6 Fun and Frugal Christmas Traditions to Start This Year

Christmas Traditions

Whether you like it or not, the Christmas season is in full swing with only a little over a week until the big day. We love celebrating different Christmas traditions in our house, especially those that are not giving in to the usual over commercialization of the Holiday. We’re always looking for different frugal Christmas traditions to enjoy, so I thought I’d share a list of some of our favorites…though they might not all be necessarily frugal. ;-)

Go Looking at Christmas Lights

This has become one of our more favorite Christmas traditions in the Frugal Rules home as our little ones have gotten a little older, especially the night after Thanksgiving. There are numerous neighborhoods in Omaha that spare no expense and hire out their Christmas lighting. We can easily spend two or three hours out looking at the lights, which the kiddos absolutely love. We bring them some hot chocolate and homemade Christmas cookies and it makes for a fun evening.

Watching Movies

This is probably one of my favorite Christmas traditions we celebrate. Who can ever get enough Elf or Christmas Vacation come the Holiday season? I could say you could be frugal and get the movie at the library or rent it through Amazon or Redbox, but let’s get real, we watch them every year, so we’ve bought them at Best Buy so we can enjoy them at any time we want. Of course now, we get to compete with Charlie Brown and Polar Express when the kids are involved.

Decorate Your Christmas Tree

Decorating your tree to celebrate the Holidays…real original I know. But, it’s one of our newest Christmas traditions in our house now that the kids are old enough to be involved in helping us decorate the tree. We make an evening of it by having a special dinner that we’ve made together, listen to Christmas music (ok, this is Mrs. Frugal Rules’ part as listening to Christmas music makes me want to drive a railroad spike through my ears) and then go on to decorating the tree.

Give Back

It’s important to remember when you’re looking for new Christmas traditions, that it’s just as important (if not more so) to give as it is to receive. Knowing that, there are many opportunities to give back during the Holiday season and often very frugally. There are various ways you can give back, such as:

  • Volunteering at a local soup kitchen
  • Buying a gift to take to a local shelter
  • Donating gently used winter clothes
  • Purchasing a meal at a local shelter (the ones in Omaha send out asks for help with this and it can usually be done for only several dollars a meal)
  • Go caroling at a local nursing/retirement home

Really, that’s just a sampling of the things you can do to give of your time or resources during the Holiday season. My tip is to include the kids and you’ll likely see it becomes one of their favorite Christmas traditions as well.

Make Your Own Christmas Ornaments

Ok, so I am not particularly the most crafty person I know. In fact, I get no real enjoyment out of it but it can be a great way to celebrate the Holidays by making your own Christmas ornaments. Mrs. Frugal Rules started this last year with our oldest little ones and they love it and you can make it as simple as paper snowflakes or go all out – it’s up to you. If Christmas ornaments aren’t your thing then you can always go with the faithful standby of a gingerbread house – they even have kits at Costco which makes it so easy that even someone like me can do it.

Create Your Own Christmas Traditions

If my list wasn’t enough to get your creative juices flowing, there are a wide variety of things you can find to start Christmas traditions of your own. If you live in a bigger city, there is likely a large number of offerings that you can go to that range from free to being quite spendy. In Omaha alone, we have events offered from places like the botanical gardens to the zoo, not to mention other organizations around the city. Just check online or get a paper and you’re likely to find something that you can start as a Christmas tradition fairly quickly.


What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions? What’s your favorite Christmas movie?


Photo courtesy of: Nicole S

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About the author:

I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. You can connect via Twitter / Facebook.

76 comments on “6 Fun and Frugal Christmas Traditions to Start This Year

    • Lol, that’s awesome Holly! Our six year old enjoys it a lot. I think our middle one enjoys it because he knows that he’ll likely be getting a treat and I think our youngest could give a flip.

    • My mother loves to go around and look at lights on Christmas Eve night. As teenagers, my sister and I got bored with it and started criticizing the lights that weren’t straight, or the house that had some blinking and others not blinking. After a couple of years of this, my mother starting getting in on the critique too, and now it is a favorite thing again, trying to top the other people in the car with witty comments. Probably why I get coal every year in the stocking…
      Mrs. 1500 recently posted..Ask the Readers: Are you a do-it-yourselfer?My Profile

      • That sounds awesome Mrs. 1500! That’s something I could totally see myself doing, though I fear Mrs. Frugal Rules would tell me where to stick my comments. ;)

    • Thanks Michelle. Isn’t that what half of the Holidays are about? :) I guess that’s part of the reason why we see ads for gym memberships all over the place in a few weeks. :)

