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Whether you’re on a tight Christmas budget, maxed out, broke, or just looking for something to do, this list of Christmas activities for families things are all free and easy to do! Spend time with your little ones creating memories and traditions for no cost.
You may choose to explain your tight budget to your kids this year, and help them to remain true to the idea of Christmas and how it is about giving, and love instead of getting and gifts. But even tight budgets have room for family time.
[Related] Check out tips for surviving when Santa is broke.
1 Look at Christmas lights.
Walking around the neighborhood or driving to a nicer one nearby doesn’t cost anything. Enjoy looking at all of the beautiful lights glowing in the Christmas spirit.
When you think of Christmas activities for families, usually looking at lights falls in as one of the first ideas to pop into your head. And that’s simply because it’s awesome and fun!
2. Put up and decorate the Christmas tree.
Even if it’s just a tiny 1 foot tall Christmas tree from Dollar Tree, and you have no money for decorations, you’d be AMAZED at how creative kids can be if you let them decorate it themselves.
Most homes have their own Christmas trees in a box somewhere, while others cut them down from a tree farm.
However you get your tree, know it will bring your kids excited to decorate it, and lighten the mood as it sits there all month bringing the feelings of Christmas into your home.
3. Make paper snowflakes.
Seriously, this is a time-honored tradition in homes all over the world.
Trying to make the perfect snowflake from a single sheet of paper, is both skill-building as well as a very frugal past time. All you need is a pair of scissors and a piece of printer paper.
4. Donate to a shelter.
Collect food, old toys, old clothes, and donate them to a shelter.
Our local school district does stuff the bus and requests gently used toys and clothes along with new things to be gifted out for Christmas to less fortunate families.
5. Make a paper chain.
Countdown to Christmas or use to decorate the house.
Colorful construction paper or plain printer paper work great, if using plain paper have the kids color them before assembling and they’ll be extra proud of this project once finished. All you really need is just paper, a glue stick, and scissors.
6. Go to a Christmas service at church.
If you are the church-going type, attending the Christmas Mass or any themed services during the month of December can really put you in the right set of mind and spirit for enjoying what Christmas is really about.
7. Look at local church Christmas activities.
Sometimes they do plays, reenactments or offer camel rides and Santa pictures. Petting zoos are a big thing at my local churches and the ones that offer camels are by far my favorite.
While we don’t actually attend any church, we are still invited to come and enjoy socializing at these free Christmas activities for families hosted by the churches in our community.
8. Make and drink hot chocolate.
Making Cocoa from scratch is as simple as 4 ingredients from your pantry. Powdered sugar, brown sugar, baking cocoa, and milk. Have your kid help you stir it in the pot, or add mountains of marshmallows to the top. Maybe opt-in for some whipped cream if you have it.
9. Wrap presents together.
If you’re anything like me, you are too big of a control freak to let your kid do any of the wrappings. In which case, they can hold pieces of tape, hand you things and add the pretty bows and ribbons at the end.
If you are more open to a kid wrapped gift and don’t mind it looking less than perfect- kudos to you, and you can enjoy more time together wrapping.
10. Find free Christmas themed online printables.
Coloring pages or activities- you can find them online and keep your kid entertained for HOURS with awesome things.
11. Host a Christmas pajama party.
Hosting a party sounds expensive, but hear me out. It CAN be a free event.
By using the holiday decorations already in your home, you don’t need to buy anything.
Make it pot luck and then there’s no cost on your end for food, not a lot of dishes and no serious meal/food prep.
Put a Hallmark Christmas movie on tv and some Christmas music on the radio and you’re good to go.
The guests and food will naturally create the perfect party atmosphere.
12. Introduce classic films.
Borrow old Christmas movies from the library and watch them with your kids, let them know why they shouldn’t want a Red Ryder BB Gun or show them the Miracle on 34th street in black and white.
13. Have a Lego building competition.
Almost every home in America has a set of legos somewhere or so it feels.) Theme the rounds as different holiday favorites and see who can make the best creations. Best Stocking related, almost like a Christmas tree, etc.
14. Follow along with Santa’s trip by using a Santa tracker.
Noradsanta.org is a website dedicated to tracking Santa’s flight path on Christmas Eve night. Use it to your advantage and get the kids to bed early before he arrives in your area, after letting them see that he’s out there and on his way of course.
