Inexpensive/Free Activities or Gifts for Christmas

Updated on November 25, 2009
D.S. asks from Belton, TX
10 answers

Hello to All,

I am on a tight budget for the holidays. I have a 7 year old daughter. I wanted some ideas for creative Santa gifts that are inexpensive. Also, any activities that are inexpensive or free to enjoy for the holiday season.

I usually don't spend loads of money on Christmas. I am just on a very limited budget this year. I want to make this Christmas memorable with the things that we do, not necessarily what we buy.

I am crafty and I like to cook. I have some ideas, but I know all of you are creative. I can't wait to read your ideas.
Thanks in advance. Happy Holidays!!!

1 mom found this helpful

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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have spent my day brainstorming on ideas for the holidays. I am so excited!!! You have given me really great ideas.
I wanted to share my ideas with everyone. I hope to help all of you have a joyous holiday, as well. 1) Target has some games on sale for half price this week. I bought the game Sorry for $7.00 and it has a coupon on it for a free pizza from Domino's pizza. 2) I bought her some hair accessories from the $1 section...I will also make her some hair accessories from scrap fabric. She will get a box of hair blinge from Santa. 3) We will be making a rice krispie holiday village 4) we will ride our bikes through the neighborhood to view Christmas lights 5)I have decided to make her craft kits for her santa gifts. I will make personalized word searches, riddle pages, etc. I will cut out hello kitty shapes, littlest pet shop shapes, cupcake shapes from file folders and include tissue paper squares. She can twist and glue the tissue paper on the shapes. 6) We will get dressed in fancy clothes and have a friend take our picture on our porch swing. I have an after-five dress and shoes. My daughter always wants to see me in this outfit. I will wear my dress and she will be dressed in a fancy dress. I will take pictures with her putting my lipstick on me. I was going to get a photographer, but I will do the cheaper digital/print version. This will also be a gift for grandparents. 7) I called a stable and she will get a coupon for a horse ride. The stable charges $5 for 20 minutes in a round pen. 8) I will give her a coupon book for activities that we can do inexpensively for the next several months. (i.e. Waco Children's museum is free on Sunday afternoons) (Michael's has craft sessions on Saturday mornings, some are free others are just a few bucks, I have a friend that has a potter's shed...I have contacted her to see if we can have a field trip to her shed. My daughter would love to use a potter's wheel. 9) I will recycle a bulletin board and glue a pink boa around the edge for her room. 10) I will recycle some wood and make her a birdhouse kit. 11) We will continue our tradition of making my great grandmother's sugar cookies and having an ornament party with her friends. 12) We will add new traditions of purchasing livestock for a family in India, writing a Christmas gratitude letter and sharing on Christmas morning, and scavenger hunt for spending money at the dollar store. 13) We will also shop for a child that we adopt from the angel tree. These are just a few things that I came up with after reading your wonderful ideas. I will make my daughter an activity calendar, so we can plan our holiday weeks together. Thank you. I truly appreciate your wonderful ideas. The holidays are special and all of you just made our holiday more joyous.

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answers from San Antonio on

Go to Hobby Lobby and buy a box - wooden or cardboard. And decorate a memory box for her together. You can paint it and add a few simple studs on it.

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answers from San Antonio on

Go to There are lots of great craft ideas and they are VERY affordable! You can let her invite 3 or 4 friends over for a hot cocoa party and let them make a craft together.

Have a Christmas movie marathon. Pop popcorn, get some sweet snacks turn off all the lights and cozy up on the couch. Let her choose the order that you watch them. Polar Express is a great one. Also The Santa Claus. Even if she has seen them before it will be a memory for her. You can watch all 3 The Santa Claus movies.

Make christmas tree pancakes. Get some whip cream in the can and let her put the smiley face on her pancakes and add a couple chocolate chips or raisins for the eyes and nose.

Set up a treasure hunt in your home. Take $2 in change - pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters and hide them around the house. You can put them in little sacks made from cut up tissue paper. Set up clues in each spot to lead her to the next place. Let her use the money to purchase two things from the dollar spot at Target.

Take her on a date to Starbucks let her get "coffee". They have childrens drinks like warm vanilla milk that comes in a little coffee cup and it is whipped like a cappacino. They are under $2.

Make snowflakes out of paper or tissue paper to decorate your windows with.

A gift idea - You can make her a coupon book. The coupons are redeemable through you for various mommy and daughter things such as:
1 hour of non interrupted mom time. Phone is turned off and you do whatever she wants.

Baking with mom. Cookies, brownies, etc.

Ice cream date with mom. Take her to McDonalds for a $1 cone.

Movie night with mom.

Invite a friend over night.

I hope you have fun with your daughter this holiday season and as you already know it is the memories that count, not the gifts.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

They have some lovely jewelry at Walmart in little gift boxes for $4. Do a home manicure/ pedicure (my 7 YO is constantly begging for a manicure.) You could even do a facial. :) Go to a resale shop and get some 'new' clothing items. They often have some really neat toys, too.

Are there any special parks in your area that do Christmas displays? there are a couple near me that are totally awesome, and free! Maybe a nice little town of shops and restaurants like Old Town Spring, Wimberly, or Roundtop, those are fun at Christmas. Make sure to take pictures of whatever you do and give her a little scrapbook to chronicle her holiday.

Make homemade cracker jacks and other fun cereal based snacks. Cook a dinner with her, bake a cake (you could make an icecream cake or icecream sandwitches pretty easily.

Put hotchocolate in car safe cups and drive her around looking at Christmas lights with Christmas music playing in the car. Find an area church doing a pagent. Maybe there's an indoor pool (we have one with a kind of waterpark for only $3 per person and it's open year round.)

