventh Avenue; 1 to 50 Street and Broadway; B, D, F, or V to 47-50 Street/Rockefeller Center.