With the Christmas holidays looming, chances are, if you are on a tight budget, you will be searching for inspiration as to how to keep your little monsters from climbing the walls. At the same time, you will be concerned that it will cost you an absolute fortune, however hard you try. Not so – here are some creative Christmas activities and holiday craft for kids that are either free, or very cheap and will give your pocket peace of mind.
Have a Movie Afternoon with Homemade Popcorn
Dig out your family’s favourite movies, relax and share popcorn together. There’s nothing better than enjoying family time together!
Decorate Your Tree Together
What is a better fun Christmas activity for families than this! Involve everyone in deciding how to decorate the tree you have. Going purchasing the tree itself could be made into a major family event. You could go as far as this as you want – why not decorate other parts of your house too? You could even make it into a whole series of crafty activities by challenging the children to make different decorations for the tree. Handsonaswegrow has a brilliant range of ideas for crafty Christmas decorations to make with the kids. Buzzfeed lists really easy, cute decorations you can make, that don’t take a long time – perfect Christmas activities for preschoolers and young children.
Make Christmas Decorations
Following on from the previous idea, here are some amazing crafty ideas for making beautiful Christmas decorations and other items you can display around the home for your family Christmas.
Invite Friends of Your Children Around and Enjoy a Festive Activity
Crafty activities are perfect for this – invite their friends and you could do activities such as Christmas colourings or Christmas collages. Serve hot chocolate and cookies for a snack. Free printable resources are readily available. Here are a selection that I thought looked really cute. Freefunchristmas, The Spruce Crafts , and Raising Our Kids all have thousands of printable A4 colouring Christmas activity pages.
Check out your local council’s website or Facebook page and see what events are happening. Carol services are always free and the children will be able to join in singing with their favourite songs! Your nearest city might even have one of these services on a larger, more impressive scale, in the city centre. Carols around a giant Christmas tree is always a magical experience.
Drive through the Neighbourhood looking at the Christmas Lights
Mr Budget and I do this – every year! We love to rate the decorations and what we like about them. It’s so uplifting to see the colourful lights and quite an experience, even for young children. The neighbourhood always looks like a completely different place!
Go to the Christmas Markets
These Christmas Markets have become such a popular idea now that they are happening in every major town. They are all unique – so you could take a trip out to as many as you wanted. Manchester’s is spectacular, and has plenty of sights and amazing displays to wow the children. You could share a Bratwurst, to give the children a taste of different types of traditional food.
Write a letter to Santa
Children love the magic of Santa and Christmas, so why not on Christmas Eve, get them involved in writing a letter to him and creating their best painting of him, to go with the traditional mince pie and carrot for Rudolph.
You can find all the things you need to make a Christmas wreath in your garden, or around the local area. You can find a great set of wreath instructions that I thought were fantastic here. Momitforward isn’t afraid to use natural Christmas decorations, from a woodland walk. Redtedart gives instructions of how to make one with different types of evergreen leaves.
Meet Father Christmas
Look out on the internet where this is scheduled to happen – most local towns now do this. Younger children will absolutely love meeting Santa and telling him their present requests!
Visit your local library
Local libraries always have fab traditional activities for kids in the holidays. They usually happen just before Christmas so take at look at their website. The best local kids’ Christmas activities I have seen have been Christmas Crafts, singing Christmas Carols and of course a story teller, telling traditional Christmas stories. What a lovely way of immersing your children in the spirit of Christmas. The great thing is that most of these activities are completely free.
Bake Christmas Cookies
You could do this before your movie afternoon, so you can enjoy your cookies with the movie. Here are some links to amazing cookie ideas and recipes. Cupcakes and Kale Chips or The Spruce Eats has a great selection of ideas here.
Cookie Swap basically involves getting together with your friends or your children’s friends, or both! Yes you guessed it – preparing cookies and them enjoying them with hot milk, hot chocolate, or maybe some festive fizz for the adults!
Hold a Gingerbread Party
A variation on the cookie swap could be a Gingerbread House Party. Since it’s so much fun, it’s a great family thing to do at Christmas! You invite a couple of families, and everyone in each family works together to create a kit Gingerbread House! You can pick these up from cheap stores like Aldi or Lidl.
Involve Everyone in Present Wrapping
It sounds scary, but involve the children in wrapping presents for grandparents, uncles, aunties, their friends. What they will be doing, without realising, is developing their fine motor and co-ordination skills. Present wrapping is quite an art form, so can make the children feel like they have really spent time on the presents they are going to give.
Print your own wrapping paper
Before Christmas, you could get some Christmas shaped sponges and print your own wrapping paper, before the present wrapping session. Brown paper is popular at the moment. Older children could refine their painting skills by painting basic repeated designs on the paper. See here for some inspiration – Parent Map has 10 superb, easy ideas or Mostcraft’s have an astonishing variety of super cheap ideas that are so creative at the same time.
Make Christmas Cards
This is such a personalised way of giving a card. Every granny, grandma, grandad or papa in the world loves to receive a handmade Christmas car made by their favourite little cherub. Here’s a selection of Christmas card ideas. Mumsmakelists gives you advice first on making homemade cards with children, then further down give a whole host of fab, easy to make ideas. Youbabymemommy lists simple but cute designs that will melt hearts!
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Have a Break from Christmas Festive Activities and Get Active Outside
You go for a family walk in the local park. As result, you are giving them more exercise, without them even realisng i t! In my local park, there are great play areas, to stretch young energetic legs and wildlife to spot. Another ideas, could be to take their bikes and they can ride around the park, as a bit of change from being cooped up inside.
Play Fun Christmas Games
Crazy Little Projects has some excellent ideas for fun Christmas games, that are easy to set up and don’t require expensive equipment to play. You could play one silly game every evening and make a real thing out of it! Plus it would cut the temptation we all feel, to slump in front of the TV. The games are further down the article and my favourite so far has to be the Christmas tree cup game! Another great site is Country Living – some of the games are more ambitious, but I especially love the Santa photobooth idea or don’t ring the bells obstacle course for younger ones.
Donate Old Toys To Charity
This could be an opportunity to involve the children in giving, so before Christmas get them to bring out all their toys they are really sure they will never play with again. You could go as far as you want with this one. One idea could be to bag the items and take the children to the local charity shop. Part of the children’s task could be to give the bags to the shop assistant and do the talking. Another way of doing it would be to wrap some of them and give them to a local charity. A lot of charities at this time of year do a Christmas gift appeal for local children. Normally, they also ask that the gifts are wrapped.
So there you go. Has this article armed you with more ideas? Do you feel that now you have the beginnings of an action plan for a full-on Christmas on a budget? Are you excited about all the possibilities of how you can still have fun?
Read my other posts on getting what you want out of Christmas, and ideas for surviving Christmas when you have little or no spare cash. As always. feel free to add your ideas, comments and if you have questions, I’m always happy to help.