Are you sick and tired of spending tons of money around the holidays on things that weren’t worth the time, effort, and money, weren’t memorable or just added to your stress?

Yeah, me too.

Instead, we are all probably better off focusing on creating family traditions that equate to life long memories of our kids and ourselves. These traditions need not be expensive.

This post is full of cheap and easy Christmas traditions for kids that they will love and remember for the rest of their lives!

{This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy here}

Cheap and easy Christmas traditions your kids will love!

Honestly, spending a lot of money on Christmas activities WILL go unnoticed by your kids. They just want to do fun stuff with their family.

Related Post: Have the Best Christmas without Going Broke. 

Below, get your list of 15 Cheap and Easy Christmas Traditions your kids will love!

Cheap and Easy Christmas Traditions your Kids will Love!

1. Christmas tree decorating!

I know this might sound overly simplistic because it is. The simpler the better! My kids (currently 7 and 4) love this tradition! They can’t wait to do this each year.

They get to put the decorations anywhere they want on the tree. After I go and move some of them around so they aren’t all clumped together but they don’t know.

We also play Christmas music and drink hot chocolate. They get so excited!

COST: If you don’t buy any new decorations, this will cost you ZERO!

This one is at the top of my list because for us this is probably the cheapest and easiest Christmas tradition my kids seem to love the most.

2. Drive around and look at Christmas lights.

Again, super simple but the kids (and adults) love it! If you know of a neighborhood near you that is known for really doing it up, go there. Easy.

House Christmas lights

You can take it a step further by making it into a scavenger hunt. Make a list of a bunch of things you are likely to see, give each kid a copy of the list and they can cross them off as they see them. If you want a ready-made list, check out Iowa City Moms Blog for a ready-made scavenger list.

COST: The cost of fuel to drive around.

3. Make a gingerbread house.

Gingerbread house

What kids don’t love this! They get to build a house out of cookie, icing and candies! Then as the days go by the can take a little candy or cookie here or there.

COST: The kits cost about $20 – 25.

4. Candy cane hunt.

Candy canes

Yup again so easy. I like easy. Buy a bunch of little candy canes and hide them all over the house just like an easter egg hunt.

COST: pack of small candy canes go for about $10.

5. Christmas advent calendars.

Red box Advent calendar

If you are opposed to the crappy chocolate advent calendars, you can make your own or buy reusable ones.

If you make your own, instead of candy you can put in little toys, stickers, bracelets, tattoos, etc

6. Family room campout.

So, I wouldn’t recommend doing this on Christmas Eve but a night leading up to Christmas. Build a fort in your family room, put an air mattress in it,  watch a movie and have a sleepover! If you put a string of twinkle lights around it even better but not necessary. 

COST: If you don’t have an air mattress, you could use couch cushions or pillows. Or ask friends if they have one you can borrow. So the cost can definitely be ZERO.

7. Wrapping paper surprise.

Pick one print of wrapping paper per child and wrap all their gifts in it and but don’t label them! 

On Christmas morning, reveal who’s wrapping paper is whose. One way to do this is to hide a piece of the wrapping paper in their room while sleeping and they have to find it.

It’s so exciting because of the built-up anticipation!

COST: Zero! You were going to buy that wrapping paper anyways.

8. Personal video from Santa.

Portable North Pole video from Santa

Sign up for Santa to send your kids a personalized video to each one of them from Portable North Pole. It’s awesome to watch them watch the video and see that Santa knows so much about them! Magical!

COST: Zero!

9. Santa’s boot prints.

Leave a cookie sheet with flour around your fireplace or Christmas tree where Santa can’t help but step. Oops Santa steps in the flour and makes boot prints on the floor. 

Your kids will be screaming “Santa came, Santa came!”

COST: Zero!

10. Make reindeer food.

Rudolph and the other reindeer aren’t the only ones who get hungry on the big night. After all, they are the ones who have to do all the flying around the world!

Check out for an eco-friendly reindeer food recipe.

Reindeer food recipe that is eco friendly
Eco Friendly Reindeer Food

Cost: If you had to buy all the ingredients, I recommend going to the bulk section and only buying what you need. I am going to guess this would cost you under $10.

Cost Savings Tip: You can create your own recipe with items you already have. I doubt Rudolph is picky!

So, once you have your reindeer food made leave a bowl of it outside for Rudolph and the other reindeer.

11. Watch a Christmas movie.

The Grinch

Pick a family favorite Christmas movie and watch it every year. Make a really big deal out of it.

