Are you looking to do create some new Christmas traditions for your family this year that don’t cost a lot of money? Keep scrolling for some amazingly festive (and completely free) things to do for Christmas this year!
This post about FREE Christmas traditions was originally published October 30, 2020 and was updated September 5, 2021 and may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
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Do you want to create some new Christmas traditions for your family this year that don’t cost a lot of money?
Christmas is, hands-down, the most magical time of the year. Making memories and creating traditions doesn’t have to cost a lot.
In fact, I’m a firm believer in the fact that the best moments don’t actually have to cost anything at all!
If you’re wondering how to have a magical Christmas without breaking the bank, here are some of my favorite FREE Christmas traditions.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on Christmas gifts or decorations in order to create lasting memories with your family. These simple and inexpensive activities can be done by anyone!
Whether you want to try out one tradition or all of them, these ideas are sure to bring joy and magic into the holiday season. I promise they won’t disappoint!
You can have a magical Christmas without breaking the bank. Here are some of my favorite free Christmas tradition ideas.
Family Christmas Traditions FAQs
While there are lots of Christmas family traditions, the most common one is decorating a tree. Other popular traditions for Christmas including watching Christmas movies, baking/decorating cookies, and sending Christmas cards.
Many families do a big Christmas Eve dinner with friends or family. While it varies from family to family, one of the best Christmas present traditions is getting to open one on the night of Christmas Eve. Sometimes they are matching Christmas jammies that the whole family wears that night.
If you’re able to visit friends or family, that’s a great way to create some nice memories. You can tell family stories, play games together, and enjoy a few Christmas traditions. It’s also nice to give back by donating items to charity or volunteering in a soup kitchen.
15 FREE Christmas Traditions That Don’t Cost a Dime
1. Go on a Christmas lights walk around the neighborhood
One of the most magical things about celebrating Christmas is, obviously, the lights!
Getting creative while putting them up around your house is super fun. You can go focus on a theme like Minions, the Grinch, Elf, or anything you come up with. Buying new decorations will cost money, but it’s an investment.
But, another incredibly cool (and totally free) thing to do is to put on a jacket and go out on a long walk (or drive) around the neighborhood on the hunt for the best lights display in the area you live in.
You can even make a game of it and rate each house’s light display and decide what the best one was!
2. Follow Santa’s Journey Around The World
Technology has changed the world, and your kids no longer have to wonder whether Santa is currently in Finland or flying over the closest city to yours.
Even though Santa doesn’t have an Instagram profile *yet*, you can track his journey around the world using Google’s Santa Tracker.
It’s a fun thing for kids to check on Christmas Eve in between family festivities, watching Christmas movies, and certainly right before bedtime.
Plus, it’s one of the kid Christmas traditions you’ll want to start ASAP (before they no longer believe).
3. Creative Christmas Tree Challenge
Set a timer and get everyone in the family to create their own Christmas tree using random items they find around the house.
You’ll be surprised how many things you use on a daily basis can be turned into a super creative DIY Christmas display!
For some bonus fun, turn it into a contest and have family members vote on their favorite. The winner can pick the Christmas movie to watch that night!
4. Throw a Sleepover in the Living Room
Get your sleeping bags, put on those ugly Christmas sweaters, and gather the whole family in the living room for a fun sleepover!
Seriously, these are the kind of activities everyone will remember for years to come.
As for fun things to do to keep everyone entertained: think watching Christmas-themed movies, story-telling (favorite Christmas stories are always great!), or family games.
Popcorn and hot cocoa are mandatory, of course!
5. Write a Letter to Santa
Sometimes the old Christmas traditions are the best.
One of the sweetest FREE Christmas traditions kids have been doing for generations is writing a letter to Santa every holiday season.
While you can have your kids do the typical list of things they want Santa to bring them for Christmas, you can also make it a bit more robust.
Help your kids craft a genuine letter to Santa where they ask him questions, talk about someone they’d like to help, talk about their own lives, and their hopes for the future.
Letter writing is a good skill that will get them far in life!
Plus, you can reply back to them as Santa himself, or sign up to get an official email from Santa!
6. Throw a Movie Night Week
Even though Christmas movies are fun to watch year-round, there’s something extra magical about Christmas-themed movie nights.
Cozy up in the living room and pick a movie to watch every evening the week before Christmas Eve.
Since our kids go to bed fairly early, we usually make an Instant Pot meal and enjoy an early dinner so we can finish the entire movie before bedtime.
Or, we do breakfast for dinner to add to the festivities!
7. Organize a Christmas Photoshoot
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is taking super Christmas-y photos of my kids.
Photos are the best way to remember moments, so get everyone together and organize an at-home photoshoot using props you find around the house.
Props that work well include: a string of battery-powered Christmas lights, cookie cutters, ornaments, Christmas wreaths, signs, stockings, garland, Santa hats, Christmas jammies, and so many other items.
