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Holiday Family Fun: 13 Low-Cost Ideas

'Tis the season to spend quality time with your loved ones. Get inspired by these 13 free and low-cost family fun activities. Let the festive games begin!

Holiday Family Fun: 13 Low-Cost Ideas

It's the most wonderful time of the year. How will you celebrate the season? There are so many things you can do to spread holiday cheer. From decorating cookies to making DIY ornaments and enjoying warm drinks, the fun doesn't have to stop just because you're on a tight budget! Get inspired by these 13 activities for free and low-cost family fun and start making festive memories.

1. Throw a holiday movie marathon

Go through our list of family-friendly festive films and turn your home into a movie theater. Find comfy seating, dim the lights, and serve bowls of popcorn for an authentic experience. Don't have a streaming subscription? No big deal, you can check out movies from your local library for free.

2. Play holiday party games

Challenge your family to a festive game night. You could play charades, guess-the-drawing, or even turn karaoke into a competition. There's only one very important rule: everything must be holiday-themed. Play in teams, keep track of the score, and give out prizes (like candy canes) to the lucky winners.

3. Host a holiday cookie bake-off

Have fun in the kitchen with a holiday cookie bake-off. Choose a sugar cookie recipe you like, bake it with your family, and have everyone decorate their own treat. For example, you could put star-shaped stencils (made from blank pieces of paper) on top of the cookie and dust it with powdered sugar. This is a great activity to do with kids because it nurtures their creativity while teaching them the basics of baking.

4. Make your own holiday décor

One of the most obvious budget-friendly festive season ideas is to make your own décor. It's fun, adds cheer to your home, and saves you money! Brainstorm ideas with your little ones and have them help you with the DIY. Why not make a popcorn and cranberry garland with twine? Or fake snow to decorate the windows? Use supplies you already have (or that you can get for cheap) and let the ideas flow.

5. Stock a holiday drink bar

Warm beverages are so comforting. Making these cozy drinks at home will save you money. Hot chocolate, eggnog, hot toddies — there's plenty to choose from! Let children choose their own drink and put them in charge of making it (with your supervision, of course). It's a delicious lesson in independence.

6. Play holiday printout games

You can find dozens of holiday-themed printouts online. Download word searches, riddles, and mazes, then print them at home or at your local library for a few cents. These brain-stimulating activities keep children entertained. You might even find harder festive challenges for adults to keep your brain engaged.

7. Craft bird feeders

Forage a pine cone, cover it in peanut butter, and stud it with sunflower seeds. Attach a loop made of twine to it and hang your homemade bird feeder on a shepherd's hook or tree branch within 3 feet of a window (to avoid window strikes). Winter birds will flock to your yard. How many can your family identify?

8. Design a family holiday card

This wouldn't be a list of affordable family holiday activities without mentioning festive cards. Bring out the art supplies, get everyone involved, and let your collective creativity run free. To save money, you could even scan your festive masterpiece (with a scanner or an app on your smartphone) and send it to loved ones digitally.

9. Make DIY presents

If you're exchanging presents this year, consider making homemade gifts. They're unique, a blast to make, and affordable. You could make homemade soy candles for an aromatherapy fan, hot cocoa kits for chocolate lovers, and whatever else feels special. DIY gifts are great for Secret Santa and as stocking stuffers.

10. Tell holiday stories in a circle

Sit with your family in a circle and make up a holiday story from your collective imagination. One person says one sentence, the next adds to it, and so on around the circle. Will you come up with something wholesome, funny, or eery? Record or write down the story to keep these memories forever.

11. Listen to holiday podcasts and audiobooks

Festive podcasts and audiobooks could be just what your family needs to get into a cheerful holiday mood. Bundle up with a warm drink in front of the fireplace (or a video recording of one, to set the vibes) and get immersed in the storytelling. Podcasts are available for free online and your local library likely has audiobooks you can check out for free, so you won't have to spend a dime.

12. Go for a festive stroll

Take a walk through your neighborhood to look at decorations in people's yards. It's worth getting out of the house, even if it's cold! Ask your little ones to choose a favorite house or play a game of I Spy to keep them entertained. Making new frugal holiday traditions for families is so easy.

13. Volunteer in your community

Keep the holiday spirit alive when you give back to those around you. Volunteer your family's time to help at the food bank, pick up trash from the park, or give an elderly neighbor a hand with everyday chores. Children are never too young to learn how to be generous, and it's never too late to get involved in your local community.

Find even more ways to save over the holidays

Need some extra help to throw a memorable holiday party without splurging? You'll find unmissable discounts and deals in our Coupon Book. Check if the money-saving booklet is available in your area to make your party a hit!