UPDATED: December 09, 2022

Do you feel like you can’t splurge on holidays this year as much as you used to? You’re not alone, and it’s not surprising. 

The worldwide inflation rate is expected to reach 8.8% this year, and we’re already dealing with high costs of goods.

Still, Christmas is for everybody who wants to celebrate it, and you don’t necessarily have to spend big time.

There are cheap and free Christmas activities that you can do with your family.

Don’t worry, we got you covered! We’ve rounded the top inexpensive and free Christmas activities for families. 

One of the best activities we shared could turn your repetitive Christmas into an exciting one. So, read until the end, and don’t miss out!

Create a holiday greeting video

One option you could do with your family to stay in touch with long-distance friends and relatives is to create a holiday greeting video.

The past two years have changed how people celebrate holidays with relatives and friends. We have a hard time traveling due to some restrictions in place.

Some people just want to avoid crowded places because COVID-19 is still out there, and getting sick nowadays could hurt your finances.

It’s not that expensive to create a video these days. You and your family could just use your phones to film. 

Editing is also a lot easier because there are free apps on your phone that you can use, such as:

If you want to be more meticulous, you can use your computer to edit your footage using iMovie or Adobe Premiere Pro.

The ideas for creating holiday greeting videos are endless! You can create a simple greeting with your family, or you can come up with more creative stuff like creating a skit. 

You can also create a montage of how the past year has been (milestones, life updates, etc.) with your family to let the recipients catch up on what’s going on with your family.

Creating a holiday video is not just for the people you will send them to. It’s also a way for your family to bond – from brainstorming to filming to editing and sending the video. It’s a whole process that your family can enjoy.

Enjoy Christmas movies together

Keeping it simple doesn’t mean it’s less enjoyable. You can have fun during the holidays by watching Christmas movies together.

It’s a classic activity that gives your family a chance to spend some quality time and bond with one another. 

Rotten Tomatoes has listed the 100 best Christmas movies of all time, which include:

  • Home Alone
  • Die Hard
  • Elf
  • The Polar Express

You can also choose a movie to watch based on a poll for the whole family – majority votes should always win, of course. 

If you don’t have a subscription to any streaming platforms, some of these movies are available on YouTube, either already uploaded for free viewing or rent. 

You can check the available movies on YouTube Movies, and you can either buy or rent them. 

Turn Christmas eve into a Christmas game night

Staying at home on Christmas can save you from overspending because most goods are more expensive during the holidays. 

You and your family can stay indoors, enjoy home-cooked meals, and play some games! 

You can set this one apart from a regular game night by only playing Christmas-themed games. 

You can play a Christmas Movie Bingo. Enjoying a movie while playing a game? Yes, you can do both at the same time! Here’s a sample bingo card for this game.

You can turn a lot of classic games into Christmas games and make them more exciting by giving out prizes. They don’t have to be expensive to make the games more competitive. 

Prizes also don’t have to be necessarily an object. You can use Chore Passes wherein the winners get one pass for a specific chore they could redeem some other time. Or the losing team can get consequences like doing the chores after the game.

Make your own Christmas ornaments

Doing creative projects with family is also a fun way to celebrate this holiday. You can find several DIY ideas on Pinterest when it comes to Christmas ornaments that you and your kids can easily do. 

You can buy some materials online. For instance, there are available complete DIY ornament craft kits on Amazon starting at $10. 

Your family can make ornaments for free if you repurpose some unused materials at home.

It’s an activity you can do as a family, but you can also create your ornaments individually and make them as a gift for someone without spending any money. 

The ornaments you make, if you ensure they’re durable, can be reused in the future. 

You can even start this as a tradition and get to use the ornaments you create every year.

Volunteer in your community

Christmas is the season of giving, and one way to celebrate it better is to share it with others in need. 

You and your family can volunteer in your community as one way to give back.

The season of giving doesn’t necessarily mean that you should give material things. Sometimes, being there for them is enough for others, and that's the essence of volunteerism. 

You can check in with your local community or nearby cities if there are facilities within your area that need volunteers this coming holiday.

Usually, you can volunteer in soup kitchens and homeless shelters during holidays as they need more hands to manage and distribute donations. You can get in touch with Feeding America to check if there are food banks that need volunteers near you.

You can also volunteer in some nursing homes. Although these are usually paid facilities for older people, some tenants don’t have a family to celebrate Christmas with because their accommodations are sponsored by individuals or organizations. 

This season could make some of them extra lonely, and that’s where your presence can make a difference.

If you and your family are pet lovers, you can also volunteer at local animal shelters. These animals are abandoned and need to socialize, not just with other animals, but with people as well, to make them more approachable for their future owners. 

These animal shelters often need help in the maintenance of these animals, which includes grooming, bathing, and cleaning of cages.

Drive to neighborhoods that showcase Christmas lights

Several parks and shopping malls often showcase Christmas lights during this season, which are often free for viewing for everybody. 

Your family can enjoy visiting these Christmas light displays, listening to holiday music, and taking lots of pictures to remember the season.

Some of the most popular Christmas light showcases are:

To make the trip more economical, you can bring snacks and turn it into a family picnic.

Visit Santa or view a living nativity

Some children still believe that Santa is real (and it’s illegal to make them believe otherwise! Just kidding.) 

So, what better way to realize their fantasy by bringing them to Santa himself?

Many shopping malls organize meet and greet with Santa during this season. But you better plan it ahead because lines could get a little crazy, especially if you live in a community with lots of families. 

Macy’s often organizes meet-and-greets in its flagship stores across the country. 

PREIT-operated malls across the East Coast also organize Santa photo ops, but instead of sleigh, Santa is on top of red fire trucks.

You can also visit a living nativity, which means a show of the nativity scene using actual people re-enacting the event.

Some living nativity also features live animals, such as sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys, making the nativity scene more realistic and fun for the kids.

Make Christmas cookies

Making Christmas cookies is a simple but fun activity that everybody in the family can participate in. 

Each of you can have individual roles, and it’s a good (and cheap) way to celebrate Christmas with your family. 

Your kids can enjoy decorating their own cookies as well before baking. The smell of newly baked cookies this season can also create a positive core memory for you kids, especially if you do it together.

Depending on how much you want to make (either you want it for your family or for sharing with neighbors), you may spend $30 to $50 on ingredients. 

But remember that some of these ingredients are sold in packs, and you really don’t have to use them all at once. You can save some of them for next batches of cookies, or you can opt for smaller packaging to lessen your expenses.

Attend a local Christmas festival

Aside from lights and musical festivals, some local parks and malls also organize free Christmas festivals for the whole community. 

They include choirs, bands or DJs, showcases of lights, and even booths from local businesses that offer food, drinks, and toys. 

You really don’t have to spend on these Christmas festivals to enjoy them—you can just enjoy the singing, the lights, the music, and the festive mood. It’s also a way to connect with your community.

Wrapping Up

Don’t let this economy hinder you and your family from enjoying the Christmas season. There are countless cheap and free Christmas activities you can enjoy if you plan ahead. 

You and your family’s well-being should still be a priority even when money is tight, and trying some of the activities listed here is investing in your family’s happiness without really spending too much money. Have a happy, inexpensive holiday!