By Jennifer Halter
Holiday traditions, events and activities certainly don’t need to cost a lot of money! With a little
creativity and planning, you and your family can have a magical holiday season without breaking your
budget. Here are some low-cost, family friendly, holiday bucket list items to help you get started.
Whether it’s baking your favorite cookies and desserts or preparing a dish for the neighborhood potluck,
kids will have a blast helping in the kitchen while also learning valuable skills. Allow them to help with
planning what to prepare by researching online or reading through cookbooks. Together, create a
shopping list and budget. While prepping and cooking, let the children help with measuring, chopping and
mixing. If baking cookies, allow them to channel their artistic side while creating their edible masterpieces.
Have a Holiday Movie Night
Pick your favorite holiday movie (or two) and have a movie night at home. Take your pick from the great
selection on TV, or select one from your personal collection. Prepare your favorite theater snacks like
popcorn and nachos. You can even get movie theater-style boxed candy from the dollar store as a special
treat. The best part of movie night at home? Everyone can wear their comfy pajamas.
Make Your Own Ornaments
Check out local craft supply and dollar stores for inexpensive items to create your own holiday
ornaments. Make these for your own tree or for gift giving. (Everyone loves a homemade gift!) Be sure to
include the year on your ornament, so you can reminisce about the time you made it for years to come.
Plan a Friends Night In
Celebrate the season with your friends by inviting them over for a fun meal together. You can plan a full
traditional holiday with all the trimmings (have everyone bring a dish!) or keep it simple by ordering pizza and making a fun dessert!
Craft Your Own Holiday Cards
Make your own cards using recycled card fronts from last year or use your own supplies such as card stock,
construction paper, markers, etc. Spread some holiday cheer to those in need by dropping off your homemade cards at local nursing homes, hospitals and veterans’ organizations. They’ll appreciate knowing your family is thinking of them.
Take a Holiday Light Tour
Pack the family into the car, turn on your favorite holiday tunes and drive around the neighborhood to check out the holiday light displays. Add to the fun by having each family member rate each one and vote for their favorite.
After your night, share your favorites with friends or on social media to spread some cheer to others who may want to plan their own fun night out.
Build Your Own Hot Cocoa Bar
Whether you do this with your family or share the love with your neighbors and friends, making your own hot cocoa bar is a fun, budget-friendly option for the chilly nights of the season. Make a batch of hot cocoa and gather a variety of add-ins, such as peppermint sticks, marshmallows and whipped cream. This would be a great idea to kick off or wrap up a night of caroling or socializing with neighbors.
Read By the Tree
If you have a holiday tree, spend an evening snuggled in your pajamas with a few good books about the
season. Allow each child to take turns reading his or her book of choice for the family. Need some book ideas? This is a great time to visit our local public libraries to pick up some holiday titles. While you’re there, be sure to check out the huge selection of DVDs to help fill the time while the kids are home on break!
It’s important to teach children about giving to others. Some great ways to help others during the holidays
- Volunteering at a local food pantry by sorting/shelving donations or serving a meal
- Visiting a nursing home and spending time with the residents
- Assembling bags with toiletries and snacks to give to homeless shelters or local outreach groups
- Donating toys, books and clothing to charitable organizations
No matter how you choose to spend it, make this holiday season one full of happiness, joy and great
memories you and your loved ones will look back on for years to come.
Jennifer Halter is the Publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas,
free online calendars and resources to help you find your family fun all year round.