December is an expensive time for most. The cost of Christmas gifts, food, social events and activities can soon add up. If you’re on a budget, but you want to indulge in some advent activities to get you in the festive mood, then I’ve got you covered.
Add some advent activities to your list of Christmas activities
Christmastime is all about family memories in the lead up to the big day. But it can be hard to find the cash to do it all. Here are 24 activity ideas that won’t break the bank, but they will get you feeling festive.
1) Start a Reverse Advent Calendar
You should kick off your list of frugal advent activities with a Reverse Advent Calendar. The aim is to fill a box for charity, with donations, throughout the month of December. Each day you will add a different item and by the end of the month, you will have a selection of things to donate to somebody less fortunate.
It is up to you what you choose to collect; it could be items for your local food bank, or clothes. But doing a Reverse Advent Calendar is a way of reminding ourselves (and teaching our kids) exactly what Christmas is all about.
2) Make your own cards
Everybody loves receiving a handmade greetings card and you don’t have to be Picasso to make your own. So why not spend an afternoon creating? If you’re after some inspiration, then I’ve come up with some Christmas card design ideas that kids (and adults alike) can turn their hand to.
3) Enjoy a buffet tea
Have you taken a look in the freezer lately? If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably have random items that have been lingering for a while. To use them up (and to create some space in your freezer), have a buffet tea. Buffets and parties are somewhat synonymous, so you could make this your very own Christmas celebration. Plus, the kids will love it!
4) Baking activities – cookies, gingerbread, or even a pie wreath!
In the run up to Christmas, you should spend the afternoon in the kitchen. You can sample your delights afterwards and gift some to the neighbours. There’s something distinctly festive about the smell of gingerbread and it’s actually quite easy to make.
Father Christmas will also need cookies when he delivers your gifts, so why don’t you make him some?
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, then you could also make a tasty mushroom cheese puff pie wreath.
5) Write letters to Santa
If you have young children, then writing letters to Father Christmas will probably be at the top of your list of advent activities. If you send the letter in good time, your child should also receive a reply.
The address to write to is:
6) Make some paper snowflakes
Making paper snowflakes is easy and all you need is some paper and some scissors. You can create a design on the paper before making your snowflakes, or you can just make them out of plain paper. Once you’ve made them, you can put them your windows.
7) Go on a winter walk (complete with hot chocolate)
I love those days when it’s cold, but dry. There’s just something special about walking with crisp cold air in your face. So the next time one of those days arrives, make the most of it with a winter walk. Head to your local reservoir, or woods and breath in that fresh air. I’d suggest that you take a flask of hot cholate with you too, so you can warm up afterwards!
8) Spend the day in fancy dress
Get dressed up and go about your day. You don’t have to have an elaborate Christmas costume to make it count. One year, myself, my best friend and her daughter went to buy a Christmas tree, wearing elf hats. We pretended we were elves the whole time, we had music on in the car and it is such a special festive memory. Sometimes, make believe can go a long way.
9) Make some salt dough decorations
Spend the day making salt dough decorations. You could make some decorations for the tree, or the sideboard. Grandparents always love to receive handmade items, so if you have kids, perhaps you could suggest they make something for Grandma and Grandad.
10) Decorate the Christmas tree
When it comes to advent activities, decorating the Christmas tree is a staple for most. Make a day of it by putting some Christmas tunes on and enjoying unpacking your memories and displaying them around your home.
11) Have a film afternoon
In our house, there are certain films that we always watch in December. Home Alone and Arthur Christmas are always watched at least once, without fail. Making an event of it, by snuggling up on the sofa, sipping hot cholate and eating gingerbread is a lovely way to spend the day.
12) Hold your own festive photo shoot
Each year, I like to have a festive family photo shoot. I love Christmas and I love creating these memories with my family. There’s a local photographer that I go to who charges £35 for a 15-minute session. But you could always do your own. Why not? Put on your Christmas garms, get out there and make some memories! As a side note, these pictures also make great gifts for grandparents, aunts and uncles.
13) Visit a community Christmas market
If there’s usually a Christmas market where you live, then make the effort to visit. These types of events are often held in churches and they feel so festive. If you still have presents to buy, then you might be able to buy one at the market and you’ll be supporting a local business to boot.
14) Make your own rag wreath
Wreaths are traditionally made of foliage and they’re hung on your front door. But that’s not the only way to make (and hang a wreath). If you have some old clothes or fabric, then you should consider making a rag wreath for your living room. Not only will you end up with a unique decoration that you can bring out year after year, but you’ll also be recycling your old fabric.
15) Go and see the neighbourhood lights
Every village or town has that one house don’t they? That one property that is extra with the Christmas lights. So why not take a tour? Walk around the neighbourhood and enjoy these displays. That’s what they’re there for, after all!
16) Read the nativity story
If you have kids, then the nativity story should definitely feature in your list of advent activities, even if you’re not particularly religious. It’s good to have an understanding of how it goes, especially as this is something they’ll probably learn about in school.
Even if you don’t have little ones, it’s nice to remember where Christmas began. So read the nativity story one night and remind yourself.
17) Christmas music and fizz
Rock around your Christmas tree with some festive tunes. You should open a bottle of fizz too (lemonade for the kids).
18) Deliver your Christmas cards
Remember those Christmas cards you made earlier on in advent? Well it’s time to deliver them. Even if you didn’t manage to make a handmade card for everybody, it’s great to get out and hand deliver your greetings if you can.
19) Host a Christmas quiz
Come up with a Christmas quiz for the family. You could have a film round, a music round and a picture round! Use Google to help you to come up with the questions. Hopefully you won’t have to do the quiz over Zoom this year either!
20) Watch Christmas television specials (with the TV guide)
I’m a bit of a television addict and I particularly love the soaps at Christmas. But I also like to revisit one-off Christmas specials from my favourite shows, likes of Gavin and Stacey and The Office.
I also like to spend some time looking at the Christmas TV guide, to see what tickles my fancy over the festivities. I like to circle the shows that I don’t want to miss.
21) Watch a community nativity play
If you have school-age children, then it’s likely you’ll be invited to watch the school nativity. If you don’t, then see if anybody else is putting on a play. Your local church or community centre may be putting on their own production. Going along is sure to put you in the mood for Christmas.
22) Make paper chains
If you’re looking for another cheap and easy festive craft, then you should consider making paper chains. If you have kids, this is a great activity for a rainy Sunday afternoon and once the chains have been made, your little one could hang them in their bedroom.
23) Wrap gifts (Baileys is optional)
It’s the season of giving and I find wrapping presents for my loved ones quite enjoyable. I’m always sure to do my wrapping in front of a film and I usually crack open a bottle of Bailys Irish Cream too.
24) Attend Midnight Mass
If you have children, this one might be tricky, as obviously the kids need to be in bed, asleep, otherwise Father Christmas won’t visit. But if you do get chance, then attending midnight mass is the ultimate advent activity. Nothing quite says Christmas like seeing it in with carols in church.
Other advent activities
It goes without saying that there will be lots happening where you live over the Christmas period. The East Lancs Railway Santa Specials are always fun and we have also gone to Christmas at Dunham Massey and Lightopia Manchester before now. Although events like that can be enjoyable, they don’t come cheap and it’s impossible to do it all. So I hope this list has given you some inspiration and that you thoroughly enjoy the advent period, no matter what your budget is.