It’s that time of the year again. ‘Tis the season for giving and cheer, but unfortunately December expenses can add up fast. There are still plenty of activities to keep you entertained this holiday season, though, and today I want to share with you 12 of my favorite options! By no means do you need to try to accomplish everything on this list, but with this many options I’m hoping there is something that meets your budget and family needs!
1) Decorate your house and make a countdown calendar.
It’s not a huge deal if you can’t afford a tree; there are a ton of other ways to decorate your house on a budget! Plus, you can craft your own countdown calendar. This article has a bunch of countdowns that you can make on your own, and the best part is there will be a little bit of excitement everyday with it!
2) Make a gingerbread house.
Besides the fact that it’s a fun thing to do, gingerbread houses make a tasty treat that probably won’t get scarfed down in one sitting. To keep things in your budget, opt out of purchasing a store-bought gingerbread kit and make one out of graham crackers!
Keep the reason for the season alive while staying within your budget is super simple! Make a tradition out of reading the Christmas story each year. You can find a free copy online!
4) Look at neighborhood lights.
This is darn near free, it’ll only cost you gas, and a sight to see! When I was younger, my mom would take us through extravagant neighborhoods with over-the-top decorations. The lights are beautiful, and if you make it a light night excursion you’re little ones will feel like they are breaking the rules! It’s easy to start this tradition, and every year you’ll be a little bit better at finding the best houses!
5) Volunteer your time.
Now this is something that is as free as can be, and the opportunities to volunteer are pretty much endless during the Christmas season. Check with your local charities, from the food pantry to the salvation army, and see what your family can do to help out! Giving back to your community is the perfect way to capture the spirit of the season, and it’s a great tradition that your children will be able to use with their families one day.
6) Complete a Christmas puzzle.
We would do a Christmas puzzle towards the beginning of December every year (every year they got a little bit more difficult) and then keep it out as decoration— and a display of pride! Hit the sales the week after Christmas to find your puzzle for next year, and this is a really cheap way to pass the time!
7) Decorate cookies together!
If you have to have cookies for Santa anyway, why not double up and make an event out of it? Kids love helping in the kitchen, getting their hands dirty in flour, and cookies! You can easily take this to the next level by having a cookie decorating contest, and divvying out the baked cookies
to be decorated. Just make sure you save a couple for Santa 🙂
8) Have a scavenger hunt.
Every year on decoration day growing up, we would hide a special Santa ornament. Whoever finds the ornament gets the first gift of the year, typically just a bunch of candy, plus they’re in charge of hiding it next year! It’s a simple concept, and really there doesn’t even need to be a prize— this tradition is easily passed on through generations.
9) Christmas movie marathon.
If you don’t have a personal collection of Christmas DVD’s (or VHS), pick out a movie marathon on TV! My personal favorites growing up were the old animated films on ABC Family. My mom would always set us up with a bunch of candy canes, plus a cookie from our contest!
10) Have an ugly sweater contest!
Ugly sweaters seem to be on the rise, as is everything DIY, so if you don’t have an ugly Christmas already make one! You can have a contest within your own family, or if you have a Facebook snap a photo and ask your friends to vote!
11) Living room sleepover.
Build a fort, make a pallet by the lit up Christmas tree, or maybe even set up a tent in the living room. Some of my favorite holiday memories come from the nights my mom let my siblings and I camp out on the living room floor— and it’s another one that’s totally free!
12) Make gifts and cards!
For family that isn’t home for the holidays quite yet— aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc— help your kids craft a gift! Wrapping is a tedious task, but if you do it together it might be a little bit more fun. Also, don’t be afraid to make your own Christmas cards. It’s not realistic to purchase a gift or even a card for everyone in your life, like co-workers, so craft your own card and slide a family photo in there. If you aren’t super crafty, it would still be cheaper to make your own on the computer and then get it printed out!
‘Tis the season to let others know you care for them, even if it’s in a small (and frugal) way. The holidays don’t have to drain your wallet to be fun! I challenge you to create a new tradition every year, especially because a lot will get lost as your children get older.
How do you keep the holiday cheer alive while staying in your budget? Share with me in the comments below!