Looking for stuff to do around the holidays, but don’t want to spend a fortune?
Well, we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we cover tons of things to do at Christmas that are super cheap or totally free!
If you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean that you have to miss out!
Give these free and cheap things to do at Christmas a try and enjoy yourself this holiday season.
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Cheap & Free Things to Do During Christmas Season
Here are some of the best things to do during the Christmas season that adults, kids, couples and the whole family can enjoy doing. Many of these are also great Christmas things to do with friends.
1. Bake Christmas cookies
Fill your home with the scent of Christmas cookies baking in the oven! They make great homemade gifts too!
2. Send a letter to Santa Claus
What’s more Christmassy than a child writing a letter to Santa?
You can even get a response to the letter from the Postal Service!
Learn how to get a letter back from Santa from the USPS here.
3. Visit Santa for free
During the holidays, Bass Pro stores turn into a winter wonderland, where kids can get a free photo with Santa! There are even free crafts, games and activities available. And kids eat for free as well.
Learn more about Santa’s Wonderland events at Bass Pro here.
4. Go to a tree lighting ceremony
This is a magical thing to do during the holidays! Many cities have a ceremony where they light the tree. Often it’s free or very cheap to attend. Enjoy cocoa, gather around the tree and get into the Christmas spirit.
5. Make homemade gifts
Homemade gifts are incredibly thoughtful, and making them is sure to get you into the festive mood. Plus, it’s a great way to save money on Christmas gifts.
Put on some Christmas music, pour yourself a drink, and get to making those holiday gifts. Take a look at our 101 DIY Christmas Gifts You Can Make Today post here for homemade gift ideas.
6. Chat to your family in front of a roaring fire
Sip some eggnog or eat some Christmas cookies with your family while the fire blazes. It’s cheap, it’s cozy, it’s Christmas!
7. Decorate your tree and home
Get out the Christmas tree and the decorations, put on the holiday music or a Christmas movie, and get to decorating! This always gets me into the holiday spirit! And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve collected decorations over the years, so it doesn’t cost a penny to decorate.
8. Make some homemade ornaments
The whole family can get involved as well. Whether it’s a glitter-covered pinecone, or a hanging holiday star, making ornaments can be super and fun, and it’s cheap too. For free printable decorations, take a look at our post on 121 Christmas Freebies here. Also, take a look at this list of DIY Christmas ornaments.
9. Peruse the mall (you don’t have to buy anything!)
During the holidays, most malls are transformed by festive decorations and sparkling lights. Most stores have beautiful window displays as well. Take a trip to your local mall and take in the festivities. If you are going to shop, make sure you read our post on how to save money on Christmas shopping.
10. Make your own gingerbread house
You can make it from scratch or get one of those sets! It’s festive fun!
11. Take a drive around the town to see the holiday lights
From people’s homes on your street to the main street that runs through your town, there are plenty of places where you can view beautiful Christmas lights during the holidays.
12. Go to your local winter parade
A lot of towns have a Christmas parade. Some cities, especially small towns, offer these parades for free, or at a super low cost. Check your local community events calendar to see if there’s a parade near you this year.
13. Make some homemade Christmas cards
This is cheap to do and it’s a good way to show you care during the holidays. If you’re not particularly crafty, check out our post about Free Printable Christmas Card Templates with links to templates (many of which you can even customize) you can print instantly.
14. Go ice skating
It’s not too expensive and it’s a lot of fun. Plus, an ice rink during the holidays is one of the most Christmassy settings we can think of!
15. Watch holiday movies
The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Grinch, It’s a Wonderful Life – there are too many great holiday movies to name in just a sentence. Even those cheesy Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movies have their charm around the holidays.
So snuggle under a blank with some hot cocoa or something stronger and enjoy a marathon of festive films.
16. Listen to old Christmas music
I don’t know why, but the 40s and 50s were awesome decades for Christmas music! From Frank Sinatra to Dean Martin, classic singers have some holiday albums that are sure to get you in the festive mood.
Volunteering your time costs nothing, but it can make a big difference. Christmas is a time of giving, and sometimes the best thing you can give to someone is your time. Whether it’s a local food bank or animal shelter there are likely plenty of organizations near you that are in need of volunteers.
18. Surprise someone with an extra gift
Think of someone to surprise with an extra gift. Maybe you have an elderly relative who you don’t see as often as you should, or maybe you just want to let the mailman know you appreciate their work. Whoever it is, putting together a little gift basket or a special gift for someone is a good way to show that you care. And it doesn’t need to cost you much money.
