If, like me you stick to a budget around the festive season it can be tough to see all the fun Christmas events and activities being advertised. There’s lots of temptation to spend cash on things like breakfast with Santa or an exclusive grotto tour but stay strong, I have some fantastic ideas to help you and your family still enjoy the festivities but on a budget.
I love sharing experiences with my family but I’m ever mindful that I needn’t spend lots of cash doing so. With this in mind I’ve been searching for things we can do this festive season that won’t bust our budget. After all I think it will be the experiences we shared and not the things we spent money on that the kids will remember.
Shopping Centres & Malls
I can almost guarantee that there will be something festive, fun, cheap or often free going on at a shopping centre or mall local to you. They want to get the shoppers in so what better incentive than offering Christmas activities or a free visit to Santa. A quick search in my local area brought up several free Santa visits, a reindeer parade, an elf workshop and a few light switch ons featuring celebrities.
This year we are visiting our local town to see the lights and the Christmas tree on a Thursday evening as parking is free. We will budget £10 to get a hot drink, taking an extra cup so the kids can share one as they never manage a full one to themselves. We will also be checking our apps to see if any stores are offering free food and drink as they very often do this time of year.
Garden centres are a great free place to visit, if you can resist the urge to spend. Many have beautiful displays of Christmas trees and lights and often have free activities for the kids too. I had a quick look at one of my local garden centres website where I found a few events taking place like a reindeer treasure hunt and a visit from Santa and his elves all for free. To keep the trip extra frugal pack some mince pies and a flask of hot chocolate and have a car picnic once you’ve finished exploring.
If you live an area with forests and woods nearby then why not wrap the whole family up warm and head outdoors for a frosty adventure. This is one of our favourite things to do this time of year. We play games like spot the Robin or festive eye-spy to keep the kids entertained. It might be cold but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a winter picnic, you could add things like warm sausage rolls, hot mince pies and a flask of hot chocolate.
No matter what the time of year, snuggling up to watch a family movie all together is a fantastic budget friendly activity. We love to choose a couple of our favourite festive films and spend the afternoon or evening on the sofa. There are lots of Christmas movies available on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video but you can also pick up DVD’s inexpensively from charity shops and second hand stores. Over the last few years I’ve been building us a collection of festive favourites using this method.
You could spend an afternoon making Christmas cards, tree ornaments or colourful paper chains. Crafting doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby, you can pick up some inexpensive bits and bobs from discount stores or just use what you already have. If you collect some pine cones you can paint them silver and add glitter to make lovely decorations for your tree, these would also make lovely gifts for family too.
Visit Local Lights
Most high streets and town centres have some sort of festive light displays this time of year which you can visit for free. If you want something closer to home then why not go on a tour of your neighbourhood, many people love decorating their homes with lights nowadays. Keep an eye on local Facebook pages for mention of any areas that go over the top with their festive lighting. This is real free fun, it gets you outdoors and is great exercise for the whole family too.
Sharing a lovely Christmas picture book or story with a hot chocolate each night of advent is a lovely idea. I’ve picked up lots of festive discounted, thrifted and free books over the years which we get out of storage at the beginning of December. You could make it more fun by making up your own festive tales too.
This idea fits in nicely with a family movie night, you could all bring sleeping bags and duvet down stairs and sleep around the Christmas tree. How magical would it be to fall asleep under the twinkling fairy lights.
Most local communities often hold free events like Christmas concerts, parades or plays. This is a great way to not only enjoy the festivities but also to get to know your local community too. Check out local Facebook pages, notice boards and newspapers for events taking place locally.
Baking is something the whole family can get involved with and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. There are lots of simple festive treats you can make. If baking isn’t your thing what about a simple activity like decorating biscuits or ready-made cupcakes. You could buy a gingerbread house and spend the afternoon decorating it together as a family.
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