The holidays are a time of joy and celebration. As much as we would all love to splurge during this time of year, most people are on a budget.
Thankfully, plenty of ways exist to have a great Christmas without breaking the bank. In this blog post, I’ve gathered 50 frugal Christmas ideas for families on a budget.
These ideas include activities, gifts, and traditions that won’t leave you feeling guilty about how much money you spent. Remember, it’s about your presence and energy during this time. If you have a positive, uplifting attitude during any one of the ideas below with your family, they will remember it and cherish it.
We tend to remember how we felt during activities, not the actual activity itself. This holiday season you can make it special just by being present.
Make your decorations
Get creative and make your own Christmas ornaments or wreaths. You’ll save money and have some one-of-a-kind decorations.
Plan a potluck
If you’re hosting a Christmas party, ask everyone to bring a dish to share. It will take some of the financial burden off of you, and everyone gets to try different dishes.
DIY Ugly Christmas Sweaters
The uglier, the better! Have a contest to see who can create the ugliest sweater possible. Hit up your local thrift store to find affordable and fun sweaters.
Grab some friends or family members and go caroling door to door. It’s a great way to spread cheer and can be done for free.
Play board games
Playing games like Monopoly or Scrabble is a fun way to spend time with loved ones without spending a dime. We scored a Christmas bingo set at Target one year, and it’s been a tradition ever since.
Attend free community events
Many towns host free events during the holiday season. Check out your local calendar to see what’s happening in your area.
Instead of buying gifts for everyone in your family, draw names for a Secret Santa gift exchange. It’s fun to give and receive gifts without breaking the bank.
Make your own hot cocoa
Skip the expensive hot cocoa mix and make your own with cocoa powder, milk, and sugar. Add in other fun mix-ins like chocolate chips, M&M’s and more.
Baking is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy. Make some delicious Christmas cookies and decorate them together. Check out my favorite holiday recipes here.
Handmade gifts like knitted scarves or painted picture frames are more personal and won’t cost you as much money as buying gifts at a store.
Watch Christmas movies
Gather the family and watch classic Christmas movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Carol”. Many streaming services have holiday movies; otherwise, check out your local library.
Clean out your children’s toy box and donate gently used toys to a local charity. It’s a great way to teach kids the importance of giving back.
Sledding is a classic winter activity that’s free and fun for the whole family. Bring a picnic and some hot water to make hot chocolate afterward.
Serve food at a homeless shelter or volunteer at a local toy drive. There are plenty of ways to give back during the holidays.
Make paper snowflakes
Grab some paper and scissors and make paper snowflakes. Hang them from the ceiling for a festive touch.
Host a cookie exchange
Invite friends over and have everyone bring a different batch of cookies to exchange. Here are my favorite cookie recipes that are sure to be a hit.
Cut down your own Christmas tree
Skip the expensive pre-cut trees and cut down your own instead. It’s a fun activity that gets the whole family involved.
Attend a free church service
Many churches offer free Christmas services that are open to the public.
Plan a scavenger hunt
Create a Christmas-themed scavenger hunt for the kids. The winner gets a small prize.
Host a book exchange
Ask everyone to bring a gently used book to exchange. It’s a great way to get new reading material without spending money.
Go for a walk
Take a walk around your neighborhood to see the Christmas lights. It’s a fun activity that’s free and festive.
Create a budget
Before you start your holiday shopping, create a budget to ensure you don’t overspend.
Have a Christmas movie marathon
Spend a day in your pajamas watching your favorite Christmas movies. Check out our favorite cheap party snacks to make.
Instead of buying expensive gifts, exchange stockings filled with smaller items like candy and small trinkets.
Make a gingerbread house
This classic holiday activity is a fun way to get creative and spend time with loved ones. Grab a kit online or in store. To save on costs we use graham crackers to make a little Gingerbread house.
Host a tree-trimming party
Invite friends over to help you decorate your Christmas tree. Ask everyone to bring a different decoration to hang on the tree.
Go ice skating
Many towns set up free ice skating rinks during the holiday season. Grab your skates and hit the ice.
Create a DIY advent calendar
Make your advent calendar filled with small gifts like candy or homemade treats.
Make a holiday playlist
Gather a list of your favorite Christmas songs and create a playlist to listen to during the holiday season.
Attend a free concert
Many schools and churches host free Christmas concerts. Check your local calendar to see what’s happening in your area.
Have a hot chocolate bar
Set up a hot chocolate bar with toppings like whipped cream, marshmallows, and sprinkles.
Take a holiday-themed family photo
Dress up in your best holiday sweaters and take a family photo to send to friends and family.
Make your gift wrap
Instead of buying expensive gift wraps, create your own with brown paper and ribbon.
Have a craft day
Spend a day creating Christmas crafts like homemade ornaments or wreaths. I like buying the holiday craft kits at Michaels when they are 50% off.
Host a cookie decorating party
Provide different toppings like frosting and sprinkles and let everyone decorate their own cookies.
Create a Christmas card display
Hang your Christmas cards on a decorative display for everyone to see.
Make your own snow globe
Use a mason jar and tiny figurines to create your snow globe.
Create a DIY wreath
Collect branches and greenery and make your own Christmas wreath.
Host a board game tournament
Compete against friends and family in a holiday-themed board game tournament.
Have a wrapping party
Invite friends over to wrap their Christmas gifts together. It’s a great way to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
Make your own gift tags
Get creative and make your own personalized gift tags.
Write letters to Santa
Sit down with the kids and write letters to Santa. It’s a fun activity that excites them for the holiday season.
Host a holiday craft fair
Invite friends and family to bring their homemade crafts to sell at a holiday craft fair.
Visit a Christmas tree farm
Even if you’re not cutting down your own tree, visiting a Christmas tree farm is a fun way to spend time with loved ones.
Make your own advent wreath
Use greenery and candles to make your own advent wreath.
Host a holiday singalong
Gather the family and sing your favorite Christmas carols together.
Visit free holiday displays
Many towns set up free displays like lights or nativity scenes.
Make your own Christmas cards
Skip buying store-bought cards and make your own instead.
Have a holiday-themed potluck
Ask everyone to bring a Christmas-themed dish like eggnog or candy canes.
Write a holiday bucket list
Create a list of all the holiday activities you want and check them off as you go.
Don’t let a tight budget ruin your holiday spirit. With some creativity and planning, you can have a festive Christmas without spending much money. It’s easy to get carried away during the holiday season, but remember, it’s not about the price tag.
From homemade decorations to budget-friendly activities, these 50 frugal Christmas ideas will make your holiday season memorable.
So, don’t stress about your bank account, and enjoy all that this wonderful time of year has to offer!