‘Tis the season for shopping for presents, cooking fancy meals, decorating our homes for the holidays and celebrating with friends and family. The holidays are a fun and exciting time but all of that fun can start to stretch the pocketbook. No matter your budget, families can still enjoy meaningful holiday traditions. 

  1. Make cookies for Santa (and for others) – Bake some special cookies for Santa but set aside a few dozen for local firefighters or police officers and deliver them with your kids.
  2. Have a Christmas movie marathon – Watch your favorite Christmas movies as a family while enjoying some popcorn, hot cocoa and candy canes.
  3. Make an ornament – Make a new ornament, as a family, each year. When the kids move out they will have a box full of decorations for their own tree. Easy ideas could be salt dough ornaments or filling a plastic ball with photos, ticket stubs or glitter and adding the date.
  4. Christmas countdown – Create a homemade advent countdown with construction or scrapbook paper.
  5. Holiday tunes – Play Christmas music each morning as you are getting ready for your day.
  6. Lights tour – Load up the family car and go on a tour of Christmas light displays in the area. 
  7. Provide a meal – Check the needs of a local food pantry and help them stock up on items that can be used for holiday dinners.
  8. Family pajamas – Pick out matching pajamas for the whole family to wear on Christmas morning. For a low-cost option, use plain colored t-shirts and basic flannel pants.
  9. Bless others – Have the kids pick out a new toy to donate to a local charity that provides gifts to children in need. Also consider sorting through old toys and clothing to donate to charity before any new gifts arrive.
  10. Visit Santa – Take the kids to visit Santa, or write him a letter and mail it. 
  11. Coat drive – Start a coat drive by going through your coat closet and donating items no longer needed to those less fortunate. Collect new socks, hats and gloves in your community to donate as well.
  12. Go on a sleigh ride – A sleigh ride is a great way to get in the holiday cheer. Don’t forget the hot cocoa.
  13. Caroling – Gather friends and family together and go caroling in your neighborhood or at a local nursing home.
  14. Holiday hunt – Fill Easter eggs with Christmas candy or hide candy canes around the house and let the children find them.
  15. Make reindeer food – Mix rolled oats with red and green sugar sprinkles. Have the kids sprinkle it on the lawn before bed for the reindeer to snack on while Santa is visiting your home.
  16. Christmas reads – Collect Christmas books, wrap them in festive paper and have the kids open and read one each day leading up until Christmas. Consider adding one new book each year.
  17. Campout – After trimming the tree, get out the sleeping bags and “campout” under it for the night. 
  18. Christmas breakfast – Make a big breakfast Christmas morning. Make a breakfast casserole that can be prepared the night before lets you enjoy the morning with your family.

Holiday Movies for the Family

Polar Express

It’s a Wonderful Life

The Santa Clause

MIracle on 34th Street

The Christmas Story


How the Grinch Stole Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Home Alone & Home Alone 2

A Christmas Carol


The Nightmare Before Christmas

Frosty the Snowman

Babes in Toyland

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Muppet Christmas Carol

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