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10 Budget-Friendly, Cheap, or Free Ways to Celebrate Christmas

Updated on December 15, 2019
Carolyn M Fields profile image

Carolyn Fields is a lifelong learner, musician, author, world traveler, truth enthusiast, and all-around bon vivant.

Christmas in Savannah
Christmas in Savannah | Source

Avoiding Another Commercialized Christmas

So many people complain that Christmas has become too commercialized, and yet they go right ahead and spend hundreds (or more) of dollars on gifts, decorations, and holiday food. Want to break out of the rut? I humbly suggest the following ideas. This list is intended to get you started, so by all means don’t limit yourself. Here goes!

Ten Ideas

1. Break out your cookbook and find your favorite Christmas cookie recipes or other special dessert. Make a dozen for yourself (to warm up), and them make a dozen for each person on your gift list. Get fancy Christmas paper plates or platters (that don’t have to be returned), and wrap the cookies up in colored translucent wrapping papers and top with a bow. Timing is an issue on this one, so you might want to have your drop-off points scheduled before you start baking.

2. Write a holiday poem or haiku and present it to a friend or loved one on holiday-colored paper. You can even roll it up like a scroll, and tie a ribbon around it.

Have you forgotten the beauty of haiku? It’s a simple formula of three lines, with 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. Usually haiku involves nature, or feelings. Christmas is the perfect topic for a haiku, in my opinion. Here’s one to get you started:

Christmas of days past
Cheerful carolers singing
Warms me from within

3. While we’re on the topic of carolers, why not get a group of friends together and go to an Assisted Living facility and sing for them? You’ll need to coordinate with the Administrator, of course. You don’t even have to be good. Just smile a lot, and bring candy canes. Or stroll around your neighborhood. You might even get invited in for hot cocoa!

4. Secret Santa is a time-honored tradition. Rather than everyone buying a gift for each other, put your names in a “hat” and randomly draw a recipient. This can work at the office, at Church, or even with your family. Each person gets and gives one gift. Talk about a way to keep the excitement up, but cut down on expenses!

5. For the travel enthusiast on your list, give them a travel guidebook to their dream destination. To make it more personalized and real, add a collection of travel-size toiletries. Any grocery store or drug store will have a trial and sample size section. For usually less than $1.00 each, you can get quite a few without breaking a $10 bill.

6. For decorations, you might consider bringing back the tradition of stringing your own garland. Start with yarn and a tapestry needle, and string together popcorn (stale is better for this) and cranberries. You can also make shapes by using wire instead of yarn. Make it together with the kids.

7. Have a Christmas movie marathon. Pick a day off (Saturday, Sunday, or whatever works for you), and spend the whole day with friends and/or loved ones watching all your favorite Christmas movies back to back (e.g., White Christmas. The Santa Clause, A Christmas Story, etc.). Have hot cocoa and cookies, and just enjoy the day. No running around for at least 24 hours. Yes, you can do that!

8. Have a dance contest. Turn on your favorite upbeat Christmas tunes, and dance the night away. Ask Grandma or Grandpa to be the judge, and establish your rating scale in advance. Get creative! Two points for singing and dancing, three points for using “props” while you dance, and so forth. Or just go freestyle.

9. Make your own wreath. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Just start with a Styrofoam base (you can get one for less than $5), and add foliage, crimped foil, ornaments, ribbon, bows, wrapping paper, bells, glitter, or just about anything you have on hand.

10. Make music! Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without music. Have a sing-along, record your favorites and make your own customized CD, or find someone who likes to play an instrument and invite them over (unless you play – in which case you’ve got it covered).

Personal, simple decorations are the best!
Personal, simple decorations are the best! | Source


Here is another idea to add Christmas cheer, that will cost you nothing but time. Start a coat drive at your office or Church. Collect gently worn coats, sweaters, and scarves, and when the day draws near take them to a local homeless shelter. All you need is a big box with a sign, and transportation.

Do Something Different

Christmas traditions are wonderful, and I have my fair share. I also like to experiment and try something new each year. Look up the traditions from around the world and see what strikes your fancy. For example, have you ever made Lefse? It’s a Scandinavian flatbread that is especially popular around the Christmas holidays. Google it. You won’t be sorry. Just try something simple and new. And have a Merry Christmas!

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Carolyn Fields


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