Fun, Festive & FREE

Ah, it’s that time of year again. Most of us have trimmed the tree, decked the halls and are enjoying the holiday season as it’s in full-swing. Problem is, many if not most of us are already stretched to the max financially. If you’re one of those, you’re in good company. And fortunately, there are a lot of fun, festive and FREE activities to enjoy this season with friends and family. Here are just a few:

Find a FREE Santa! If you’ve got little ones, then you’re likely looking for a Santa too. While the traditional mall-seated Santa pictures come with a hefty price tag, there are many other completely free options too. From local grocery stores to city events to even real estate offices, many local businesses are starting a service to the community by providing free meet and greets with Santa. So, bring your kids and your camera and enjoy a warmer, cozier atmosphere at an even better price!


Create and enjoy the glow. Gather and light all the candles in your home, dim the lights and softly play traditional holiday music in the background. Remind yourself and your family of a simpler time when technology didn’t scream its presence. Slowing down and enjoying even the simplest experience doesn’t have to cost a cent. It’s fun to do and an important skill to teach our kids.

Drive or walk your neighborhood to enjoy the holiday lights. Do a bit of digging either online or with friends and family to uncover the best neighborhoods or scout it out yourself. Locate the neighborhoods where a bit of friendly competition has led to extreme and over-the-top displays of LEDs and winter-themed lawn ornaments.

Local nurseries, hardware and specialty stores can also offer great displays to enjoy. From tiny, ornate Christmas villages to winter wonderlands filled with beautifully flocked trees to toasty poinsettia rooms that seem to glow in bright reds and deep greens, many local stores take great pride in their holiday displays. Leave your cash at home and turn “window shopping” into “window gazing” and go just to enjoy the show.

Visit community holiday craft shows. Window shopping at its best, visiting church or community holiday craft shows is a great way to get into the holiday spirit and get your own creative juices flowing. Exceptionally proud and friendly crafters may also take the time to help you get started on your own crafts by sharing some free how-tos as well.

Deck the halls some more! Half (or if not more!) of the fun of decorating is the actual process of doing so. If you have children at home, find free printable holiday themed coloring sheets to have them color and then post on their bedroom walls. Break out the glitter and a few paper plates and create angel halos for them to wear! Or – a personal favorite in our home – create a “countdown chain” by creating a paper chain with strips of paper, one link for each day until Christmas. Hang it up on the wall and then each day, have your child pull off one of the links. The chain starts out large and then gets smaller and smaller until the magical day finally arrives!

Photo credit: Gauntey

This article was originally written or modified on . If you enjoyed reading this post, please consider subscribing to my full RSS feed. Or you can also choose to have free daily updates delivered right to your inbox.

Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

One Response to “Fun, Festive & FREE”

  1. Suzanne Holt |  Dec 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    There ARE so many options to enjoying the holiday festivities for free. These are some great suggestions. We love walking around a well lit neighborhood and taking in all of it’s beauty :)

    Suzanne Holt