Frugal Christmas Traditions

Christmas isn’t about the gifts (repeat)

Christmas isn’t about the gifts (repeat)

Christmas isn’t about the gifts.

Got it? Good.

I realize for many families this Christmas might seem a little less merry due to lack of funds. But even if you don’t have a single gift under the tree, or even if you can’t afford a tree you can still have a wonderful Christmas this year. My Christmas memories are filled with wonderful traditions rather than gifts I received. Here are a few fun and free (or close to it) ideas you can do with your family this year.

  • Christmas Caroling: This is a fun and free activity for the whole family. Double the fun by inviting another family to join you. Finish up the evening with some hot chocolate and a candy cane.
  • Cookie Exchange: Host a cookie exchange. Send out invites via email and have everyone bring two dozen of their favorite cookies. I dozen to eat, and a dozen to share. Serve apple cider, hot chocolate, coffee, tea and the cookies everyone brings to the party.
  • Christmas Lights: Drive or walk around your neighborhood and look at Christmas lights. We do this every year, remember to turn up the radio and sing along to your favorite Christmas songs.
  • DIY Christmas ornaments: Remember the popcorn stings or the paper chains? You don’t have to be crafty, just get some construction paper and scissors and start creating.
  • Christmas Tree Slumber Party: We have done this a few times, and although Dad never gets any sleep the kids love sleeping under the Christmas tree!
  • Christmas Pancakes: My kids are still talking about these pancakes from last year.
  • Christmas Tree Skirt: I love Connie’s idea for adding children’s hand prints each year to a Christmas tree skirt. If you aren’t crafty, use fabric paint.
  • Christmas Story Cookies: I love this idea from Alyssa. You could make these and hand them out while caroling.
  • Handmade Christmas Ornaments: Amy’s grandmother has made her an ornament for over 30 years. You could begin that tradition with your own children or grandchildren. You don’t have to be a master crafter to make an ornament.
  • Christmas Traditions Galore: Check out Jen’s post for some great frugal traditions. If you are looking for ideas, this post will point you in the right direction.

The pressure to over spend each Christmas is great, but the best gift you can give yourself is to spend only what you have and not a penny more. Traditions and memories outlive any gift under a tree.

For more frugal tips visit Frugal Friday and for more Frugal Christmas fun visit Beautiful Christmas.

Shares 0

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


  1. It’s so true. It’s not about the gifts. We’re trying to be very careful this year and focus more on meaningful gifts, not expensive gifts. My brother asked me take care of getting his dog registered with his city and tags. He’s very busy, so I’m able to give him the gift of my time. And we’re really looking forward to just being with our family playing board games and eating special, once a year treats!

  2. Those are some great tips! We started a family tradition years ago and that is to let the children open one present on Christmas Eve. It’s always the same present every year, a new pair of pajamas. This way all of the kids are dressed so cute on Christmas morning.

    Tip: Target is a great place to find PJ’s at a low price. I’ve gone there the past 2 years and found them for abt. $6 each. Great deal!

  3. TheHappyHousewife says:

    That is a great deal on Pj’s! We use to do the Christmas Eve pj gift, but my boys decided they would rather sleep in their clothes so I stopped giving them pj’s, lol!

  4. If you are stationed overseas or live on post/base Stateside, pick up an old San Vito Air Station tradition and start a progressive potluck dinner in base housing. We had four homes host – appetizers, soups/salads, main courses and desserts. Everyone signed up to bring one item to one house. We organized caroling in between houses (we also did an odd-shoe exchange…I wonder who got my husband’s size 15’s and had to hobble to the main course house…). Inexpensive and enjoyable!

  5. What a timely post for me!! Thanks for the wonderful ideas!!! It may just put me in the right mood afterall!

  6. TheHappyHousewife says:

    The shoe thing has me cracking up :).

  7. Great post! And perfect timing. I’m gonna use some of those ideas. I can’t wait!

  8. One of our favorites is making a gingerbread house. It costs a few dollars but not many and the memories will last for years.

  9. We used to sleep under the Christmas tree when I was a kid too! I loved it!

  10. Great ideas!! Thank you so much!

  11. Lots of great ideas, we bake cookies together every year. We then go out with the kids and give them out.

    I loved this post.

  12. We make cinnamon buns on Christmas Day. It’s the only time all year we do so, and it’s a huge treat!

  13. these are great tips! I am currently popping batch after batch of popcorn. It’s cheap, easy and the flavor choices are unending . When I don’t have time to bake, popcorn makes a great edible gift. I made caramel corn last night…mmmmm!

  14. Somebody's Mimi says:

    Really??? I can’t even imagine what Grandchildren (and their parents) would think if Grandma and Grandpa didn’t give presents. You are correct… when you are older (optimum word being “older”) it is the traditions and memories of certain Christmas’ and not the gifts that are remembered. But when you are little (and older) it is the thrill of opening a present. I loved the anticipation and actually still do. Merry Christmas to all!!!

  15. Beautiful post and great ideas! We plan on doing the Christmas lights drive this year…in jammies. I can’t wait!

  16. Those are some great ideas!! Like the new layout again.

  17. This year I’m having my kids make ornaments by painting on blown eggs

  18. You said: “…memories outlive any gift under a tree.”

    That is so very true. Time is the best gift of all.

    Thank you for this excellent reminder.

  19. Hi
    Thought I would share this with you:
    They have gift tags, Santa’s letters and jar labels which you can print out for free! Great money saver! Happy Holidays


  1. […] ~Traditions (gifting of sorts) shared by The Happy Housewife […]

  2. […] season where retailers are pushing us to spend spend spend. The Happy Housewife reminds us that Christmas isn’t about the gifts.  Applying the truths found in God’s Word to our lives is certainly a finer […]

Speak Your Mind