By Ashley Roe, Contributing Writer
Rushing from one store to the next frantically trying to buy all your Christmas gifts while realizing that you still have to plan a dinner party for next week and figure out how you are going to find time to get the kids all dressed for Christmas pictures tonight. Does this sound like you during the Christmas season? This time of year can be so hectic that we miss out on important things like enjoying quiet time with our families and remembering what Christmas is really all about in the first place.
Over the past year, I have tried to be more intentional about spending time with my husband. It can be easy to go from day to day without intentionally spending time together, so I’ve come up with some different seasonal lists of things we can do together.
Last Christmas, I made activity cards of things to do. We were going through a rough season financially, but I did not want that to stop us from enjoying this time of the year. So I made sure most of them did not cost anything but would still give us a way to enjoy the Christmas season together.
Frugal Christmas Activities for the Family
To help you be more intentional with making time for what is most important this season, I came up with some frugal family friendly activities that you can do. Christmas is a time to have fun with your kids or to feel like a kid again if you don’t have kids of your own. However, I don’t want you to think of this as a list of things you have to do rather some ideas of things you can do. Don’t make this about adding more stuff to your ever-growing to do list. It should be more about creating traditions with your family for Christmas.
20 Activity Ideas
1. Create a fun tradition of decorating your home for Christmas. Growing up, my family always did this the Friday after Thanksgiving. It was the first official day to bring out all the Christmas decorations and music. You could even make hot chocolate or drink some eggnog while you are decorating. Whatever you do, make sure that it a fun and memorable time.
2. Go somewhere to look at Christmas lights. If there’s a nearby neighborhood that is known for having lots of good lights, take a drive after dark to see it. We have a park that decorates every year so I like to go down there at least once to see the lights. There’s also a zoo not too far away that decorates for Christmas too.
3. Go to a tree lighting ceremony. This could be a fun event for young kids. Look on your local cities website for a list of events to see if there’s a tree lighting. Many cities also have other special events going on along with the tree lighting as well.
4. Go see a Christmas parade or watch one on TV. Parades are a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit. It has always been a tradition in my family to watch the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving day.
5. Watch a family friendly Christmas movie. I love bringing out the Christmas movies! Some of my favorites are; The Polar Express, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, The Santa Clause and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
6. Turn off all the lights in the house except the Christmas lights. I do this often while the house is decorated for Christmas. It gives the living room a peaceful glow. It is especially fun to do this while watching a Christmas movie.
7. Take fun pictures outside. This is especially fun if you can get pictures in the snow. But even if you don’t have snow, chances are there’s a place somewhere that’s decorated for Christmas where you can get some nice pictures.
8. Have a game night. Games nights are fun to have any time of the year, but it’s a good way to spend time with friends and family during the holidays too. We often made time on holidays to play games as a family and I want to keep making this a tradition.
9. Organize a game night with prizes. This is a little different that just playing games. Each person brings a set number of separately wrapped gifts worth a dollar. It can be anywhere from one to five items.
You can even make this white elephant style where everyone finds some sort of random item around their house that they no longer want. Play a game like bingo where there are specific winners. When someone wins, they get to pick a gift. Just make sure that the gifts get spread around evenly so that everyone gets something.
10. Play outside in the snow. You could go sledding, make snow forts, build a snowman and make snow angels. Playing in the snow can still be a fun activity for grown ups too. So get outside and feel like a kid again!
11. Find a free Christmas concert or program to attend. Lots of churches have great programs for Christmas. My church does a special even each year with music and drama. My husband and I are in it this year since we joined the orchestra. Go on local churches websites to see if they have something like this. Your local city website’s list of events is another place to find a list of these type of programs. Last year, my husband and I discovered some new events this way.
12. Bake lots of cookies then package them up to give away to friends and family. One of my favorite Christmas activities as a kid was decorating sugar cookies.
