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12 Frugal and Fun Christmas Traditions

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More Christmas

Merry Christmas from Collin

If you’re needing some holiday inspiration to get your family in the Christmas spirit, check out these twelve easy ideas that are both FUN & FRUGAL!
Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt Holiday Traditions Hip2Save.com1. Go see Christmas Lights with our FREE Printable Checklist. Bundle up the kids in their pajamas and go hunting for Christmas light displays in your area by car. Don’t forget to bring some hot chocolate for the road!  To make it even more fun, print off this cute scavenger hunt list and see who can cross off all the items on their list first!

Presents Wrapped Tradition
2. Wrapping Paper Christmas Tradition– This is a great way to keep the kids from peeking at their presents on Christmas morning!


3. Gingerbread Houses. Make your own, buy a store bought kit, or visit a local Gingerbread house display each year like we do!

building a snowman tradition
4. Go Outside! If you live near snow, go build a snowman or go sledding. If you’re in a warmer location, participate in a local Santa 5K or go for a hike.

5. Make some homemade Christmas Ornaments. Homemade ornaments are always a favorite since they hold sentimental value and wonderful memories! Plus, they are perfect to make with the kiddos over Christmas break. For two great ideas, see our Sliced Wood Ornaments and these fun Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments.

Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas
6. Elf on the Shelf- This tradition is based on the children’s book Elf on the Shelf –> a magical elf visits your house on Santa’s behalf to monitor pre-Christmas naughty/nice behavior. Each day the elf moves if behavior is good and fun/creativity ensues. Most kids really enjoy trying to find the Elf each morning (or even trying to catch the Elf in action) – it can be a great incentive to get them out of bed and moving each morning! 🙂

Pay It Forward at Christmas

7. Pay It Forward– Grab a bin and have the kids pick out their unused or unwanted toys and warm clothing to donate to a shelter. Warm blankets, non perishable food, and personal care items from your stockpile are great items to donate as well.
Photography in Front of a Christmas Tree

8. Take photos in front of a lit up tree. A beautifully lit tree at night can create a priceless silhouette image. Although I’m not an expert photographer by any means, I do suggest turning down the lights everywhere else in the room, turning off the flash and holding your camera super still.
Christmas Traditions

9. Share Christmas Stories & Memories– Have the kids interview an older family member or friend and ASK them to share details about how they celebrated Christmas growing up. Ideas to ask: What does Christmas mean to you? What is your favorite Christmas song or book? What was your favorite toy Santa brought? How did you celebrate Christmas Day? It could turn into some great conversations and history lessons.

singing photo1
10. Go Christmas Caroling! Either entertain your neighbors or ask a local nursing home if you can get a small group together and spread some cheer.
tape ball game

11. Saran Wrap Candy Ball Game – For this fun game, grab some friends and family and make a large saran wrap ball with layers of candy or small toys or goodies. If you still have Halloween candy around, throw it in! You’ll also need a pair of dice. Have your group sit in a circle and decide which direction the game will flow. One person gets to peel back the layers to get to the candy until the next person rolls doubles with the pair of dice. Then it’s their turn to unwrap for candy. It’s a fun and silly game!cookies red velvet
12. Make some cookies for Santa. Try these Festive Red Velvet Cookies made from a box of red velvet cake mix or these Best Rolled Sugar Cookies. Yum!

What are your favorite fun and frugal holiday traditions to do with your family? Please share in the comments below!

 Lina ( loves cooking new recipes, thrift store shopping, and DIY home decor projects. 
Join The Discussion

Comments 59

  1. Danielle

    Did I miss the post about sending a child a free christmas card from Santa? I swear I saw it and now I can’t find it?

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Sorry for the confusion. We removed due to the card offer expiring right away. Bummer! 🙁

    • Danielle

      Thanks for replies. I thought maybe I was going crazy.

  2. A

    My father-in-law plays the “hide the pickle” game with my kids when they go to visit him. He buys inexpensive toys from the dollar store or clearanced Halloween candy to give as prizes.

  3. Shey

    Each year we are on the hunt for the ugliest,most horrifying ornament and then we hide it on another members Christmas tree. It is so funny to find out what each other’s ornaments ended up being and makes for lots of laughs.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      LOL! Cute idea! 😉

    • Katie

      That’s hysterical! I’m so stealing that! 😀

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      That’s great!

