Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 12/19 – 12/21

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

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National Activities:

American Girl:  December In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) During December, they include Make a Gingerbread House, Special Occasion Styles, The Wonder of Holiday Memories, Brunch with Santa, American Girl at the Nutcracker and more.

Barnes and Nobles: Start a new family tradition with The Elf on the Shelf Storytime and Activities event. Check online for dates and times at your local stores. Also, lookout for other Christmas themed events like Polar Express and The Grinch that Stole Christmas!

Bass Pro Shops:  Bass Pro Shops will be holding in store Christmas activities now through December 24th. Check with local store for listings.

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, December 20th from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a Welcome Winter Wreath.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.


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Helping Kids Face a Lean Christmas

By contributing writer Laura

As Christmas quickly approaches, many people are feeling the pinch in their pocketbook. In fact, the National Retail Federation reported earlier this fall that holiday spending is expected to be greater this year, with consumers spending an average of almost $460 on holiday gifts for their family.

But let’s be honest, some of us are on a tighter budget and may be looking at a leaner Christmas than the average family. Or we may be trying to stay within our means and avoid going into debt.

Helping Kids Face a Lean Christmas at The Happy Housewife

We’ve shared ways that you can prepare for a frugal Christmas and stay under budget by creating DIY gifts, taking advantage of online deals, redeeming coupons, and more.

However, if you’re planning a lean Christmas, there may be some disappointment or discontentment to deal with in your children. I turned to Sarah Hamaker, parenting expert at Parent Coach NoVa and author of Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids from War to Peace, for her tips. She recommended the following four steps to create Christmas contentment for your family.

1. Make a Charitable Contribution

Getting in the holiday spirit is easy when you are focused on others instead of yourself. Try to incorporate the whole family in giving back to those less fortunate. Whether it is buying a gift for a needy child, making dinner for a family, donating to a local food bank, serving at a soup kitchen, or packing a shoe box for a child across the world, there are many ways to involve your family in giving and therefore cultivating a giving heart.

2. Lay Down Shopping Ground Rules

If you take your children out shopping with you, they will likely be bombarded by elaborate displays and plenty of sales gimmicks. Prepare yourself and try to minimize the hectic part of holiday shopping. Remind your kids of how you expect them to act while in the store. Set realistic expectations on how long you’ll be shopping in a particular store and the purpose of that particular trip (i.e., we are only buying one gift for grandma and then we are leaving) as well as if you expect no whining.

3. Declutter Toys in Your Home

Before Christmas even arrives, it’s a good idea to declutter the toys in your home. This makes room for new gifts that will make their way into your home this holiday, but it is also a great way for your children to see the abundance of what they have — and don’t play with or even use anymore. Involve your children in decluttering and have them pick out items to giveaway or toss. Clearing out a closet full of toys can be a great reminder of how much they do have.

4. Don’t Overly Focus on Gifts

Be sure that you talk about the value and importance of Christmas and all that it means to your family, and do not over emphasize gifts. After all, Christmas is more than just what’s under the tree. As parents, it is important to set the tone and conversations in the home. Continual conversations dwelling on gifts that your neighbors, friends, or extended family received (and what you didn’t receive) will likely make your children focus more on presents. Instead, focus on ways to make memories, create new traditions, and incorporate those meaningful aspects of the holiday for your family.

It’s worth noting that if your child is extremely disappointed that (s)he did not receive an expensive item that was on his or her wish list, it is important to acknowledge their disappointment. Finding a way to channel that disappointment into a more hopeful outlook or focus on all the blessings the child does have is key. Keep in mind, a humble Christmas can still result in true joy and wonderful family memories made– and that is priceless!

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photo credit: TammySmithPhotography via photopin cc


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 12/5 – 12/7

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

Christmas Pottery

National Activities:

American Girl:  December In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) During December, they include Make a Gingerbread House, Special Occasion Styles, The Wonder of Holiday Memories, Brunch with Santa, American Girl at the Nutcracker and more.

Barnes and Nobles: Start a new family tradition with The Elf on the Shelf Storytime and Activities event. Check online for dates and times at your local stores. Also, lookout for other Christmas themed events like Polar Express and The Grinch that Stole Christmas!

Bass Pro Shops:  Bass Pro Shops will be holding in store Christmas activities now through December 24th. Check with local store for listings.

Home Depot for Kids:  This Saturday, December 6th, from 9am to noon kids can make a Holiday Yard Stake. Register online at your local store.

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, December 6th from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a Chilly Snowman.

Michael’s Kids Club: Kids can enjoy making a craft every Saturday. This week they are making a DIY Felt Stocking. Designed for kids ages 3 and up ($2/child). Starts at 10 AM and runs every 30 minutes on Saturdays. You can shop while they create.

Pottery Barn: It’s Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Story Time! This Saturday, December 6th, at 11 am kids get to enjoy a story and then make crafts. Check your local store to make sure they are participating.

Toys R Us: This Saturday, December 6th, from 12pm to 4pm is the Princess Party. Kids can come dressed as their favorite princess and enjoy playing with Disney princess toys. There is even a Disney themed princess craft.  Check with your local store.

Walmart: This Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm you can get a free 5X7 photo with Santa. This is only at participating stores so check before going.

Williams-Sonoma Free Technique Classes (for kids and adults): Saturday, December 6th at 9:30 AM ~ Junior Chefs will decorate their very own gingerbread house. However, supplies (house and decorations) cost $30. Check the webpage for additional details and make a reservation. For ages 5+.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

4 Frugal Decorating Tips for the Holidays

As we head into the holiday season, many are fearful of added expenses. This year you can use our Frugal Decorating Tips for the Holidays to help you stay within your budget while creating a gorgeous home for company to enjoy. Decorating never has to be expensive, and the holidays provide you with even more fun ways to spruce up your home with unique décor.

Frugal Decorating Tips for the Holidays | The Happy Housewife

4 Frugal Decorating Tips for the Holidays

Go Outdoors for Inspiration

Winter months bring about changing of leaves, snowfall, winter berries on holly bushes, cedar trees, and of course the classic fir Christmas tree. This year look outside for inspiration. Grab pine cones, leaves, and acorns for a quick centerpiece that costs nothing but your time. Snip a few sprigs of cedar and a few pieces from the local holly bush for a fun bright and fragrant wreath to hang on your door.

Use Existing Items

Things like basic candles, ribbons, and even popcorn or cranberries all make great holiday decorations. Not only can they bring you back to classic old style holiday décor, they are frugal and easy on your budget.

Decorate with Food

Fall and winter is the perfect time to grab things like nuts in their shells and fresh citrus and apples. Create fun and edible centerpieces throughout your home. Not only are they fairly inexpensive, they are dual purpose!

Shop the Dollar Store

Basic garland, lights, and simple red bows are all inexpensive at your local dollar store. With a few added embellishments, you can quickly create a fun wreath, garland, or window hanging that will rival the department store crafts.

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on fancy decorations to create a lovely holiday décor at home. These frugal decorating tips for the holidays are sure to stretch your dollar further, all while giving you the warm holiday spirit you expect each year.

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.