Christmas can be an expensive time, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make it special for your family. Claire St from Stapo’s Thrifty Life Hacks is a lifestyle blogger living in Greater Manchester with her partner and son. Here she explains her top tips for a simple, yet affordable festive traditions that you can incorporate into family life.
Make your own cards
Do you usually send Christmas cards? If you do, then instead of buying them this year, why don’t you make some with the kids? You don’t have to be an artist to come up with something meaningful. With a bit of imagination, a footprint can be turned into some mistletoes and a handprint can be turned into a reindeer antler. People love to receive a handmade card, so not only do you get the joy of crafting, but you get to experience the joy of giving too.
Make your own gift wrap
As well as making your own cards, you can create your own gift wrap. Buy some brown parcel paper and allow the kids to go wild with the paint, felt tips and glitter.
A new decoration
Each year, we get a new decoration for the tree. Sometimes we buy one for a few pounds, but other times we make something for the tree using salt dough. We use cookie cutters to create a festive shape and then paint it.
Visit the local garden centre
This might sound like a strange one, but trust me when I say that you should make a trip to your local garden centre an annual event. You can look at the trees, decorations and lights and often there’s festive music on too. This will get you in the mood for Christmas and it’s a free activity that young children especially love. If the garden centre also has a pet shop or an aquarium, then be sure to call in whilst you’re there. Littles ones love looking at fish and watching the bunny rabbits, no matter what season it is.
Just a word of warning though. Make sure you don’t shop on impulse whilst you’re at the garden centre, because you don’t want a thrifty activity to become an expensive one.
A Christmas Eve film
I’m aware of the Christmas Eve Box tradition, but not everybody has the money to make one and it can also be stressful getting the Christmas Eve Box sorted alongside everything else. So why not make it a tradition that you sit down together and watch a film on Christmas Eve?
You could change the film each year, or watch the same one. In our house we always put Home Alone on on Christmas Eve. It gets us into the festive spirit.
A Christmas stocking
Having the same stocking or sack that comes out each year will help to ensure that your Christmas is magical. I made a Christmas sack and stocking for my son. It cost me about £15 to make them both. But if you’re not particularly crafty, then you can still take part in this tradition; a pillowcase works just as well.
Make a gift
You could make it a tradition to make a gift for a family member each year. This is a fun activity that doesn’t have to cost much money. It also allows kids to get creative and then gift their masterpieces. Over the years, we have made homemade selection boxes, picture baubles and shortbread.
Christmas is a great excuse to spend quality time together as a family. You could go for a winter walk, go for a drive to see Christmas lights within your local neighbourhood, or play a board game with one another.
If your kids are a bit older, then maybe you could do something more lowkey, like watching a film or a boxset. My friend will be watching season 4 of The Crown when her kids return from university. They’ve all made a promise to save watching it for when they’re together at Christmas.
It doesn’t matter what you do, but family time should be a festive priority.
Listen out for sleigh bells
On Christmas Eve, when the kids are about to go to sleep, listen out for the sound of Father Christmas’s sleigh bells. And if Father Christmas isn’t flying over your house at that time, then perhaps you could get somebody in the house to ring a bell under your little one’s bedroom. Christmas is all about magic and using a bell is a way of bringing it to your house without messing about with flour footsteps!
Christmas is a season of giving and it’s an important lesson for children to learn. So why not make donating to a good cause one of your family’s festive traditions?
You could do this by doing a reverse advent calendar (where you add an item of food to a box each day, which you subsequently donate to the food bank). Food poverty is a real issue in the UK at the moment, so this could make a huge difference to a family.
Alternatively, you could also do a festive clear out and donate those items to charity, or you could buy a children’s’ toy to donate to a local toy drive.
Remember, Christmas is about making memories and nobody should feel that they need a lot of money to make them.