Christmas is a fun and festive time of year that brings back fond memories for most people. Chances are, when you think of Christmas, you can recall inexpensive Christmas traditions from your own childhood that still bring a smile to your face. The impulse at the holiday season is to spend, spend, spend, and run yourself ragged, but that’s simply not necessary to make memories at Christmastime. Oftentimes it’s the cheap Christmas traditions that we remember and pass down; simple things like a favorite game or cookie recipe can be the most special, since it’s more about the act of being together as a family than the expense. These Christmas tradition ideas are inexpensive and fun ways to bring your family together at the holidays to celebrate and relax. I hope that your family enjoys them as much as my family does. Merry Christmas!
One of our favorite Christmas traditions at my house is Christmas Movie Night. Every weekend in December, we get into our pajamas and gather pillows and blankets into the living room for a night of movie watching. We make homemade popcorn on the stove, hot chocolate, and put together a plate of Christmas cookies. Each person gets to take a turn choosing the movie, and we watch it together, enjoying our snacks and cuddling with each other. This inexpensive Christmas tradition is not only fun, it also helps us carve out important family time in such a hectic season.
Our favorite homemade popcorn recipe is simple: pop the kernels in a stovetop popper using olive oil, drizzle with melted butter, sprinkle on a pinch of kosher salt, and sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese. A few years ago I found red and white striped plastic popcorn boxes, so we always serve it in those for a fun retro touch.
If you don’t have any Christmas cookies already made, a pouch of sugar cookie mix is quick and easy to whip up. Use the drop cookie recipe and sprinkle with red and green sugar crystals for a festive look.
Some of our favorite Christmas movies are: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Original Christmas Classics boxed set, including Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. For more ideas, check out these10 Classic Family Movies.
Tour The Town
Every December, our family makes sure we take at least one walk and one drive to look at Christmas lights and decorations around town. It’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit, and it’s a completely free Christmas tradition. Since we live mere blocks from our city’s downtown shopping and historic district, we love to bundle up the kids and stroll down Main Street, looking at the decorations in each store window. We then wind through the streets of the historic district and take in the lights and decorations on the houses and churches, finishing with the big city tree outside the public library.
Out in the township, one house in particular puts on a spectacular display of lights and decorations that people come from miles around to see. We always take a drive to this house and circle around at least twice to take in the whole spectacle. Our city also has an annual Luminaria Night when people decorate their walkways and sidewalks with candles inside white bags to benefit a local charity. Walking or driving around the neighborhood to take in all of the lights is another peaceful way to reflect on the season.
Food is central to any holiday celebration, and every family seems to have at least one recipe that must be made for the big celebration. At our house, the holidays haven’t started until I make my family’s traditional pumpkin bread recipe. My children are the 5th generation to inherit this recipe, passed along my mother’s side of the family. As children, my mom would make this bread for us to eat while we opened our gifts on Christmas morning to tide us over until breakfast. She also made loaves to give as gifts to all of our neighbors, teachers, and friends. Now that I have a family of my own, I too make this recipe, except I bake muffins instead of bread because my kids like that better. We too eat the muffins while we open our gifts on Christmas morning, and I bake loaves for neighbors, teachers, and friends, just like my mom. One whiff of this bread baking says “Christmas” to me, and now my kids associate this recipe with the holidays, too.
Choose one favorite family recipe as a tradition in your house. Whether it’s an old recipe passed down through the generations or something new that you start for your family, food is a great way to instill a tradition for Christmastime.
When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot of money, but they were determined to make Christmas special for us. One way was to give us a Christmas ornament every year that signified what was important to us at that time. I have a ballerina from the year I took ballet, a PEZ dispenser ornament from when I collected PEZ, and a ball with a baby on it and the date from the year I was born. As my sister and I grew, our family Christmas tree became a three-dimensional scrapbook of our lives. Each ornament has special significance to me, and when I got married, I took my box of ornaments with me to decorate my own tree. I now practice this tradition with my kids, and I have fun watching their collections overtake our tree, knowing that they’ll have their own box of memories to take with them when they grow up and leave home.