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Creating frugal holiday traditions

Posted December 10, 2015

Baking cookies together is a wonderful family tradition!

Is it possible to have an enjoyable holiday season without the high cost?

Here are some tips on creating frugal holiday traditions by Brianna Bell. Her article is brought to us by The Dollar Stretcher.

Creating Frugal Holiday Traditions

The holiday season is a highly anticipated time of year for many families. The scent of fresh baked goods, a blanket of crisp white snow on the ground, and a steaming cup of hot chocolate in front of a warm fire are images that may remind us of the most magical season. But, it's also hard to deny the cost of Christmas. In 2014, the average American planned on spending $861 on gifts during the holidays.

Is it possible to have an enjoyable holiday season without the cost? Tina B. Tessina (Ph.D), psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, believes that the holidays can be special without the added expense and extravagance. She says:

"No matter what you observe: Ramadan, Kwanza, Chanukah, Solstice or Christmas, this is a celebratory time of year. If your Holiday expectations are out of line with what you can really accomplish, you'll be stressed, and fighting is more likely. Holiday rituals or traditions, thoughtfully done, can be a source of bonding and strength. Find out what's really important to yourself and your partner, and pare your celebration down to the important things. Focus less on spending money or decorating, and more on spending time together, doing things you love."

Many families have traditions that are special and unique to them. Creating a family tradition that can be repeated year-after-year creates a special bond and happy memories that will last a life-time.

Here are eight inexpensive ideas for holiday rituals that the whole family can enjoy.

1. Start a Book Exchange: Does your family enjoy reading as a past-time? Consider setting aside special books that are read throughout the year and hosting a Christmas Book Exchange. Each family member is assigned a name and must select a book from their bookshelves to pass on to the assigned relative.

2. Make Salt Dough Ornaments: Younger children will enjoy making salt dough ornaments with their parents, and as they grow, they will love discovering ornaments they made in past years.

3. Create Traditional Dishes that Celebrate Your Family Heritage: The holidays are a wonderful time of year to remember family history and share stories that pass down many generations. Consider making a few traditional dishes to celebrate your family history, expand your palate, and introduce younger generations to the heritage of their past.

4. Go Caroling: Gather a group of friends, or take your family out for a night of caroling around your neighborhood. No matter the size of your party, neighbors will love to be greeted by a group of singing voices sharing their favorite Christmas songs.

5. Take a Yearly Santa Picture: Taking your family to visit Santa is a simple tradition that many families start in the early years with their children. Consider continuing the tradition as they grow. Save your pictures and set them up on a mantle each year. To make it fun for older children, allow them to invite a friend or dress up in funny costumes.

6. Create a Thankful Tree: Have your family write down memories from the year or things that they are thankful for. Write them on pieces of construction paper cut out in different holiday shapes (a tree, a snowflake, a reindeer). Glue a piece of string to the ornament and decorate your tree with your family's joyful memories. Be sure to save the memories in a box and look them over each year together.

7. Volunteer Together as a Family: During the holiday season, there are often many different opportunities to serve others within our local community and beyond. Consider collecting food donations for a local shelter, spending an afternoon at a soup kitchen, or filling a Christmas shoebox full of toys for less fortunate children.

8. Plan a Family Movie Night: There are plenty of family-friendly holiday movies. For example, watch Elf, A Christmas Story, and It's A Wonderful Life. Create a yearly memory by gathering your favorite treats, settling in under warm blankets, and spending an evening watching your family's favorite holiday-themed movie.

It doesn't take a big budget to create a joy-filled holiday season. A bit of creativity and a lot of fun will ensure the entire family looks forward to special traditions that are celebrated year-after-year.

Visit The Dollar Stretcher library for more ways to have a simpler, more meaningful holiday celebration.


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  • Pepper2 Dec 11, 2015

    Ascherer - Sounds like you and your family are going to have a great time celebrating Christmas together....I know your Momma will be so happy to have both her children with her this year....Enjoy and cherish this time together :)

    Raesmom - LOL...There is a coupon for $1 off 4 Kleenex....just in case you need more :)
    I have been using 'antenna tv' for a few years now and I really miss my Hallmark and Lifetime movies...but, I collect new ones every year on dvd so I can watch them whenever I want....Let's just say I have a :)

  • ascherer Dec 10, 2015

    With my family it is all about spending time with love ones. Christmas Eve is celebrated at my Aunt's house with her family. Then my family goes to midnight Mass together. Normally the Saturday before Christmas is our Cheraw Christmas with four generations of us. Cheraw is where Momma was raised. It is all about being with the ones you love, eating food made by love ones, and just being together. I am especially blessed this Christmas because my brother and SIL finally live close enough to be a part of this every year. My nieces are not able to make home this year but my Momma will have both of her children and their spouses at home with her this Christmas.

  • raesmom1612 Dec 10, 2015

    Lol Pepper2 I am completely addicted to these Christmas movies! Just finished ELF (and a box of Kleenex lol crazy hormones!!) and now watching my favorite of all time!!!

    Love that you celebrate moms bday jdouglas, I'm sure she is there in spirit ;)

    Faye-did I bring you one last year during the swap I can't remember. I know we made a few extra's and I have I think about 3 from last year.

  • Pepper2 Dec 10, 2015

    A favorite tradition with family and friends is to share a meal and treats....then gather around the tree and tell stories of favorite memories from childhood....and remember family members and friends who cannot be with us. Always gets everyone laughing and having a great time (sometimes a good cry too)

    Jdouglas, I like that you still celebrate your Mom on her birthday :)

    Raesmom, I like all those "sappy" Hallmark them every year :)

  • jdouglas13 Dec 10, 2015

    I love having holiday traditions, and it's fun to make up new ones as well. Sometimes the new ones help a lot when life circumstances change.

    This year, I got to add what I hope will be a new tradition -- a wonderful holiday dinner with friends. Also, DW and I are going to brave the deer and go see the Lights on the Neuse one night. We've always loved going to see Christmas light displays that people put on.

    One tradition we have always honored and will always continue to honor is having a birthday cake on Christmas for my Mom whose birthday was Christmas Day.

  • Faye Prosser -WRAL Smart Shopper Dec 10, 2015

    raesmom1612 - what great traditions you have with Rae! And those ornaments you made last year were wonderful! Have fun watching ELF tonight!

  • raesmom1612 Dec 10, 2015

    This is a great list Faye! Thanks for the article. Rae and I did Cinnamon ornaments last year in the shapes of snowmen, santas and stars. When I pulled the box down to set up the tree and decorate all I smelled was the cinnamon! Now it could be my extra sensitive nostrils :) but they smelled just as good as they did when we made them last we will be doing those again.

    And with ABC Family doing their 25 days of Christmas movies, it has been fun making almost every night a movie night. We missed it last night due to Disney on Ice, but Tuesday night we watched Polar Express, and tonight we will be watching ELF (moms favorite so I'm sure she will Skype us and watch with us) and after ELF its National Lampoons Christmas Vacation!! I LOVE THAT MOVIE!!! It always puts me in the holiday spirit :)