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24 Frugal Family Fun Activities for Christmas

Frugal Parenting (featured column)
Submitted by Rachel Keller

"The best Christmas gift of all is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up with one another." - author unknown

Often in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we neglect the most important people in our lives: our family. This Christmas, take time to remember the real reason for the season while having fun with your family. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

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1. Attend a Christmas play or performance, such as "A Christmas Carol," "The Nutcracker," or "The Messiah". Even if you are unable to attend a performance, you may be able to watch it at home in front of a cozy fire. Serve homemade popcorn and have fun

2. Watch some old movies, such as "It's a Wonderful Life" or "The Sound of Music".

3. Begin a giant jigsaw puzzle on December 1 and try to finish it by New Year's Day. This is an excellent way for families to have fun together and learn some important skills. Even young children can help find border pieces or sort by colors.

4. Collect your children's old crayons. Peel and place into Christmas candy molds. Place in pans of hot water to melt, or if the molds are heat resistant, melt at low setting in the microwave or oven. Cool and let your children create Christmas cards and pictures for others with their "new crayons".

5. Make your own wrapping paper on white tissue paper or brown paper bags using commercial stamps or a design cut onto a potato. Children love to stamp, but they may want to paint or color too.

6. Have a birthday party for Jesus. This could be a family activity or you may want to have a real birthday party with your children's friends.

7. Read Christmas stories each night before bed. The stories can be above a child's reading level if you read them out loud. (See Unforgettable Read-Aloud Christmas Stories for a detailed list of excellent Christmas stories and books.)

8. Read the Christmas story from the Bible or from a children's book and act it out.

9. Obtain Bible flash cards or felt Bible characters to tell the Christmas story.

10. Let your children use the Bible flash cards and figures to tell the story. Most children seem to enjoy telling stories using visual aids.

11. After your children become familiar with the Christmas story, take them to a retirement center or a shut-in and let them tell the story. Both the teller and the hearers will be blessed!

12. Christmas is a lonely time for shut-ins, widows, and residents at a nursing home. Take time to share yourself with them.

13. Memorize the first part of Luke 2 and recite together as a family.

14. Go Christmas caroling. Afterward, enjoy hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.

15. Make homemade Christmas ornaments and decorations. (See our Annual Homemade Christmas Ornaments Contest)

16. Make homemade Christmas cookies and candy and give them out to neighbors (get free recipes at our Cookie Club).

17. Sponsor an underprivileged child or buy Christmas gifts for children of prisoners (Angel Tree Project). Have your children get involved in selecting the gifts. One of our best Christmases was the year we decided to celebrate simply and buy gifts for a needy family.

18. Study how other cultures and countries celebrate Christmas. Try incorporating a foreign tradition into your celebration.

19. Begin a Christmas journal. Record your family events. In future years, you can reminisce about past holiday seasons.

20. Put together a Christmas photo scrap book. Include pictures as well as favorite cards and letters.

21. Make an Advent candle. Purchase an eight-inch candle. Paint 25 green-and-red horizontal stripes around the candle (using non-flammable, non-toxic acrylic paints). Starting on December 1, burn one stripe each night.

22. Make an Advent calendar.

23. Organize a living nativity scene.

24. This idea comes from A Mother's Manual for Holiday Survival by Kathy Peel and Judie Byrd (published by Focus on the Family). Host a Friendship Stew dinner party. Have each guest bring an item for your stew. Start cooking as soon as the guests arrive. Serve "Snowballs" for dessert.

Friendship Stew

2 pounds ground beef
4 one-pound cans Italian-style crushed tomatoes
2 medium white or yellow onions
4 large potatoes
1 one-pound can yellow corn
1 one-pound can green beans
1 8 1/4 ounce can sliced carrots
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. crushed oregano
1 6-ounce frozen green peas

Brown the ground beef and drain. Place canned tomatoes in a four-quart stock pot. Peel and coarsely chop onions and potatoes. Add to tomatoes. Add beef and remaining ingredients, except the peas. Bring the stew to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer slowly for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add peas and cook five minutes longer. Serve with bread. Serves about 8. You can make this stew by leaving out any one of the ingredients, except the tomatoes.


Shape any flavor of ice cream into two-to three-inch balls, quickly rolling each in coconut. Place balls on a cookie sheet and freeze. To serve, place one or two balls in a bowl. (If desired, you can put chocolate syrup in the bowl first.)

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Copyright © 2005 by Rachel Keller. All rights reserved.

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