Low cost/ no cost holiday traditions - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 12:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is our second holiday season on our own. We previously lived close to family, and just participated in the same traditions that we had growing up.

Money is always tight around this time of year, and I'm really wanting to create a fun filled, family oriented holiday season that doesn't leave us feeling "homesick".

Any no cost, or low cost ideas would be appreciated.

Edited to add: I have older kids, so need things that could keep a teen, a preteen, and 2 school age kids happy. Thanks!

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  ~Albert Einstein
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#2 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 12:38 AM
 
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This thread has some really fun cheap/free ideas. We're going to incorporate some of the ideas I got from that thread into our holiday traditions, and I think there are quite a few that would keep older kids happy.

MJ~ Proud mom to DS (4)
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#3 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 02:04 AM
 
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I don't have kids,but what I do is when I set up my tree I invite my friends over and we do it together. I have my fave cookies and a plate of cheese,crackers,olives and pickles and we have some egg nog or hot chocolate and just have fun together.

Maybe you can make some ornaments together? Or watch a Christmas movie?

For gifts if there are a lot of people you can draw names or have a rule that the gifts have to me homemade,or in the form of homemade "coupons" good for things around the house like you husband cooking dinner or the older kids watching the little ones or something like that.

In Germany what I loved is that each Sunday before Christmas they would light a candle on a special wreath that was on the table and have "tea time". We'd have tea and cookies and turn off the tv and just talk and laugh and share stories and enjoy each others company. You could do that together each Sunday before Christmas too.
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#4 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 02:54 AM
 
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This isn't really a "Holiday" tradition,but all through the winter, we eat our evening(duh!) meal,by candle light. I buy huge bags of tea-light candles,and we set one in a little glass jar,in front of each plate. We started it as a cozy Advent tradition, and it just stuck with us all through the winter. And, it's frugal,as we obviously turn off the lights.

Another one that we do,as a countdown to Christmas,is a button tree. I bought a huge jar of buttons at a garage sale,years ago,for pennies. (I used to hs, and my older dc used buttons for lots of math stuff.) Anyway, I bought a narrow strip of green felt from fabric store,with red embroidery thread,and dh and my oldest dc sewed it all together. Simple and traditional.

I am thinking of hosting a cookie exchange this year. It's a great way to get a nice big selection of Christmas cookies,w/o doing all of the baking yourself. I have friends who swear by them!
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#5 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 02:57 AM
 
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OT but I am so doing a cookie exchange! That sounds awesome!

Allison wife and mom to four. 

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#6 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 07:06 AM
 
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I'll have to check out that link!

As for us, small things like:

decorating together
baking goodies
watching a Christmas movie in front of the fire
stringing popcorn (CHEAP)
taking a walk (or driving) and looking at lights

Not free, but we always cut down our tree at the same farm and it's an all-day thing. The hour-drive is spent with a Christmas CD playing and then we pick out the perfect tree (takes forever), we then go get hot chocolate and warm up. Go home and put the tree in the garage and get the boxes of lights and ornaments ready (with a little Clark Griswald in the background, LOL).

DD and I have been going to Seattle to watch The Nutcracker (amazing!), but I bet you could scout schools and churches for plays and musicals for next to nothing. I'm thinking we'll do this this year. Saves money plus it supports the local community.

Do you have memberships to anything? Our zoo puts up hundreds of thousands of lights in Winter and we go during the night and walk around for hours. Its included in our yearly pass.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mommaknowsbest
I am thinking of hosting a cookie exchange this year.
That sounds fun, what exactly is that?

Sgt. Renninger, Ofc. Owens, Ofc. Griswold, Ofc. Richards, Deputy Mundell
Gone but not fogotten.
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#7 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 12:33 PM
 
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We like to go look at the lights, too. This is the first year my children don't freak out over being in the car after dark, so I'm glad it's a tradition I'll be able to bring back. We'll go right at bedtime one night (as a surprise! no bedtime tonight! sort of thing) with hot chocolate. I'm looking forward to it.

Not appropriate for little kids (boring to them), but my mom and I like to go to Open Houses put on by a few local florists in November to get us in the spirit. Yummy holiday treats, and you can admire the decorations.

We ride the pink pig at the local Macy's. It used to go around the base of the tree, but no longer. It's still something my mom did as a kid, as did I, and now my sons. Great tradition for $3. Maybe you have something similar in your town?

Check out Christmas books from the library and read one every day.

Bake cookies/treats.

Eat a picnic supper under the lights of the Christmas tree in the living room.

Our local Christmas parade.

The lighting of the local tree in front of city hall.

Santa at the mall.

We're not there yet, but in a few years, we'll start taking our kids to the holiday symphony in town. It's a local volunteer symphony, tickets are free, and it's a lot of fun. The grandmas dress way up, and it's a great night out.

Walking around the most crowded shopping mall around on the Saturday before Christmas. Not buying, just being in the madness. Not for everyone, but good fun for our family.

