Free or very cheap ways to make Christmas magical for young dc(69 Posts)
We have two young dc aged almost 5 and 3 are on a very limited budget for Christmas. I'm not so worried about presents as they havent and won't likely ask for anything specific. It is more the little extra things, for example, I have wanted new decorations for the last few years but can never afford them, can't really afford elf on the shelf etc..
I suppose little magical things I can do, activities we can do together out and about or at home etc. Not just for Christmas day/week but in the run up
As a child my parents had very little money and it always felt so magical but I can't remember any specifics!
Maybe take Christmas books out of the library and have a Christmas themed story every night in December. Perhaps you could make an advent calendar using old Christmas cards, magazine etc.
Holly and ivy. Go out the week before Christmas to a bit of public woodland or a park and gather lots for decoration. It smells so lovely and making a wreath is fun too (lots of YouTube ideas). Add a cheap pack of curling ribbon to tie them up with.
If you have an open fire at home, plan to dry some wood out so you have a good fire at Christmas. My best ever Christmas as a kid we roasted chestnuts on the fire.
Look out for local carol singing. Even consider getting your children to join a church choir. A lot of my wonderful Christmas memories are church choir related (I'm an atheist now I'm afraid).
I loved stir-up Sunday as a kid.
Also adored decorating the tree. Use a cheap pack of chocolate tree decorations. If you have any Hama beads they make great decorations, especially gold silver and translucent ones.
It's a cliché but if you are relaxed and happy at Christmas your kids will definitely remember that.
Reindeer food (porridge oats and glitter) to sprinkle outside on Christmas Eve ( just remember to sweep it up!) Track Santa's progress on Christmas Eve on the Norad website. Go to a children's Nativity service.
To put down phone, social media, texting etc and totally 100% engage with your children.
Play board games, play with their toys with them, walks etc
Card factory do elves for a couple of £ you don’t need a proper one. Have friends round to decorate gingerbread men for Santa - my dd really enjoy that. We do it Xmas eve morning. Look on Pinterest for craft ideas. Our local garden centre has lots of Christmas scenes my dd love going there. Libraries often have stuff going on.
Get a free trial for Now TV and watch all the Christmas Movies. If you start 12 days before Christmas you will have it until Boxing Day.
Poundland is brilliant for Christmas stuff.
Christmas baking. Homemade paperchains, paper snowflakes and lanterns, Pinterest might be your friend here. Christingle, carols or crib service at your local church, don't worry if you don't normally go, they will be used to visitors for these services. Have a look in Poundland or charity shops for Christmas themed things. Have a look at the local tourist information site to see what's on.
Decorations wise we go all out with balloons the kids love them and help decide how to decorate the house with them.
I did egg box christmas trees with 6 yr olds at work which was cheap and fun. Also used old magazines and made pop up cards, which you could make nativity or father christmas related.
We tend to buy most gifts second hand but buy early before prices start to increase.
Special december food is things like warm squash with raisins in, popcorn with a little honey (or sugar syrup) on it, blankets and a film evening (afternoon really), buffet type meals (normal food just served differently), home made bread or cakes cooked as a family (flat bread is made with just milk and flour, or a pound cake with some hot chocolate/nuts/raisins added).
Lots of time together outside be that walks, bikes, park, ducks etc and back for hot chocolate, warm squash etc.
The same as you our parents didn't have much money but I don't remember what they did to make it nice.
Make paper chains and gingerbread men.
Join a group of Carrol singers
Take them to see the local Christmas lights being turned on.
Making paper snowflakes to stick on your windows, follow YouTube or Pinterest for some more intricate ones.
Buy a tube of that powdered snow for £1 and pretend that Santa's been and left snowy footprints everywhere.
I really like another pp idea about the library books. I had loads of Christmas books and we read a different one each night.
Also agree with the Carol singing see if there are any churches or local places to go join in.
We've made our own decorations for years. I buy some cheap felt and cut out shapes and little holes then with plastic needles(that I got from a kit in wilkos) and wool we see them together.
Ooh a definitely go for walks and get holly and ivy and some logs even if you don't have a fire the smell in the house is lovely.
I do raindeer food on Christmas Eve. Then raindeer poo* on Christmas Day
* just balls of either nuts and dates or apricot with some edible glitter.
Yes I bought an elf for £4 last year in the card factory and 7 year old loved it.
Oh and I made paper chain links out of a bunch of DS preschool paintings
Pick up some Christmas stories from the library and read one every night in December.
