Ahh, the holiday season: a time filled with joy, family, friends, and EXPENSES. From gifts, to groceries for that big family gathering, to dinners out with friends: it can really add up quickly! We’re pretty sure you’ve never heard anyone say, “I’d just love another overdraft fee this year” or “I’m so excited for more credit card debt!”
In fact, according to YesandYes.org, Americans spend $465 billion around Christmas time. But meanwhile, the average American has $6,385 in credit card debt and 40% of middle-class Americans don’t have the funds to handle a $400 financial emergency.
But fear not: we’re here to share plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday season and make new holiday traditions, all while keeping everything affordable. You’ll be thankful for these frugal but fun ways to make sure your holiday season is still full of joy minus the costs.
1. Bake Cookies
One fun way to celebrate without breaking the bank is to stay home and bake…cookies that is!
This is always a fun activity to do with your kids and you can get creative with cookie cutters, fun holiday sprinkles, and even frosting. How much does it cost to bake cookies you ask? Well, a package of cookie dough at your local supermarket is only a few bucks and you probably already have baking sheets and parchment paper laying around the house from last year. For the cost of a fast-food meal, you’ll be able to make sweet memories with the ones you love right at home. You can even go all out and build a gingerbread house!
My personal favorite cookie is the sugar cookie but I’m also fond of both holiday oatmeal raisin cookies and even holiday butterscotch cookies too. Check out Food Network’s Top Holiday Cookie Recipes here; you’ll be sure to find a recipe to satisfy your taste buds.
Treating yourself to some holiday cookies this year will taste even sweeter when you make them yourself!
2. Watch Christmas Movies
Another fun pastime is to tune into some holiday movies: make some hot cocoa, snuggle up in a blanket on the sofa and gather around the TV with your friends and family. There are so many to choose from whether it’s The Grinch, Jack Frost, Home Alone, A Charlie Brown Christmas…the list goes on and on. My all-time favorite holiday movie is definitely Elf, a perfect holiday classic; I can watch it over and over again and always laugh!
Why not take advantage of existing streaming services you already pay for like Netflix or Amazon Prime to watch these movies at home? Think about it: you won’t spend ANY additional money on this activity!
3. Host a Virtual Holiday Party
We’ve all experienced working on a remote team and virtual happy hours during the past 2 years. With the pandemic (mostly) behind us, hosting a virtual holiday get-together is still a great idea if you still want to play it on the safer side this year or even if you just want to save some extra cash. With a virtual gathering, you won’t have to shell out for booze, snacks, or decorations for your party guests. Just tell all of your guests to bring their favorite drink or cocktail to the video call from the comforts of their own homes; easy!
You can sign up for free subscriptions to Zoom or WebEx which allow for video conferencing calls for 40 minutes and 50 minutes, respectively. But if you want to make sure the party goes on longer, simply sign up for the Zoom Pro plan for $14.99 for the month or the WebEx Meet plan for $15 for the month, no commitment required! Now, that’s the most cost-effective holiday party I’ve surely ever heard of.
4. Go Caroling
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” In the words of Buddy the Elf, this statement couldn’t be more true. And better yet, you’ll be brightening people’s days and saving money in the process. We suggest gathering a group of 5-10 friends, bringing along a Bluetooth speaker, and streaming Apple Music to play some of those classic holiday tunes, like Jingle Bell Rock and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, as you go door to door.
5. Go Sledding
Do you have kids? Well, then this is the perfect activity for you this holiday season that costs next to nothing. The next time it snows, find a great sledding hill near home, bundle the kids up, and take them out for a couple of hours of wholesome wintertime fun. Oh, and if you don’t already have sleds, be sure to order one of these plastic snow sleds for each of them and a Slippery Racer Downhill Xtreme Toboggan Snow Sled for you so you can join in the fun alongside them!
6. Make Paper Snowflakes
Last but not least, a whimsical holiday pastime is creating paper snowflakes. This is a fun activity for all ages and will certainly allow you to keep more of that $$$ in your wallet. Simply break out some printer paper (which we know you already have laying around), some pairs of scissors (you have those too), and follow these free printable paper snowflake templates with step-by-step instructions, thanks to One Little Project. Both kids and adults alike can make some real holiday joy right at home!