The holiday season is an amazing time of year. People go the extra mile to spend time with family and friends, and many households embrace traditions that inspire togetherness.
But the holidays can also be really expensive. Between gifts, traveling, and parties, many family’s see their budgets get stretched pretty thin.
Luckily, even if you don’t have a lot of spare cash, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Here are ten fun holiday traditions that won’t break the bank.
Along with being a time to appreciate your family and friends, the holiday season also reminds us to give back to our communities. If you want to spend some time bonding while helping those in need, a group volunteering experience can be ideal. It allows you to spend time together while doing something meaningful. Plus, it usually won’t cost any more than the gas it takes to get to the location.
Just keep in mind that volunteering on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day isn’t always easy to arrange. Many households focus on those days in particular, so some organizations might be overrun with volunteers. Instead, consider picking another day during the holiday season. You can also reach out to a volunteer coordinator in advance to make sure your presence is actually needed or to reserve a spot.
2. Community Events
Many communities host a range of events during the holidays. If your city or town has free holiday concerts, parades, tree lightings, or other happenings, consider making one (or several) a fun tradition. All you’ll have to worry about is attending. Or, if you want to take it up a notch, add something else into the mix. For example, you could all get bundled up in your favorite holiday attire, make some hot cocoa, and then head outside for a parade.
Also, there might be engaging activity days at certain community locations. If you have a local library, see if they are holding special readings of children’s holiday stories or craft events, like ornament making days. Check with area schools to see if they are putting on plays or music recitals. There may be more options than you realized, and many of them happen every year.
3. Movie Marathons
If you have access to cable or video streaming services, you can likely watch plenty of holiday classics and newer releases without having to pay anything extra. Consider picking a day to have a holiday movie marathon. Then, select age-appropriate films, gather up some snacks, and get cozy in pajamas and blankets. It can be a great way to relax as a group, particularly if the weather outside has gotten a bit frightful.
4. Gingerbread Houses
Gingerbread houses are a holiday staple for many. If your family hasn’t made one before, consider giving it a try. You can usually get cookie cutters that can help you make the pieces or buy a relatively inexpensive kit if you only want to decorate.
5. See the Lights
If your neighborhood (or one nearby) is known for its Christmas light displays at homes, then consider planning a yearly walking tour. You can bundle up, carry a hot beverage in a travel mug, and get in some exercise, all while enjoying the twinkling lights.
For areas where it’s too cold, you can look for driving tours as well. Some areas block off sections of the street so that you can slowly roll by the houses, allowing you to take it in while staying warm in your car.
6. Tree Decorating
Instead of just putting up your Christmas tree, consider making it a special occasion. Take time picking out your tree as a group. Then, gather family members together, put on some holiday music, and let everyone get involved.
7. Ice Skating
Most ice-skating rinks are inexpensive to use, even if you have to rent skates. If you haven’t been recently or have never tried it, consider giving it a whirl as a new tradition. It can be a fun option for active families.
8. Play in the Snow
If you’re area usually has snow during the holidays, take a day to enjoy it. Make snow angels, build a snowman, do some sledding, or catch snowflakes on your tongue. It can be a great way to get some exercise, spend time outdoors, and have some fun as a group.
9. Make DIY Gifts Together
Crafty families might enjoy making DIY gifts together each year. Whether you all make the same kinds of crafts or different ones, doing it as a group can be fun. Get together and make a ton of bath bombs or let some family members crochet while others make custom greeting cards with craft paper and other supplies.
10. Thank Local Heroes
Every community has heroes. Your local police and fire departments do a lot to keep your neighborhood safe. Consider making it a holiday tradition to say thank you. Get blank greeting cards and write messages expressing your appreciation. It’s a small gesture, but it can have a surprisingly positive impact.