15. Type and print out a letter from Santa for your kids.
Remind them to be good, let them know you received their Wishlist’s loud and clear, look forward to seeing them, etc.
It doesn’t take much to install that feeling of joy they’ll get knowing Santa sent them a letter.
Another option for this is to use FREE Letter from Santa Templates that you can customize and print yourself.
This gives the pretty letterhead and stationery look while saving you the effort of writing a full letter since its just fill in the blanks.
16. Print out a Christmas themed bingo cards and play as a family.
These can be a lot of fun if you play together and easily take up a good portion of a weekend afternoon. The winner can choose dinner or dessert.
17. Have a campout in the living room.
You can make it as “extra” as you want, by adding a real tent. Or you can just make a blanket fort and pillows for the bare minimum. Doesn’t matter much to the kids because they’ll love it either way. All the fun of camping, but the warmth of being inside, the joy of indoor plumbing and the pretty glow of the Christmas tree lights.
18. Splish Splash in a puddle and bath.
If the weather cooperates (and by that I mean, rains) take the kids outside and let them do what kids do best, get messy. Kids get a huge kick out of going puddle stomping.
Let them wear themselves out, and come back inside for a nice warm bath.
19. Participate in your local libraries/school district Christmas events.
My local school district holds events at our libraries for free events every month. My library is doing gingerbread house decorating, puppet shows book clubs, and play to learn events. All free and supplies are included.
20. Stretch out Christmas morning.
Have everyone wake up, stay in their pajamas. Wait to open gifts until after breakfast.
Have a full breakfast(French toast, eggs, bacon, orange juice.)
Hang paper snowflakes from the ceiling and take a few ornaments from the tree to decorate the table (your kids won’t notice) By dressing up the meal, you add to the spirit of the day and make the moments last longer.
21. Watch Christmas movies together as a family.
Snuggle up on the couch with your blankets, hot cocoa, and popcorn. Watch movies in the dark and let your Christmas lights illuminate the room as you all sit there enjoying each others company.
22. Bake Christmas cookies and gift them to family and friends.
Frosted, baked, and decorated cookies, are all things that can be made with the simplest of pantry ingredients. Making cookies and baking goodies are great Christmas activities for families.
Giving them away brings the spirit of giving and kids LOVE it!
You can also donate them to a local fire station or police officers!
23. Cut out paper snowflakes and hang them around the house.
This is a fun and cheap idea to bring the winter fun indoors.
24. Make and send out Christmas cards.
Kids have fun crafting, and love sending cards as much as they like getting them.
25. Go to a Christmas parade.
A lot of locations have Christmas parades. Taking your kids to see one is a great way to get out of the house and spend time together.
26. Visit Santa for free.
Some stores and locations have a Santa that you can visit for FREE, Bass Pro Shop is a big one. Taking your children to meet the Holiday Hero is a great way to check off a “normal” Christmas tradition from the bucket list.
27. Write a letter to Santa.
This only costs a postage stamp! Mail away a handwritten letter to Santa, while at the same time, taking note for things your child wants for Christmas.
28. Spend an evening teaching Christmas carols to your kids.
Pick a Christmas Music station to tune into or set up YouTube to show a specific video with lyrics and sing along. Your kids can sing and dance and play, getting the best family moments together while wearing them out before bed.
29. Play eye spy on the Christmas tree.
A fun game and way to pass the time. Hide things in the tree or use ornaments already on it. My 5-year-old is a huge fan of playing eye spy when we are on road trips, so I can only imagine how much she would enjoy this as well.
30. Christmas caroling to nursing home residents.
This one is pretty great, especially if you know someone who is in a nursing home. Often times, elderly folks don’t get visitors in these places, getting a nice Christmas carol sung to them by cute kids can really lift their spirits.
So there you have it.
A list of 30 Christmas activities for families that didn’t cost anything!
Don’t forget you can even get Christmas presents for free near you, if you look online. Frugal Chirstmases can be fun and magical too!
Perfect for any budget.
Want more affordable suggestions for traditions to start with your little ones? Check out this post about my favorite Christmas traditions.
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