Christmas Traditions

Cheap Christmas Traditions That Will Make Your Heart Smile

With Christmas coming upon us you are probably looking forward to your Christmas traditions and creating wonderful memories with family and friends. But creating those great holiday memories is tough when the budget is tight.

Fear not because there are lots of Christmas traditions that you can do even on a tight budget.


Here is a list of the Frugal Christmas Traditions that my family loves!

Christmas traditions

Christmas Cookie Decorating

Cookie decorating is one of the most traditional Christmas activities. Cookie decorating is fun for all ages, young and old. This is a fantastic way to make Christmas memories while keeping the expenses low.

Here is a great sugar cookie recipe that is perfect for decorating. For some secrets for perfect decorated Christmas cookies check this out!

Christmas Minute To Win It

The Dating Divas have a great list of Christmas themed Minute To Win It games. The wreath relay, cookie face, nut stacker, and deck the balls. These are fun family game that uses simple objects that we all have around our homes.

Elf On The Shelf

The children absolutely adore the elf on the shelf. It is a fun tradition that you only have to purchase once. The Smart Schoolhouse has an amazing list of unique ideas for your elf.

Salt Dough Ornaments

This is a great way to make family memories year after year. You can make a new ornament to mark each year and it is a great way to keep growing handprints forever. MommyPotamus has a great recipe for salt dough ornaments that is super easy and fun for everyone.

Write Letters To Santa That Get A Response

Writing letters to Santa has been a long-standing Christmas tradition but now your children can actually get a letter back from Santa. It is so thrilling for kids to get mail from Santa before Christmas. You can find full instructions here!

Track Santa On GPS

You and your kids can now track Santas every move. Starting December 1st NORAD has GPS tracking on Santa and the elves. You can see what the big guy is up to and learn about the North Pole.

Christmas Lights Tour

You and your family can enjoy a neighborhood Christmas lights tour without any expensive entrance tickets. Often nice neighborhoods put out elaborate Christmas decorations. At bedtime, you can surprise the kids with an impromptu car ride with hot cocoa and Christmas snacks. Drive around the nice neighborhoods in your local town and enjoy the Christmas lights.

Christmas Pickle

This is a fun Christmas tradition that started in Germany. Parents hide the pickle ornament on the tree at bedtime on Christmas Eve and the first one to find the pickle in the morning gets a special treat or gift.

Build A Snowman

You can fill and an old box with all the essentials of a great snowman. This could include old worn out scarves, hats, jackets, mittens, ear muffs, and even old Halloween costumes. There are so many great everyday items that will make great snowman accessories.

Christmas Movie Marathon

Gather up all the Christmas moves and whip up some homemade popcorn on the stove. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. The Yummy Mummy Kitchen has a great recipe for homemade popcorn on the stove and some different seasoning ideas.

Christmas Traditions

Picking Out The Tree

Having your kids help to pick out the Christmas tree can be very special. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be special. Even Charlie Brown could see that.

Make Homemade Garlands

It is fun to change up the usual tree decorations and switch to homemade garlands of white popcorn, sugared cranberries, mini pinecones, and Christmas cookies. It’s a winter wonderland of sugary treats and woodsy accents all nestled amongst the snowy branches. Freutcake has a wonderful post with four different DIY garlands.

Read: 30 Easy & Unique DIY Christmas Gifts

25 Days of Christmas Books

This non-traditional advent idea can actually be done very cheaply.  Just take 25 books off your child’s shelf, wrap them up, and place them under the tree.  Then, allow your child to open one book each day, and spend some quality time with them, reading their “new” book.

Make Gingerbread House

Baking, constructing, and decorating Gingerbread house is one of the classic Christmas traditions that can be a little bit intimidating. The great thing about designing your own is that you can make it as simple or complex as you like. You can go with a traditional gingerbread recipe or you can use storebought graham crackers. Our favorite is to use large pretzel sticks to make a log cabin.

Christmas Traditions

Start A Cookie Exchange

A cookie exchange is a great way to get a huge variety of cookies without doing all the work. Get your friends and family together and host a cookie exchange. You can do a massive baking day altogether or my favorite is to have each participant bake two dozen of two types of cookies at their own home. Then host a get-together and have a cookie sway. They bring two dozen and leave with four dozen!

Meet Santa

Take the kids to meet Santa wherever he visits in your town. In our small town, Santa spends the afternoon at the bank and meets kids. In your town, he may visit the community center, firehouse, or the mall. Wherever he is, giving the kids the chance to visit with Santa can be magical.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Bar

This is a great addition to your Christmas party that you can make both adult and kid-friendly. You can whip up this Crockpot Hot Cocoa in advance. Set out Christmas mugs, mini marshmallows, peppermints, crushed Oreos, and whip cream. To make this more geared to adults set out whipped cream vodka, Irish cream liqueurs, and coffee liqueurs. If you want to skip the party this is great after a day of sledding or snowball fights.

Sleigh Rides

Many communities have holiday sleigh or hay rides. Take along some homemade hot cocoa in a thermos to keep warm.

Go Sledding

Since you need snow for this one you cant plan this one too far out but an afternoon sledding is a great way to make lasting memories with the kids.

Candy Cane Hunt

This is one that the kids love. Hide a bunch of candy canes all around the house and have the kids hunt them down. Whoever finds the most wins, and can hang them on the tree.

Open A Gift on Christmas Eve

Start Christmas early by letting your kids open one small gift on Christmas Eve. Keep it small and leave the big stuff for the morning. A Christmas movie makes a great gift that can be watched that night.


What are your Christmas traditions and how do you accomplish them on a budget?

Christmas Traditions

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these great ideas. I’ve done most of these but forgot about them because I haven’t done them in so long.
    The Christmas light tour sounds like great fun and I think I’ll try that this year for the first time ever. Some hot cocoa or coffee and some snacks will be the extra icing on the cake.

    1. That is great to hear Andy!

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