5 fun ways to create holiday memories using miles, points

Rockettes, Nutcracker and gingerbread houses await

Summer Hull
Personal Finance Writer
Summer Hull writes the weekly "Get to the Points" column for CreditCards.com

Get to the Points

Contrary to what might be made to believe by watching coverage of all the Black Friday sales and deals, the holiday season is not about how much you can buy, it is about memories you can make with your loved ones.

My favorite holiday memories both as a parent and a child often revolve around the special activities, conversations and magic moments far more than the gifts.

Luckily, holiday memories don’t have to cost very much, and in many cases you can put your miles and points to work while you just sit back and just enjoy the moment. Here are five different ways to use your miles and points to create amazing holiday memories for you and your family.

Enjoy a two-night stay and go behind the scenes of ICE! at the Gaylord Texan

During the holiday season, the Gaylord Texan near Dallas transforms into a winter wonderland with indoor snow tubing, a sculpted ice exhibit, over 2 million twinkling lights and more. Instead of blowing a ton of cash partaking in all that this resort has to offer, you can instead bid on a two-night stay in a suite with behind the scenes access to ICE! with an ice-sculpting artisan from China. This package also includes many of the other memory-building activities, such as snow tubing, gingerbread house making, ice skating and even cookies with Mrs. Claus.

The bidding for this package is currently at just 50,000 Marriott Rewards points, which is less than just a regular two-night stay at this magical property. The auction closes Nov. 27.

Have tea with Santa and build a gingerbread houses at the Ritz Carlton Denver

For 20,000 to 40,000 Marriott Reward points, depending on the package selected, your family can enjoy an entire afternoon of holiday fun at the Ritz Carlton Denver on December 9, that will include tea with Santa, sandwiches and desserts, a build-your-own hot chocolate station, gingerbread house making with an executive chef, a keepsake photo with Santa, and even unlimited mimosas for the adults!

If you are short on Marriott points, remember you can transfer Starwood Preferred Guest points to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, making the 20,000 point package just 6,667 SPG points!

Enjoy the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker in a private box suite for eight

You and seven friends or family members can have your own center box-level suite for eight where you can enjoy the holiday classic, San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker performance on Dec. 15, 2017, by using your United MileagePlus miles. This auction, which ends Dec. 4, is only available to co-branded United credit card holders and is currently at 136,000 United miles. In addition to the box suite for eight, this holiday package includes wine, desserts and a backstage tour after the show for all eight people.

New Year’s Eve dinner and after-party at Spiaggia in Chicago

Skipping ahead to New Year’s Eve, those with the MileagePlus Visa Signature Card can redeem 20,000 United miles to secure a seat for a special six-course New Year’s Eve dinner complete with wine pairings and an after party at Spiaggia in Chicago. The after party will feature an open bar, late-night snacks and dancing!

Keep an eye out for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular

A final holiday favorite of my family, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular performance by the Radio City Rockettes in New York City, is usually accessible each year using Starwood Preferred Guest points. Sadly, the packages seem sold out at the moment, but it is always possible that more packages will be added throughout the season, so keep an eye on the SPG Moments program if Radio City is on your family’s holiday wish list!

Miles and points can do more than secure flights and hotels, they can unlock the door to holiday memories that can last a lifetime.

See related: Credit card perks to consider when holiday shopping, Earn holiday bonus miles on airline shopping portals


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Updated: 12-15-2017