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20 Inexpensive Activities to Make Christmas Feel Magical

Christmas really is one of the most wonderful times of the year. But it might not be a wonderful time for your wallet. 

That’s why I put together 20 of my favorite free or super cheap activities you can do to get into the holiday spirit.

So read on and let’s make some Christmas magic happen!

1. Put out your Christmas decorations

The first completely FREE activity to get you into the holiday spirit is to break out the holiday decor! 

Being surrounded by Christmas items you love (and especially the items that were gifted to you) is a great way to bring back the Christmas magic. 

I also love getting out my Christmas decor because I find items I forgot about over the past year! 

If you don’t have any decorations or just can’t afford any, then this is also a great opportunity to do some DIY decor, put decor on your Christmas gift list, or see if your local Buy Nothing group has anything they are giving away for free.

2. Attend a free Holiday concert or play

Attending a school play or concert for your child or family member can be a wonderful way to share in the holiday spirit.

You may also find many free concerts and shows in your city. Check Facebook events, Eventbrite, or do a Google search to see what’s going on.

3. Take a walk and collect pine cones

Pine cones are perfect for holiday crafts and collecting them brings a little Christmas magic to any walk.

4. Make a playlist of your favorite holiday music

Turning on your favorite Christmas songs can help make any normal task more enjoyable.

There are tons of YouTube videos with holiday music, but it’s even more special to make a playlist of your very favorite songs.

5. Mail Christmas cards

Writing Christmas cards to friends and family is one of my very ways to spend the holidays. 

There’s nothing that warms my heart more than telling those I love how much I care about them. 

Christmas cards are not very expensive. You can get a box of 24 cards at Walmart for under $5. 

But if you’re really looking to save money, then making your own cards is the way to go.

6. Attend a Christmas tree lighting

Check to see if your city or local area hosts a Christmas tree lighting.

If you’ve never attended one, you’re in for a treat!

The Christmas trees for the lighting are usually massive and filled with lights and beautiful ornaments.

When it gets dark out, the tree is lit for all of the spectators to see.

It’s a great opportunity to take pictures in front of the tree, spread Christmas cheer, and spend time with others.

7. Bake Holiday treats

A classic and loved holiday activity that’s very affordable!

I bake chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies for my family every year and it brings me so much joy.

If your friends and family are not big on receiving baked goods, then bake treats for your neighbors, nursing homes, or donate them for fundraisers.

8. Host or attend a holiday-themed potluck

Potlucks are the perfect way to spend time with the ones you love without breaking the bank.

Consider hosting a holiday-themed potluck or bringing a festive dish to a potluck you’re invited to.

9. Drive around and see Christmas lights

This is a holiday activity you’ve probably done before, but it is a great one!

I love to grab a nice, hot apple chai tea or hot cocoa and see all of the nearby neighborhoods’ beautiful lights.  

10. Volunteer

If you want to spread cheer in your community this Christmas season, then volunteering is a wonderful way to do it.

You can volunteer at soup kitchen, food bank, nursing, or animal shelter – to name a few.

11. Watch holiday movies

Do you have a Christmas movie you watch every year with your favorite warm drink?

If not (or if you’re not a fan of Christmas movies) then choose one of your favorite movies to watch with a special holiday drink or treat. 

Every year, I watch The Muppet Christmas carol with my family and it brings back so many happy, warm memories.

Plus, if you haven’t seen The Muppet Christmas carol, it is hilarious and so wholesome. I highly recommend for all ages!

12. Attend a Christmas parade

Check your local area to see if they have an annual holiday parade.

In my city, the Holiday parade is a big deal – businesses, dancers, and performers come from all corners of the city to participate. 

There are dozens of elaborate floats and Santa Clause makes an appearance to delight all of the spectators. 

If you have the opportunity to go a Holiday parade, I highly recommend going! 

13. Take pictures at your favorite holiday place

Where’s the most beautiful, inspiring, and festive place you know? Have you been there this year?

If not, go and spend some time there taking plenty of pictures and making memories!

14. Enjoy a good festive book

Taking time for yourself to read a good book is an act of self care and a perfect way to relax and enjoy the holidays.

If you don’t have a favorite Christmas book, I really like Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year by Beth Kempton.

It’s a cozy read and a “delightful guide to a holiday season filled with mindfulness, self-care, and joy.”

15. Wrap Christmas gifts

Wrapping gifts can be a relaxing activity all about sharing the joy of the Christmas season.

But if you find wrapping presents to be more of a chore, here are some tips to help.

1. Do not wait until last minute to wrap gifts.

2. Put on your favorite Christmas music, movie, or AMSR video for some background noise.

3. Reuse Christmas bags from last year. If you don’t have any, start collecting bags now. This will save you a ton of money over time.

4. Use scrap wrapping paper to make gift tags.

5. Wrap gifts in batches and then get them out of your home and to their recipient if possible. Or organize them nicely under your tree.

6. Clean up the area after you are done wrapping. Clutter can really steal your holiday cheer.

16. Go caroling in your neighborhood or at a nursing home

If you love singing, then share your musical talents and holiday cheer by caroling!

If you’d like to venture outside of your neighborhood, I recommend caroling at nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

For many of the elderly in nursing homes, Christmas can be lonely time of the year. They are unable to travel home or visit friends/family for the holidays.

Caroling is a great way to cheer people up and share some Christmas magic.

17. Cook a holiday-inspired meal

There’s nothing that gets me into the holiday spirit more than having a nostalgic meal.

The meal doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate – just something that reminds you of great holiday memories.

If you need some inspiration, here are 14 fabulous holiday meal ideas for under $25.

18. Do a random act of kindness

Spreading kindness and cheer is what the holiday season is all about. And it’s also great for our mental health!

Here are some random acts of kindness you can do today that cost nothing:

  • Offer to help someone put up Christmas lights or decor
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile
  • Pick up trash around your neighborhood
  • Let someone go ahead of you in line
  • Write a note for your loved one saying how much you appreciate them

19. Sit around a bonfire with a warm drink

If the weather is not too frightful, plan an evening to sit around a bonfire with friends, family, neighbors, and/or your significant other!

There’s something so peaceful about watching the flames flicker and enjoying good conversation.

If it’s just too cold out for a bonfire, you can have an evening around the fireplace!

20. DIY advent calendar for next year

Create a homemade advent calendar for yourself or a loved one for next year!

This can be done fairly inexpensively with Dollar Tree items.

My favorite idea for a DIY advent calendar is to get a 250 piece puzzle and break it up into 25 bags for each day of advent. 

You’ll want to assemble the puzzle first and break it into 10-piece chunks that will connect day by day.

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