Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10 Frugal Christmas Activities for Families with Teens

This week I am writing about different ways to have a fun, yet economical, Christmas with activity and gift ideas especially for teens.  So far we have looked at:
  • homemade gift ideas for teens (which you can read about here)
  • creative ways to present gift cards and money (which you can read about here)
Christmas is extra fun and memorable if special activities are planned.  These can be at-home activities or things to do in the community. Here are the suggestions I found on-line or things our family has done.

1. Draw names for Kris Kringle gifts.  The Kris Kringle gifts could be little acts of kindness or chores done for another person - in secret of course!

2. Have an old-fashioned evening using only candlelight.  It is especially fun if you use candles throughout the house not only for dinner, but also during the evening activities and when you are getting ready for bed.  You could play board games together after dinner or a rousing game of charades as our family often does.

3. Have a paper folding evening.  Look on-line for a variety of fun things to make with paper.

Try making -
these pretty paper flower ornaments (seen in the picture above)
or these beautiful lanterns
or these gorgeous stars
or this clever cardboard coffee sleeve wreath
or these pretty boxes

4.  Have a Christmas reading evening (a Christmas movie evening would also work).   Have your teens invite their friends over or invite another family to join you and ask everyone to bring their favourite story and a snack.  Then snuggle down around a fire and take turns reading the books to each other and munching on snacks. 

One of our family's favourite Christmas books

5.  Have a pot luck soup party.  Who doesn't love a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter day, let alone two or three bowls.  And it's always fun to try out new types of soup.  This would be a fun thing to do after an afternoon of tobogganing

6.  Have a fun-in-the-dark evening (and I don't mean anything X-rated either).  Have your teens invite their friends over and then hand out flashlights to everyone.  Turn off all the lights in the house and play games like manhunt or hide-and-seek.  Later you can give everyone glow sticks - be sure and take photos of the designs they make with them.  They can be amazingly beautiful.

When it comes to events in your community, Google is your best friend.  Be sure and type in the year so you get up-to-date information.

7.  Go for a drive to check out the best Christmas lights.   Have everyone get into their pajamas, grab a travel mug of hot chocolate and then admire the Christmas lights.  Google your area to see where the best lights are.

8.  Attend free (or low cost) Christmas performances.  Often the best source of free concerts and shows are ones put on by churches.  For example, the Salvation Army Church in Mississauga presents "The Gift of Christmas" at the Living Arts Centre for donations only.   Also many communities have special tree lighting ceremony that are free to attend.  You could also try googling live nativity plays.  In the Toronto area alone there are several free or low cost nativity plays to choose from.  Google your area to see what is available.  The Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto performs a live nativity play for its 73rd year (you can find information here).  There is also the outdoor nativity at the country heritage park in Milton.  Two of my children and my parents have all been involved in this performance at various times (you can find out more info here).

9.  Work on doing something for someone else together as a family.  It might be helping at the local Salvation Army soup kitchen or it might be filling a shoe box with toys for the Samaritan's Purse.  

10.  Make December 24th your day to visit a local museum, art gallery, or science centre.  Trust me when I tell you that you will nearly have the place to yourself.  We have done this almost every year and it is such a nice way to spend time together and it marks the start of our festivities.  On different years we have gone to the ROM, AGO, and Science Centre in Toronto and in 2008 we even went to Chicago for a few days to take in the Field Museum, the Art Institute, and the Shedd Aquarium.  This is a picture of me taken by my son at the Art Institute of Chicago (do you see any crowds?  Nope I don't either - it was lovely).

What ever you do, the important thing is to plan to spend some time together having fun and making memories.


  1. I'm enjoying this series of posts. Great ideas. Those red and white paper things look like peppermints!

  2. Great inspiration, Grace. Thanks for the ideas!...

  3. What a great list of Christmas activities - they'd be fun for a family without teens too :-)

    I love to go for a walk or drive on Christmas Eve and admire all the Christmas lights. There's a street in an area east of Ottawa where everyone goes all-out with the decorations - it's quite the scene!

    Thanks for stopping by JAX does design - it's good to "meet" another Canadian blogger :-) So happy you found me through Susan's blog - doesn't she rock?!

    Yep, I'll be at the bloggers meetup next weekend. I'll see you there :-)

    Thanks for spreading the word about my giveaway - good luck!


  4. Great list. Wish I had an art gallery like that near me!

  5. Wonderful ideas Grace! They are so many ways to celebrate Christmas without spending money!

  6. I LOVE the idea of going to a museum or attraction on Christmas Eve - I will have to talk to my fiance about starting this tradition :)


  7. hi mom! Nice post.
    You realize though that you've cursed our Christmas eve museum visit? Now that you've told the world, the world is going to be there.
    Good one.
    ps- we need to go to the ROM this year to see the terracotta warriors.

  8. These are all fabulous ideas. I like the idea of game night by candle-light!

    Best wishes,

  9. Hi Grace, what lovely ideas. I think I'll give the paper flowers a go.. Is there any way you can let me know which photos are still available, if any? Rachaelxx