We don't do elf on the shelf but we have a little robin (you could even make one!) that hides each night, he's Santa's pet who flies around making sure that everyone is being kind. The kids love finding him to say Good Morning!
You can have new decorations, make them with the children and maybe let them choose one thing each for the tree from Poundland? Salt dough and paper snowflakes are cheap and easy.
Go out for walks to collect pine cones, Holly leaves etc and make a nice wreath or table decoration. Even if it's just chucking them in a bowl.
I used to love going for a walk/drive to see all the houses with lights and then judging which was best
It sounds naff but spending time with them uninterrupted is the best thing you could do and it's free which is a bonus!
Talc Father Christmas footprints (I cut a stencil out of card myself - based on DP's shoe patter) on Christmas morning went down very well - the kids were so excited following them to the presents under the tree! Discussing how santa got in the window (in a flat, no chimney) etc.
Something like this. But the kit I got years ago was a bit more simpler for small children to do
Christmas books (from library)
Christmas dvds (from library)
Bake Christmas cookies
(As PP said) reindeer food
Play Christmas carols
Make some cheap Christmas decorations (paper chains / salt dough decorations)
Make/write Christmas cards for family together
Special treats like hot chocolate (when you’d normally say no)
Leave some ‘Santa footprints’ in flour on Christmas Eve
A letter from Santa left a few days before Christmas saying he’s packing his sleigh and getting ready.
Take lots of photos, cherish the memories
Have a walk in the park and collect pine cones, you can decorate them with paint and glitter and hang on the Christmas tree. Watch Christmas movies and have popcorn my 4 year old loves family movie time and it hardly costs anything. You can get gingerbread houses to decorate quite cheaply and they keep kids entertained for a while. Also I tend to buy Christmas craft stuff in the sales after Christmas as they are heavily reduced and I save them for the following year so I have stuff to do with my ds in the weekend. A cheap Christmas colouring or sticker book goes down well you can get them in poundland or homebargins etc. A Christmas book from the library is a fab idea you can also rent films from there cheaply.
Go for walks to collect pine cones, ivy etc and make your own decorations. Places selling Christmas trees will often let you have the branch offcuts for free.
Go and look at Christmas displays in shops, or streets with lots of outdoor decorations.
Churches usually have lots of free stuff going on: carols, Christine's, crib service etc.
Bake Christmas biscuits together and let them go wild with icing.
Making salt dough decorations.
Get some Christmas/ winter themed books from the library.
You dont need to buy the official elf on the shelf. I got a much more tasteful elf for half the price of the official one. And I have a friend whose family have a teeny elf who visits over advent but who just leaves notes.
Make paper chains and/or cut out snowflakes to decorate with.
Teach them some Christmas carols. You could even get people together to go carol singing.
Make cards together - one year I made loads of cards by making a potato print stamp of a Christmas tree, and getting the kids to stamp the trees and then decorate them with glitter and stick on stars.
You could do Christmas good deeds - things like picking up litter in the park, or making biscuits for a neighbour or taking stuff they've outgrown to a charity shop.
Watch the Cbeebies panto and find other good Christmas television.
Google or look on Pinterest for children's Christmas craft ideas.
We got a soft toy elf from the pound shop and he hides in a different place each morning.
You can make some decorations easily and cheaply. As a child we had some that were match boxes wrapped in silver foil and then tied like a parcel with glittery thread (both parents were smokers so lots of match boxes).
Tissue paper balls are also easy.
One year our 'tree' was a branch my mum found and then spray painted silver - it was in the 1970s though.
Make some of the things you would buy eg cake, pudding. You could make a cake now, seal it away and then get the kids involved with icing it.
Instead of an advent calendar print out a calendar from Word or which ever word processor you use with an activity for each day (are you a SAHP?) 1st December write cards, 2nd December write letter to Santa etc.
You could make edible tree decorations.
6th December is St Nicholas day, in lots of Europe children put their shoes out at night, in the morning they find sweets and small gifts in them. Do you have any baby shoes from when they are little - they would easily be filled with chocolate coins.
Have a look at local church or schools that have an Xmas fair, there is usually a Santa to visit and it's often more of a 50p donation than £5. My dad was Santa for a couple of years at the local church fair, they didn't charge for under 2 year olds but they still got a picture with santa.
One of my most favourite Christmas memories as a child was going around looking at everyone's houses on an evening and seeing all their Christmas lights
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