Low Budget Christmas: Making Memories Without Money

I’ve been seeing a trend lately on the mom forums I’m in . . . low budget Christmas. This time of year is rough if you don’t have much money. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, the thought of trying to fit in gifts for kids, Christmas dinner, etc. can be downright depressing. Keep in mind, though, the holidays aren’t all about who gets the biggest, most expensive gift! You can make Christmas a wonderful time of the year, even with no money for Christmas.

Low Budget Christmas Ideas

Before we go any further, remember that this season is all about making the memories. Gifts are nice, but your kids are going to remember DOING things with you far more than the presents you give them. Now, let’s get on with it.

Low Budget Christmas Experiences

Christmas memory makers

Ready to make some memories with your children? Spending time together is a great way to do that and it doesn’t matter if you have money or not! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Attend free Christmas plays (check schools and churches, community centers, etc.)
  • Bake Christmas cookies
  • Take a walk at night to see the Christmas lights
  • Make paper chains (no construction paper? Use magazines!)
  • Hike through the snowy woods
  • Have a winter picnic
  • Toast bread or heat mulled cider (apple juice with spices) over a campfire
  • Get some friends and go caroling
  • Watch a Christmas movie with popcorn and hot chocolate
  • Wrap books you already own and open one each night to read
  • Create your own advent calendar with handmade decorations on a felt tree
  • Use contact paper and tissue paper to make suncatchers
  • Grate crayons onto wax paper and top with more wax paper, then iron. Cut into festive shapes to hang in the window
  • Make paper snowflakes
  • Take silly photos with the Christmas lights
  • Skype with family and sing them a Christmas carol
  • Make Christmas themed slime
  • Make salt playdough and create your own ornaments as gifts to give
  • Check out more ways to make Christmas memories

As you can see, there’s no shortage of free or very low cost ways to enjoy the holiday season! Why not go ahead and try some of them? It will help you and the kids get into the Christmas spirit.

Low Budget Christmas Food

Low budget christmas food

Sometimes making magic is all in the details. You don’t have to go overboard to create amazing, memorable food. Even a simple snack can be turned into a Christmas miracle for your family! My kids love shape sandwiches, which are easily made with cookie cutters (I eat the crusts so there’s no waste). Use star or tree cookie cutters and you instantly have a Christmas lunch.

5 ways 469x1024 1Looking for more ideas? How about red and green Christmas eggs? My boys love fun colored food like these and I bet yours will, too. Plus, aside from the food coloring, eggs are pretty healthy. Here’s another fun way to make Christmas deviled eggs.

Planning to serve up some veggies? Why not turn it into a Christmas ornament veggie plate like this one? You can actually do this with any food . . . just arrange it in designs and add a cutout ornament top.

Green Tang or Koolaid becomes “Grinch punch” when served while watching the movie, and a simple mug of hot chocolate is an instant way to draw kids right into The Polar Express. You can make Christmas Jelloreindeer celery sticks, or Christmas Rice Krispy balls. The possibilities are endless, you just need to use your imagination. Also, a bottle or two of holiday sprinkles or a few crushed candy canes can go a long way toward adding holiday joy to your food. Trust me, these are things that the kids will remember for years to come.


When it comes to the holidays, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Remember that time spent with your family is the best way to make memories! Even if you do have money, make a point of doing some free or cheap activities to show your kids that they don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun. This will serve them well in the future.

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