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Family Christmas: 10 ideas for holiday fun

Family Christmas Ideas

For families with children, Christmas vacation might feel daunting. Our regular, scheduled lives will suddenly be unstructured with empty days on the calendar. I find that my family is not at its best if we are either too busy or if we have too much time to kill and no semblance of a plan.

Here are some thrifty ideas that we are going to try to end the year well as a family:

1. Puzzled

Each Christmas, my kids get a challenging new puzzle. We find a corner of the house where it stays set up and we all work away at it. Puzzling slows down the pace of the holidays, giving a feeling of accomplishment as a team.


To save money, instead of buying a new one each year, swap puzzles with a friend.

2. Search it

Many places offer free (or inexpensive) winter break events – check local libraries, websites like Kids Around Canada, events at your local community center, and even free/cheapskate & swim times.

3. Off-season drive-in at home

On a mild night, head out to your family vehicle. Bring out a movie to play on a portable DVD player or computer, and call it a family drive-in. Of course, pajamas, blankets, and popcorn are a must.

4. Unplugged

Set aside a block of time to be “unplugged”. Ignore the phone, turn off the television and computer, and just spend time together. This would be a great time for family charades. Nothing can humble a parent, and amuse a child, more than mom & dad clucking like chickens.

5. Kids’ dinner choice/dessert first

Let your children choose what to have for supper one night. Age permitting, let them cook it too, or at least help. This might even be a good night to try out a new recipe or have dessert first.

Jell-O Fun

6. Help others

Consider who might need some holiday cheer. A neighbor? A family friend? Brainstorm as a family how to help someone else. Shovel their driveway, invite them for hot chocolate… think beyond your own home and give back to others.

7. Embrace board-dom

Dust off the board games and rediscover games you may not have played for a long time. Classics in our home include Risk, Monopoly, Checkers, and Life. Another personal favorite of mine is playing Sculptionary – which uses Pictionary cards and Playdough. No talent required!

8. Nostalgia

Pull out family movies or photo albums. Share your “Remember when…” moments. I once showed my boys a picture of me as a toddler. Confused, one of them said, “Hey, that’s me… but why am I wearing a dress?”. Kids love to hear stories about themselves and be reminded of memories they may have forgotten.

9. Weather-permitting

My boys tease me that every time I put their snow pants away, we have a blizzard. It happens every year! We all enjoy having some snowy fun. Tobogganing, outdoor skating, snowmen making… let it snow! Our kids love taking markers outside and coloring the snow. Apparently green snowballs fly the fastest and red snowballs spiral best.


10. Slumber party

Before taking down the Christmas tree, why not spend one night as a family with sleeping bags spread out around it? My boys are planning a Christmas Eve camp out with daddy this year, but you could have your slumber party any time during the holidays.

Be sure to appoint different photographers (have each family member take turns with the camera) to capture this year’s holiday fun; kids often catch moments that we might miss – and this will give the usual photographer a chance to make it into the pictures.

There is power in simplicity and slowing down. For a season that is typically rushed, instead, let’s savor this time together. Hopefully, some of these suggestions will contribute to “peace on earth” in your home.

What ideas do you have to make this a fun holiday time on a dime?

Karen Gauvreau is a contributing writer for She was once voted, “Most Likely to Use Coupons Even If She Won the Lottery.” She is a wife and a mom of 4 boys that she affectionately calls her Blue Balloons. She proudly manages her family’s household on one salary by living frugally, and by creatively earning occasional income.


  1. Sarah

    Loved this post! Excited to do some of these activities with my kids this holiday season. Thank you!

  2. Alicia

    Great Idea’s!! I think that I will try a few of these this holiday season. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Renuka Sethi

    Great tips! 😀

  4. Sharon LW

    Definitely going to institute a kid’s choice/dessert first night monthly in our home! And the campout in the living room is a great idea!!! Love this article!!

  5. Heather

    Great article Karen! Lots of great ideas

  6. Linda

    Great article. I am looking forward to reading others. I no longer have children, but I am up for the dessert first night. We love sitting in a darkened room with just the tree lights on, it is so peaceful.

  7. Michelle

    Love these ideas! Your ideas are sure to create some great family memories this season! Thanks!

  8. Jean Dawson

    I enjoyed reading your Great Ideas Karen! 🙂

    What ideas do you have to make this a fun holiday time on a dime?

    Here’s one idea for New Years Eve, before the kids would go to bed one year we brought out a plastic table cloth and put it in the livingroom floor. We had the kids & adults sit on the edge of the table cloth holding a large cup. We put popcorn in an air popcorn popper in the middle of the tablecloth without the lid on it and plug it in which turned it on. Then we pretended to have our own popcorn fireworks for New Years! When the popcorn popper popped the corn it would fly up in the air and we had great fun trying to caught the flying popcorn in our large cups. Afterwards we would eat it! Mmm! 🙂 Enjoy, Jean

  9. Loria

    Great ideas and a great reminder to savor simplicity in this often busy Christmas season. I’m definitely going to pull out the board games (possibly even convincing my boardgame-adverse husband to join the boys and I) and get out in the snow whenever possible. Now I need to find someone to trade puzzles with too!

  10. Janet

    I love the idea of colouring snow with markers, I just wish we had snow to do it with, instead of the sloppy mess Vancouver usually ends up with. Sculptionary is good too since I have no talent for drawing. Keep up the good work.

  11. Stella

    Hi all just wanted to add number 11 to the list, a winter BBQ has always been a favourite event with my family, the kids play in the snow and the adults cook the food is the best because it is not something you normally have in the middle of winter.

    Hope you all try it this year It is the BEST!

  12. Ayden

    Hi mom it’s ayden keep up the good work. Your sure to be making millions by the end of the job.

    • Karen

      Hey Buddy,
      Nice to have a fan from within my own home! Don’t worry – I don’t need millions when I have kids like you! Although braces are coming…… 🙂

  13. Marlene

    I love these ideas, Karen. After Christmas is a challenging time of year to find creative, fun, low-budget ideas for families.

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