Your Whole Family Will Love These 9 Frugal Christmas Traditions!
Hip2Save may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you via trusted partners and affiliate links in this post. Prices and availability are accurate as of time posted. Read our full disclosure policy here.
It’s time to rein in the budget for the holidays.
We all want the best holiday memories for our family to pass down and enjoy from generation to generation, but some popular Christmas traditions can leave your wallet and budget feeling the winter blues. With these frugal Christmas tradition ideas, you’ll still feel the same holiday joy without the added cost!
1. Instead of buying an Advent Calendar… create your own!
Advent calendars can get pricey, especially if you’re buying a new one every year and are buying for multiple people in your family. When you make your own and re-purpose it each holiday season, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth—and have fun in the process!
This year, Lina shared a frugal take on this Christmas tradition & how you can make an easy DIY hanging treat bag Advent Calendar. It’s an inexpensive and cute idea that would get anyone excited to countdown to Christmas!
Hip Tip: Want more Advent Calendar ideas? Check out these other posts that have kept us busy this year:
2. Instead of buying matching family pajamas… buy matching socks!
Sets of pajamas for the whole family is far from a frugal Christmas tradition and can get pretty pricey with the more people you have. If buying some new matching pajamas for everyone isn’t in the budget, consider some cozy socks for the whole family – Old Navy has some adorable options that we’re loving this year and they’re currently on sale!
Like to plan ahead? Here’s what one Hip2Saver does to score affordable Christmas pajamas for her whole family:
“We like to buy Christmas jammies in January (post-holiday clearance) for the following year. Saves a bundle!” – Melissa
3. Instead of gifts for the entire extended family… organize a gift exchange!
Have everyone pull names from a hat or use a website like Elfster to create a new frugal Christmas tradition! A gift exchange between all the family members is fun, different, and exciting once the holidays roll around. Plus, not knowing who’s shopping for you makes it even more thrilling! Best of all, everyone stays on a budget that they’re comfortable with – it’s a win, win!
Hip Tip: Want to simplify gifts for your immediate family, too? This new way to buy and give gifts totally changed how my family does Christmas. Plus, we have a frugal way to wrap your presents and still have them be totally show-stopping!
4. Instead of gifts… skip them altogether and adopt a family!
Now more than ever families across America need our help. Whether your kiddos are getting older or your immediate family just doesn’t need for anything – remember skipping the gifts altogether and focusing on a family in need instead could mean more than anything you’ve ever purchased before!
You can call your local shelters or connect with a family through your church. Either way, this idea can be as frugal as you’d like or could even be a matter of donating things you already have and don’t need. Take it from our Hip2Save reader Melissa, this frugal Christmas tradition has really impacted her family over the years:
“Let’s teach our kids the real reason for the season! I’ve always taught my girls to give (year-round), but one Christmas activity we always do together is to adopt a family in need. We’ll even buy their Christmas tree, some decorations, gas cards, gifts, household/toiletries – whatever they need!
We then come together for a ‘wrapping party’ so everyone can feel and see how we’re impacting another family’s holiday. We then load it all up and deliver it to the family. This tradition over the years has been much more meaningful to us than stressing over moving an elf or making sure our PJ’s match!” – Melissa
5. Instead of buying neighbor gifts… hand out cute bags of hot cocoa!
Who says cute reindeer hot chocolate bags can’t double as gifts?! By making some of these to hand out to neighbors, you’ll definitely be saving this year! Since it won’t cost you much more than a bag of marshmallows, chocolate chips, and hot cocoa, you’ll even be able to gift one for each person in a family! Talk about bang for your buck!
Need clear bags to make these cuties? You can score this 100 pack for under $7 on Amazon!
Hip Tip: Make sure you don’t forget about your sweet family! You can make Lina’s Grinch hot chocolate or this traditional hot cocoa recipe in your crockpot. Your kiddos will appreciate it while they watch their favorite Christmas movies!
6. Instead of sending family Christmas cards… film a Christmas video!
Sure, there are lots of frugal ways to order Christmas cards, but if you’re sending them to a large group of people, the postage alone can get pricey. Plus, a video is more fun for the family, unique to the viewers, and way more personal anyway! And hello, it’s totally FREE, so it’s an exceptionally frugal Christmas tradition to start this year!
Simply upload your fun family video to Facebook for all your friends and family to see – better yet, if there’s only a select number of people who you want to view it, you can just share it with the ones you select when uploading.
7. Instead of making your own pumpkin pie… buy our favorite pre-made pie from the store!
It’s actually more affordable (and will save you time!) to pick up a pre-made pie at Costco or Sam’s Club rather than buying the ingredients and making it yourself, and the store-bought versions are just as delicious—trust us, we gave them our official Hip2Save taste-teste! Top it off with homemade whipped cream or transfer it to your own pie dish if you want to give it that fresh-from-the-oven feel.
Here’s what one of our readers said about her Costco pumpkin pie last year:
“The Costco pumpkin pie was just requested at a family dinner and I have to say it’s better than any homemade pie! That’s saying a lot considering I grew up on plenty of great homemade pies from Grandma, Mom, and Aunts!” – Mallory
8. Instead of buying gifts this year… make them!
While not every holiday gift idea can be made at home, you can try out our simple and fun DIYS to craft a home gift. Even simple photo and artwork prints are such a thoughtful present! The time spent crafting a one-of-a-kind gift means so much more than a last-minute mall purchase.
9. Instead of hosting a big family dinner… have a dessert exchange!
Why not skip the expensive dinner and instead, enjoy the best part of any meal—dessert! Everyone can bring their favorite treat and still get their fill of quality time for the holidays with this frugal Christmas tradition.
As a safer alternative, if you’re continuing to social distance with even your close family during the pandemic, consider doing a cookie exchange. This will let your family know you were thinking of them while still getting to share a little bit of holiday spirit with everyone.
Bonus idea: Set out to see some magical Christmas lights!
This idea isn’t just frugal, it could essentially be FREE!
This year, we’re expecting to see more Christmas lights than ever before with people searching for other ways to spread cheer this holiday season. To celebrate with your loved ones, make sure you head out for a drive around town to spot the best Christmas lights. Not only are they sure to put you in the Christmas spirit, but they’ll make the holiday season even more magical for your kiddos too.
Best of all, it’ll likely become a tradition everyone will look back and cherish forever! ❤️
Most importantly, Christmas is about the time spent together, not the money.
There’s no reason you can’t flip the script on expensive traditions in favor of new memory-making experiences—they may even become the things you look forward to most each season!
Check out our 25 Christmas Movie Picks if you’re staying home for the holidays.