20. Make a Christmas playlist
This is one of my all-time favorite things to do during the holidays! With the invention of streaming platforms, like Spotify, it’s now easier than ever!
There are tons of Christmas albums on Spotify, meaning you can easily create a playlist of festive songs!
Then, whether you’re wrapping gifts or just enjoying a glass of eggnog, you can listen to your playlist and you’ll be right in the festive mood!
21. Build a snowman
If you’re lucky enough to get snow where you live, then build a snowman! What’s wintrier than that?
22. Make a snow angel
Another super fun activity if your town is blanketed by snow this winter.
23. Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
It’s a classic and an awesome Christmas tradition.
24. Have an evening of gift wrapping
Make a big deal out of wrapping your gifts. Save wrapping all of the gifts you plan to give until a few days before Christmas, or a week or so before, if you like to be well-organized and prepared.
Then spend the night listening to holiday music while wrapping them. Since Target and dollar stores often have gift wrapping supplies at low prices, this is a super cheap festive activity.
By the way, don’t over spend on wrapping papers. These are the best places to buy cheap wrapping paper!
25. Buy an ugly Christmas sweater
This is something of a modern Christmas tradition. You and your friends and family could compete to see who can get the ugliest (in a good way!) Christmas sweater.
26. Host a pot-luck Christmas party
If you’d like to host a Christmas party, or a few, this holiday season, consider having a pot-luck style party.
Pot-luck dinners are cheaper because you don’t have to pay to feed everyone!
Instead, everyone brings a dish. You could easily make a dish for $10 or less!
Plus, pot-lucks are fun because you end up with a great mix of items.
27. Get together with family or friends for a holiday-themed photo shoot
Whether it’s you and your family standing by the Christmas tree in that aforementioned Christmas sweater, or you and your friends under the Christmas lights at the local ice rink, staging a holiday-themed photoshoot is a fun activity for the holidays.
28. Decorate someone else’s home or office
Surprise someone this holiday season by decorating their home or office for Christmas. It will be fun to see their excited reactions when they see all of the decorations!
29. Bake Christmas treats for the neighbors
This is a good way to spread some holiday cheer, and it doesn’t cost much either. (Just remember to be careful with allergens in food, like peanuts for example, and always tell people if your treats contain any. Take a look at this bake sale guide for tips on safety with allergens).
30. Make your own ugly Christmas sweater
Before, we mentioned that buying an ugly Christmas sweater was a fun thing to do around the holidays. But, making your own one can be just as much fun, or even better! For some great ideas, take a look at this list of DIY ugly Christmas sweaters. You can find cheap sweaters at the thrift store or on the clearance racks.
31. Play Christmas movie Pictionary
You play this like you do regular Pictionary, but the difference is that you try to guess the name of the Christmas movie that the other person is trying to illustrate. You could also do this with Christmas songs!
32. Make a popcorn garland
This can be a great way to do something festive, and even if you’ve already decorated the rest of the house, it makes a great addition later on.
33. Roast chestnuts on an open fire
It’s an incredibly festive thing, and if you don’t have a fireplace, roasting them in the oven is a great alternative (take a look at this article on how to roast chestnuts in the oven). It will fill your home will a lovely smell that will remind you of Christmas-time. Listen to The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) while you’re doing it, and you have a perfect evening.
34. Donate a Toy
Like we said before, Christmas is all about giving. And what better way to give this Christmas than by donating a toy. Toys for Tots is one organization that you can donate to. You can learn more about donating to Toys for Tots here. But many places near you will probably have donation points, like the children’s hospital, fire department, or homeless shelter. Some stores also have ways you can make donations to charitable causes as well.
35. Make a wreath for the front door
Gather up some supplies, nature is plentiful, and get to work making a festive wreath for your front door. Take a look at this article for DIY Christmas wreaths.
36. Hang stockings
It just screams “Christmas!”
37. Make paper snowflakes
It’s a great way to spend a cold winter afternoon. And, it’s one of those activities that the whole family can enjoy. You can stick them on the windows for the neighbors to see, use them to decorate presents, or hang them on the tree!
Learn how to make paper snowflakes here.
38. Go to a midnight Christmas Eve Service at church
This is a great way to enjoy Christmas in your community.
39. Have a snowball fight
You’re never too old for a snowball fight. Getting outside, and playing in the snow really puts you in a great, festive mood!
