The month of December is a challenge to every budget, and as if buying gifts were not enough, our mommy-heart’s desire is to fill the entire month with fun activities with our kids. I’ve put together a list of fun cheap Christmas ideas that won’t break the bank. These inexpensive kid-friendly Christmas activities and traditions will be the memories our kids talk about for years to come.
From movies to recycling old Christmas cards, there are ways to enjoy a fantastic month of holiday-themed fun without going into debt or overspending. These ideas are free or cheap and can be often be pulled together with supplies you already have.
Idea One: Make Christmas Crafts Together
Celebrate this amazing holiday with a few well-chosen craft activities. You can find dozens of inexpensive and beautiful Christmas crafts to make with your kids. I’m going to link out to a few of our favorites, but you can also find some great ideas on Pinterest or TikTok. If you have older kids, make sure to look at this list of Christmas Crafts for Teens.
Homemade Christmas Ornaments
Homemade ornaments are the perfect fun cheap Christmas idea because not only are they satisfying to make they are useful for decorating your tree or giving as gifts.
Quilted Christmas Ornaments. This activity is perfect for ages ten and up and if you already have a fabric stash the cost will be very minimal. You’ll need lots of straight pins and a styrofoam ball.
Salt Dough Ornaments. With a few simple ingredients you probably have in your kitchen right now, and some Christmas-themed cookie cutters, make lovely keepsake ornaments with even your youngest children.
Star Of Bethlehem Ornament. Make a pretty papercraft with black or gold construction paper, tissue paper, and contact paper. It’s a fast craft activity and simple enough for the youngest of kiddos to help.
Paper Tube Crafts for Christmas.
Using paper rolls for crafts is a cheap and easy way to make something beautiful. You can use paper towel rolls or wrapping paper tubes cut to the length of a toilet paper tube. Besides paper tubes, you will need construction paper, glue, and perhaps a few other basic supplies.
Nativity Cardboard Tube Craft. Kids will love making this simple nativity to decorate their dresser or bookshelf for the holiday.
Santa Craft. This one requires red paint, chenille stems, and a few other supplies but it turns out so adorably cute!
Mason Jar Crafts for Christmas.
Make a craft in a jar, and it doesn’t even have to be permanent. You can often dump the craft and re-use the jar for food purposes later!
Turn a mason jar into a beautiful angel gift with this idea from Polka Dot Chair.
Make a Mason Jar Globe Ornament for your Christmas tree.
Idea Two: Baking Christmas Goodies Together
Ben and I have always enjoyed making homemade Christmas goodies together. Besides the joy of spending time together, you also have the reward of something tasty to eat! Christmas baked goods are also a great way to treat your neighbors for the holidays. Make several batches, and put them in cardboard containers for neighbor gifts. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can get plain cardboard that your kids can decorate themselves. Or you can just use paper plates, which are cheap and easy. Here are a few of our favorites.
Making Cookies is one of the best Fun Cheap Christmas Ideas!
Nana’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies. You can give these cookies some holiday flare with Christmas-colored sugar or sprinkles.
Baking a pumpkin pie has always been a favorite activity for Thanksgiving or Christmas!
Pecan Pie is a classic as well and is Tom’s favorite.
Making Christmas Candies.
Peppermint Bark. This one is a tasty treat that is super easy to make and works well for Christmas parties.
Peanut Brittle. Try this microwave recipe for a quick idea!
Idea Three: Christmas Lights Drive
For a cheap or free evening activity, plan a route to look at Christmas lights. You can ask your local Facebook group for the best neighborhoods to see Christmas light displays and then plan it out. If you want, you can make up a goodie bag for each person in the car with popcorn, cookies, and homemade Christmas candies. You could also just stop on the way to grab peppermint shakes in the ChickFilA drive-through, but that will cost a bit more money at $4 per person. Our tradition is to come back home, build a fire, and make hot cocoa.
Some locations will also have a local park decorated to the nines with lights and charge a minimal fee for driving through. Make a night of it! Check out this list of the best lights displays in every state and to see if there’s one near you.
Idea Four: Make Your Own Christmas Cards
Making holiday cards together to send to grandparents, family, and friends is a special joy because you are making something personal to give to people you love. Give your kids construction paper, scissors, glue, and old Christmas cards to cut up if they want to. Stickers, sequins, and other fancy materials are optional. You can even pre-print a message on cardstock and fold them in half if you want to get fancy.
Idea Five: Christmas Caroling and Karaoke Night
Print some Christmas Caroling sheet music, grab coats and gloves and hit your neighborhood singing Christmas carols to bring Christmas cheer. It’s a special and fun tradition sure to light up the evening with laughter and camaraderie. Once you get home, dig into some Christmas cookies and hot chocolate and keep the fun going with a karaoke night of popular Christmas radio tunes. You can use YouTube for free or whatever music streaming service you have to “perform” Christmas music for each other.
Idea Six: Free Christmas Concerts and Live Nativities
Most towns and cities in the United States will have at least one free Christmas concert put on by a local church, high school, or civic group. Do a little research to find what holiday concerts are happening for free in your area. You may also be able to find live nativities and other holiday presentations that are free to the public. This is the quintessential fun cheap Christmas idea to enjoy as a family.
Idea Seven: Have a Christmas Movie Marathon
During Christmas break, plan a night to spend on the couch, cuddled up with blankets, popcorn, and your favorite holiday movies.
You can find cheap or free Christmas movies to watch on PBS, the Hallmark Channel, or streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or the DisneyPlus app. Here are a couple of our favorites to get you started.
Idea Eight: Christmas Game Night
Play a few Christmas games or just play your favorite board games together while munching on Christmas treats. We like to have a bowl of red and green M&Ms handy for game night to mix with popcorn. You can play musical chairs or Name that Tune with Christmas music using YouTube for free. A quick search on Pinterest will help you find free Christmas versions of favorite games like Pictionary, Trivia, or a Scavenger Hunt. Using those freebies will make this one of the best no-cost fun cheap Christmas ideas.
Idea Nine: Read Christmas Picture Books Together
Your local library will have a slew of fabulous Christmas picture books to choose from. Gather a few each week and read them with your children for a precious time of cuddling and sharing literature together. Some families will even wrap each picture book and unwrap one each night to share together. As long as you have the due dates straight in your head, you can absolutely do this with library books. Check out some of our favorites to have in a Christmas Books Basket. We have a tradition in our home of celebrating Advent leading up to Christmas as well. Included in that celebration is daily reading from one of several Advent resources in our home library.
The Benefits of Fun Cheap Christmas Ideas
As December pulls ever faster towards a furious finish, taking time out of your busy holiday schedule to enjoy kid-friendly Christmas activities together will help you bond as a family, make new traditions, and enjoy time together in the middle of this crazy season. Our budget-friendly ideas will help you keep from overspending and make your kid-friendly Christmas far less stressful for the grownups who have to pay the bills.