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10 Truly Free Christmas Activities

by Shaunna Privratsky

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Christmas has become so commercialized that anytime the word "free" is mentioned, most people view it with suspicion. Yet there are still a few genuinely free things to do, and no, you don't have to be living off the grid to enjoy them.

  1. Volunteer. Before you say you don't have time, consider that you get back so much more when you give of your time or services. Instead of just donating $5 at the grocery store or writing a yearly check, volunteer. If you can't do a day, do an hour. If you can't do an hour, drop off some much-needed items like a bag of pet food at animal shelters, blankets at homeless shelters, or magazines at a retirement home.
  2. Visit or help your neighbors. You might bring over a plate of cookies or a jar of homemade jam and just visit for a half hour. Or shovel the walk for them if you notice they haven't been out for a few days. Hand-deliver a cheery Christmas card to older folks who may not have any holiday plans.
  3. Host a pot-luck dinner. Send out handmade invitations to friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers. Everyone brings a dish, so no one has to pay for a huge expensive meal. You can make suggestions, so a few people bring main dishes, side dishes, desserts, and beverages.
  4. Sing carols. Another fun outing is getting together with friends and singing carols around the neighborhood. Most people know the words to all the holiday favorites, and the comradery will keep you warm even on frosty evenings.
  5. Go to a church service. Just the simple act of acknowledging the true reason we celebrate Christmas can be a joyful experience.
  6. Build a snowman or make snow angels. If your area gets any snow, take advantage of it! Grab your kids (even if they think they are too grown up) and make the funniest, fattest, biggest, or tallest snowman. If there is just a dusting of snow, then lie down and flap your legs and arms to make pretty snow angels. Then head inside for some warm cocoa.
  7. Hold a "white elephant" gift exchange. Instead of resentfully buying another gift as an obligation, make it fun! Gather as many people as possible at work or home and exchange silly gifts you already have or from a thrift store. Set a price limit of $5 and give prizes (free or cheap) for ugliest gift, most unique, prettiest gift, etc. Assign numbers and have everyone draw from a hat, then each number gets to pick a new gift or one that's been opened. There's always that "white elephant" gift that no one wants, so hence the name.
  8. 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.

  9. Make gifts and homemade cards this year. If you are crafty or have a hobby, put it to good use. Make everyone a nice bracelet or key chain if you are into jewelry making. Sew some pretty or fun pillows with fabric you have (great for shipping!). Cards are as easy as an afternoon on the computer or doing crafts with your kids.
  10. See the lights. Drive around town some evening and look at all the beautiful light displays. Some neighbors like to out-do each other, so some blocks may be truly spectacular!
  11. Smile. With the frantic pace of the holidays, sometimes we forget to smile. Just taking a second to be thankful for the moment can bring on a smile. Pass it on to the harried store clerk or the man with too many packages. You'll feel better and brighten someone else's day as well.

Related: 10 Steps to Zap Holiday Stress

No matter how busy you are or how much you need to get done this holiday season, take a moment to enjoy these ten free activities. It will give your wallet a break and hopefully make many happy memories for years to come. Happy Holidays!

Reviewed November 2017

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