16 Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season without Spending Much
Celebrate the holidays with your kiddos to the fullest, without having to spend much of anything, but a little time and a lot of love! My brother recently posted a cute quote that went something like, "I used to think that being a kid at Christmas was the best thing ever, turns out, having kids at Christmas is." I love this! So true! We are celebrating Christmas this year with a two and a half year old and a fifteen month old, and I am losing sleep I am so excited! While they are still little, they are quite aware of the decorations and buzz about. Remy asks to decorate the house or the tree daily and wants to help put lights on the chimney.
So, rather than decorating the tree without them around, I included them. It took two or three days to out the ornaments on because of all the interruptions, but I actually liked the slower, calmer pace of it. We would slowly take a box out and unwrap an ornament together and ooh and aah over it and then I would ask for Remy's direction on where to place it. Her answer was always, "Up high so Arlo can't reach it." Smart girl!
I started the tradition of getting my girls an annual Christmas ornament as my mom had done for us. This year, Remy had picked out a glass ballerina piggy in a red tutu from the time we had brunch with Santa and Colorado Ballet dancers. It's special because it is from a time we had a date together, and also she helped pick it herself. I found Arlo's knit ice cream cone ornament at Nest Children's boutique after Thanksgiving and it was actually on sale, but the cutest thing ever! Plus, she loved carrying it around, but when I directed her to put it back on the tree, she did a very good job of placing it back on the branches. We haven't lost any ornaments, and they are so good with presents too. Every now and then I catch Remy shaking one, but she always puts them back. So far...so good...
With the tree and the house decorated, I got the itch to host a holiday party! I used to host an annual ornament exchange party with family and girlfriends, but I have sort of lost track of that. Then husband and I were hosting an annual Ugly Christmas Sweater party, but the group started having kiddos, and then we kept losing people to other family events and parties so close to Christmas, so that is sort of on hold, at least this year. So I decided to have a party for Remy and a few of her friends! I kept it super simple, and provided the juice, coffee, mini frittatas from Oh Joy's recipe, and assembling these Nutter Butter Reindeer cookies! Everyone brought a small snack to share if they wanted to and we ended up having a beautiful fruit bowl, handmade strawberry muffins, handmade peanut butter fudge, and these great dried fruit snacks in funDisney packages that were a hit with the kids. We also did a teeny tiny white elephant gift exchange for the kids. Everyone brought one wrapped gift. We didn't draw numbers, and there wasn't any stealing, but we put them all in a pile and they got to choose which one they wanted. We specified Dollar Store or Dollar Bin type items. Some ladies went above and beyond... but all the kiddos seemed pleased with their crayons, stickers, socks, candies and books. My sister had also come by before Thanksgiving to do craft with the kids and she gave us this neat set that was for making gingerbread ornaments from styrofoam shapes that were stickers. Such an easy and fun, pretty mindless craft that didn't require lots of direction, steps and explanation. We only needed glue for the googly eyes I added to the pack, and I also included glitter glue sticks for some pizazz. Remy is way into glitter glue... We put it on Baba's present too. (I found a set at Walmart for less than $1)
Since the party we have laid low, oh and it dumped sow on us the day after the party! So we have been staying in. Today was snuggling up with popcorn and watching Christmas Vacation. Which was mostly background sounds after all the up and down you do with two babies. Last night was hopping in the car with candy canes after dinner to drive around the neighborhood and look at all the neighbors' light displays. That was a hot and we hope to do that a few more times!
I thought I would compile a little list of the things we have done so far tis holiday season, and a few things we have planned to do over the coming weeks, that don't cost a penny, or not many in some cases. This list is geared towards families with toddlers and babies. I am sure this list will evolve as our babies grow into kiddos, but for now, I am in love with where we are NOW. Someday there will be sledding or hunting for a live tree somewhere or a fancy ski trip maybe, WISH, or movies at the theater together, building a snowman, and I am sure lots of other things, but for now, this is where we are at.
What are some ways you and yours are savoring the season?! I'd love to hear!
Photos of us decorating and the little play date below...
- Trim the Tree! Deck the Halls!- Decorate the tree, the house, their rooms and let them help here and there!
- See the Parade of Lights- We went downtown for the 9News Parade of Lights and it was FREE minus the LightRail fare and any food or beverage costs when we were down there. We bought a hot chocolate and a sandwich- ($15) See our trip here.
- Host a Christmas Party Play Date at Your Home- This is mentioned in a little more detail above, but throw together a fun and festive playdate in your decorated home! I had party plates, napkins, etc. from previous parties, all I had to do was buy a few groceries, less than $20, and sent a FREE E-Vite.
