How to Make a Magical Christmas Without Buying a Thing

One of the things I remember most from my childhood was having a magical Christmas in our house. Oh to be a kid and believe in Santa! I remember being convinced I heard him and his reindeer on the roof once. It was great as a kid and now I get to make a magical Christmas for my guys.


It’s no secret that Christmas is expensive. Presents, parties, traveling. It all costs SO MUCH MONEY! I’ll admit in our household we’ve overspent more than once then come to January looking at our bank account, we are left wondering what the heck happened.  But over the years we’ve gotten better and found ways to make Christmas fun and special that don’t leave us penniless for months.
One thing I have noticed over the years with holidays is that my guys don’t need huge and elaborate things/gifts but it is often the simple and usually free/inexpensive things they remember. You don’t have to be rich to make Christmas special. Did you hear that?

You Don’t Have to Be Rich

to Make Christmas Special!


Make Reindeer Food

We have done this for several years and my guys love it. You basically just take oats and add either glitter or sprinkles to it then on Christmas eve spread it outside. They remind me every year to do it. We use this printable from Tom Kat Studio. Stick it in a bag, do a printable or not if you don’t want to (though they are pretty easy just to print!) and your good to go.

Watch Christmas Movies

This is a favorite for our family. I can’t count how many times we’ve seen Elf or The Polar Express. We love pretty much any Christmas movie we can get our hands on. You don’t have to go out and buy them either. For our family we add one of our favorites to our collection each year (usually used) but you don’t have to! Watch them on tv, they always have them on during the holidays. Get them from the library, borrow from friends, watch them on netflix. There are so many options. Here is a great list for ideas for kids movies. Add in some popcorn and hot chocolate in PJ’s and you’ve got one of the best ways to spend a cold December evening.

Grow a Candy Cane

We have yet to try this one but we have done doughnut seeds for April Fools and my kids LOVE it.  A great idea from Growing a Jeweld Rose.

Grow a candy cane this holiday, and delight your little ones with the magic of the season. My girls were in awe over this simple to set up MAGIC

Watch the Reindeer Cam

Did you know you can watch the reindeer and see Santa before they make their journey on Christmas? Take a look and you can find them here. They do story times, feedings and you can even see them take off on Christmas!


Make an Advent Calendar

Kids love to do countdowns and it doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be made of anything and filled with anything. No joke, kids don’t care. We have one that is a nativity set that you have a different piece each day but we’ve also done a Lego one, a treat one, a paper chain. You can do a paper chain by iteself or with something written on it. Here is a bunch of great ideas.

Have Santa Write a Letter from the North Pole

You can have your child get a letter from santa, post marked from the North Pole!  All you have to do is write a letter using this free printable and then put that in a larger envelope and mail it to the post office in Alaska.  Then they open it and send the letter you wrote and it looks like it really came from Santa. How awesome is that? If the cost of stamps is too much you can just do the letter or even do something yourself on a sheet of paper. You can find a printable here.

Free Printable Letter From Santa Template


 Santa Sacks

Another tradition that we haven’t done that I want to do. With the kiddos gather toys they don’t use any more and put them in Santa Sacks (it can be anything really, even a pillow case or bag) and then leave them out for Santa to take to other children on Christmas while he’s dropping off presents. We don’t do this officially but I always do a big purge before the holidays to keep the toys from overflowing. This way would be funner for the kids and maybe they would be more willing to give up some things knowing that Santa was going to be taking them to a good home.

Santa Sacks: Simplify Christmas with a wonderful family tradition! Santa has never left WRAPPED Christmas gifts in our home. Santa leaves gifts in the Santa Sacks to be opened on Christmas morning.

Host a Cookie Exchange

My friend has been doing this for years and it’s always a hit. You get to chat with friends and then have some goodies to take home. For the first couple of years I actually brought mini cupcakes because I didn’t want to do plain chocolate chip and I just hadn’t figured out a good sugar cookie recipe but now I have one I love. You can find it here. There are tons of super easy and simple cookies  you can do. Check out Spend With Pennies for some cute free printables.

how to host a cookie exchange

Make a Special Christmas Breakfast

Pancakes are very inexpensive and you can do so many things with them. Kids Kubby has a bunch of great ideas for how to make a cute, fun Christmas breakfast. In our family we already make pancakes and waffles fairly regularly so we do it a little different and have Santa bring each kid their own box of Christmas cereal, the fancy, horrible for you, sugary kind. It is something Santa did for both my husband and I when we were kids so we’re keeping the tradition alive. They love it because we never buy name brand cereals or super sugary ones. Cause let’s be honest store brand Marshmallow Mateys and real Lucky Charms just aren’t the same.

Lots of really cute and easy Christmas breakfast ideas!!

 Make Paper Snowflakes

All you need is copy paper and scissors. Nuff said. If you’re like me you might need a little bit of inspiration or instruction on how to make them. You can find some inspiration from Life is Sweet.

 Sing Christmas Songs

In my family we love music and during Christmas it is so fun to sing songs together! Here is a list of ones that are ready to print off if you want to gather to do it or go caroling.  Also you can get cds from the library as well as tuning into your own local radio station. Most places have stations dedicated to Christmas songs around the holidays.

Preppy Obsessions also has a great list of holiday Pandora stations.

holiday pandora

Make Santa Footprints

So easy and I bet the kids would freak out. We haven’t done this before but we did have my father in law, who owns a Santa suit, stage it so the boys accidentally saw him delivering presents. They still remember it to this day!


Read Christmas Books by Candle light

We love reading Christmas stories and start right after Thanksgiving. If you don’t own any (we have been gifted a few) you can always get them from the library or borrow. Here is a great list that has some of our favorites.

best christmas books for kids

Host a Gift Exchange

We call it White Elephant around here and they are really fun. Mostly they have been in large group settings but I think it would be kind of fun just to do it in a small family setting. Something to try this year. Play Party Pin has some great idea showing how to plan one if you’ve never done one before.

3 Fun and Unique Gift Exchange Ideas by

Go Look at Chrismas Lights

Most towns or communities has places that are decorated more than others so take a drive around the town to see them. Throw in some cookies and hot chocolate and you’re kids will love it. This is one my parents used to do. We’d all around looking at lights and deciding which one was our favorite.

Make the Table Feel Special

Sometimes just throwing some ornaments and some candles on a table can make it seem so special. Often you can do it with stuff you already have, borrow or get from the dollar store. Here is a list of some great ideas.

15 Cheap and Easy DIY Christmas Centerpieces | Christmas Centerpiece Ideas

There you have it! So many fun ideas for making a magical Christmas without breaking the bank. How else do you celebrate Christmas with your kiddos that doesn’t break the bank?

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