40. Make your Christmas List
It’s not just an activity for kids! If you’re anything like me, you have family members asking you what you want for Christmas. Some people like to ask people what they want, rather than giving them a surprise gift. So write down the things you want and you’ll be prepared the next time a family member asks you what gift you want this holiday season.
41. Visit a Christmas tree farm near you
Even if you don’t pick one out, it’s still a festive experience that can make for a wonderful family trip.
42. Make your own Christmas centerpiece
It’s a crafty way to spend an afternoon or evening during the holidays. Your centerpiece doesn’t need to be saved for Christmas Day either – you can add it to your table before!
If you’re using flowers, then you might need to switch them out of course, but it’s a nice piece to have on your table during the holidays.
43. Make some eggnog!
This just screams Christmas. Every year we make eggnog and it always gets me in the Christmas spirit.
44. Go sledding
Another activity I loved when I was younger was sledding. Of course, you can enjoy sledding at any age! If you’re lucky enough to enjoy snow where you live this year, spend the afternoon sledding. It’s a super fun activity that the whole family can enjoy.
45. Sip on homemade hot cocoa
Would it really be winter without a steaming mug of hot cocoa in your hand? We think not. Add some marshmallows and you’re set.
46. Make s’mores in front of the fireplace
While you might associate making s’mores with camping, it can actually be the perfect activity when you’re stuck indoors on a cold winter’s day. Roast marshmallows in front of the fireplace for homemade s’mores!
47. Have a sleepover under the Christmas tree
Pull out the sleeping bags, and have a family slumber party under the tree. You can look up at the beautiful decorations while snuggled inside a sleeping bag.
48. Create your Christmas menu
It’s super fun and a way to start feeling Christmassy – and be prepared for Christmas dinner as well!
49. Do a random act of kindness
We’ve said it before, but Christmas really should be about giving. An easy way to give is by doing a random act of kindness. This is a simple, kind gesture, like paying for the shopping for the person in front of you or feeding someone’s parking meter.
50. Wear a Santa hat in public
Because why not? It’s sure to spread holiday cheer.
51. Leave out some cookies for Santa
It’s fun for the whole family. And take a look at this article to learn what kids in other countries leave out for Santa.
52. Make an advent calendar
Making your own advent calendar is super fun and you can get really creative. Check out this post on DIY advent calendars.
53. Start a new tradition
Christmas is the perfect time to start a new tradition.
A few years ago, my family and I started the tradition of playing Xbox games together. I know it doesn’t sound like the most Christmassy of activities, but it was a good way for everyone to get involved, and laugh while watching relatives try to drive to escape the police on Grand Theft Auto, or button bash while playing Mortal Kombat.
Think of a new activity you and your family could do, and make it a tradition. Whether it’s coming up with a special dish you cook every holiday or playing Pictionary, start a new tradition that will live on for years to come.
54. Eat a candy cane
Or make candy cane vodka. Check out this article for the recipe.
55. Mail a thank you letter to someone in the armed forces
You can do this through the Red Cross Holidays for Heroes program. Check out the program here.
56. Donate winter-wear
Mittens, sweaters, and jackets are all much needed during the holiday season. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford them. That’s why you should consider donating winter-wear to your local homeless shelter.
57. Organize a secret Santa gift exchange
If you’re looking for a fun way to exchange gifts with family, friends or coworkers this year, then a Secret Santa Gift Exchange is perfect for you.
58. Go to a local Christmas Festival
Many towns have Christmas festivals where you can drink hot cider and look at beautiful Christmas displays and decorations.
Whether it’s a festival of trees or the welcoming of Santa coming to town, you could find a fun Christmas festival near you.
Check to see if your local community offers any Christmas festivals this year.
59. Play board games
The whole family can get involved and it’s fun to bring out people’s competitive edge, in a light-hearted way, of course.
60. Make mulled wine (or my favorite German holiday drink Glühwein)
Mulled wine is almost synonymous with the holidays. So make your own at home!
Take a look at this article for a great mulled wine recipe.
Or, try something slightly different and try Glühwein. It’s the German version of mulled wine that I first tried when I was at the Berlin Christmas markets. It’s also popular in Austria. I think it’s way nicer than regular mulled wine. Check out this recipe on how to make it.
What’s Your Favorite Free Thing to Do During Christmas?
As you can see, there are so many cheap or free things to do at Christmas. So give them a try.
What are your favorite cheap or free things to do over the holidays?
Let us know in the comments section below.