Put the emphasis on things of value

Creating Frugal Holiday Traditions

by Brianna Bell

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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. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, the average American consumer plans on spending $967 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. 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.
  4. Stick to your holiday budget by saving every dollar that you can! Receive cash back on your purchases when you use one or more of these 14 favorite cash back shopping sites.

  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Reviewed November 2017

Take the Next Step:

  • Try some of these ideas when Santa can't afford your child's wish list.
  • From food to family to fun, save on every aspect of your holiday with The TDS Frugal Holiday Guide.
  • If circumstances have put your family in debt, what better gift to give them and yourself than the gift of financial freedom? Get started today.
  • It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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