Christmas is one of the hardest seasons when you’re trying to be frugal. No matter where you turn there are people and advertisements screaming for you to buy, buy, BUY! But, no matter what the advertisements say, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to make Christmas memories. If you’re looking for some inexpensive and memorable traditions for your family, then you’re in the right place! Here are 10 of my favorite traditions which have little cost, but a lot of value!
1. Do a cookie swap
If you have friends or family that cook, organize a cookie swap where everyone bakes their favorite cookie and brings them for an evening of cookiesm milk or cocoa, and friendship. You can rotate who hosts it every year as well. This way you’ll get all the Christmas cookies you could want without spending all the money on making them!
2. Place a Santa Key
Don’t have chimney for the jolly man to come down? Me neither. Instead, what we do is leave out a Santa Key specifically for the big man. It’s magic, you see, and only Santa can use it but it will allow him to deliver presents on Christmas. Let your child place it outside your front door, or near the window so that Santa Claus can get to it.
3. Leave out Reindeer Food
This is probably one of my favorite things. There are multiple different versions of Reindeer food, but my favorite has rolled oats, sunflower seeds, and green and red sugar crystals. You can spread it outside, or place it in a feeder and, unlike the versions with glitter, this is actually healthy for all the critters who will get to enjoy their own Christmas feast.
4. Track Santa online
Did you know that NORAD tracks Santa’s progress on Christmas Eve? They do! You can check it out here. Leave it up on the big day as a reminder that you-know-who is watching. It’s also a great way to help get the kids to bed at a decent hour, and gives you ammo to help stem the endless questions of when he’ll arrive. After all, who can argue with NORAD?
5. Dollar Tree White Elephant Game
Give everyone a set amount of money (we usually do $3-4) and time limit (15 minutes is our go-to), and find the most creative, wacky, or fun things you can at the Dollar Tree. Then, wrap it up (or craft it up!) when you get home, and do a gift exchange on Christmas Eve! If your kids are older, you can do a shorter time period and make it into a gift-giving game. Be sure to get as creative as you can with it!! Our favorite was a when my brother gifted a fish bowl filled with sand, “pet” plastic dinosaurs, and paper palm trees.
6. Write a letter to a family member
This is especially powerful if you have children. Take a moment and write them a letter about all the things they did that you are proud of in the past year, and talking about any progress they make. Then, save them and when they get older you can create a book out of it. Kids can also write letters to parents or siblings as well.
7. Create a Christmas Eve Box
If your family doesn’t open Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve, then make a Christmas box filled with fun goodies to encourage the family to spend time together on Christmas Eve. We always had pajamas, a new book or movie, cocoa and a new mug, popcorn, and a family game. However, you could do whatever else you wanted. Some people do separate presents for everyone, while others do a single box for everyone to open together.
8. Christmas pickle
This is one of my favorite traditions… after everyone has gone to bed, hang a decorative pickle (or a real one if you’re brave and don’t have pets) on the tree. The first child to find it gets to open the first gift on Christmas morning.
9. Santa’s bag
Create a “Santa’s Bag” for your kids to donate toys that they don’t want anymore to Santa, with the understanding that of anyone, the jolly man is going to be able to find people who really need them. As a bonus, it helps de-clutter your house before your kids open dozens of new toys from family members.
10. Candid Christmas Photo Contest
Give out disposable cameras to the whole family on Christmas Eve (or just use your smartphones) and hold a contest for the goofiest or best candid photo. If your family is as against photo-taking as I am, make sure the gift is something really cool. Maybe a gift card since you won’t know who will win. But believe me, that $10 gift card will be well worth all the images you can print to remember the holiday!
Do you have any awesome Christmas traditions to share?? Leave a note in the comments below!