- Read the New Holiday Books at Your Local Bookstore, or Check Some Out at Your Library- We have done both so far. We go to Barnes and Noble pretty often, it's the closest book store to us, and we grabbed a stack of their holiday books went to a quiet corner outside the children's area, near some windows and sat and read through them. Last week we paid a visit to our local library for some fresh reads, and I grabbed all the ones I saw about Christmas. I will post a Book Club holiday edition maybe and I also have something else special up my sleeve on the book front.
- Bundle Up and Take a Crunchy Walk in the Snow- Yesterday we ventured out after having a HUGE SNOW DAY here. The snow was sparkly and the sky was blue. We were bundled up to go to the bookstore and instead of strapping them into the car right away, when I can, I like to be more leisurely and let them stroll by the neighbors' and see what the day is like first. We had fun making footprints in the snow. Something this simple, to be cherished...
- Head to Your Local High School for a Free or Very Affordable Holiday Concert- We used to go to the park almost daily when it was nice, so this cold has got us a little off as to what to do with our days. There aren't many options, but maybe there's some research to be done and a post to be written here... Anyway, husband is a teacher and actually suggested we take the girls there one night to burn some energy and run in the gym. We have been back s several times- genius! One evening we caught the school on performance night. We popped in towards the end, sat in the aisles at the top of the stairs and listened to the choir sing a couple songs. We couldn't see an entire show with them, but catching just those couple of songs, that beauty, and their faces listening intently for that short duration, was enough. Again, be present and thankful for the stage your are in with your children today.
- Cozy Up and Hop in the Car for a Ride Around the Neighborhood to Look at the Lights- I mentioned that we did this last night and hope to do a few more times in the coming weeks. We didn't need to go far to be completely awe struck. A blow up Hello Kitty here, a "Stoopy" (Snoopy) there, and we were all smiles.
- Make Cookies- Okay, so I am NOT a baker. Wish I was, but I need a mixer first; I think...Anyway, I hope to make simple sugar cookies with the girls (I have all the ingredients in my cupboards, except the icing!) I also recently bought a pre-made refrigerated roll of the Pillsbury Gingerbread Dough! Easy peasy! I already have the Gingerbread Man cookie cutter, just need that icing! Excited to get our rolling pins rolling! #rollinginthedough I plan to do cookies next week so they are fresh for Santa's arrival!
- Give Treats to Your Neighbors, Mail Workers, Nannies and Helpers- I used the huge snow day the other day, husband got a snow day from work, to take one from my job for a little bit! He stayed home and I put on my Sorels and bundled up and ventured out! I decided that weather, on the deadline day for postal was as good a time as any to mail a package. Hoping for no lines. I took some sweets to my two regular postal workers. If you have nannies, baby sitters, pre-school or day care providers, hair dressers, yoga teachers...you name it, now is the time to thank them for all they do, in whatever way you can. A special handmade card, handmade granola jar, a coffee gift card, cookies, a few simple and sweet ideas.
- Watch Holiday Cartoons Together- Yes, cartoons are unavoidable sometimes. Why not make them all about Christmas?! We have DVRd a few that we catch on television here and there and you can find some on YouTube full versions. Remy loves Winnie the Pooh Christmas, something about a Sleuth...
- Listen to Festive Tunes throughout the Day- I am "one of those" who thoroughly enjoys Christmas tunes! We have channel 801 on DirecTV on most days we are home, playing in the background, and KOSI 101.1 on in the car.
- Make Hot Cocoa- It always tastes better when you order it out, but at home we make the Swiss Miss packs and I LOVE adding extra mini marshmallow bits with these by Jet Puff.
- Visit Santa- Most shopping centers are hosting Santa at some point during his Colorado visit. Check your local area for cost of images. They are usually NOT a good price. After I paid, an embarrassing amount for a 4X6 of the girls, I started to see FREE 5X7 images popping up everywhere from Walmart to my Credit Union! Watch your weekly ads in the mail, and read your newsletters from local businesses! We also saw him at a Secret Santa Shop event at Belly Bliss! That was a fun night!
- Ice Skate Date- We are headed to BelMar Ice Rink this weekend! Remy can hardly wait...
- Enlist Your Elves to Help Wrap Gifts- If you are like me and REALLY get into wrapping, and actually ENJOY it, then this one is tough. It's hard to let little ones help, but they love to watch and participate any way they can. I had Remy help me with the tape and choosing a gift tag, and folding the edges.
- Make Ornaments- I haven't done this yet, besides the styrofoam gingerbread one from above, but I want to find supplies we already have in the house and come up with something clever. Any ideas?! I LOVE the ones my mom has from when we were young... OOOH I just though of something involving cotton balls!
Have anything we should try to add to our list?! I definitely want to expose the girls to sharing their time and visiting the elderly in homes who may not have visitors. I am going to call one near my house to see about having us pay a visit. Husband says they are too young, but I feel they would be the perfect elves to brighten someone's day...