Plan the event with the kids like what day you will watch it and ask them what they want to have for snacks during the movie. You could make it a little more special by always having a special snack or meal you wouldn’t have at any other time of the year. This is definitely a cheap and easy Christmas tradition your kids will love!

Cost saving tip: If you don’t have a movie, check out your local library and see what you can check out, or borrow/swap with a friend. 

Here is a list of awesome Christmas movies suitable for young families:

  • Elf
  • The Christmas Chronicles
  • A Christmas Story
  • Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Home Alone
  • Frozen
  • Jack Frost
  • Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Santa Clause
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Kung Fu Panda Holiday
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Polar Express
  • Miracle on 34th Street

COST: You should be able to get a movie for free if you follow my cost savings tips. Price of the snacks, lets say $15.

12. Do an activity draw.

This one is super fun! Think of a bunch of simple Christmas activities you can do during the month of December with your family. Write each one out on a piece of paper and then put it in a bowl and let your kids take turns picking a new one each day.

If you are super busy with other things like working, keep these activities very simple. You could also split them up into two draws: one for work/busy days and one for days that you have more time. Some of the other ideas in this post might fit nicely into this one.

Here are a bunch of examples:

  • Have hot chocolate 
  • Go skating
  • Go tobogganing 
  • Make homemade Christmas cards for family/friends/teachers
  • Have a funny Christmas photoshoot 
  • Build a snowman
  • Make snow angels
  • Make homemade gifts for your neighbors
  • Make tree ornaments
  • Wrap gifts
  • Bake and decorate sugar cookies
  • Read a favorite Christmas book
  • Donate a gift to Santa’s Anonymous

If you need lots of simple activities such as reading a Christmas book, put a bunch of these in the draw.

FREE PRINTABLE: I created a printable for you with these ideas, to make your life easier. That way you just print it off and cut it up! Click here to get the Christmas Activity Draw Printable!

Cheap & Easy Christmas traditions to do with kids

13. Night before Christmas box.

Okay, so this one might take a little more planning than most of the others but I think this one has awesome life-long-memory staying power!

The list of this is that you put make a night-before Christmas care package for your family that is full of things for Christmas Eve such as pajamas, a movie, hot chocolate, a book, etc. 

Night before Christmas box

One caution here is that a person could really go overboard and buy everything for it – Pjs, movies, books, etc. You don’t have to do that!

This is from Oh My! Creative and you get all the printable to go along with it for free!

To make this a cheap and easy Christmas tradition your kids will love, here are some cost-saving tips:

  • Grab any decent sized box if you don’t have a fancy one like in the photo and just wrap it in Christmas wrapping paper.
  • Check out your local thrift stores to see what kinds of Christmas movies, books, and little stuffed animals that are easy to wash. 
  • Ask your friends if they have Christmas stuff to swap. That way it is new to both households.
  • Go to the dollar store. They often have little mugs, pouches of hot chocolate, and candies. 

Cost: Hard to say but I think it can be kept quite cheap if you use what you have, swap with friends, and shop at dollar and thrift stores. I think you should be able to keep it under $30.

14. Write to Santa.

One super cheap and easy Christmas tradition your kids will love is to sit down with them and have them write a letter to Santa explaining how they have been good throughout the year and what is on their Christmas list this year.

If you are in the U.S. Check out USPS for instructions on how to send letters to Santa.

In Canada, if you mail your letter to this address: North Pole HOH OHO, Canada. Canada Post will ensure it makes it to Santa in the North Pole.

Cost: Zero!

15. Make a Hilarious Christmas Video E-card with Jib Jab

Oh my goodness, these videos are so funny. You can create a Christmas video e-card to share with your friends. Your kids will go bananas! The belly laughs will be awesome. This is definitely one of those Christmas traditions your kids will love. 

To get started go to Jib Jab and create a free account.

COST: Zero!

Final Word.

I like to believe that once my kids are older they will reflect on their childhood Christmases with warm memories and will realize that money, although important in the support of our health and wellbeing, it is not the end all or be all to making happy memories.

If you feel overwhelmed, just start with one or two things. By no means do you need to do everything I have listed above. Start with what appeals to you.

That about sums it up. So, now it’s your turn.

Please leave a comment with your cheap and easy Christmas traditions your kids love. I would love to hear!

I sincerely hope you found this post to be helpful and I deeply appreciate you reading it.

If you like this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you shared it!