You can find a ton of stuff at your local dollar store or in the Dollar Spot at Target. And look around your house and ask friends/families to borrow Christmas decor.
Get as creative as it gets, and don’t forget to shoot at least one or two pictures with that ugly Christmas sweater you secretly love!
You can also head to a local Christmas tree farm for an outdoor Christmas photoshoot.
Get all my top tips for how to take your own Christmas photos this year.
8. Make a Christmas Bucket List
Starting December 1st, get everyone together and make a list of fun activities to do before Christmas Eve – one for each day.
It can be as simple as decorating the house, building a snowman, ice skating, going for a Christmas lights drive, or volunteering at a soup kitchen for a day!
Then, start crossing them off throughout the month.
You could even turn it into a Bingo game!
I’ve got a really fun Christmas Countdown activity that’s a great way to keep track!
9. Do a Winter Clean Up
Spring clean-ups are cool and all, but what’s better than getting it out of the way before the year ends?
We’ve done a few KonMari purges at our house and it feels SO good to de-clutter our home before the slew of Christmas presents.
Plus, you can donate old clothes you no longer wear to local charities. They need more clothing donations than ever during the winter, after all!
This is one of the best family Christmas traditions to start while your kids are still young. That way, they get in the habit and it will (hopefully) carry on through adulthood.
10. Volunteer At a Local Charity
Not only is helping the less fortunate a wonderful way to learn about others, but it’s also a great way to practice gratitude and spread that Christmas spirit.
Even though many people choose to donate to their favorite charities during the holiday season, getting your hands dirty and gifting your time to others is an amazing way to give back and to create memories with those you love.
We’re planning on doing that next year when we are (fingers crossed) no longer social distancing.
This year, we’ll be collecting items to donate to local families who could use a bit of holiday cheer.
11. Make a Christmas Craft
There are SO many awesome Christmas crafts that it would be impossible to make them all.
Look around your house to see what craft supplies you already have and I bet you’ll be able to find a cute Christmas craft to make with them.
I’m pretty partial to Christmas paper crafts because we always have a stack of colorful paper to use.
You can also easily make paper chains, string popcorn for garland, or collect small toys (like from Happy Meals) and turn them into tree ornaments.
And if you’re looking for an awesome Christmas countdown printable, I have one that’s easy to turn into a fun Christmas decoration!
Doing Christmas crafts are cheap Christmas traditions that work well year after year.
12. Build a Snowman
Building a snowman is probably one of the best FREE Christmas traditions, so if you’re lucky enough to live in a place that sees snow in December, get out of the house and build that snowman (nope, it doesn’t matter if you’re an adult!).
We live in Seattle and while we don’t usually get much snow, this year they are predicting a lot of snow days, so our boys are extra excited!
If you don’t get snowy winters, you don’t have to miss out on the fun.
There are so many easy DIY snowman ideas on Pinterest to get you crafting! No one said your snowman has to be made of snow!
13. Read a book, or “Jolabokaflod”
Jolabokaflod roughly translates into “Christmas book flood” and it’s an Icelandic tradition.
Essentially, in Iceland, people celebrate Christmas Eve by gifting each other books and spending the rest of the evening cozied up by the fire reading and drinking a cup of hot cocoa.
We love this idea because it encourages a bit of quiet time during a season with a lot of over-stimulation.
And babies and toddlers can also participate in this. There are tons of Christmas board books for toddlers they will love thumbing through on their own!
You can head to your local library and check out a bunch of books before winter break starts so you’ll have lots of reading material. This is definitely one of the best easy Christmas traditions!
14. Learn How Others Celebrate Christmas Around The World
Speaking of Jolabokaflod, getting to learn about other countries’ traditions is always a fun way to spend a few hours, especially if you have a travel lover in the family.
You’d be surprised how different Christmas traditions all over the world are!
Like in Germany, kids leave their shoes out and Saint Nicholas fills them with treats.
In Denmark, families set up their Christmas tree in the middle of the room and dance around it while singing Christmas carols.
And in Norway, families hide their brooms on Christmas Eve, so that evil spirits can’t steal them.
These are great Christmas traditions to learn a bit more about the world around us.
15. Create an Advent Calendar
Advent Calendars are one of the best ways to count down the days until Christmas.
And while stuffing them up with candies or toys is the usual way to go, you can switch it up this Christmas and instead, write down a fun list of Christmas tasks and activities to complete before the big day!
A few ideas include building a snowman, writing Santa a letter, decorating the house, or going Christmas caroling!
I hope this post gave you some fun, budget-friendly ideas to celebrate Christmas. Now you know what to do on Christmas without spending a fortune.
You’ll definitely want to add these fun Christmas traditions to your annual celebrations!
Happy Holidays from the minds at Marcie in Mommyland!