Arts & Culture Deal Family Featured Music & Events Travel, Shopping & Leisure Fara Illich November 25, 2009

Will you feel joy, a rush of nostalgia or the urge to pull out every last hair on your head? If your relatives are coming for the holidays, you’ll probably feel a little of each. To keep your hair firmly on your head, though, here are some suggestions to keep your family busy and happy while reducing stress and spending.
Suggest a hotel.
NutcrackerYou love your family, but if the space in your home is limited, suggest one of downtown’s hotels. There’s the sleek, modern Wyndham, which has undergone a $20 million renovation, and the always-dependable Hyatt Regency downtown. The Hyatt is home to the Compass, the revolving rooftop restaurant that out-of-towners will love for its panoramic views and fairly fabulous food.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Sheraton as an option. At the holidays, there’s a bonus plan: the 1st Annual Gingerbread Competition, which showcases creations from downtown chefs. These edible, two-foot high houses will be part of an entire winter village, complete with elaborate trains. If your visitors include kids, Santa Claus will be showing up for a big photo-op.
Then again, maybe your family would prefer a more unusual, historic spot. In that case, check out the Hotel San Carlos. It’s an official state historic landmark, and the only historic boutique hotel in the city.
Completed in 1928, the San Carlos played host to a lot of Hollywood stars. In fact, some of their most luxurious suites are now named for the stars who stayed there, from Mae West to Cary Grant. Speaking of their rooms…oh my gosh, I love their rooms. In contrast to the modern chic of the Wyndham, the San Carlos offers irresistible old-world charm.
Take advantage of freebies.
On November 27th, Civic Space Park will offer a free showing of the movie, “The Great Debaters” at 7:30 pm. Bring chairs, hot chocolate, and you’re all set.
December 4 from 6 pm to 10 pm, the Target Free First Friday offers free admission to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. The kids will burn off all that treat-fueled energy and you can check out Artlink First Fridays, which is also free.
Pick one or two big holiday events.
Knowing that all of us have tight budgets these days, it’s tough to take a big family to all of the really splashy holiday events. But, if you can swing it, check out Ballet Arizona’s magical Nutcracker, December 11-27 at Symphony Hall. Or, get tickets to another Phoenix favorite, A Christmas Carol, a spectacular musical presented by Actors Theatre.