I know there have been threads like this in past years, and I remember finding them so wonderful and inspiring that I am hoping we can have another. I would love to hear about your free or very low cost holiday traditions, particularly where your children are involved. We have some, but I want to incorporate some more.
Here are a couple of ours . .
I have a cloth, reusable advent calendar. Each day I write a little poem that sends the kids on a treasure hunt of sorts. (I often save the little poems from year to year and am always very grateful I did so, because sometimes my creativity runs a little dry, and the kids sure don't remember a specific 2 line poem from last year . . ) The "treasure" is something tiny, like a Hershey's kiss, or an activity we will be doing that day. The activity is usually something out-of-the-ordinary for us, like having a picnic on a blanket in front of the fire for dinner.
On December 1st we always have hot chocolate and whipped cream with breakfast. The advent calendar note for 12/1 will be a treasure hunt leading them to where the hot cocoa jar has been stashed with the whipped cream.
Every time it snows in December we make hot cocoa and popcorn.
I hit the salvation army for cheap little things for the advent calendar gifts. I can always find neat little ceramic Santas and things like that. Sometimes I even re-use them for the following year - my kids really do not notice since I pack away all Christmas-related things after New Years, and so everything seems very new to them.
We bake cookies for certain friends and neighbors, and then after packaging them, we ring their doorbells and leave them on the front steps with a note saying only "Chris Cringle was here!" We are often caught, but that just adds to the fun and we dash away laughing.
We bundle up for nighttime walks to look at Christmas lights.
We have a few of the kids' friends over to decorate cookies. They will be denied admission unless they are wearing PJs. After the cookie decorating we watch the Polar Express.
I would love to hear your ideas!