Guest post by Justine BurgessAs the mom of a preschooler desperately searching for fun things to do on the cheap, one of my favorite days of the week is Tuesday. Not just because it’s not Monday (or because it’s Taco Tuesday at El Torito); I love my Tuesdays for the mom friends I have and what we do with our kids that day, together. We have coffee and chat, yes; but more importantly we get to spend quality time with our kids and each other. Our usual meeting place? South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. I know, I know, how can that be thrifty, right? Well, here’s how it worked for my son and I this week.
We started the day at Corner Bakery. If you sign up for emails from them, you will periodically receive special offers and coupons. I had a coupon for a free birthday sweet (no purchase necessary), so we redeemed it for a cranberry orange baby bundt. Awesome (and tasty!) free way to start the morning. We then walked down to Pottery Barn Kids.
Pottery Barn Kids at South Coast Plaza has story time every Tuesday at 11am. It’s fun, it’s totally free, and every child gets a “book club” passport- for each story time they attend, they receive one stamp in the book. Once five stamps are accrued, the booklet can be redeemed toward $10 in merchandise from the Pottery Barn Kids store. It’s an awesome deal. Junior found a front row seat on the rug right in front of Ms. M, a former preschool teacher who works at Pottery Barn Kids. The kids love her, and she keeps them occupied through several stories, songs, and mini-celebrations of birthdays and holidays. It’s thirty minutes of education, friendship, and fun. When story time ended, we got our stamp and realized we had filled up the book. My son literally jumped for joy (luckily not smashing his teeth on the table) as he grabbed two Lego Creator sets ($5.99 each) and plunked them on the counter. After redeeming our Book Club booklet for the $10 off, our grand total was $2.14.
After Pottery Barn, we headed to Sephora to try out some makeup. The rep there was very helpful and loaded me up with samples. Kiehl's and Fresh were other stops for the day and again, I came away with a ton of product samples. We then headed to Godiva to redeem our Godiva Reward for the month (sign up for the Rewards programs, and you get a FREE piece of Godiva chocolate every month, plus other benefits). They also had samples, so we even got a little more than we expected. Williams-Sonoma was our next venture, where (yay!) they had samples of jellybeans and gumdrops on sale for Easter. Stopping at the Sony store, my son sat and played some PS3 games for a bit, then went to the Microsoft store and did the same thing on an Xbox. Afterwards, we made some wishes at a fountain, danced to the music at Abercrombie (thank goodness for patient sales reps), rode the carousel with a free coupon (regular price $1), and checked out the tropical fish tanks and animatronic creatures at the Rainforest Café. We left South Coast after a very full day, having spent only $2.14. Pretty thrifty for an expensive mall.
Now for the kicker- IKEA is on our way home, and every Tuesday they offer FREE kids meals (for kids under 12) after 11a.m. at the IKEA restaurant. You do not have to buy anything else. Three choices of kids combo meals (normally $2.99 each) are available. So, because Junior was hungry (and I’m not averse to free food) we stopped. The restaurant is near the kids section, so we browsed (and played) for a bit, then headed to the restaurant. My son had chicken fingers with fries and milk, but they also offer mac and cheese with veggies, or meatballs and mashed potatoes, and the kids can choose from among a few beverages. But wait- there’s more! I have the IKEA Family Card (you can sign up in store- it gets you discounts and special offers) so I get FREE coffee at the restaurant every visit, any day. And their coffee is de-li-cious- I had two cups. We then went down to the exit bistro/café near the registers and got 2 soft-serve frozen yogurts for $1 each, bringing our food consumed at IKEA to a total of $2. After making note of a “big boy” bed that Junior wanted, we headed out to go home. We were planning to stop by Centennial Farms in Costa Mesa (it’s FREE) to make our thrifty day even more fabulous, but my little man was tired so we saved it for another day.
Grand total of our Totally Thrifty Tuesday out? $4.14 plus gas. We spent the whole day together, had fun, learned a lot, got things (or planned for things) we could use, and it hardly cost anything. That’s what I call a successful day. Cheers to the thrifty fun days in YOUR future!
Justine is a biological anthropologist, deal seeker, and stay-at-home parent to a rambunctious 5-year-old boy. She digs bones. And donuts. You can follow Justine for more frugal fun and other anthropology tidbits on Twitter: @JustineBurgess1.
This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions (and photos) remain my own.