Family Christmas Traditions: Celebrating on a Budget8 min read

Celebrating 7 Family Christmas Traditions on a Budget | We got to meet Santa and get a family picture taken for only $20 with digital rights. Finding a local place that is hosting a Santa is a great way to get a new family picture each year around Christmastime. This is also a great family Christmas tradition to start. Click through to see how we celebrate our family Christmas traditions.

We got to meet Santa and get a family picture for $20! Photo by Cassandra West Photography.

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!

Celebrating 7 Family Christmas Traditions on a Budget | Baking Christmas cookies for a cookie exchange is a great way to cut costs when sharing gifts among coworkers, extended family, and others where there are already too many gifts or people are tight on cash during your holiday season. Adopting this as one of your family Christmas traditions is a great way to meet your budget at Christmastime! Click through to read about how our family celebrates 7 Christmas traditions on a budget.

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.

Celebrating 7 Family Christmas Traditions on a Budget | Putting up and decorating the same Christmas tree each year is a great way to save money on a great family Christmas tradition. We bought a prelit tree 3 years ago and love the look of it. We buy a new inexpensive Christmas ornament each year to celebrate a milestone in our lives so our tree is different each year.  Click through to read about how our family celebrates 7 Christmas traditions on a budget.

Here are some of the trees we've put up since we moved in since 2010.

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.

Celebrating 7 Family Christmas Traditions on a Budget | Letting the kids join in and help decorate the tree is a great way to establish a tried and true family Christmas tradition that the whole family can get behind. Click through to read about how our family celebrates 7 Christmas traditions on a budget.

The girls had so much fun putting up decorations and the Christmas tree last year. I was a dork and didn't take pictures this 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.

Celebrating 7 Family Christmas Traditions on a Budget | Driving around to look at Christmas lights is a very inexpensive way to take in the season and get to see your town in a different season. Check out your local parks and see if they decorate for another cool experience of walking through a park filled with lights. This is Washington Park in Ottawa, IL. Click through to read about how our family celebrates 7 Christmas traditions on a budget.

This is actually Washington Square Park in downtown Ottawa, IL

Celebrating 7 Family Christmas Traditions on a Budget | Driving around to look at Christmas lights is a very inexpensive way to take in the season and get to see your town in a different season. Look for places that put on the big light display complete with music and make a night of it. This is the Larsen Light Show in Elburn, IL. Click through to read about how our family celebrates 7 Christmas traditions on a budget.

This is the Larsen house in Elburn, IL. Click the picture to go to their web site and view more.

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.

Celebrating 7 Family Christmas Traditions on a Budget | Christmas caroling is overlooked too much these days. My wife loves to take the kids out and teach them to sing in front of other people's houses. After being out in the cold, I make sure to have the hot cocoa on and ready for them when they return. Click through to read about how our family celebrates 7 Christmas traditions on a budget.

My wife even went so far as to bind together some fun Christmas carol books for us when we go.

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.

Celebrating 7 Family Christmas Traditions on a Budget | Don't forget about Santa this year! We started last year, leaving out cookies and milk for Santa to eat. We even left some carrots for his reindeer. This family Christmas tradition is sure to add to the excitement of the Christmas spirit. Click through to read about how our family celebrates 7 Christmas traditions on a budget.

Leaving cookies out for Santa helps add to the whole experience for the kids.

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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Steven Goodwin

Owner/Blogger/Consultant at MyFamilyOnABudget
Steve Goodwin, a stay-at-home dad of two girls is passionate about finances and is helping others just like you get out of debt and build wealth handling money God's way. His goal is to inspire people like you to gain control of their finances by destroying debt and building wealth using their cash flow.
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9 Comments

  1. We always go to a Carols by Candlelight service at my husand’s church on the Sunday before Christmas- makes us feel festive 🙂 It’s actually easier to feel more festive when you spend less money. Hope you have a lovely Christmas!

    • That sounds great! I love all the Christmas worship songs! It sure is easier to get in the mood when you aren’t worrying about how you are going to pay for all the gifts you bought and don’t feel overextended!

    • Glad you enjoyed them! Yeah the cookie exchange is a lot of fun and a great way to try some new recipes too! I made 75 cookies yesterday and another 150 today, have another type to do tomorrow and will most likely be set to go through all weekend and then some. We have a lot of Christmases and family!

    • It’s been fantastic man! Love that I can say I’ve really started to make some friends that I wouldn’t have without the Internet! FinCon is going to be amazing! I feel like I’m getting to know quite a few people before we go!

  2. Nice! We love decorating the tree, that’s our Black Friday tradition. Instead of going out and going crazy shopping, we take all the Christmas decorations out of the basement and put them up. The boys all get excited every year to get everything all set up, and love seeing all the different ornaments. Yesterday my middle son went caroling with the Boy Scouts at a retirement home, which he always enjoys. And everyone’s getting very excited for Christmas in just a few days.
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