It may seem as though the holidays are all about spending money, but the financial blogosphere is full of creative people who find free (and mostly free) ways to enjoy the season with their families. Here are some great low-cost traditions that we all might want to add to our family’s holiday celebrations:
Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff makes a Christmas card tree:
I was decorating our house for Christmas after Thanksgiving dinner last week, and I saw a stack of Christmas cards in one of the boxes. I have been keeping the ones we received for the last few years, but I couldn’t remember why. Then it struck me while I was looking through them…my mom and I used to make a Christmas tree out of received cards on the blank wall of my family’s house.
I always loved making that card tree because it wasn’t just about decorating. We also read through past cards. As a kid, I laughed at the funny ones and liked to pick out the ones that were the most colorful. Now it is my favorite decoration (and I have quite a few inside, lol).
J Money of Budgets Are Sexy likes to go to the movies with his family: We go to the movies every Christmas Eve, but it’s not free… guess you could always watch a free one at home though?
(Emily here: For a free movie for Christmas. I would suggest watching Die Hard at home. It’s a great movie, it’s Christmas themed [sort of], and all you need is some popcorn to recreate the theater experience).
Joan Concilio Otto of Man vs. Debt likes to check out the neighborhood decorations: We pack snacks and drive around as a family looking at Christmas lights. We’ll go ALL OVER. I guess not exactly free given gas prices, but pretty close.
Glen Craig of Free From Broke takes advantage of his proximity to New York: I live near NYC so we try to head into Manhattan and check out all of the decorations and window dressings around town.
Doug Nordman of The Military Guide is more athletic than the average Santa on Christmas day: Surfing on Christmas Day, of course! It’s quality father-daughter time, and it’s always fun to see what Santa Dude brought for all the good little groms & gromettes…
Todd Tresidder of Financial Mentor manages to be green and save money on his Christmas tree: Rather than buy an expensive tree, we get a forest service permit for almost nothing. They have areas designated for “thinning” with rules. We drive back into the mountains on forest service dirt roads, bring hot chocolate, give the tree its last rites, and do our civic duty for a healthier forest.
Roger Wohlner of The Chicago Financial Planner has an all-American Christmas tradition: We open presents, sit around and watch crime TV (reruns of Criminal Minds, NCIS, etc.), and eat way too much. One year our oldest bought her little brother (then 14, now 19) season 1 of Sarah Silverman and we were all glued. We are probably not the inspiration for any type of Norman Rockwell painting but it works for us.
(Emily here: Roger, the thing those Norman Rockwell paintings don’t show you is when the entire family starts hitting each other with giant turkey drumsticks the moment they stop posing for the picture. A day of relaxation, food, and television with the family sounds just fine to me.)
Travis Pizel of Enemy of Debt includes Chevy Chase in his family traditions: We spend the day as a family decorating our home for the Holidays, including putting up our (already purchased) artificial Christmas Tree. Then we make a big bowl of popcorn and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. LOVE that movie!
Philip Taylor of PTMoney indulges his crafty side: We started a new one this year. My parents have a grapevine that has to be cut once a year. It’s just enough vine to make wreaths for everyone in our immediate family. We personalized them and plan to have them up till next year when we can do it again.
Ben Edwards of Money Smart Life has a tradition that would make any frugal librarian or English teacher’s heart go pitter-pat: My wife gets a bunch of Christmas themed books from the library, wraps them up, and puts them under the tree. Every morning all December my kids get to open one book, then they sit on the couch and read it together. They’re still little so they don’t seem to mind that they have to give the books back.
What are your favorite free holiday traditions?