9 Ways to Make the Holidays Special When Money is Tight
The holidays can be a magical time of the year, but all the extra expenses without extra money coming in can also bring on a lot of stress. Since 2020 has been a year like no other, we could all use some ideas on how to celebrate Christmas inexpensively.
Let’s not forget, the magic of the holiday season doesn’t come from your paycheck. There are so many great ways to create special and lasting holiday memories on a budget. Ahead, are nine ways we love:
Get to your local craft store.
Craft stores typically have rows upon rows of child-friendly crafting kits, and you can usually find several items in the under-ten dollar range that will keep your kids entertained for hours. That means more presents under the tree and more ways to keep them busy.
Create a holiday countdown chain.
Grab some scissors, tape, markers, and a few pieces of construction paper, and create a holiday countdown chain that will rival any advent calendar. Not only will you occupy hours of your child’s time (especially if you have them decorate each link on the chain), you’ll also get to work on a project together—and trust us, that quality time means more to them than anything else.
Start your own traditions.
“Elf on the Shelf” is out of your price range this year? Don’t let that keep you from you playing along. Anoint one of the existing stuffed friends already in your house as Santa’s Helper—and enjoy all the same games. This can be done with a simple note from Santa on December 1. The fun of hiding and finding that little friend will give your kids magic all month long, at no additional expense to you.
Designate a weekly movie night.
Whether you already have an extensive holiday movie collection or access to at least one streaming service, watching a holiday movie together is a great (cheap) way to infuse a little holiday spirit into your home. Put on your holiday pajamas, pop some holiday popcorn (with crushed bits of candy cane, of course), and curl up on the couch together for some weekly family time in front of the TV.
Check out dollar stores and secondhand stores.
You never know what treasures you’ll find while sifting through the items other people have decided to re-sell. Second-hand stores can be great places to find like-new winter outfits for your kids, and dollar stores can be perfect for getting stocking stuffers, toys, board games, and cheap wrapping supplies. You’ll find your money stretches a lot further this holiday season if you start at the places already offering deep discounts.
Make your own ornaments.
Making ornaments together is a great, free holiday tradition to begin. You don’t even need to buy supplies. You could go on a family hike in search of pinecones that can be painted. And the art supplies you already have in your closet are perfect for making decorations. Construction paper, scissors, markers, and string can provide hours of memory without spending any money.
Visit the lights.
Look up the best light displays in town, then make some hot chocolate to bring along with you as you embark on a night of seeking them out together. Load the kids up and set out on a drive. You’ll discover hours of free entertainment from the comfort of your vehicle.
Embrace the four-gift rule.
Every child gets four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. This can be done for relatively cheap if you do it right. Return to those dollar stores and second-hand shops for the something they want, something they need, and something to wear. Remember that two of those three things are items you likely would have bought for them anyway—you’re just saving it to have something to wrap and place under Christmas tree. For something to read, visit a used bookstore.
Find a way to give back.
Check with your church, the local homeless shelter, and nearby food kitchens for opportunities this holiday season. A project where you can give back together is a great way to help kids reflect on what they have. Remember that the true spirit of the holiday season is about giving, not receiving. Contribute in a way that will have a lasting impact on you and your family.