When it comes to having fun with your kids over the holidays, you have lots of activities at your fingertips – there’s ice skating, light festivals, Breakfast with Santa, and Christmas shows. Unfortunately, most of these events cost money, and if you’re not careful about your spending habits, you could wake up in January with a world full of credit card debt. It may seem impossible to safeguard your money while enjoying the holidays with your kids, but by employing these strategies, you’ll come out on top.
1. Choose Your Paid Events Wisely
It’s easy to buy into the idea that kids need to experience all the holiday festivities to enjoy the season, but that’s just not true. Instead of buying tickets to most of the holiday attractions, get a list of all upcoming events (the Macaroni Kid website is a good place to start), and pick out a handful you could attend as a family. Once you’ve narrowed down the options, ask your kids to help you pick the one or two winning attractions.
2. Make Decorations From Scratch
Who says you need to spend much on holiday decorations? Pine cones are an excellent multipurpose decoration, and if you live near evergreens, you can gather them for free. Spend a fun evening with your kids spray painting the pine cones gold, silver, or white before attaching them to cheesecloth to hang on a mantle. Stack the pine cones in large vases, or hot glue them to a cardboard circle to make a Christmas wreath.
Grab a few large branches from the woods and use them to hang up old holiday photos. Kids are incredibly creative, so ask them how they’d like to use their surroundings to make new decorations. If in doubt, teach your kids how to string air-popped popcorn or cranberries to decorate your tree.
Make the evening one to remember by playing holiday tunes, lighting candles, and putting out some Christmas cookies to share.
3. Watch Classic Holiday Movies
Introduce your kids the movies you grew up watching, such as Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a great way to take a stroll down memory lane while entertaining your kids.
4. Build a Fire
If your home has a fireplace, it’s a goldmine for cheap entertainment. Spend an evening building a fire, then pull out a few blankets, and wrap up as a family. Use the opportunity to talk about what you’re grateful for this holiday season, or to tell holiday stories. Regale tales of holidays past, or pick up a classic Christmas book to read to your kids.
5. Have a Boys’ or Girls’ Night
Gathering just the boys or girls together for a night of entertainment is another great way to save money while having a good time. Plan activities the group is sure to enjoy – nail painting, video games, pillow fights, board games, or cookie baking are just a few of the home-based activities to consider.
6. Just Spend Time Together
If you’re a busy professional without much free time, you don’t necessarily have to schedule a ton of activities to have fun. Spend a night without the TV or Internet to talk about the events of the last year. Take a family drive around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights, or sit out on the back porch counting stars.
What your kids will remember 20 years from now isn’t the money you spent, but the memories you made. Be present with them, teach them family traditions, and instill in them a sense of awe and wonderment for the holiday season. These are the things that last a lifetime.
How do you save money while enjoying the holiday season with your kids?