Many people believe the myth that money buys happiness, especially during the holiday season. But the greatest gifts of Christmas aren’t the ones found under the tree.
The memories made with friends and family will live long after the Christmas tree has been packed up and the lights have been taken off the house. Memory-making grants all the fun of Christmas without starving the piggy bank.
A great start to the low-cost Christmas fun and memories is decorating the Christmas tree with family. Afterwards, try playing a game of charades or Monopoly as an alternative to expensive activities.
Anna McKee, a sophomore biology major, and her family start the holiday fun right away. “We always get our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. We decorate our house and put up stockings for the kids,” McKee said.
The McKees spend Christmas Day with their grandparents, making a big breakfast and reading the Christmas story. “Then we open presents and have a treasure hunt for the last present,” McKee said. They spend the rest of the day eating, talking and playing games with the family.
Charlotte Brown, a senior apparel, textiles and design major from New Hampshire, also enjoys Christmas traditions with her family. They buy their tree from a neighbor for only $10. Brown and her family cut their own tree, drag it back to their house and decorate it.
Another way to save money over Christmas break is staying home and making gifts while making memories during the process.
“The week before Christmas, Mom and I bake lots of cookies and fudge. We put it in little boxes and take it to all the neighbors on our hill,” Brown said.
Each year the Browns tack a felt Christmas tree advent calendar to the wall. “Every night leading up to Christmas we do a devotional together, and we get to put up a felt picture that pertains to the devotion,” Brown said. This fun countdown to Christmas Day is also a great reminder of Jesus’ birth long ago.
One low-cost way to make memories with loved ones requires only a vehicle and a tank of gas. Driving around the neighborhood or town, looking at the inflatable reindeer sleighs and plastic manger scenes, is a free way to get in the Christmas spirit.
There’s nothing like being crammed in a minivan full of over-excited children admiring the lights to kick off the memory-making fun.
Bethany Pritchard, a sophomore graphic design major from South Carolina, enjoys the holiday lights with her family and Sunday school class. “Our family always takes our Sunday school class to go see the ‘Laurens Lights,’ and then we ride around town to look at different house lights,” Pritchard said.
Staying inside and drinking mom’s famous hot cocoa while watching the Christmas classics is also tons of fun. Why pay to go see a movie when all the best Christmas movies are available on television? A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas are two of the many classics free to enjoy every Christmas season.
“We always watch certain old Christmas movies, make apple pie and ice cream and decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving,” Pritchard said.
When planning low-cost Christmas activities, don’t stray too far from home. Nothing could be more fun (and piggy bank-friendly) than enjoying the holidays with those beloved human beings we like to call family.
After all, home is where the heart is, and home is where the best memories are made.