12 Budget-Friendly Holiday Ideas For Your Family

Holiday ideas don't have to cost a lot of money to create priceless memories

By Helen Bryant, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Louisville, Ky. December 5, 2018

Holiday traditions, events, and activities certainly don't need to cost a lot of money! With a little creativity and planning, you and your family can have a magical holiday season without breaking your budget. 

Here are 12 low-cost, family-friendly holiday bucket list items to help you get started:

Plan a friends night in

Celebrate the season with your friends by inviting them over for a fun meal together. You can plan a full traditional holiday with all the trimmings (have everyone bring a dish!) or simply order a $5 pizza and make a dessert! 

See the holiday lights

Pack your family in the car, along with a thermos of hot chocolate, then crank up the holiday tunes and drive around town to see all of the holiday decorations! Can you find the house in town that would put the Griswolds to shame?  Our Holiday Light Displays article from 2017 lists some fantastic local light displays. 

Bake together

Make three or four types of cookies, or just make and decorate some simple sugar cookies! We won't even tell if you use pre-made cookie dough! After all, no matter how you do it, the end result is cookies warm from the oven and a fun time in the kitchen with your family. Here are some easy holiday cookie recipes to help you get started.

Build a gingerbread house

You could make your own gingerbread, or take a shortcut and buy an inexpensive kit! The result is a fun afternoon together, and a one-of-a-kind centerpiece for your holiday table.

Make your own holiday cards

Make your own cards using recycled card fronts from last year, then spread holiday cheer to those in need by dropping off your homemade cards at local nursing homes, hospitals, and local veterans organizations. They'll appreciate knowing your family is thinking of them!

Create a hot cocoa bar

Your kids will love the chance to pick their own mug and then add marshmallows, peppermint sticks, whipped cream, and any other treat you can think of to their hot chocolate! 

Volunteer together

'Tis the season of giving. As a family, pick an activity and volunteer. Need ideas? Here are three to help you get started: Collect food for your local homeless shelter or animal shelter, serve meals to the homeless, or wrap gifts as a fundraiser. Whatever you choose, do it as a family! 

Make your own holiday playlist

Take the time to create your own holiday playlist with all of your family's favorite holiday songs, or check out the Lowell Macaroni Kid Candy Cane Hunt playlist on Spotify for 3+ hours of family-friendly and fun holiday songs. Make sure everyone in the family has their favorite tunes included!  

Binge watch holiday movies

Snuggle up together with a bowl of popcorn and watch one of the Christmas classics or discover a new favorite! 

Go ice skating

Find a spot for ice skating and enjoy some family time together on the ice!

Check our Macaroni Kid event calendar

We've got dozens of FREE and low-cost family-friendly holiday events listed on our Macaroni Kid calendar! Be sure to check out our calendar every day to find your holiday family fun!

Visit Santa

Because you're never too old to have a chat with Santa!  Santa will be at our Candy Cane Hunt & Holiday Fair this Saturday, December 8, from 9 AM to 2 PM (Santa has to leave for the North Pole at 1:00 though).  Or check our Holiday Events and Santa Sightings in Greater Lowell article for more places to meet Santa!

Helen Bryant is the publisher of Macaroni Kid in Louisville Central and Louisville SW.