The holidays are a special time of year. Families come together to celebrate and enjoy one another’s company, creating incredible memories that will last a lifetime. Growing up, our best memories were rarely about the presents or the expensive holiday events around town; even now, I probably couldn’t tell you what I got under the tree any given year. Our best memories involve our grandma’s kitchen table covered in sequins, beads, and other craft items as we all made ornaments. I also look back fondly to reading holiday books with Mom while curled up in front of the fireplace. As a parent, I recognize the value of these more frugal holiday traditions and have passed many on to my own children. As my children grow, we find new things to add as their interests and abilities grow with them. Here, I’ve gathered a list of traditions from our home and others to share with you and yours.
Making your own ornaments is a winner for so many reasons. You create a lifetime of memories, collect unique holiday decoration that can last for years to come, and save big bucks as well. One of my favorites, when my kids were smaller, was salt dough ornaments. Mommypotamus’ (@mommypotamus) Heather Dessinger offers a great step-by-step guide to creating your own salt dough ornaments here.
Christmas Tree Picnic
This is one tradition we may have to start. As Bounceback Parenting (@bouncebackmom) explains here, it doesn’t need to be complicated or even planned. Simply grab a blanket at lunch time, crank your favorite holiday music, and have lunch under the lights of your Christmas tree with your little ones.
Christmas Lights Ride
Something my kids and I have loved to do together since we moved to the area we now live in is to take a drive through the local park, where our city sets up some gorgeous light displays starting in mid-November. New to the area and not sure where to go? Check out this article from The Aha Connection (@ahaconnection) for information on how to find a display near you.
Volunteering at a soup kitchen, local church, or other charitable event can be a great way to teach children the true meaning of the holiday season while giving back to the community. If you’re unsure of where to start, the amazing folks over at generationOn (@generationOn) can help you find local volunteering opportunities. Check out this link for more information.
Family Holiday Movie Night
It’s no secret that my kids love movies, and when it comes to the holidays, I’m right there with them. I’m a huge fan of classic holiday movies, and love nothing more than to make a bowl of popcorn and a batch of hot chocolate and share these movies with my kids. Crazy Little Projects (@crazylittleproj) has some great ideas to turn a regular holiday movie night into a fun tradition your kids will love.
If your kids are like mine, they’re dying to know what gifts they will get for the holidays. They will definitely try to sneak a peek whenever they can. My mother used to hide our gifts wherever she could think of; one of her best spots by far was the hayloft. However, I live in town and we don’t have a lot of space, so her hiding spots don’t work in our house. ThriftyFun (@ThriftyFun) to the rescue with this great gift code idea.
Christmas Eve Boxes
I jumped on board with this popular tradition when my oldest son was a baby. Ours include a new blanket, jammies, a movie, a snack, hot chocolate mix, and a new cup, but these boxes can have whatever little gifts you like in them. Musthavemom (@musthavemom) offers her family’s take on the tradition here if you’re in need of more ideas.
Bake Holiday Treats
When I was a kid, we used to bake holiday sugar cookies with my Mom and I continue to bake with my kids. For us, this tradition has come to tie into volunteering as a family together; we take a few Ziploc bags of our homemade goodies and hand them out to the homeless we see on the street corners during the season along with little care packages. Delish.com (@DelishDotCom) has some super cute ideas to get you started on holiday treats this year.
Deck the Halls (And the Tree)
Every year, my kids and I turn on Elmo and Patsy’s Christmas album and deck the halls of our house together. Their favorite part is putting candy canes, a tradition I picked up from my paternal grandmother. These are not to be eaten until New Year’s when the tree comes down. My favorite part is watching their faces light up with each ornament pulled out and the memories they bring back for them. Need help decorating on a budget? Real Simple (@RealSimple) can help you with that.
24 Days of Books
I know what you’re thinking: books are expensive, how can this possibly be a tradition that can fit in my budget? I started doing this last year. Thrift stores usually sell books for less than a dollar; some even do deals such as $5 for a bag of books. Get your books, wrap them up individually, and set them in stacks beneath the tree. Open and read one each night. For ideas on how to get started and fun books to look for, check out this list from Thrifty Northwest Mom (@thriftyNWmom).
The holidays are my favorite time of year, steeped with traditions that hold special memories for my family. I hope this list helps you and your family create holiday magic for years to come. What does your family do to celebrate the holidays? Let us know below, and don’t forget to share.