In our household, we have been adopting more family Christmas traditions during our Christmas season. Some things that we've been incorporating into our family Christmas traditions include:
- Baking Christmas cookies for cookie exchanges
- Putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it with family ornaments
- Driving around looking at Christmas lights
- Going around the neighborhood singing Christmas Carols and then coming home for Hot Cocoa
- Watching Christmas movies
- Going to Christmas Eve church service
- Putting Cookies out for Santa
With all these traditions, there is bound to be some extra cost in the form of supplies, time, gas and other things. I just wanted to share what we do, cost and any tips that we do to make it cheaper.
Family Christmas Traditions #1: Baking Christmas Cookies for Cookie Exchanges
We have only done this once or twice, but it was a lot of fun! We got together and instead of sharing gifts with one another, everyone baked their favorite cookies and then we all brought a tin to fill to take home. Doing this allows us to make one type of cookie to share and then get a nice assortment out of the deal!
Buying cookies and all the decorating tools and toppings can get expensive. Being in charge of bulk making a certain type of cookie is great because you can sometimes score some sweet deals this way versus trying to do it all yourself.
Think about incorporating a cookie exchange into your next get together to help you save your sanity and get a chance to try many different types of cookies too! Depending how many people are showing up, this shouldn't cost you more than maybe $20-$30 and allows you to make "gifts" for a bunch of people.
A bonus idea would be to print up recipe cards of each recipe to form a cookbook of the different types of goodies!
Family Christmas Traditions #2: Putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it with family ornaments
As with many other families, we love putting up our Christmas tree and decorating it. Our tradition includes me being in charge of bringing up the tree from the basement and setting it up with lights. We invested in a prelit tree from WalMart three years ago since we had about $60 in WalMart Savings Catcher savings built up. This has made my job much easier, haha! This year will be the 3rd year we've used this tree with no light outages!
If you don't use WalMart Savings Catcher but shop there regularly, I would highly recommend starting to use it as it's very simple and can allow you to end up with some extra money you can turn into an eGiftCard you can use for future purchases at WalMart as well.
After getting the tree up and lit, I let my wife and daughters take over with the decorations and ornaments. A fun thing that we try to do each year is get a new ornament for the tree that marks something significant that's happened during the year.
Family Christmas Traditions #3: Driving Around Looking At Christmas Lights
Isn't it amazing how some people really have a wonderful gift of decorating the exterior of their houses so well with illumination? We think so. I usually find some time to kill where I start dreaming of how awesome it would be to completely light up our house with lights and other things. Then I think about Chevy Chase and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and realize that maybe I'm just not cut out for it.
Since we're not so great at exterior illumination, we go around looking at everyone else's houses. Two of the biggest ones I would love to share are Lehnertz Avenue and The Larsen House. These are pretty amazing ones that are more public although we do love to just drive around in our own neighborhood and look at the lights around here.
This ends up being a very cheap activity for us since all it is is drive time and gas. We have a lot of fun going around viewing these as well.
Family Christmas Traditions #4: Going around the neighborhood singing Christmas Carols and then coming home for Hot Cocoa.
We have a very walkable neighborhood where the houses are in their own community. My wife loves to carol and invites anyone she can whenever possible. Even though it's not my favorite thing to do, I have gone with on occasion. I do tend to offer to stay behind and make hot cocoa for when they get back though.
Caroling is a great activity to teach kids traditional Christmas songs and to get them to think outside themselves and spread some great holiday cheer as well! And, to top it off, the reactions you get from others are great because so few people actually get out and do it anymore.
Family Christmas Traditions #5: Watching Christmas Movies
Christmas movies are always a big hit around the holidays. They range from family favorites like The Polar Express and Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer to adult classics like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Elf. We own quite a few of them and love to watch them throughout the holiday season when it's too cold to get outside or when we just want a chill afternoon where we can kick back and veg out. Here's a great list of the Top 100 Christmas Movies of All Time that seems to have a lot of them covered.
With so many TV networks playing Christmas movies and plenty of discount deals at the stores and online, you should be able to enjoy quite a few of these Christmas Movie Classics.
Family Christmas Traditions #6: Going To Christmas Eve Church Service
Although we don't make it every year to this, our church tends to put on a Christmas Eve service each year. This year, with Christmas falling on a Sunday, our church has actually moved the entire service to Saturday night so that everyone can be home with their family's on Christmas Day since most people travel a bunch for the holiday. With our schedule, we are actually making Christmas Eve service part of our schedule. Church service can be a great way to gather the family together and remember the real reason for the season.
Family Christmas Traditions #7: Putting Cookies Out For Santa
A last tradition that we have started doing with our girls is to put out cookies and milk for Santa as well as carrots for his reindeer. It's fun to see the girls' faces when they wake up the next morning and see that Santa has eaten some of the cookies and drank the milk.
There you have it, 7 Christmas traditions that our family celebrates on a budget. None of these traditions costs much money if you are intentional about them. What are some Christmas traditions that you celebrate with your family? Share below in the comments, I would love to hear yours.
From our family to yours, we hope you have a Merry Christmas!
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