21 Inexpensive Holiday Activities to Create Memories with Your Kids

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are upon us. Sometimes I get tired just thinking about the holidays. It seems like there is always so much to do. Each year I plan to be more intentional and make meaningful memories with my family, yet January hits in the blink of an eye. I am exhausted (and broke) and have little to show for it. Have you ever been there?

'Tis (supposed to be) the season of joy and laughter, right? The holidays are a time for giving and sharing, but we sometimes forget that it's also an opportunity to slow down and spend quality time with our loved ones. It is a time to count our blessings, reflect on God's faithfulness, and prepare our hearts and minds for a new year.

The holiday season is a time of year when families come together and celebrate. While it is easy to get caught up in the expenses of gifts and travel, it is important to focus on what really matters: creating new memories with your family.

These inexpensive and fun activities are perfect for families with kids and adults alike. They're simple and won't cost a lot, but they'll bring meaningful memories that will last a lifetime.

21 Inexpensive Holiday Activities for Families:

1. Create your holiday cards with cardstock or construction paper and let your family, friends, and neighbors know they are cherished this holiday season.

2. Have a holiday movie marathon. Grab some snacks and settle in together for a day of fun and laughter with your favorite holiday movies.

3. Have a family sleepover in the living room beside the Christmas tree. Stay up late, sharing favorite Christmas memories and traditions. This is a great opportunity to dive deeper into conversation and make heart-to-heart connections.

Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Jeremy McKnight

4. Make paper snowflakes to decorate your home and office.

5. Go Christmas caroling together. You don't have to be a great singer to do this. It will bring joy to the recipients even if you can't sing on key or stay on a beat (like me).

6. Volunteer to serve together somewhere as a family. Consider local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, nursing homes, animal shelters, and churches.

7. Go on a holiday lights tour around your neighborhood or somewhere else. Put Christmas music on the radio and enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas together-this has always been one of my favorite holiday traditions!

8. Have a pajama party game night. Make some hot cocoa and get comfy as you play all your favorite family games together.

9. Attend a holiday museum exhibit. Most towns offer some type of free or very inexpensive holiday museum display for families to enjoy. It might take a little research, but it will be worth it.

10. Make a hot cocoa bar with items like mini marshmallows, peppermint candies or candy canes, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, and whipped cream. There is something so fun about seeing the spread and getting to customize your own cup of hot chocolate.

mitten hands holding hot chocolate, old fashioned christmas tips

Photo credit: © Pexels/Jill Wellington

11. Spend the day together at your local library researching holiday traditions around the world. Also, talk to your local librarian. They are a wealth of knowledge and can point your family to more holiday fun.

12. Have a white elephant family gift exchange. Let each family member find a fun item they own to wrap and place under the Christmas tree. Draw numbers to see who goes first, then take turns picking out a gift from under the tree. You can even let the person choose to steal someone's gift or grab a new one. Plus, depending on the items, you can have fun trying to guess who picked it. To make this one even more fun, invite your friends or neighbors to do it too, but choose something that has meaning to them and learn more about each other.

13. Host a friends-giving or friends-mas meal. Make it potluck-style and invite your family, friends, and neighbors to contribute their favorite holiday dish. Be sure to take time around the table to share everyone's favorite holiday memories and traditions. It's such a fun way to connect!

14. Have a Christmas song dance party! Blast your holiday favorites and get silly.

15. Make holiday gifts for family, friends, neighbors, the elderly, or even the homeless. They can be something simplistic and inexpensive, like using cardstock or construction paper to decorate your own bookmarks or making little ornaments with string and cardstock. You can paint pictures or do a thousand other little things. If you have a few dollars, you can even head to your local craft store and pick up a mini holiday gift kit. They are usually on sale through the holidays and come with a number of them. We have done bookmarks, photo frames, ornaments, and more. People love to receive handmade gifts and personalized notes.

Photo credit: ©Juliana Malta/Unsplash

16. Spend the day baking some of your favorite holiday treats, then deliver plates of the goodies to spread the holiday cheer. You'll enjoy the day of baking together, and your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers will get to devour the fruits of your labor. It's a great way to spread holiday cheer.

17. Play in the snow. Make snowmen, snow angels, go sledding, and have a snowball fight. Be sure to dress warmly and have fun! If you don't live within driving distance of any snow, you can make your own "snowy" fun. Blow bubbles. Have a mini marshmallow (or crumpled paper) fight instead, and use marshmallows and toothpicks to make your snowmen. Or, gather clothes, scarves, gloves, hats, etc., and take turns dressing family members as snowmen. If you've got some extra toilet paper around, you can even wrap someone in toilet paper first and then dress them up. You are sure to be rolling with laughter by the end of it!

18. Buy a holiday-themed coloring book or print some holiday coloring pages from the internet and spend the day coloring together and listening to Christmas music in front of the tree. It doesn't matter how old you are; there is something so fun and relaxing about coloring.

19. Have a door decorating contest (or just a door decorating day if competition would create too much chaos). Let each family member decorate a door in your house. Use wrapping paper, construction paper, ornaments, whatever you can find. Get creative. You'd be amazed at what everyone comes up with. And, you can leave them up through the holidays for an extra-festive experience.

20. Attend a Christmas tree lighting ceremony or holiday parade.

21. Start a family Advent tradition. Advent is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and prepare our hearts for His return. It begins four Sundays before Christmas (November 28th this year). You can use anything to count down. Many people purchase little chocolate calendars. Our family grabs books from thrift stores or garage sales and wraps them. Sometimes we even just re-wrap books we have around the house that we haven't read in a long time – or you could have everyone choose some of their favorite books to share with the family over the holiday season. We unwrap one each day and then read it aloud together before bed.

Photo credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Natalia Bodrova

Another fun idea is to create a paper countdown chain. Cut strips of paper approximately 2" wide. If you make it together on the 1st Sunday, you would want 26 strips to countdown the following days until Christmas. Take turns writing something you're thankful for or one of the ways Jesus has blessed you. Then, each day when you tear off a link, you can spend a few minutes together praying and thanking Jesus for that blessing.

Regardless of which activities you choose, remember to take at least a few minutes each day to intentionally connect as a family. Build new memories and remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. His gift of eternal life doesn't cost a penny, yet it is priceless. Merry Christmas!

Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Joseph Gonzalez

Katie TrentKatie J Trent is the author of the book, Dishing Up Devotions: 36 Faith-Building Activities for Homeschooling Families (Whitaker House). She is also a popular blogger, speaker, homeschool mama, and a Pinterest drop-out with a messy house and happy kids—most of the time. Katie lives in Arizona with her husband James and their two children. For more resources to grow your faith, strengthen your family, and simplify your homeschool, visit KatieJTrent.com. Connect with Katie on Instagram @KatieJTrent.

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