Four Frugal Christmas Family Fun Ideas

Fun Frugal Christmas Ideas

Looking for some fun ideas on frugal things you and your family can do together to get excited for Christmas? Look no further.

As a busy working mom of three, I’m always on the lookout for things I can do in the evenings and weekends with my kids. After all, the older ones spend the entire month of December eagerly looking forward to the holidays. The little guy at 1 1/2 doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but I try to have him join in the fun when he can.

It can be really easy to spend a lot of money trying to create Christmas memories with your kids. Go to the mall, stand in line for an hour, and pay $50 for a Santa photo package. Go on a special Polar Express-themed train ride for almost $250 for the family.  But Christmas fun doesn’t have to be expensive-in fact I prefer the simpler traditions we can do together as a family every single year.

Bake cookies

I love making cookies, and Christmas is no exception. In addition to my famous snickerdoodles (which my oldest loves) I always make and decorate a bunch of sugar cookies. We do the same thing for Valentines, Halloween, and Easter-it’s a fun way for the kids to get involved in making something for relatives for the holiday. They can help make the dough, cut out the cookies, and decorate them however they want. Making sugar cookies is pretty inexpensive, and you can get coupons to one of the craft stores for the decorations. I’ll also make chocolate peanut butter bars and Hershey kiss peanut butter cookies to round out the cookie experience.

Christmas cookies
An assortment of Christmas treats, with the sugar cookies all decorated by my boys

Make “gingerbread” (aka graham cracker) houses

This is one of our favorite annual traditions, which we’ve done since our oldest was so small that he just stuck a few things on to the house and called it a day. All you need for this are:

  • Two boxes of graham crackers
  • One batch of royal icing
  • Candies – the bigger assortment the better

The great thing about doing this is not only is it fun, and it lasts all Christmas season, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. For the candies I’ve often found that the less expensive candies make wonderful decorations. Gumdrops, peppermints, Necco wafers, etc. are all great. Christmas candy frequently goes on sale this time of year, and you can score excellent bargains using coupons. Plus small bags are the best for this, because you usually don’t use a lot of any particular candy, so you don’t need to buy large bags of anything. This is a great activity to do with your kids friends as well, because you’ll usually have plenty of candy. Just make the houses ahead of time so they have time to dry, and each child can decorate their own house and take it home.

Graham cracker Christmas houses
Fun making a holiday town out of graham crackers!

Do an advent calendar

When I was a kid we didn’t do a lot of Christmas things at home, and one of the things we didn’t do that I always wanted was have an advent calendar. I was always jealous of my friends that got a small treat every day in December and when I had my own kids I wanted them to have that fun. I found this awesome advent calendar at Costco about 11 years ago and it still looks like new. Every year the kids look forward to what small treats they’re going to get that day, and get excited about counting down the days until Christmas.

Costco advent calendar
Costco advent calendar, oh how we love thee

Make Christmas crafts

Every year I pick up four (soon to be 5!) $1 wooden craft from AC Moore, JoAnns ,or Hobby Lobby. We then all paint them and use them to decorate around the house. I love doing this because not only is it inexpensive and provides about an hour of entertainment, but I can also see how much the kids painting changes over time. The earliest ones are full of squiggles but the recent ones are well painted. It’s so much fun having them all around the house.

Christmas penguin
Christmas penguin says Hello!

What fun and frugal things do you like to do with your family for Christmas? I’m always looking out for new ideas! Let me know in the comments.

Want to learn more about teaching kids about money? Check out this great page with my top articles and resources I’ve found from around the web.

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9 thoughts on “Four Frugal Christmas Family Fun Ideas”

  1. We did the cookie thing with my aunt and mom for the kids last night. The kids had a blast. The big fun frugal thing we do every year is having the kids make cards and such for family. It’s obviously not the only type of cards we give but grand parents love drawings from kids.

  2. The gingerbread watchtower in the middle of the village is really cool! The whole scene looks fantastic. Do you guys get snow for Christmas?

    We had advent calendars as kids too. They were just the cardboard ones where you opened a flap to see the picture underneath. No treats involved and we still loved them!

  3. I have incredibly memories of baking Christmas cookies with my mom and gingerbread houses remind me of being in elementary school. Unfortunately I always had difficulty with putting mine together. Somehow the treats always ended up in my mouth and I had a somewhat plain house 🙂

  4. Some great ideas and traditions you have going on here!

    Some things we do are drive around looking at Christmas lights around town, watching Christmas movie classics as a family, decorating the tree as a family and we started doing an advent calendar this year as well!

    My wife also has been taking the girls out Christmas caroling as well. I reluctantly go sometimes, but opt to make the hot cocoa for when they return most other times lol!

    1. Sounds like fun! My middle son has been asking to go around Christmas caroling this year-not sure why. Luckily he’s going out with the Boy Scouts to a local nursing home in a few days, so he should get his caroling done then.

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