24 Meaningful and Frugal Family Christmas Traditions

Imagine spending Christmas Eve searching for a stranger to bring home for dinner, preferably someone who is homeless.

That’s how we spent Christmas Eve as a family one year at the request of my out-of-state aunt who was in charge of the family Christmas party. Because she was out-of-state, she couldn’t fly in to organize the party and throw the greatest shindig of the year. Instead, she wanted each family to spend Christmas Eve with a homeless person.

Awesome ideas for fun family Christmas traditions! I love the idea to make Christmas dinner for a family in need. Can't wait to start some of these this year!© Alina G – stock.adobe.com

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When it comes to Christmas traditions, I have three criteria:

  1. Meaningful: My girls are still young, just 3 and nearly 2 years old, but I really want to start meaningful traditions for our family. I want to have traditions that teach us all the true spirit of Christmas and make us want that spirit to continue throughout the year. I want traditions where we can spread our love and kindness to those in need of it.
  2. Family-Oriented: I also want traditions that can help us grow together as a family. It’s so much fun to just be with loved ones for the holidays, don’t you think?
  3. Frugal: We will be having a very frugal Christmas this year, but even if we had money to spend, I would still want our traditions to stay on the cheap side.

24 Meaningful and Frugal Family Christmas Traditions

Using the three criteria I have for our traditions, I’ve come up with several meaningful and frugal family Christmas traditions below. If you have your own ideas, please leave a comment!

Frugal and Family-Oriented Christmas Traditions

  • Make decorations for your house and the Christmas tree as a family. Gather nature items outside (now before it snows!) and make them into a garland for the tree. Make Christmas ornaments together.
  • Get in the kitchen and make Christmas cookies or candy as a family, then take a few plates to neighbors and sing Christmas carols while you’re at it.
  • Attend a free/cheap concert or play at your local school or church each year.
  • Go sledding, build a snowman, or have a snowball fight.
  • Read Christmas stories from the library or have Mom and Dad talk about memories of Christmas from the good ol’ days.
  • Have a fun sleepover a few nights before Christmas in front of your lit tree. Watch a Christmas show, read Christmas stories, or listen to Christmas music.
  • Have a gingerbread house or cookie decorating contest. Then donate the houses or cookies to your local Festival of Trees event, if you have one.
  • Turn off all the lights on Christmas Eve and use candles as you tell the story of the Savior’s birth. If you have young children, act out the Christmas story from The Bible.
  • Talk about the most significant event that happened to your family this year and how that has helped you grow closer.
  • Write special memories from the past year and keep it in a Christmas box that you open each Christmas to see how you have changed over the years.
  • Write a family Holiday letter and then send it to loved ones.
  • Require that all gifts be homemade and be sure to draw names so each person is only focused on making one gift.
  • Run in a Christmas 5K event together.

Meaningful Family Traditions

  • Do the 12 days of Christmas for a family in need.
  • Put together a few boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
  • Serve the homeless at your local shelter.
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights, and, if you feel like it, find someone you can bring home for the evening to share the spirit of Christmas.
  • If you live near a Festival of Trees event, attend and/or donate a tree (you probably will have to start this several months before the event). Attend another charity event if you do not have a Festival of Trees in your area.
  • Instead of Elf on the Shelf, buy some Kindness Elves* and discover all the wonderful things you can do for each other this Christmas season!
  • Purchase a few toys and donate them to Toys for Tots.
  • Volunteer at a local senior citizens center. Make cards, sing songs, or just visit with the elderly for an evening.
  • Let the kids pick out 3 toys that they would like to give to another child in need.
  • Make a dinner for a family who needs it and take it to them on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
  • After all gifts have been opened, ask everyone to gather at least 3 things they no longer want that they can put in a bag and give to charity.

Have fun coming up with a couple Christmas traditions for your own family!

We did find a homeless person that Christmas Eve night, but he wasn’t willing to come home with us. Even though we didn’t actually bring him home, the whole idea left an impression on me to this day. It wouldn’t have bothered me if my parents decided that every Christmas Eve we went searching for someone to bring home to our dinner table. It probably could have been the greatest Christmas lesson for us all.

What Christmas tradition from your childhood is special to you?

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I'm a mom of 3 on a journey to feed my family nourishing foods. Personally, I believe that you can feed your family healthy, delicious meals without spending a fortune or slaving away in the kitchen.


  1. Sandy Laster says:

    When my kids were growing up, we made a BIRTHDAY cake for Jesus (from a ‘recipe’—-everything had a meaning—- and sang or listened to the song HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS on Christmas Eve before they went to bed.

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