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7 Frugal Family Christmas Traditions

Use these frugal family Christmas traditions as ideas to embrace the Christmas season without breaking your budget!

Guest post from Sara of Save Money, Live Joyfully:

Being on a budget can be especially discouraging during the holidays. It’s easy to look at what we “can’t afford” or what we “don’t have”, that we lose sight of the beauty of the things and people around us…the lifelong memories we can create with little or no money.

Here are 7 of our family’s favorite frugal Holiday Traditions.

1. Decorating Christmas Cookies

My husband and I started this tradition when we were first married 10 years ago, and have carried it on with our two children. We start with a simple sugar cookie recipe, cut out shapes using Christmas cookie cutters, and decorate with whatever we have on hand (like sprinkles, chocolate chips, or even marshmallows).

It’s an inexpensive way to get into the holiday mood, (most baking supplies go on sale this time of year), and we look forward to kicking off the Christmas season with some goodies to share with friends and neighbors.

2. Making Homemade Ornaments

I do a homemade ornament with my kids each year to hang on our tree. It’s been as simple as tracing their handprint onto construction paper, cutting it out and sticking a pipe cleaner through it — but it’s a beautiful reminder to cherish the moments since each progressing ornament shows how quickly they’ve grown from year to year!

3. Looking at Christmas Lights

Our town has many beautiful light displays, and on several evenings before Christmas, we like to take a few sugar cookies, maybe put some apple cider into respective sippy cups, and drive around looking at all the lights while blasting our favorite Christmas music CD.

4. Christmas Eve Pajamas

Following a tradition dating back three generations in my family, our kids get to open one gift on Christmas Eve, and it’s always a pair of pajamas and a book.

I try to find clearance items throughout the year, so the pajamas may have cost less than $5 and the book may have been from the dollar store, but it’s still one of our favorite traditions.

5. “Adopting” Someone

Helping someone out during the holidays doesn’t have to cost money, but we always try to find a way to bless at least one family during the Christmas season.

Whether it’s giving them some of the gift cards we’ve collected through Swagbucks so they are able to buy a gift for their children, babysitting for a single mom so she can get some shopping done, visiting a nursing home and bringing handmade cards and a listening ear, or inviting someone who has no family over for Christmas dinner, you don’t have to spend a lot to bless someone else.

A small gesture to you may mean to world to someone else.

6. The Sounds of the Season

My two year old was born deaf, and last year received cochlear implant surgery that gave him the incredible gift of sound. Our newest tradition (but one of the most meaningful) is listening for specific “sounds of the season” wherever we go (bells, carolers, wrapping paper, even the timer on the oven I use when baking), that our son is now able to hear.

“Junior can hear _____!” we’ll exclaim when we hear a new sound, as a reminder that the best gifts in life have nothing to do with packages and bows.

7. Christmas Morning Communion

It’s a simple act, but before opening any stockings or presents, our family takes communion using some toast and apple cider as a reminder that Christmas isn’t about the WHAT, it’s about the WHO, and His perfect gift to us.

These are a few of our family’s favorite frugal family traditions — I’d love to hear about some of your in the comments!

Sara is a homeschooling momma to 6-year old Tater and 2-year old Junior. Her hobbies used to include sleeping, reading, and cooking for fun, but then she had children. She blogs about special needs, money (and time) saving recipes, and homeschooling at Save Money, Live Joyfully

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16 Comments

  • Tamara says:

    Wonderful suggestions! One we did when ours were little was acting out the Christmas story outside near an outside shed. It was certainly make shift and not glamorous but the children loved it!

  • Kimberly says:

    Awww…these are wonderful! Thank you so much. And our family is gonna be copying your family on thee ide: Communion; jammies and books on Christmas Eve; and handprint ornaments!! 🙂

  • karen says:

    We made some ornaments this morning! Love this post and I look forward to reading others’ ideas.

  • Ramona says:

    How do your share gift cards from Swagbucks? They are usually e-gift cards.

    • The easiest way to share the Swagbucks gift cards is to send an email with the subject “A Little Gift for You” and include the code. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you can always order a few things using the gift cards that you think they or their children would appreciate and leave them on the door step with a little note.

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you for telling us about your awesome traditions. They are inspiring and I can tell what a godly mom you are!

  • Katie A says:

    I love these ideas, especially the one about blessing others. One thing I try to do w/ my kids is I have them take the card for a child of their same age/gender from one of the local organizations who donate to those struggling financially, and then I have the kids pick out a pair of pajamas and a toy and we give it to those children. I always have them pick out something they REALLY like, so it can be hard at times, but it leads to good discussion. I got the idea from my friends’ mom, who did this w/ her kids when they were small, to teach her and her brothers that the poor are deserving of our best. For me, I need to make myself give something that cost me something to get (whether time, money, etc.), as a reminder that it’s a heart condition-it’s not so much about the gift as it is about blessing others in some special way and giving the best of what we have. I hope this doesn’t sound like I am criticizing, because that is not my intention, I truly do LOVE all the awesome ideas you mentioned (my family actually does a good number of these, too)! 🙂

    • Katie-I love how you say giving is a “heart condition”. That is so true–it doesn’t matter how much or little you are able to give if your motivation is true. What a wonderful perspective. I’m going to start having my children get involved in blessing others as well–those are wonderful life lessons. Thank you!

  • Loan N says:

    What a lovely post! I like all of the traditions you listed, and I don’t even have any kids 🙂 I’m going to pin this for myself lol!

  • Sheri says:

    I love the idea of communion on Christmas morning! What a great way to remind everyone of what the day is about.

  • Megan says:

    We do advent calendars and a gingerbread house from Aldi. 🎄

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