The holidays are right around the corner, and if you’re a little worried about cash flow and buying presents, let me tell you–you’re not alone. One way to ease your stress is to make this Christmas less about presents and more about fun and togetherness. Here are 12 inexpensive ideas to help you get in the spirit and make some memories and traditions with your kids.
1. Project Christmas Tree:
(It’s like Project Runway without all the drama and strange clothing.) Issue an ornament challenge. Place household items on your kitchen table such as toilet paper rolls, cotton balls, macaroni noodles, buttons, newspaper, magazines, etc., and some crafty-items (glue, paint, markers, etc.), and tell your kids to make a special Christmas ornament that reflects their personality or their favorite things. Give out prizes for most creative, silliest, prettiest, or whatever you can think of.
2. Candy Cane Hunt:
(Yes, this is ripped off from the Easter Bunny.) Hide candy canes (or bows, or ornaments, or whatever you have that’s Christmas-y) around the house and set the kids loose. You can assign kids different colors or limit the number they can find if you’re worried about hard feelings. Want a prize at the end? Here are some ideas: They get their choice in movie to watch, they get to choose what’s for dinner, they get to open a present the day before Christmas, they get out of one chore, etc.
3. Christmas Light Watch
Take a drive and look at Christmas lights. Some neighborhoods go all out, so check out your local paper or city’s website to see if there are any good spots posted. Bring some popcorn for the ride!
4. Christmas Pictionary
Have a game night with a Christmas theme! Write down two dozen or so Christmas things (candy cane, snowman, Santa, Rudolph, etc.) on slips of paper, throw them in a hat, and have everyone take turns drawing the item and having the others guess what it is. Limit drawing time to 60 seconds to make it a little more challenging. If you have enough people, divide into teams and make it a competition.
5. Let it Snow
Grab scratch paper, notebook paper, printer paper, or odd-sized pieces of giftwrap and cut out snowflakes. Can’t remember how? Check out YouTube or WikiHow for instructions. Then tape them up on your windows, walls, your fridge, or even put them on your tree.
6. Letters to Santa
Have everyone write a letter to Santa. You can go the classic route and have your kids list their dream gifts. Or, if you’re pretty sure they want that Xbox One that is out of your budget range, and you are worried about disappointment, have them write a different kind of letter; a thank-you letter. Ask your kids why they think Santa is good, and tell them to write that down in a thank-you letter to him. Or, if you have more than one child, have them write letters to Santa for each other!
7. Christmas Comics
Have your kids create some Christmas comics. They can use any well-known Christmas story, or create their own. Have them draw, paint, or show them websites such as bitstrips.com, toondoo.com, pixton.com, or others. Then have them present the cartoon at dinner.
8. Check Out Free Community Events
Look online or grab your local paper to look for free events, such as choir concerts, churches preforming nativity plays, light parades, library events, tree-lighting ceremonies, and more.
9. Outdoor Fun
If you live in a snowy area, this is the time to sled, skate, build snowpeople, snowshoe, ski, cross-country ski, and all of that! Check online to see if there are cheap equipment rentals in your area. Many times colleges or state parks and forests have very inexpensive equipment rentals. If you live in a sunnier state, you can still go outdoors and have some fun! But you’ll probably rent kayaks.
10. Do Something for Others
Volunteer as a family! Check out websites such as UnitedWay.org or ColunteerMatch.org to find something in your area. Or, shovel a neighbor’s driveway or rake their leaves. Go through old toys and clothes and haul them off to the Salvation Army store or Goodwill.
11. Make Christmas Cards
Send hand-made Christmas cards to relatives and friends. Use construction paper, photos, paint, fabric, glitter, crayons–anything you want! It’ll be a lot more meaningful than store-bought cards.
12. Make Coupon Books for Gifts
If you’re short on dough, have everyone make coupon books to give to each other. Ideas include: doing the dishes, cleaning your room, playing a game with a younger sibling, organizing the junk drawer, one hour of video games/computer use, one hour of remote control possession, one get-out-of-chore-free card, or even free hugs and kisses.