It is too easy for Christmas to be all about the hurly-burly jobs. There’s an endless push to spend and do and for many of us the ‘nice’ activities we’d like to do with our kids get pushed to the bottom of the pile.
I’ve found actually scheduling in days to do activities with the kids has a two-fold benefit – I get to prioritise having messy fun with them and reduce the amount of time I could be out and about persuaded to SPEND money I simply don’t have. Here are some of our favourite cheap and easy Christmas things to make and do in our house in December…
Get outside and collect some greenery to decorate your home
For us that’s as simple as collecting holly from the hedgerows around our local park. We snipped a few bits of ivy and some laurel too but anything you like the look of is nice to bring home. One thing we noticed is that there are quite a lot of different types of holly – so not all of it has berries, some of it is darker green than others, some of it less spiky. It’s a great activity in paying attention to what’s around us.
When we got home we just put some of the holly in a little jar with some fairy lights. Other greenery we either put in vases or decorated shelves with it.
Spend £0 – time only!
Create your own homemade Christmas decorations
Go old school here! Think paper chains (literally red and green paper, cut into strips and stuck together with glue or sellotape). It’s so easy and my six-year-old was beside herself with joy at how quickly we were able to make this big loopy decoration!
Popcorn chains are another good one (though remember to make two batches of popcorn, one for eating and one for stringing onto some thread!). I think popcorn chains are probably more of an American decorating tradition, but it’s nice and they look like strings of snow. Also super cheap to make too.
Paper snowflakes are also a winner. You can either leave them white or (if you can face the mess!) cover in paste and go crazy with the glitter. There are loads of easy templates and instructions on the internet and you DO NOT have to be a massively creative or talented artist to get some really lovely snowflakes.
Spend 65p – red and green paper (from a pack of coloured sugar paper, 4 sheets) 35p, popcorn (from kernels, £1 for the whole bag) 20p, printer paper (or use old newspaper or magazines!) 10p for 10 sheets
Make your own Advent Candle
This one came about because every year I mean to buy an advent candle and every year I’m either blown away by how expensive they are or I forget and everywhere seems to be sold out.
BUT, you can just buy a pack of standard white or cream dining candles and make your own, using either acrylic pens (like the ones you can paint stones with) or colourful sharpies. I suggest you measure out the spacings on a sheet of A4 and if you’re doing this with younger kids either give up on the idea of your candle looking super chic or get heavily involved yourself!
Simply put your making evenly spaced markings down the side of your candle and adding numbers 1 – 24 next to each line. You can do it in red and green or gold and silver, or whatever colours match your Christmas décor!
Bake Gingerbread biscuits
The gorgeous thing about gingerbread (apart from how delicious and cosy it makes your kitchen smell) is that you can go crazy on the different kinds of shapes (from people, to snowflakes, to Christmas trees). And then of course the really fun bit, decorating them!
I find one of the challenges in our house is getting the shapes made and in the oven before little fingers and mouths have eaten all the lovely gingery dough! There are heaps of online recipes to try but the one I like best is this one. A top tip I would offer is go easy on the cooking time for softer cookies.
Spend £1.96 – (based on Aldi prices for cooking ingredients)
Make your own Christmas Cards
This one is a huge favourite in our household and something we do every year. I always save the Christmas cards from the previous year for just this reason. I cut out the pictures from the cards as well as the greetings and then we get down with the glue and the glitter and anything else in the making box and create our very own, one-of-a-kind Christmas cards!
Spend £2.69 for 10 homemade cards – pva glue 25p (for 50mls), coloured card 15p per card (cut A4 to get two cards from one sheet) £1.50 for 10 cards, glitter (10pk) 79p based on using two whole tubes of glitter.
Other things we do include making marzipan chocolate balls with the leftover marzipan when I’m icing the Christmas cake – it really is as simple as rolling the marzipan up into ball and dipping them in melted chocolate (I prefer dark!). You can always package these up in a little box and give them to friends and relatives as a gift but chances are if you’re in an almond-loving household these scrumptious treats aren’t going to last all that long!
This year we’ve also created a Christmas story book ‘advent calendar’. We’ve gathered together ALL our Christmas storybooks, stuck a number from 1 – 24 on the front of them and reading a different one each evening before bed. We have quite a few ‘mega favourites’ (like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and The Single Stocking) that are likely to get more than one outing but it means the whole back catalogue gets an annual airing too.