Go to Gospel for Asia and look at the catalog online or order one. Sit down with her and explain that the people in India have very little and what it would mean to them to have a blanket, a pair or rabbits or chickens (which multiply) ect. Tell her that you have X $$ and choose together what you would like to purchase with that to send to India. We did this last year and the girls as so looking forward to it this year. We are doing it in place of Christmas gifts for others. They have cards you can order for a child or adult that says you donated $$ in their name, you could even say what it purchased if you like.

I spent less then $10 on each of my children this year.

Merry Christmas,
S., mom to 4

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

For the Memories:

Just before xmas spend one night driving around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights.

Attend free xmas event like the one in downtown Round Rock at the beginning of December.

Have her help you make xmas cookies, mix and cut out and decorate sugar cookies etc... (can also use as gifts in pretty but cheap tins - Michaels usually has some cheap ones)

Have a special family Christmas Eve watching Christmas movies, drinking spiced cider or hot chocolate, and alternating movies with reading classic christmas stories.

Hit the dollar aisle at Target or other store so that there will be "more" gifts to fill in with one or two special items that she wants.

Go to Michaels or other craft store and buy small wood templates (deer, train, star, etc...), paint together, seal, and drill hole and put ribbon through to make xmas ornaments.

Also from craft store buy inexpensive plastic beads and make jewelry either together, or as a gift from you to her.

Also, we always, no matter how low our budget, do Blue Santa, the Angel Tree, or Toys for Tots. You can buy very inexpensive items (hot wheels, small doll, etc...), but it is always a great lesson to teach and picking out the presents is another memory you can build together.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from El Paso on


Since my kids were very young (my daughter is now 20) I have been a single mom and was always on a limited budget. The kids and I would bake cookies at Christmas time that we would put in inexpensive plastic containers with a Christmas bow and a homemade Christmas card signed by all three of us taped to the top. To this day, I have family members requesting their favorite cookie for their cookie gift box. Fortunately, I am now in a position where I can buy a little something for everyone in my family but they still prefer the homemade cookies to store bought gifts. We try to find a new cookie every year to add to our box. I hope to someday continue this tradition with grandchildren. I hope this helps. Not only was it inexpensive but the memories and bonding with the kids was priceless.



answers from Houston on

Hello Dana

I have found the book from the link below full of ideas, I like it very much!!! One of the Bonuses is about how to handle your money wisely during Christmas time!! Enjoy!!




answers from San Francisco on

Every year my mom and I would make gingerbread houses. In past years I have seen crafters make little villages of houses out of milk cartons, which I'm considering doing this year instead of gingerbread with my kids.

We also would decorate our bikes and go for a twilight Christmas lights bike ride. Just a walk is always fun.

Enlist your daughter's help making gifts for the neighbors
- make vanilla extract or sugar scrub for the neighbors -
- make necklaces for grandmas (You can find pretty, inexpensive beads at Michaels and Joanns).
- make candles in cleaned out tin cans

As for gifts for your daughter - you could sew her a purse, make her jewelry, assemble a suitcase of dress-ups (scarves, sunglasses, purses) that you've scavenged from thrift stores, make her a sewing kit or a kit for sewing her own stuffed animal or doll - I'm sure you can find a pattern online, or 1:1 message me and I can find one for you, cut it out and wrap it up!



answers from Austin on

If she doesn't have a camera, get a disposable one and make a homemade coupon that shows Santa paid you and you'll pay for the developing. You can find cheap brag books or scrapbooking items at target and make a cute package of them or stocking stuffers. We also stuff stockings with a ziploc of popcorn and a tangerine or orange (takes up space and the kids are hungry in the morning) Don't forget the candy cane. The bigger the better :)



answers from Mansfield on

Check out your local library! Ours offers tons of holiday programs for kids, families and adults. Also they have tons of books for great christmas crafts and stuff.
Also we always go something to help others... volunteer to ring the bells as a family for salvation army, make those cute little knotted blankets for new moms if you have a pregnancy center in your town. This year we are baking home made dog treats and taking them to the animal shelter. We are also on a very tight budget this year (it have been one thing after another eating into christmas savings... 2 kids birthdays in December and one right after christmas) but we decided as a family to cut our gift to each other budget even more and adopt a child from salvation army to buy for. My kids are having great fun picking out the christmas presents for this child we don't even know and never will! We did this last year for another organization and my youngest was really the only one envolved picking out presents but she loved it and talked about it and asked if we were doing it again she is only 4! My children often remember more what they give or do then what they recieve!
Hope this helps! Enjoy the holidays!



answers from Odessa on

You can make cards for elderly persons in the nursing home or who are part of your church. Use scraps that you may have to embellish the cards, etc. Also, the hallmark channel on T.V. has almost non-stop Christmas movies from now through the holidays. You can pick one to watch on any given night and make hot cocoa with marshmallows. Make food gifts like trail mix (Honey nut cheerios, M&M's and peanuts is one that we like) and put it in cellophane bags that you can get from the dollar store or even a sandwich bag tied festively with ribbon and make an inexpensive gift for friends. Target someone who is elderly that you know and do a good deed like maybe going grocery shopping for them or helping them to decorate a little Christmas tree, etc. Finally, years ago I decided I didn't want to focus on the commercial aspects of the holiday and we started giving each other a Christmas letter. The children would decorate the pages of their letter with crayons at first, then it got to be fun to incorporate computer graphics, etc., but the point is that we each write this letter that really expresses our sentiments. It is by far the most treasured gift. We stick the letters in the tree and we all get those and read them before we do anything else, and that makes us do grateful for whatever remembrance is under the tree and the cost of it is no big deal. Merry Christmas to you!

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