  4. Jessica

    I love all these ideas! We also wake up a little earlier and make “reindeer foot prints” on the floor with a little water and dirt. We also leave the door cracked to make it look like they came in the front door because we didn’t have a chimney but this year we installed a wood stove so we have to come up with a new idea!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Oh that’s a sweet idea!

    • Katie

      I saw something like that on shark tank! They make hoof marks. They have one for the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny too. Sooooo cute. 🙂

    • Laura

      I just bought a Santa footprint stencil at Hobby Lobby for $1.50 the other day! The instructions say to mix any white powder (baby, baking soda, etc) with some white glitter! Can’t wait to see the looks on my girls’ faces who are 5, 3, and 1!

      • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

        Oh how fun!

    • llc

      Don’t forget the reindeer feed. My nieces and nephews got it from school. Its just a bag of birdseed. The kids sprinkle it on the lawn on Christmas Eve for the reindeers to snack on while Santa is delivering gifts inside.

      • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

        Yes love this tradition as well!

  5. Crystal

    After opening gifts, we make homemade donuts from frying canned biscuits. The kids help by rolling some in powdered sugar and some in brown sugar and cinnamon😁.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)


  6. Jennifer

    I love these ideas! Thanks for sharing! I especially love the Christmas light scavenger hunt. I do the book-a-night Advent calendar with my son. At the beginning of December I wrap 24 Christmas/winter themed books that we already have. Every night before bed he gets to open one and we read it together. Cheap, educational, and a whole lot better on the teeth than candy (goodness knows we eat plenty of that at other holiday events).

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Yes we love Christmas books too!

    • Laura

      We just made a Jesse tree for the first time this year. Like an Advent calendar, each day leading up to Christmas has an accompanying story from Scripture beginning with Genesis and ending with the birth of Jesus. It teaches children all of the major moments in salvation history and prepares them for the true meaning of Christmas.

      • Susi

        That’s a beautiful tradition!

      • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

        Thanks for sharing! I agree beautiful tradition.

  7. Carla

    Is Elf on the Shelf a fairly new thing? I just heard about it a few years ago for the first time ever and I’m in my 30’s

    • Jess

      Same here. I’m a little lost

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      We found it about 4 years ago, but yes it’s pretty new and popular these days.

  8. Katie

    I took my kids individually to the dollar store to pick out presents for each of the other family members. They’re only 5 and 3, so I didn’t want to spend a lot on silly presents that they might pick out, but I wanted them to understand that it’s “better to give than to receive.” They had so much fun picking out presents and wrapping them. My favorite thing we’ve done this season so far!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      How sweet! Love that idea.

    • Sara

      We used to do that with our kids (they’re all in school now & have a secret Santa shop at school) & they absolutely loved it! It was always fun to see what they picked out for everyone & the thought processes behind it.

    • Lauren K

      We do the same thing! Love that they can pick what is in their heart, without having restrictions!

    • Me

      Yeah I totally do this w/ my kiddos as well! (Age 5 and 2) my 5yr old loves this tradition and she is allowed to buy whatever she wants (@ dollar tree! Lol) for everyone. She has bought some wacky ones but it’s so sweet how she tries to find what she thinks each person will like….( and my 2yr old just gets excited because Sissy is excited lol) … Great thing tho! Teaches kids it’s not all about them but rather giving to others too!

  9. Amy

    I like the wrapping paper for each kid idea! My parents always did ribbon. Each of us had our own color of bow or ribbon. Made share gifts easier since they could put more than one bow on it. My sister and I often received some since we shared a room 🙂

    • Linna

      We’ve used the wrapping paper for our kids for years. All of our kids’ gifts are already wrapped and under the tree and no one cares to snoop because they have no idea whose wrapping is whose! I love it!

      • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

        Yes I agree- perfect for that reason!

      • Amy

        Definitely a smart way! Our ages were pretty spread out so Santa was always bringing the presents. Having them out early wouldn’t have worked. 🙂

  10. Tatyana

    Hi Lina, can you explain candy ball game some more?

    Does anybody have more ideas for Christmas party games? Thank you!

      • Julia - Aberrant Crochet

        Thank you for the link ❤ Lina! Great article by the way! 🙂 Have a splendid Christmas and New Year!

        • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

          You too Julia! Thanks for reading 😀

    • Colleen

      We do some simple ‘a minute to win it” games like cookie face. Play several different ones and keep score. The winner at the end gets to wear a paper crown we made out of shiny wrapping paper and dubbed the Christmas champion.

