Are you looking for ways to make Christmas amazing and memorable even when your budget is tight?

If you love Christmas as much as I do, you want everything to be perfect. Listen. I know what it’s like to be trying to enjoy Christmas, except you “ain’t got no money.” Seriously. If you don’t believe me, go back and read where I talked about only having $20 to spend per kid one Christmas.

My goal today is to challenge you to break away from the lie that in order to have a great Christmas you have to spend loads of money on everybody and their brother. You don’t.

17 Ways to make Christmas amazing! Here we go…

Start new traditions. Sometimes you just have to start something new. Or go back to something old. Here’s my list of free or cheap things to do during the Christmas season that everybody will enjoy!

1. Look at Christmas lights.

If your gas envelope is running low on cash, you need to be creative. Ask around and find out which neighborhoods have the best lights in your area. Stick to that one neighborhood if you have to. Drive slowly, pack some hot chocolate for everyone and maybe even a batch or two of sugar cookies. Be sure to have your favorite Christmas album in tow. Then enjoy it! Love every minute!

2. Have a Christmas scavenger hunt.

We are doing this this year, and I am so excited! We are going to get the kids ready for bed and then surprise them with the scavenger hunt while we look at Christmas lights. shhh! Don’t tell them!

**Click HERE to join my mailing list & download my FREE Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt and gain access to my printables library!

Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt frame

**To make the scavenger hunt more interesting, I think we’ll divide up in teams–boys in one vehicle, girls in the other. Set a time to meet back up and whoever has the most checked off their lists wins. We’ll use our phone cameras to make sure no one cheats! 😉

3. Do one thing cool each week leading up to Christmas.

I know we have already missed a week or two by now, but choose something fun each week to do. Be sure to write it on the calendar because if you don’t, you will forget and not do it. On our list is the local parade, a light display, a scavenger hunt, and maybe even a train ride in the swamp!

4. Visit family or old friends you haven’t seen in awhile.

We have two precious families on our list to reach out to this season. I am so excited to see them and love on them! You could make it a little more fun by surprising them with a little treat!

5. Do a random act of kindness.

Our mail lady works so hard. She delivers packages of all sizes here and in all kinds of weather. I know yours does, too. So, this year, why not reach out to someone like that and bless him or her. I’m not sure yet what, but this kind of random act is on my bucket list!

6. Give to someone less fortunate than you.

Participate in a gift giving activity like Operation Christmas Child or a toy drive. This year it’s too late to do OCC, but be ready for next year. However, our church has adopted a group to do the same kind of thing locally. Maybe you have a women’s and kids shelter near you or a homeless men’s shelter. Usually, it doesn’t take much looking around us to find someone less fortunate.

7. Make Christmas cookies.

We do this every Christmas Eve. The cookies may not be beautiful, but the kids have a blast! One thing to note: make it easiest on you if you have lots of littles. If you don’t have the time or energy to do it all, don’t. Buy the cookie dough or make it ahead of time and freeze it. I’ll share my recipe at the bottom of this post. It’s from my high school Home Ec. class, an oldie but a goodie!

17 Free or Cheap Ways to Make Christmas Amazing & Memorable

8. Pray over your gifts.

We are really actually praying over gifts for the first time ever! I’m learning that it is making me want to give more and love on people.  My heart has made such a change that I cannot even explain it to you. Just do it. You will be amazed at what God will do with your heart. No longer am I dreading shopping. Neither am I frustrated because I have no money or no gift ideas. God’s going to show us. I know He is!

9. Give an advent calendar to someone.

Every year the grandparents buy my kids an advent calendar with chocolates. The kids look forward to it each year. Why not pick up and extra one or two for some kids you know who may not have something fun like that to look forward to?

10. Share a meal with friends.

We did this once this season already. And I want to do it again! We shared a meal, sang together, and generally enjoyed one another’s company. Guess how many people were in my 1500 sqare foot house. 19! 4 adults, 15 kids!

11. Make ornaments.

We do this frequently. Sometimes because we don’t have the money to buy new ornaments, but sometimes because we find something really cute we want to make. When Chris and I were first married, we hung out with a dear couple of friends. They were also newly married and equally as broke. So, our first Christmas as married women, she and I made ornaments. Every ornament on our first tree as a married couple was handmade. I loved that tree, and I still use some of those same ornaments year after year–for 18 years!

12. Watch some Christmas movies.

17 Free or Cheap Ways to Make Christmas Amazing & Memorable

If you don’t have Hallmark or Netflix or Prime, check out your local library–it might just be loaded with great movies. I’m providing links, but seriously, check out your local library before you buy! Here are some of our favorites…

Muppet Christmas Carol
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
It’s a Wonderful Life
The Christmas Shoes

The Nativity Story
Home Alone

Home Alone 2
Elf (don’t judge us) 😛
Annabelle’s Wish
The Santa Claus

13. Make gifts.

There are hundreds of DIY gifts out there!  I for one, love when someone takes the time to craft something for me whether it’s treats or hot cocoa mix or a picture frame or scarf. You don’t have to be crafty to make a gift. Ask me how I know. And if your budget just won’t allow for you to buy, but you desire to give a gift, do a search, get creative, make something!

14. Decorate the tree together.

This year was one of the most enjoyable Christmas decorating sessions we’ve had in a long time. And I think it was because I let the little kids help and didn’t fuss when they clumped all their ornaments in one small section. (I rearranged after they went to bed!  😉 )

15. Tell your loved ones how thankful you are for them and purpose to carve out time for them.

This is huge, friend! We had a family who we have been friends with for a long time come to us and each talk about why they loved and were thankful for each of us. It was one of the most touching things I have ever been a part of.

16. Do something new for Advent.

Whether it’s a devotion or stories or a Jesse Tree, find something that will help you point your kids to Jesus. This alone will cause your heart to soften and smile even in the chaos.

17. Open gifts one at a time.

Several years ago, we started the tradition of opening our gifts one at a time rather than all going nuts at once. This made us slow down and delight in one another’s joy! It also takes the chaos out of Christmas morning.

Most importantly, slow down.

Enjoy. Stop wishing it away. Choose joy. Snuggle on the couch or the porch swing. Allow yourself to be spur of the moment if you want to. Remember, the season will come and go very quickly, so we need to make the most of it and enjoy rather than dreading it.

I know what it’s like to feel defeated because you have no money and nothing to give. But what I have learned is that I DO have something to give and ways to make Christmas amazing and enjoyable for everyone in my family! You can, too, girl! Merry Christmas!

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17 Ways to Make Christmas Amazing & Memorable

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies (Yields 3 dozen)

1 1/2 (3) cups sifted flour
1/2 (1) tsp. baking powder
1/2 (1) tsp. salt
1/2 (1) tsp. baking soda
3/4 (1 1/2) cup shortening
1 (2) egg
2 (4) heaping tsp. milk
1 (2) tsp. vanilla
(Amounts in parenthesis are doubled.)

Preheat oven to 375.
Sift together dry ingredients into a large bow.
Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Blend in eggs, milk, and vanilla until smooth.
Roll dough on a floured surface.
Cut in shapes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8 minutes or until lightly golden.

Enjoy baking those cookies, ya’ll! And we use royal icing to decorate. Here’s a recipe for ya!

Brina Lynn

2 comments on “17 Free or Cheap Ways to Make Christmas Amazing & Memorable”

  1. Wow, what a wonderful post! LOVE the idea of praying over gifts. LOVE it. And I’m walking away with an awesome printable & new cookie recipe. Thanks!!!

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