A church covered dish holiday dinner.

A playdate to make homemade ornaments. You could do this on your own, too. My mom has one my brother made at about age 6, sewing scraps of felt into a tree. It's way cool.
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#8 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 01:03 PM
 
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Family hikes on the holidays. FREE! Fun! and memorable! and healthy!

mom to a 12yo entomologist, a 10yo skateboarder, and a fabulous, flatulent 2015 baby
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#9 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 01:32 PM
 
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If you have a college nearby, see what events they have going on. Many will be open to the public and free. My university had an annual tree-lighting and caroling event (with cookies and hot cider!) and there were always a ton of people from the community there.
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#10 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 02:11 PM
 
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We have a couple of small town local light ups ( the one in my village has a light up contest for all of the big trucks and they put a string of lights on the tree in the village square and wee all oooh and ahh! )sometimes we drive up the coast 1 hr to a different light up event where they do a parade of boats on the water, santa comes in on a coast guard boat and they do carols on the pier.
I belong to an email notification for the island I live on and they weekly remind us of upcoming events that are free or low cost.
Usually though we keep Christmas super mellow without too much hype specifically because we don't have the money for the holidays.
we make a hommade wreath, decorate a plant in the house and just cozy in! We love it when it snows of course cause it is a treat here. The power goes out regularly when we have a big wind or if the snow is wet and heavy on the power lines. Some of our favourite memories of the season are cuddling in bed with warm drinks made on the campstove with candles and a wind up radio. Or hiking up the road in the snow to a neighbours house that has a woodstove... then we can cook there and be warm and cozy.
I love the eating by candlelight idea for dinners. My kids really really love eating by candlelight.
Funny the suggestion of walking in the mall crowd! I can see why that may be fubn for some people.! We all have sensory issues and being out in public during the Christmas season is just torture. There is just too much going on and the kids are on the verge of meltdown mode all of the time! It is like they are just vibrating taking in all of everyones excitement!

:
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#11 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 02:18 PM
 
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: Awesome thread! I'll come back later to add my 2 cents.
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#12 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 03:28 PM
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we go to a city tree lighting, carolling, look at lights, invite friends for a day of sledding followed by potluck, decorate glass ornaments, make Christmas cards...
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#13 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oaky, so now that I'm thinking- does anyone have any cool ideas for using fresh holly? I have some growing in my yard.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  ~Albert Einstein
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#14 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 05:15 PM
 
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Going out at night to look at Christmas lights is one of my favorite childhood Christmas memories. The newspaper would always have where some of the really great displays were, so we would drive to go see them, as well as go look at the decorations at what we dubbed the "tacky houses".

Other things we did: bake Christmas cookies and decorate gingerbread houses, pick out and decorate the tree together, have Christmas music on frequently, and watch Christmas movies. We did some neighborhood cookie exchanges but not every year.

Kirsten, mama to Monkey since May 2007 and Bean born 11/7/09
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#15 of 17 Old 11-19-2008, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Got this link in my inbox, thought I'd add it
http://www.marthastewart.com/christm...as-decorations

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  ~Albert Einstein
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#16 of 17 Old 11-20-2008, 05:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirstenb View Post
Going out at night to look at Christmas lights is one of my favorite childhood Christmas memories. The newspaper would always have where some of the really great displays were, so we would drive to go see them, as well as go look at the decorations at what we dubbed the "tacky houses".
, DH and I did this even before we had kids. We'd take the camcorder and drive around town taping all of the crazy decorations. I bet DS will love doing it too!
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#17 of 17 Old 11-20-2008, 05:14 PM
 
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Some of the things that I have planned for this year (most are low or no-cost):

-make pipe cleaner candy canes for the Christmas tree with DS
-make salt dough ornaments with DS
-collect pinecones with DS at the local park and decorate them for the Christmas tree
-decorate the Christmas tree as a family (we are using all homemade decorations this year because DS is too small to trust our antique glass ornaments on the tree)
-dry orange and lime slices and hang on tree and porch
-make cranberry garlands and hang on porch
-make paper snowflakes with DS and hang in windows
-bake cookies, bread, and baklava to give to friends, coworkers, and neighbors
-go sledding/hiking at the park
-take DS to donate some toys at city’s Holiday festival (this Friday)
-visit Santa at the farmer’s market (he’s free there – not free at the mall)
-check out Christmas themed books and videos from the library
-watch Christmas Story with DS and DH
-knit baby and toddler socks/mittens/hats to donate to a local orphan’s charity

We are also hosting a Christmas party/gathering for our close family. Everyone will be coming from out of town. I bake a lot of goodies for it, prepare a Christmas dinner and big brunch for the next morning (for those staying over). Usually around New Years we go to Indiana for my extended family Christmas/Hanukah party (weird, I know – but I have a Catholic and Jewish family ). There are no gifts exchanged at this party (except for the younger kids) and it’s mostly a time to get together and eat/chat.
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