15 Cheap And Fun Family Christmas Activities
The Christmas season is a great time to take a break and do some special things with your family. When you aren’t dealing with the rush to get the Christmas decorating and shopping done, it’s time to enjoy yourself. These fun family Christmas activities don’t have to take a ton of time and they’re nicely affordable for most budgets.
This isn’t about choosing a Christmas tree and decorating it – odds are you already know that one. It’s also not about moving the Elf On The Shelf, although I have some geeky ideas for that one elsewhere. Instead, this post is about fun family Christmas activities you may not have considered. No doubt some will be traditions you already enjoy, but hopefully some will be new to you or inspire further ideas.
Go See The Christmas Lights
All the houses decorated for Christmas are one of the great parts of this time of year. You don’t have to go far to see houses lit up for Christmas in most places. You can just take a walk around the block.
If you want to see the really amazing houses, however, you may have to do a little research to figure out which areas near you have coordinated to make a neighborhood display. These neighborhoods are fun to drive through, so long as you’re careful to watch for pedestrians and for other cars stopping suddenly.
Best of all these displays are generally free. All it costs is the gas to drive there.
Build A Gingerbread House
Making a gingerbread house with the kids can be a lot of fun. You can bake the gingerbread yourself if you like, buy a kit, or cheat like I do, and use graham crackers.
Most people use royal icing to hold the house together and to decorate. Chocolate can be used as well. Get some candy to bring in some color and flavor, and everyone can have some fun.
You can build a larger gingerbread house as a family, or have everyone make their own.
Watch Christmas Movies And Shows
There are so many Christmas movies and shows on television this time of year. It’s just a matter of finding out when your favorites are on.
Make up some popcorn and other fun snacks, and it’s a cheap and easy evening as a family.
Local movie theaters may also play Christmas movies.
It may cost a little more, but you may be able to find live performances of Christmas plays in your area as well.
Make Caramel Corn
Caramel corn is surprisingly easy to make, and so much fun to eat. It sounds really messy, but the cleanup isn’t bad at all once you realize that the stuck on caramel dissolves nicely in water. And the delicious caramel corn is well worth it.
If you want something a little fancier, drizzle it with dark chocolate and milk chocolate. It’s super easy and the results are worth it.
What cookies most say “Christmas” to you and your family? It’s time to make them.
Let each person pick a favorite cookie to make if you want a large supply of them. We keep it pretty simple and make a large batch of chocolate chip cookies, which we then decorate to give them a bit more of a Christmas flair.
If you like a large range of cookies, make plans with other families for a cookie swap. This way no one has to make a bunch of different types of cookies, but you all get a variety to enjoy.
Make Peppermint Bark
I have to be honest. My kids don’t seem to like peppermint candy canes that much. Of all the candy they may get at this time of year, they’re the most likely to be sitting around until the end.
Make them into peppermint bark, however, and they’ll disappear quickly.
Peppermint bark is super easy to make. You can do it with chocolate, peppermint extract and candy canes with very little difficulty.
Make Homemade Christmas Ornaments
Homemade Christmas ornaments can be a lot of fun to make. They also help create great memories of the year you made them.
There are many lovely Christmas ornaments you can make at home. Here are a few ideas:
- 3D Paper Snowflakes
- Thumbprint Reindeer Ornaments
- Handprint Snowman Ornaments
- Clay Nature Ornaments
- Folded Paper Icicle
- Frosty Pinecone
Check Out Local Christmas Events
Have you looked for free holiday events in your area? You may be surprised at what you can find.
The town I live has a Christmas parade and a Winter Fest with tree lighting every year. Both are a lot of fun for the family. The people in the parade often throw candy for the kids, which gets them quite excited. The other towns in the area have similar events.
You can also look for places that have free Santa photos in your area. Many malls have Santas that you have to pay for pictures to visit, but sometimes you can find them for free as well. Bass Pro is one store that lets you get free pictures with Santa.
Donate Or Volunteer
Your family may be doing pretty well right now, but what about others? Christmas is a lovely time to start volunteering, although volunteers are needed year round.
It can be challenging to find volunteer opportunities that you can do with kids, but they are out there. Use sites such as VolunteerMatch to make this easier.
Many places are looking for donations as well. Homeless shelters and food banks may need food. Animal shelters need supplies for their animals. Children’s hospitals need toys for the kids who are spending the holidays there, and of course there’s always Toys For Tots. Sometimes your children’s school may have toy drives to donate to as well.
Use this as a start, but remember that charities need volunteers and donations all year. Don’t make this a one time thing if you can do more.
Christmas Scavenger Hunt
A Christmas scavenger hunt can be a fun way to change up the opening of the Christmas gifts. Find places to hide some of the gifts and give the kids clues instead.
Alternatively, you can make up a list of things that might be spotted in outdoor Christmas decorations and see who can fill out their list first as you look at the decorated houses in your area.
Family Game Night
This is a great time of year to make a little extra time to do things as a family. Playing games is one way to do this.
If there’s a game you’ve been considering for the family, this is the excuse you need to get that game as a special treat. Playing games together is a great way to get everyone talking and just plain having fun.
Make Homemade Christmas Gifts
Making Christmas gifts at home can be a lot of fun, and it really shows a lot of thought to others.
Just consider the things you like to make. I sometimes make chocolate truffles to share with family, as well as the usual cookies. You can also make ornaments, sew things, knit, or whatever suits your style.
Read Christmas Stories
Reading together as a family is a good idea in general, but reading Christmas stories together can be even more special. Classics such as The Night Before Christmas have been enjoyed for many years, but there are lots to choose from.
If you don’t have the stories you want on hand, head out to the library to see what they have, or see what’s available in an electronic version. Most libraries now have access to electronic versions of a wide range of books. You may have a little trouble getting the story if it’s popular, as they’re limited in how many electronic versions can be checked out at a time.
Go Ice Skating
This is a great time of year to go ice skating. In addition to indoor rinks that are available year round, some cities set up seasonal rinks at this time of year.
Have A Snowball Fight
Do you have snow in your area, or at least near enough to drive to? Take the family out and have a friendly snowball fight.
But if you’re like me, and snow is nowhere to be found for hours around you, you can still have a family snowball fight. You just need to get a little creative.
We usually use cotton balls for our no snow snowball fights. They’re cheap and not terribly messy. You won’t want to use them for anything else after they’ve been thrown around, but that’s okay.
If you don’t mind a mess, you can try this snowball toss game that uses shaving cream. Yes, it’s a lot messier, but mess can be fun.