Traditions that won’t break the bank

beautiful-Christmas-Trees 02I love the holiday season, but it can be easy to get caught up in buying a lot of presents or spending money on fun outings and gifts. I am hoping to establish some traditions that will allow my family to spend time together and enjoy the holiday spirit but help us avoid breaking the bank each year. So here are my top 5 free and low-cost traditions!

  • Desserts top the list, of course!

    What is this time of year without some of the most decadent and delightful desserts we eat all year? Not only do I love eating a few too many cookies, I love spending a vacation day baking and making my house smell like a sugar factory. Making the treats at home saves a good chunk of cash, and it is great fun to do as a family! A few of my favorite recipes are: Russian Tea Cakes, Banket and my all-time favorite, chocolate pie!

  • Christmas Music.

    Without picking on any certain song, I’ll just say I have had my lifetime fill of many of the tunes you hear on the radio these days. However, I can (and do!) listen to a few of my favorite Christmas CDs over and over. When I was a kid on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my dad would turn up the carols to top volume and we’d enjoy the music while we finished wrapping presents, baking and decorating the house. As I write this I’m listening to one of my favorites – Noel by Josh Groban. I also will listen over and over to anything by King’s College Choir. Buy your favorite recordings online or from a local music or bookstore, and give yourself years of joyful music!

  • Outdoor walk/hike/snowshoe.

    My husband and I started this tradition 2 years ago when we had first moved here. It was freezing and windy, but it was so fun to take a long walk along the beach in the cold with almost no traffic. There’s something magical about bundling up and spending a couple hours (or a couple minutes!) outside in the cold. Plus we always feel pretty rugged afterward, and a little more justified eating all those desserts we made! Depending on the weather we decide whether to snowshoe, hike or just take a quick walk around the neighborhood!

  • Movies

    My family used to watch the holiday classics but we also like to go see the big blockbusters that came out around the holidays. We looked forward to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy for several years, and although I probably won’t see a movie in the theater this year, I still plan to snuggle up on the couch on my vacation days and watch my favorites: Love Actually, It’s a Wonderful Life, and some totally un-holiday related DVDs such as Ellen Degeneres’ standup Here and Now! If you own the movies or have Netflix or another similar service, this is a very frugal way to enjoy an afternoon!

  • Stockings

    I saved my all-time favorite and most important holiday tradition for last. I was definitely moved out of the house already so I won’t get into just how embarrassingly childish my reaction was, but when my mom told me it was the last year for stockings, my reaction quickly convinced (scared?) her that it might be in her best interest to continue giving me stockings for at least a few more years. To this day, I love getting a stocking, and it doesn’t really matter to me what is inside  The fun part is more about digging through that stuffed stocking on Christmas morning! The great thing about stockings is you can fill them with treats and little gifts that won’t break the bank.

Happy Holidays New Hampshire! What are your favorite free or low-cost holiday traditions?

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