13. Make your own Christmas cards. You can design your own with a photo editing program or just have the kids draw, paint, use stamps or whatever else you can think of. Another idea is to use old cards to make new ones. I have lots of cards from earlier years just sitting in a box. So one year I got some scrapbook supplies together and cut up some of these old cards to use for making new cards.
14. Make ornaments. There are lots of tutorials around the internet for different kinds of ornaments. One thing I remember doing as a kid, was gluing sequins on pine cones so they looked like decorated Christmas trees. It’s a simple craft, but looks cute.
15. Create a hot chocolate or coffee bar. Set up a table with a variety of add-ins like some marshmallows, whipped topping, peppermint sticks, flavored syrups, cinnamon and sprinkles.
For hot chocolate, find a recipe to make it in a slow cooker and have a ladle for people to be able to scoop it into mugs.
If you want to do coffee for the adults, make a pot of coffee and keep it warm in an insulated carafe. it might also be a good idea to have some cream for the coffee. For some coffee ideas, check out this post of Joyful Thrifty Home called how to make coffeehouse quality drinks at home.
16. Read the Christmas story from the bible on Christmas morning. We always did this growing up. I’m sure there were times when I would have rather just opened presents, but I’m glad that my mom made sure we knew the reason for the season. I hope to make this a tradition when I have kids someday.
17. Create or use some sort of Advent calendar. This is a fun way to countdown to Christmas that usually starts on December first. There are many ways to do this using online printables or craft ideas. There’s even a lot of cute things you can buy for this purpose.
Last year, I made a calendar by printing circles with numbers one through 25 on them. Then I put a different verse that had something to do with Jesus and the Christmas story on the back. Each day, I took one down and my husband and I read the verse on the back together.
This year, I put together an Advent e-book called Unwrapping the Gift with two other blogging friends; Crystal from Wisdom Seeking Mommy and Jane from Devoted Sonriser. It has 25 devotionals about gifts we are given through Jesus. There’s also a set of printables included that you can use to make your own advent calendar. It is free for a limited time for email subscribers of Joyful Thrifty Home or either of the other two contributors. Click here to get your FREE copy now.
18. Find a way to give to someone in need. Christmas is a great time of year to teach kids about thankfulness and giving, but it doesn’t have to be just to teach kids a lesson. Giving has a way of touching our hearts as well. Some ideas might be to pick out a name from a local Angel Tree and shop for gifts for that child, put together a box for Operation Christmas Child or volunteer at a local food bank to help pass out food.
19. Read a Christmas themed book together. You can pick a simple story book like The Night Before Christmas, or a longer book that you read aloud one or two chapters at a time.
20. Make a Christmas wreath with supplies from your local craft store. This is a great project to do even if you think you are craft challenged. All you need is a wreath and a few decorations to add to it. It can be as simple as you want. Stores like Hobby Lobby often put their Christmas supplies on sale for up to 50% off. So find out when a sale is going on and go pick up a few things to decorate your wreath.
Printable Activity Cards
As I mentioned above, I created a set of cards with different activities on each one. I have included some printables and instructions so that you can make your own. Click the image below to go to the page where you can download and print your own set of Christmas Activity Cards. Follow the steps below for instructions on how to use them.
1. Print your activity cards. Depending on how many activities you want to include, you may need to print multiple sheets of activity cards.
2. Print your envelope labels.
3. Cut out your cards and labels.
4. Glue or tape your labels to two empty envelopes.
5. Write out a different activity for each card and place in the activities to do envelope.
6. Put somewhere easy to find or hang on the wall. When you want to do a new activity pick a card. When you finish, put it in the activities done envelope.
I hope you are now inspired to try something new this Christmas season! Pick some of the twenty ideas above or think of some of your own. Whatever you choose to do, make it a way to have a fun and meaningful Christmas season this year.
What are some other ideas you have for family friendly Christmas activities?
What’s your favorite way to celebrate the Christmas season?