Meaningful, Magical (& Frugal) Christmas Traditions

Do you and your family have Christmas traditions? In my family, it was reading The Night Before Christmas each Christmas Eve before heading off to bed. We would all sit down on the couch together, while my mom read it to us. As we got older, sometimes we kids would be the ones to read it!

I spoke about this topic on my weekly Money-Saving Segment on Fox TV. Watch the Replay here:

I love the magic of Christmas, and now that I have kids of my own, I want to pass down that same magic I had growing up as a child. If you’re going to create meaningful Christmas traditions, that are also frugal, then you’ll want to take a look at some of these ideas I use in my own family:

Drive (or Walk) Around And Look At Christmas Lights

The most obvious Christmas Timey thing to do is to look at all the Christmas Lights your neighbors have put out. And, the nice thing is that it only costs gas in your vehicle (or its free if you walk around your own neighborhood).

But this time I want you to do this slightly different. I want you to be intentional about looking at the lights with your littl ones and really make it an experience they will remember.

Print this Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt to make the night more meaningful. Then, grab a few snacks from home, such as popcorn and hot chocolate in thermoses, and pile into the car and start your fun. Don’t forget to play Christmas music on the radio!

We have several neighborhoods in which almost every house participates in a massive light display and lots of cars drive through their neighborhood during the week to look at the houses. It just doesn’t feel “right” if we don’t visit that neighborhood every year.

Watch Christmas Movies

Did you know there are over 70 different Christmas movies out there?

That means you could watch a different Christmas movie every night for TWO MONTHS before Christmas Day and you would still have some leftover!

Christmas movies are a great way to spend time with family, and get into the Christmas spirit!

You can find Christmas movies for free online (just connect your computer to the TV using an HDMI cord), Netflix, Amazon Prime, and even at Redbox during the holidays. I like to print out a schedule of all the Christmas Movies playing ahead of time so I can highlight our favorites and mark them on our calendar before the season slips away.

Make A Christmas Themed Breakfast

This is a great tradition to start with your family to lead up to Christmas!

One search on Pinterest, and you’ll find hundreds of ideas for pancakes, waffles, and even cinnamon buns in the shape of a Christmas Tree!

And it shouldn’t interfere with your normal grocery budget to prepare for this meal. Several years in a row we made Chocolate Chip pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse on Christmas Eve morning and the kids loved it!

Make Special Ornaments For The Tree

Have each family member, or one as a family if you prefer, make an ornament for the tree!

You can get supplies such as glass ornaments, pom poms, fake snow, and more right at the Dollar Tree! This craft can easily cost less than $1 per ornament!

Here are 5 super simple ones that I’ve made with my kids before, from a couple of my favorite fellow bloggers.

photo credit

Countdown to Christmas

What is more exciting than Christmas itself? Counting down in anticipation of Christmas, of course!

Depending on your budget, you can make this as simple or elaborate as you want! I’ve made advent countdowns with simple envelopes and clothespins that we clipped to twine and hung on the wall (similar to the photo above)!

You could print this adorable advent that includes bible verse cards to read each day to include in your envelopes.

This year I found some at Trader Joe’s with 24 pieces of chocolate for only 99¢ (but you better call to see if they have any because they sell out pretty quickly). You could also look in Target’s Dollar Spot area for some cute (and inexpensive) ones.

Every year I set up a special Jesse Tree for my children to add one ornament every day and we talk about the story of the Bible, from Creation to Christmas.

At one point, we had to have FOUR SETS of all the ornaments so that everyone would have one ornament to put on the tree each day of the month. Thankfully, I found a free resource where I could print each child their own Jesse Tree Ornament set.

Read Christmas Stories

Usually, during the months leading up to Christmas, you can find classic kids’ Christmas ebooks for FREE on Amazon (utilizing the Kindle App).

The best part? You’ll have these books forever!

You can look for a new book each year, or just keep rereading the classics over and over.

Grab a cup of hot cocoa and snuggle up together on the sofa to read a Christmas book.

Make A Graham Cracker Cottage

As a fun group activity, get one box of graham crackers, whip together some icing and put your candy creativity to work by making Graham Cracker Cottages. It’s a fun decoration for the house and something edible for later. {if you have around $10 in the budget, you could buy a Gingerbread house from the store to assemble as a family also… but that is not nearly as creative!}

Here’s a video from Martha Stewart to see how easy it is (and give you some crazy amazing ideas):


Christmas is the season of giving, but that doesn’t mean you need to dish out the cash to give back.

In fact, donating time together as a family is a great way to see first hand the blessings that you have and recognize your appreciation.

Sit down as a family and pick a cause that is near and dear to you, then look for opportunities in your area. Sometimes it can be as easy as helping a food pantry organize their shelves for the rush of the season. In my (Tampa Bay FL) area, Metropolitan Ministries or ECHO would love to have your help! (and you only have to be 8 years old to be able to participate).

You don’t need a lot of money to create meaningful Christmas traditions with your family! Any one of these ideas would be an excellent fit for your family, and you can guarantee you’ll have the budget to do them each year.

You don’t need a lot of money to create meaningful Christmas traditions with your family!