Money is tight for our family this year, but it doesn’t mean we have to miss out on all the Christmas traditions fun. That’s why I created this Christmas Traditions Bucket List for our family.
Christmas can easily become a stressful time of year. There are presents to buy, parties to attend and budgets to keep! Before you know it, you are so wrapped up in all the things you “should” be doing that you forget to slow down and enjoy the time of year.
The holidays are also an easy time of year to blow your budget, making the start of a new year a whole lot more stressful than it has to be!
Use this Christmas Traditions Bucket List to infuse some fun into your holiday, without breaking the bank!
Christmas Traditions Bucket List
Make a Christmas countdown
A fun way to get the family excited for Christmas is to create a Christmas countdown.
- An advent calendar, homemade or one you use every year.
- Construction paper chain – Remember making these as a kid? Grab some red and green construction paper and make strips of paper with the numbers on them. Interlink them with tape or staples and hang then up!
Hot cocoa bar
Create a hot cocoa bar using hot cocoa packets (or make your own hot cocoa), candy canes, and mini-marshmallows!
If you live where it snows, take a day to go sledding! Pack a lunch, and make a day out of it. It’s a free activity, and it is so much fun, including for adults!
Go visit Santa
It doesn’t cost money to go see Santa. Check out local events near you, or pop into the mall. You are not obligated to buy photos. Simply snap one with your phone.
Have a special holiday breakfast
I love making a special holiday breakfast at the start of every December. We also do all out on Christmas morning. Our favorite tradition is to make monkey bread to snack on while opening gifts. (This is the recipe we have used for years!)
Decorate the Christmas tree
We’ve never had a fancy, matching ornaments Christmas tree. My husband calls those “soul-less trees”. Decorating the Christmas tree with homemade ornaments or ornaments we collected in our travels has always been a family event, and it is so much fun!
You don’t have to have an expensive tree either. Where we live you can cut down a tree in the National Forests for about $10. I saw some great looking artificial trees at our local donation center if an artificial tree is more your thing.
Bake and decorate cookies
Baking and decorating cookies is a Christmas tradition favorite in our home, and it doesn’t cost much to do. Every year, each family member creates a favorite cookie recipe (it keeps the costs down to limit the recipes).
We all put on our aprons and have a great time, with Christmas music blasting in the background.
Make/Send out Christmas cards
You don’t have to buy fancy Christmas cards to participate in the tradition. I usually get 10-20 free Christmas cards from Shutterfly every year using one of their coupon codes. It is sufficient for our close family members.
Every year after Christmas, you can buy Christmas cards for crazy discounts and use them the following year for teachers, neighbors, etc.
If you or your children are crafty, homemade Christmas cards are the best!
Christmas movie marathon
Nothing says Christmas traditions like a day in your pajamas and having a Christmas movie marathon. Set a day on the calendar, pop some popcorn, and start watching!
Make a Christmas gift
In a world of consumerism, it is easy to forget how to gift give with intention and love. Nothing says love like a homemade Christmas gift.
Break out your craft supplies, and search Pinterest for ideas using what you have on hand. You may be surprised.
Write a letter to Santa
Kids love writing letters to Santa. Once it is complete, you can even stuff the envelope, stamp it and take it to the mailbox (or Post Office). The Post Office does special deliver to the North Pole!
Take Christmas photos
Make sure to take a family Christmas photo this season. Don’t worry about an expensive photography session. Ask a friend to use your phone, or set it on a timer.
Your phone likely has an amazing camera, and it will do just fine for creating a memory.
Added bonus if you all wear your Christmas PJs or ugly Christmas sweater!
Make a digital Christmas card and send it out with your fun family photo.
Go see Christmas lights
Going to see the neighborhood Christmas lights is a family favorite Christmas tradition, and it only costs the gas for the car.
Pick up the kids from school, eat a fast dinner, and then head out for a tour of the town.
Make a Christmas craft
Kids love to make Christmas crafts, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Got some construction paper lying around? I guarantee you they can think of a craft on their own using the supplies on hand.
See a Christmas parade
Nearly every town has a Christmas parade, and it is a free Christmas tradition you can add to your to-do list.
Want to make the parade extra special? Grab a blanket or your outdoor chairs, pack a thermos of coffee, tea or cider, and go pick out your parade spot super early. You will have the best seat in the house!
Every Christmas Eve my husband insists on us caroling the neighborhood. It’s embarrassing, as I can’t carry a tune to save my life, but it is so much fun. Our neighbors always love it and get a kick out of it.
Make homemade ornaments
You don’t have to have fancy ornaments to have a fun tree. We like to buy one ornament a year to signify our year, but some years, that hasn’t been possible.
If you want an extra special memory, or if you want to save some cash, then try making your own homemade ornament. Who knows, it may become a new family favorite!
Random act of kindness
It is easy for us all to forget that Christmas is about giving over receiving. Surprise someone with a random act of kindness this holiday season. It will feel so good!
Want to start a new family Christmas tradition? Volunteer for a local charity and give back to those who aren’t as fortunate as you.
In all our years of living with less, we have still been very fortunate to have a room over our heads and food on the table. You don’t have to have money to give your time.
Write a letter to a soldier
There are soldiers spending their holidays away from their families so you can be safe at home.
Sit down with your family and write a letter to a soldier.
Not sure where to send your letter? You can send a letter to a US Soldier using Operation Gratitude for guidance.
Read the Christmas story
Want to remember the real reason we are celebrating Christmas? Read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. If your kids are old enough, have them read the story aloud.
Make popcorn garland
Popcorn is super cheap, and popcorn garland is so much fun to make! Grab some string, a needle and start treading the popcorn. You can put it on your Christmas tree or hang it outside.
Leave carrots for the reindeer
Every year we leave out a plate of cookies for Santa and couple carrots for the reindeer.
Kids get super excited knowing they helped fuel Rudolph!
Track Santa on NORAD
Track Santa on NORAD on Christmas Eve. It is a lot of fun, and it doesn’t cost you a penny!
Make a birthday cake for baby Jesus
This one isn’t a Christmas tradition I did as a kid, but I have done it with my girls.
Ask my kids what Christmas celebrates, and they excitedly tell me “Baby Jesus’s birthday!!!”.
One year, my girls asked me to make a birthday cake for baby Jesus, to which I happily obliged. I still love having a birthday cake sometime in December to celebrate!
What are your favorite family Christmas traditions?
Christmas traditions don’t have to be expensive and busy. They can be simple little celebrations we have throughout the month to celebrate the season and time with our families.
What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Please share them below!