  1. In my area there is a town that goes all out with their Christmas decorations. You pay a small fee – I think it is $5 and drive through the main strip which takes about 30 minutes when you are cruising along at 5mph. The coolest part though is that they send out their own radio signal for the event and that station plays Christmas music for you to listen to while driving through.
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  2. We’ve been working on making some of our own ornaments, which has been a lot of fun. It’s amazing how far a little construction paper will go! My wife also made some dough and had our son create his footprint in it and we’re giving them out as “mistle-toe” to family members. They’ll get real presents too, but we thought that would be fun.
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  3. I don’t have a favorite Christmas movie…guess I should watch a bunch and find one! If I had kids, Christmas would definitely be less about gifts and more about spending time together. Volunteering, cooking or crafts and playing board games sound like a fun Christmas to me! :)
    Kasey @ Debt Perception recently posted..One Year!My Profile

      • When my sister and I were about 2, my mother had my dad split walnuts carefully down the middle, scoop out the nut meat and glue them back together with a piece of yarn for the hanger. Then my sister and I painted them (this was back in the early 70s, so the colors were lurid) and put glitter on them. These are my mother’s favorite ornaments of all time. Walnuts are easy to split using an x-acto knife or similar. Almost any age can paint them. I have also seen them painted red with white or black seed beads for ‘seeds’ then a green top to make strawberries. Not sure how that relates to Christmas, but they look pretty.
        Mrs. 1500 recently posted..Ask the Readers: Are you a do-it-yourselfer?My Profile

  4. Great list, John! You know I’m a big proponent of family traditions. Polar Express is definitely our favorite holiday movie. We took the Polar Express ride, which probably cemented it forever as the best holiday movie in the girls’ minds. :) My favorite holiday tradition is decorating gingerbread houses since I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. I get such a kick seeing my Mom and my girls and their cousins making them together now. I hope it’s something we always do.
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Giving and Gratitude Make Christmas Truly MagicalMy Profile

    • Thanks Shannon! I think going on a ride like that would cement it in our little one’s minds as well. Our daughter just started doing gingerbread houses with my wife last year and thinking it’ll become a standby as well. :)

    • I’ve heard of the Mission Bay thing, but we never made it to when I lived there. It’ll be a definite though for the next Christmas we spend in San Diego. To you as well Anna. :)

    • Those are all awesome ones to start and do each year Jefferson. You’re right on, it all helps build those memories for the kiddos – which is one of the main goals.

  5. My parents used to take us on car rides to look at christmas lights. We had a lot of fun driving around. On special nights we would swing by McDonalds to get an ice cream cone too : ) Great post!

  6. Wonderful traditions John!!

    My fav is watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas with freinds while sipping egg-nog. A more recent tradition, within the last few years, is to visit my son and his girlfriend on Christmas morning to eat a hearty breakfast and start the day off warmly.

    Thanks again John for a great list and my best to all.

    lyle @ The Joy of Simple recently posted..The Joy Of Simple Gift GivingMy Profile

  7. When I still lived with my parents, I really looked forward to decorating the tree and the house. For some reason, my parents didn’t exactly share my enthusiasm (especially as they got older!), and I would have to bug them every day after Thanksgiving to get the tree down from the attic. I absolutely loved seeing the finished product of our creativity. I also made some of my own ornaments a few years ago, though they didn’t turn out very pretty. My other favorite is just dinner + family gift exchange at my grandma’s house on Christmas Eve.
    E.M. recently posted..Buying Breakfast: Is It Worth It?My Profile

  8. Awesome list! Too many people think they need to spend money during the holidays, and then they just talk about how it’s supposed to be about spending time with friends and family. Great way to spend time and create memories without busting open that wallet!

  9. My favorite Christmas movies are Elf and The Grinch. LOVE them!

    Last year, I got a pile of Christmas books at a library booksale, for $1 each, so that’s been our frugal way to get into the spirit. We also go to a local museum that decorates christmas trees with children’s book themes — not a free excursion, but I have a “buy one get one free” coiupon for the tickets, so that helps.
    Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions recently posted..STAPLES December 15: Black Friday prices all over again!My Profile

  10. My wife and I took our 3 kids to look at Christmas lights last weekend. It is a fun tradition we look forward to every year. Another one we started recently is taking them to the $ store and giving them each $10 and they can use it to buy a gift for everyone on their Christmas list. It is awesome and hilarious to watch and has resulted in some BIG laughs come Christmas morning. The cool thing about it is that nothing in the store is off-limits or too expensive. One of the few times in their young lives where they are not told “No, put it back, it’s too expensive.”
    Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com recently posted..Frugal Hack #18: Call Customer Service and HaggleMy Profile

    • That’s awesome Kyle! I can only imagine how much fun that could turn into depending on what each kid picks out – not to mention the fact that they can get whatever they see.

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