Budget holiday ideas for your family


By Jennifer Halter

Holiday traditions, events and activities certainly don’t have to cost a lot! With a little
creativity and planning, you and your family can have a magical vacation without breaking your
budget. Here are some low-cost, family-friendly vacation list items to get you started.

Cooking together

Whether it’s baking your favorite cookies and desserts or cooking a meal for the neighborhood potluck,
kids will have fun helping in the kitchen while learning valuable skills. Allow them to help you with
plan what to prepare by researching online or reading cookbooks. Together, create a
shopping list and budget. While preparing and cooking, let the children help measure, chop and
mixed. If you bake cookies, allow them to channel their artistic side while creating their edible masterpieces.

Have a holiday movie night

Pick your favorite vacation movie (or two) and have a movie night at home. Choose from the big ones
selection on TV, or select one from your personal collection. Prepare your favorite theater snacks like
popcorn and nachos. You can even get boxed cinema-style candy at the dollar store as a special.
to treat. Best part of movie night at home? Anyone can wear their comfortable pajamas.

Make your own ornaments

Check out local craft supplies and dollar stores for inexpensive items to create your own vacation
ornaments. Make them for your own tree or to give as a gift. (Everyone loves a homemade gift!) Be sure to
include the year on your ornament, so that you can remember the time you did for years to come.

Plan an evening with friends

Celebrate the season with your friends by inviting them to a fun meal together. You can schedule a full
traditional party with all the trimmings (ask everyone to bring a dish!) or keep it simple by ordering a pizza and making a fun dessert!

Create your own greeting cards

Make your own cards using recycled card faces from last year or use your own supplies such as card stock,
construction paper, markers, etc. Give joy to those in need by depositing your homemade cards at local nursing homes, hospitals and veterans organizations. They will appreciate knowing that your family is thinking of them.

Take a holiday light tour

Pack the family in the car, put on your favorite holiday songs and drive around the neighborhood to check out the illuminated holiday displays. Add to the fun by having each family member rate each one and vote for their favorite.

After your night out, share your favorites with friends or on social media to cheer up others who might want to plan their own fun night out.

Build your own hot cocoa bar

Whether you do it with your family or share the love with your neighbors and friends, making your own hot chocolate bar is a fun and economical option for those chilly nights of the season. Prepare a batch of hot chocolate and collect a variety of add-ins, such as peppermint sticks, marshmallows, and whipped cream. It would be a great idea to start or end an evening of carols or socializing with the neighbors.

Read near the tree

If you have a Christmas tree, spend a snuggle night in your pajamas with some good books on the
season. Allow each child to take turns reading a book of their choice for the family. Need book ideas? Now is a great time to visit our local public libraries to purchase vacation titles. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out the huge selection of DVDs to help pass the time while the kids are at home on a break!

Give back

It is important to teach children to give to others. Some great ways to help others while on vacation

  • Volunteer at a local pantry sorting / storing donations or serving a meal
  • Visit a retirement home and spend time with residents
  • Assemble bags with toiletries and snacks to donate to homeless shelters or local outreach groups
  • Donations of toys, books and clothing to charities

No matter how you choose to spend it, make this holiday season one full of happiness, joy and greatness.
memories that you and your loved ones will cherish for years to come.

Jennifer Halter is the editor of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville / Manassas,
free online calendars and resources to help you have fun as a family all year round.

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