The holiday season is finally upon us! For many it’s a time of laughter and joy. Families get together and enjoy each other’s company. Decorations go up and holiday shopping is in full force. Children, and adults alike, are waiting in anticipation to see what gift or treat they will receive. Oh, the excitement! However, it can also be a very stressful time, if proper perspective is lost. People worry about finding that special something for family members and friends. Parents stress over the sold-out toy their children really wanted. Pleasing difficult family members becomes the next impossible goal. But what if the holidays were actually about honoring Christ and growing closer as a family without breaking the bank? Here are 10 ways to make holiday memories on a budget.
Related: 20 Ways to Save Money Now
1. Have a family cook-off.
This could be a family competition where the boys go against girls or family members can pair up to make the yummiest dish. It could be a themed cook-off where you pick a country and look up some recipes. You could also do like some of the cooking shows and challenge the opposing team with an odd combination of ingredients that must be used in the dish. If you prefer sweets, make it a dessert! It’s all good with me as long as I have something to eat at the end!
Girls are winning!
2. Play or create your own board game.
Pick out a classic or go see what new games you can find at a local second-hand shop. If that’s something you regularly do, kick it up a notch and design your own family game together! If the task sounds more daunting and less fun, don’t worry. It’s much easier than you think. Just get a cardboard box (if you are going the board game route) and have your kids sketch out a design. If they can’t think of one, have them use a game you already have as a model.
Once they are happy with their drawing on paper, they can start designing the cardboard. Decide as a family what the goal is and the rules for the game. You can include funny things that have to be done as a penalty or to advance spaces. If you prefer, you can also forgo the board and just make it a card game. Either way, the point is to have fun with it and not spend too much money. Use what you have at home. You can create your own playing cards with index cards or laminating printed paper. For game pieces, use what you have lying around. You can even get creative with bottle caps.
One of our family favorites- Faith & Redemption- short and sweet!
3. Write a story together with your family as the main characters.
You can come up with a story as a group or play the snowball writing game where someone writes a few sentences, crumbles it up, and throws it to someone else who then continues the story. There’s something about crumbling paper to a ball and throwing it that gets kids excited about writing, but that part is optional. Lol.
4. Do a thrift store challenge.
This is a fun way to be creative on a budget. Thrift stores have hidden treasures that could be up-cycled in many ways. Each family member gets a certain dollar amount they can spend on one or more items to create their own masterpiece. For larger families or with little ones, you can pair up. Whoever creates the best or most unique masterpiece wins. Another idea for a challenge could be finding the most expensive item in the thrift store for the cheapest price.
5. Create a family play or show.
This is a great opportunity to let everyone’s creativity shine though. Is someone passionate about Shakespeare? They can dress and speak the part. Do you have an aspiring singer or dancer in your family? Let them sing their part or break out in dance. Do your little ones love superheroes? Dress up as superheroes using sheets,towels, and other random items you have lying around the house.
Cut up some cereal boxes and go on a superhero adventure.
6. Create a vision board for the upcoming year.
Vision boards are so fun to make but they also help you get closer as a family by having common goals. Encourage your children to dream and set goals for the year to come. It will be fun looking back on all they achieved and what they can still work towards the following year. For more details on how to create your family vision board, check out some great resources I found on my DIY Pinterest board.
7. Put together blessing bags for the homeless.
Serving others is one of my favorite things to do as a family. It’s so important to step out of our bubbles and do something for those who could not repay us in kind. It’s a good way to cultivate the hearts of our children throughout the year but especially during the holiday season. They could include one of their go-to snacks or a homemade card with words of encouragement.
Related: Teaching Teens to Pray
8. Serve meals to those in need at a local shelter or food bank on family days.
This is another good way to give back. It is a great activity to do if you are not really in a financial position to donate money or food but would like to donate your time.There are a lot of transitional homes and other organizations that serve families and welcome volunteers of all ages. Check your local listings and call ahead to find out about their requirements and volunteer guidelines.
9. Plan a family scavenger hunt and invite other friends and families to join.
This one is so much fun and the ideas are endless. You can create a simple scavenger hunt with things around the house or neighborhood. For example, you could put a list of several items or categories on a paper and the first team to gather all the items wins. Or, if you are doing it with another family, you can even do a community scavenger hunt. Some ideas would be to find a book on frogs at the library, take a picture in front of a fire station, find a sign with the word love on it, ask a local store owner about their business, take a picture of a bird or lizard, etc.
10. Make gingerbread houses together and enjoy a sweet treat!
Pick up a kit or two at a local store such as Walmart, Target, Michael’s, or on Amazon and let the games begin. You can also just buy graham crackers, icing, assorted candies, pretzels, etc. and do it your own way.
Make Holiday Memories on a Budget
The point to keep in mind is that the holidays don’t have to be stressful. You don’t have to keep up with everyone else or worry about things going right. Years down the line, your children will probably not even remember that amazing gift you got them. But they will remember all the fun memories you made with them. With that said, give your family the gift of your presence this year and make memories that will last a lifetime.