7 Budget Friendly Holiday Activities

If you’re committed to sticking to your budget this holiday season (like me), your FOMO meter is probably buzzing right about now. But Instagram posts of friends celebrating at fancy restaurants and bars, those beautiful ski slopes you’ll have to cut back on, or missed White Elephant exchanges don’t have to haunt you. There are tons of festive activities that can help you create new holiday memories and build your spirit will still keeping your budget intact. To name a few:

Plan an at-home Holiday Movie Night

Part of the magic of the holidays is hearing the stories about the miracles that come with the season. There is no better way to inspire holiday cheer than snuggling up with a blanket and watching your favorite Christmas movie. My favorite way to enjoy all the classics without buying anything is ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. This is 25 full days of holiday programming, so your favorite movie or show is sure to be included. Pro Tip: Check out the programming schedule in advance and DVR your favorites.

Make Christmas decorating an event

Is there any single event that gets you in the holiday mood like pulling your decorations out of storage for the first time? Call me crazy, but I am practically giddy when I finally get to decorate for Christmas each year. Make decorating an event with your family, friends or roommates. Turn on the Christmas music as you put up your tree and lights

Attend a free Holiday Festival

Most towns and cities around the US host some kind of holiday festival for people to take part in. Here in Seattle we have an event called Winterfest, and just a few minutes away the City of Bellevue hosts an event called Snowflake Lane. These are great for getting in the holiday spirit, and are usually free. This is a list of a few festivals and events around the country. If none of those are close to you a quick Google search will probably net you results as well.

Bake & Decorate Cookies (or a Gingerbread House)

Bake up a batch of your favorite holiday cookies and then get friends (or family) together to help decorate them. Cookie ingredients will usually run under $10 at a grocery store, and you may already have the necessary ingredients in your cupboard. If you are the competitive type, put a friendly wager on whose cookies or Gingerbread House is the most festive.

Set out on a Christmas Light Excursion

Chances are high that there is a neighborhood close to you that overindulges in outdoor holiday decorations. These neighborhoods are the absolute best places to venture to at night, preferably with a thermos of hot chocolate and hand warmers in tow. Drive around and look at the lights while listening to Christmas music, or get out and walk from house to house.

Go Ice Skating

Like holiday festivals, many cities open a seasonal ice skating rink during the holiday season. Ice skating may require a bit more skill and balance than other holiday activities, but gliding around is a great way to stay active and festive at the same time. Note: hot chocolate is also recommended for this one.


Part of the spirit of the holidays includes giving back to those less fortunate. Gather up the family or a group of friends and volunteer at your local homeless shelter, humane society, or hospital. Gather warm clothes and drop them off with your local Salvation Army, or adopt a family in need from a local nonprofit. You may be surprised how much this builds your spirit of gratitude, and you never know just how large an impact your actions can have.

With Christmas less than a month away it is officially time to kick off the holiday festivities, while kicking holiday FOMO to the curb.  What are your favorite budget-friendly holiday traditions and activities?

Charlee Van Wagenen