If you have children, the best part of the holiday season is seeing their sense of wonder and magic on Christmas morning. But trying to give them the picture-perfect holiday can be expensive, especially if you’re already facing student loans or credit card debt.
Celebrating the season doesn’t have bust your bank account; there are plenty of inexpensive Christmas ideas and tools you can use to create a wonderful experience for your family.
Read below for ideas to make this holiday season special on a budget.
Inexpensive Christmas resources
While the hottest gifts this season may be pricey electronics or elusive toys, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great holiday with your child.
You don’t even need to be especially crafty to make Christmas magic. Try these ready-made services you can use to celebrate the holiday.
NORAD Santa tracker
While the NORAD Santa tracker is well known for tracking St. Nick’s movements on Christmas Eve, it’s a terrific resource leading up to the holiday, too. With videos about Santa and his elves, new games, information about holiday traditions, and Christmas music, you and your child can surf the site together.
On the big night, check back for in-the-moment updates about Santa’s travels around the globe. Your child can track him from country to country and find out when he’ll be in your area.
Free personalized letters from Santa
On Free Letters From Santa Claus, you can design and personalize a letter for each child. Choose a background, select a template letter, and fill in the fields to personalize it to your kid’s interests.
Once complete, the site will email you a PDF of the designed letter and envelope for you to print yourself. With several different backgrounds and letters available, you can choose a different combination for each child so they all get a unique experience.
Personalized video message from Santa
With Portable North Pole, you can enchant your child with a special video message from Santa directly to them. Whether your child has been naughty or nice, create a personalized video where Santa talks directly to your child, calling him or her by name and mentioning recent achievements and accomplishments.
Portable North Pole offers several free video options you can customize, or you can get unlimited premium videos for $8.99.
Watch the reindeer cam
Share how Santa cares for his reindeer with your children! Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, and all the rest need constant care, and now your kids can watch them around the clock with ReindeerCam.
Three times a day, Santa comes out to feed his reindeer. For children who love animals, it’s a great way to check in on the herd that pulls the sleigh.
Elf on the Shelf
If you’re willing to make the daily commitment, starting the “Elf on a Shelf” tradition in your family can be a cheap but charming part of the season. While the kits with books and accessories can get pricey, you can get an elf doll for as little as $10 online.
Check out Pinterest for fun ideas to pose the doll, such as taking a bath in a pot, playing with other toys, or delivering chocolates. Each morning will be fun as your child searches for the doll.
Catch Santa in the act
While not free, this is one of the most unique and inexpensive Christmas tools you can use to amaze your child. With Capture the Magic, you take pictures of your home (try a shot of the Christmas tree or fireplace) and then you can insert Santa or his reindeer right into the photos.
The results are remarkably realistic. You can show your kids photo evidence of Santa eating cookies in your kitchen, unloading gifts at the tree, or reindeer nibbling at the back door. Get three photos for $4.99, or check out other photo packages for discounts.
The photos will make for treasured keepsakes on Christmas morning and are sure to be looked at again and again.
Catch up on classic movies
If you have a library card, you can rent classic Christmas movies like Miracle on 34th Street, The Polar Express, A Christmas Story, Elf, or The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Make movie night a regular part of your Christmas tradition with popcorn or hot chocolate. You’ll enjoy the movies together and bond without spending a fortune.
Coming up with inexpensive Christmas ideas
As a parent, there’s a lot of pressure to give your child the perfect Christmas. But the best memories don’t come from the latest gaming system or hottest toy; they’re from experiences and time you spend together.
Use these inexpensive Christmas ideas to create the holiday magic and spark lasting memories as a family.
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