Today I want to share with you some ways we've spent time together having fun and making memories this Christmas without breaking the bank:
1. Story Time - we love our local library's story time each week. It's free, a great way for the kids to interact with other littles their size, cultivates a love for books, and there's always fun music and dancing as well as crafts and coloring. Around this time of year, Santa makes a special visit and has milk and cookies with the kids. Why pay all that money and waste time driving to the mall to see Santa when you can see him at the library for free? They don't know the difference at this age ;)
2. Gift-giving - we really want our children to learn to be generous gift-givers. Around the Christmas season, there can be this mentality of get, get, get so we've brainstormed lots of ways to flip the script with our kids so that Christmas is more about give, give, give. After all, God gave us the greatest gift of all on that very first Christmas night! We also don't want our children to think gift-giving needs to be expensive. Homemade gifts mean so much to grandparents, neighbors and friends. And it's a great way to include your child in on the experience! One of our favorite gifts to make and give are ornaments - family and friends can hang these on their tree year after year! Our favorites are salt dough ornaments (recipe here) and anything with craft sticks!
3. Christmas Tree Shopping - this doesn't really fall in line with the "frugal" part as real trees are definitely more expensive than buying an artificial and keeping it for years, but this is one area where we splurge! Every December we load up the car and go pick out our Christmas tree together. It's a great way to support local businesses, and spend time together making memories.
For more money saving ideas, click here!
4. Host friends or family, but keep it simple. With two small kids and lots of house renovations going on at once, it would be so easy to neglect hospitality. This season of our lives is busy and chaotic - we have the perfect excuse! But taking time to get together with friends and family is something we feel strongly about. It strengthens relationships (esp. if your friends don't have local family to spend the holidays with), is a great way to show your children how to be hospitable to others, and it builds community.
And a dinner with friends and family does not have to be time consuming and cost a lot of money. My tips for making it stress free? Only clean the main rooms - don't kill yourself cleaning the entire house from top to bottom. Close doors for rooms that don't get clean, and focus on the rooms that you will be entertaining in. If you come to our house, chances are our kitchen, dining, living room and front bathroom will always be clean. Just don't open any closed bedroom doors ;) Also, keep your meal simple and cheap. A pasta bake, with rolls and a salad come together quickly (esp if you get frozen rolls and bagged salad mixes!), and free you up to unwind and take a deep breath before your company arrives.
Last but not least, enjoy the holidays. This week, evaluate how you're feeling about your schedule - do things feel hectic and busy? If so, that's a sign you're doing too much. Look at your calendar for the weekend and upcoming Christmas week and decide what can be trimmed...try to simplify things so that you go into the Christmas week feeling excited, energized, and ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus with your friends and family.