Don’t Break the Bank! 10 Frugal Holiday Traditions Your Family Will Love

When you think of what the holidays are about, what’s the first word that comes to mind?

If you’re anything like me, the words busy, hectic, overscheduled, and expensive are the first words to pop into your head.

But you know what? You’re in charge this month. You can skip the parties you don’t want to go to and you can decide to opt out of hosting your own party this year.

You can slow down. The world will still be there. Now’s the time to show your family (and yourself!) what’s really important during the holidays. Create traditions that will make your children remember you fondly, well into their adult years.

And you don’t have to break the bank to get there. Here are 10 frugal holiday traditions your family will love.

  • Don’t Break the Bank! 10 Frugal Holiday Traditions Your Family Will Love 1 of 11
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  • 1. Christmas lights night drive 2 of 11
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    If it's dark on your way home (and wow it gets dark early!) take a different route home. See and enjoy the lights. Comment on what works, what doesn't, and what you'd like to do next year. When time allows, drive through other neighborhoods to see how they sparkle.

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • 2. Advent calendars 3 of 11
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    Creating anticipation is part of the magic of Christmas. Every day leading up to Christmas, there's a little treat. And the advent calendar industry has grown up, too. This year, I bought my sister an imported Ritter Sport calendar, and my boyfriend a whisky calendar (where, seriously, a new tiny bottle of whisky each day in Advent).

     

    Image by businessplans

  • 3. Special ornaments for each family member 4 of 11
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    An ornament a year really adds up. Just think: you're building a "starter kit" for your kids' ornament collection for years to come. My boyfriend's mom wrote the names of each kid on the bottom of wooden ornaments, along with the year they were gifted, and now, those special ornaments are on our tree. I love that.

     

    Image by mconnors

  • 4. Play Secret Santa 5 of 11
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    Decide as a family which friends should be given presents secretly, then go do it! It's so fun to give a little gift to someone and have them ponder, "who in the world gave me this?"

     

    Image by cheriedurbin

  • 5. Random notes of kindness 6 of 11
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    This is a craft anyone can get into. Cut colored paper into any shape, and write nice messages on them. Then, pack everyone up, and get going! Find a parking lot (or garage) and leave notes on cars. It'll be a great time.

     

    Image by JessaIrene

  • 6. Christmas tree festival 7 of 11
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    In many towns, there's a festival of decorated trees, and it's one of my favorite holiday traditions. The game is simple: you go around, deciding which tree is your favorite. This can take multiple rounds to really decide. Then, you enter the raffle because they're raising money for a good cause. You never win, but it doesn't matter. You take lots of pretty pictures.

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • 7. Christmas Eve/Christmas Day meal 8 of 11
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    Oh, the traditions around our holiday meals! When I was growing up, we usually had fondue Christmas Eve, and a roast on Christmas Day. But we would go round and round deciding on just the right side dishes. And it's great fun. This year, I'm hosting it, and I'm a little nervous! But at least I have my traditions I can fall back on as framework.

     

    Image by Frugal Portland

  • 8. Make gingerbread houses 9 of 11
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    (Mine never turned out like the picture above!) What's more fun than making a complete mess of your kitchen and making some ramshackle gingerbread houses?

     

    Nothing, that's what.

     

    Image by mconnors 

  • 9. Cookies for Santa and his helpers 10 of 11
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    Making cookies is so fun. It fills the house with good smells, and you get to have all those "elves" helping you out!

     

    Image by gracey

  • 10. Involve the kids in making gifts 11 of 11
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    If you get your kids involved, making gifts gets both more challenging and more fun. Check this list of homemade gifts that don't make you look cheap to see if any are at your kids' level of expertise. Plus, it doesn't have to be perfect. People love kid touches!

     

    Image by krosseel

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