I wanted to create a post about what we did to try to keep the cost of skiing down for our young children this ski season. It's a different world today than the one that I grew up in, and the techniques that my parents used were not ones that I was able to use with my kids. So here goes:
1) Soft goods (ski clothes): We purchased snowpants and a snowcoat at Target about two weeks before Thanksgiving. They had a special coupon where we could buy them online for 30% off if we spent $75, so we bought the ski jacket and snowpants (about $35) and then added other items that we would purchase anyway for our kids to get the total to $75. They offered free shipping.
Thermal underwear we bought at Costco for $8.
I don't remember where we bought gloves from.
2) Hard goods: The helmet we bought from Amazon in September on clearance. We bought the skis and boots around Labor Day weekend from REI, also on a really good end of season clearance sale. The googles we bought online, don't remember if they were on clearance or not.
3) Ski swaps: We attempted to go to a ski swap. It was advertised as the largest in the northwest. It was an absolute disaster trying to buy goods at the ski swap. We waited in line for the doors to open Friday after work, and then hurried to the kids section. My wife and I scooped up all of the jackets that appeared to be the right size and found a corner of the gym then to try them on, and one by one decided whether we wanted it for our kids or not. They did not offer sets so the snowpants and snowjacket wouldn't match. The jackets were either heavily used or last years leftovers (not stylish). Prices were very expensive. We got a better price for higher quality gear at Target.
4) Ski lesson: We opted not to do the lessons through the home mountain (Crystal Mountain) because they cost ~$430 which was out of budget. We did enroll her in a free lesson at Crystal as part of an early season program and she did not like it at all. Rather, we went to a different ski hill (Snoqualmie Pass) and enrolled in a private ski program for ~$130, and believe the instruction was higher quality than we would have received from being on-mountain.
5) LIft tickets: We opted to purchase daily lift tickets for our daughter rather than a season pass since we were unsure if she would be willing to go to more than 1 lesson. Next year we will probably do a season pass since we know she enjoys skiing and because we can avoid the lift line and save a few minutes time.
6) Speaking of time: Time Management. This is the hardest thing for us to manage as a young family. We have a 1 year old and a 5 year old, and neither wanted to get ready each day to go up to the hill. I worked the overnight shift the night before, and would call my wife to wake up the family at 5am, and then arrive home around 7am, and usually the whole family was asleep. So then I'd wake everybody up again and we'd scramble for the car as fast as we could. We'd try to leave by 7:30 AM but usually ended up being 7:50. We'd then drive like a bat out of hell to the ski resort, park our car by 8:30 to 8:45. My wife would dress my daughter, then I'd take my daughter up to the ski lesson starting gathering spot while my wife would dress our youngest daughter. After dropping her off, we'd both meet up in the lodge and wait there while the lessons took place.
I think that is most of what I can think of that helped us for the 2015-2016 ski lessons. I'll wish good luck to all parents who are trying to have their kids learn the love of sliding on slopes!