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Festive (and Frugal) Family Fun

Festive (and Frugal) Family Fun
Kate Loweth

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s also the most expensive time of the year, especially for those of us who have to play Santa for the little ones in our lives. In addition to buying gifts for all those people on your list, the holiday season is full of sleigh rides, photos with Santa and other activities that can send your budget into a tailspin.

Holiday memories do not have to cost a ton.  Here are some ideas to get you in the holiday spirit.

Cookie Decorating Party

One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions is decorating sugar cookies. As a child, my mom would make sugar cookies in the shapes of gingerbread men, candy canes, Christmas trees and bells. We each got our own set of cookies to decorate with frosting and spxmas4rinkles.

I have continued this tradition with my own kids and we invite friends over to join in the festivities. Sugar cookies are very inexpensive to make but even if you aren’t a baker, check your local grocery store as I have been seeing undecorated sugar cookies available for you to bring home and decorate yourself.

Frosting for these cookies is as easy as adding a tiny bit of water and food coloring to some powdered sugar. You want it thick enough to be able to spread and not so thin that it will be dripping off your cookies (add more powdered sugar if you need to make it thicker).

Sprinkles are often on sale this time of year. Check out a craft store like Michaels for the best selection.

Using paper plates, plastic knives for spreading and a plastic-covered tablecloth (I get mine in a holiday print at Target) will make cleanup a breeze.

Once the cookie decorating fun is done, your friends get to take their tasty creations home with

Neighborhood Christmas Lights

An activity that my kids love that is very low-cost is driving around our neighborhood looking at all the Christmas lights. We make this activity special by heating up some hot chocolate with mini marshmallows for everyone and blasting Christmas music in the car.

Check out websites like to see if there are any special displays in your area that are worth a little detour. Just enter your zip code and view a list of neighbors with photos of their amazing displays.

Christmas Movie Week

There are so many fun Christmas movies to watch with the kids from oldies like Frosty the Snowman, Miracle on 34th Street and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to more recent favorites like Elf and The Nightmare Before Christmas. We like to pick our favorite seven movies and we xmas3
watch one a night for the week leading up to Christmas.

Add some festive treats to make movie night even more fun. Crunch up some candy canes and add them to a bowl of popcorn and holiday M&Ms for a snack everyone will love.

Peppermint Puppy Chow is another favorite snack for holiday movie night. Melt white chocolate in the microwave and pour it over some rice chex cereal. Put the cereal with chocolate in a zip-top bag and add crushed candy canes and powdered sugar. Zip closed and shake to coat. Yum!


Christmas Caroling

If you already have the "Glee" Christmas album memorized, then caroling will be right up your alley. Grab some friends, your hot chocolate and your Santa hats and walk through your neighborhood spreading holiday cheer with your rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Too cold where you live? Call up a retirement home in your area to see if you can stop by to sing for the residents.

The holidays are expensive – there’s no doubt about that. But making memories for your family does not have to cost a lot. Gather everyone together to do something fun and the kids will be talking about it for years to come!



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