  11. Seasons

    We play the Candle Game during dinner, super fun! All you need is a taper candle, ribbon or string, foil and a prize (cash, lotto scratch tickets, small trinket, ect). Make a pouch out of tin foil and put the prize inside. Poke a hole in the corner of the foil, stick a string or ribbon thru the hole and tie the prize to the candle no more than a few inches from the top. Use the candle in the centerpiece of your dinner (breakfast, brunch, lunch, whatever) table. Grab a kid and have them make a list of everyone’s names. Then they go around to each guest and ask them how long they think it will take for the candle to burn down enough to catch the string on fire and release the prize. Timer starts as soon as the candle is lit. Whoever is closest wins! (We do minutes and seconds, one year we had a tie and all hell broke loose.)
    Some candles burn very quickly and some take hours to move a few inches, so you want to make sure the prize is tied near the top. 1 or 2 inches is good. It’s most fun if the prize falls during the meal.
    No blowing on the flame, no moving the candle. That’s cheating!
    A lot of times the string will catch on fire, break, but re melts into the wax and doesn’t fall. Times not up until the prize falls!
    Yea, it’s “dangerous” I guess, but we’ve been playing this game every Christmas for 30simething years and never had a fire. We use cheap curling ribbon, the sort of plastic stuff, and it puts itself out right away. Still someone should be watching it and keeping track of time till the prize falls anyway. Another reason to tie it high! No one wants to watch a candle for 4 hours to make sure the house doesn’t catch on fire.

    • Seasons

      … catch on fire!

  12. Karen

    Thank you so much for all your great ideas! I did your felt Christmas Tree this year my 4 year makes everyone use patterns to decorate lol been so much fun! My older kids love to make cookies with me and we get the little kids to help decorate. Wonderful family time. 😊🎄

  13. Michelle G

    We do a game where a small inexpensive item is wrapped up in brown paper, wrapping paper, tin foil, newspaper, plastic bag, etc…..over and over and over. We roll dice to get a 7, 11, or double. If you roll either of these you put on a pair of oven mitts and try to unwrap the item. You can keep unwrapping until the next person rolls a 7, 11, or double. Sometimes you can inwrap for awhile sometimes you only get the mitts on then have to pass them to the next person who rolled the correct dice #.

  14. Linda

    I love these ideas, especially the Christmas light hunt and the paper for each kid. Lina, I don’t think there has ever been a post of yours that I didn’t was a wonderful idea or delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing these!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Oh what a nice comment – Thanks Linda and Merry Christmas! 😀

    • Laura

      I’ll second that! Love your posts!

  15. ish

    Plastic wrap, saran is a brand

  16. justme

    get some good squirt bottles in the cleaning section at Walmart or the dollar store. Fill them up with water and add lots of food coloring. When it snows I send the kids out to color the yard! They absolutely love it. It’s beautiful and they have so much fun spraying color on everything that’s covered in snow.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Oh how fun!

  17. art

    We don’t celebrate Christmas, instead New Years. We go clearance shopping with the kidlets to buy gifts to each other. We usually catch some pretty awesome “after Christmas use your gift cards” sales too for their gifts. We like to catch a movie on Christmas too if we aren’t working (we volunteer to work, so do a lot of other people though). It’s surprisingly pretty busy on Christmas.

  18. carolyn

    The night we set up the Christmas tree, my husband reads How the Grinch Stole Christmas and then we all camp out in the living room to make sure the Grinch doesn’t come and still our tree. The kids look forward to this every year.

    • Susi

      That’s adorable! Wish I would have done that when my chicks were little

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Oh fun! Love that book 🙂

  19. VF

    Where is the gingerbread house display you said you go to?

  20. Brenda

    When the kids were in school we would adopt a family to do the 12 days of Christmas for. Our twist was to make each day a Christmas celebration from a different country. For example Germany gave us the Christmas tree and has Black Peter who punishes bad children. We’d leave the story of their celebration, a treat on the theme, and some craft such as making pine cone trees. It’s a secret and left as soon as it gets dark, doorbell ditch style.

  21. Whitney

    The pajama elves visit every year for us. Christmas eve the kids wake up to a big package for all of them with their Christmas pajamas and either books and movies or a new board game and hot cocoa and popcorn. The pajamas are sewn with magical thread to help them fall and sleep.

    Our other tradition is that I pick them out a special ornament every year and give it to them when we put up the tree.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Cute ideas!

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