Creating a magical Christmas is very important to me. As a mother of two kids who are growing up way too quickly – I am well aware that I only have so many years where my children struggle falling asleep on Christmas Eve because they are just too excited! I want to make sure that their excitement matches or exceeds their little hearts and minds on Christmas morning. (No. Not meaning there are a million gifts under the tree)
I put a lot of effort in each year into creating a magical Christmas. Not just for them but for me too. I love the memories – and I love making more every year.
Creating a magical Christmas does not have to cost a lot of money. I am also well aware that Christmas expenses can quickly get out of hand. Very quickly. I have compiled a vast list of tips and ideas on creating a magical Christmas for you and your children with little to no money!
Let’s get the most expensive part of Christmas taken care of. Gift giving.
When money is tight, buying gifts can cause a lot of stress! I think it is imperative that you contact your family to give them a heads up that money is tight this year, well in advance of Christmas. Tell them that you will be focusing your finances on your immediate family first (spouse and kids). This can be hard – but it is absolutely for the best. I do not believe that anyone worth buying a gift for, would want you to go into debt for them!
If you find some wiggle room, by all means, buy/make what you can for your extended family!
When it comes to the gifts that you purchase – the presentation can make all the difference! A Magical Christmas is all about the sights, smells, and experiences. Beautifully wrapped gifts make what is under the paper all that more exciting!
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Those are just three thoughtfully and beautifully wrapped gifts- that require little to no money.
I like to use inexpensive ornaments (taken right off the tree – no one even misses them) to add to our gifts. The “G” and “H” initials have been used every year- and I will continue to do so.
Creating a Magical Christmas: Gift Wrap
1) Wrap everything! Seriously. Unwrapping the presents is thrilling, especially for younger kids. Growing up, every.single.item was wrapped—everything in our stocking and every gift. When Scott and I started dating, he thought that wrapping stocking stuffers were insane. It is not. It makes Christmas morning last longer – and it is fun!
If you bought a four-pack of lip gloss or matchbox cars from the dollar store, open up the package and wrap each item individually. You just went from one present to four.
2) Has your child been given a gift over the last year that they have completely forgotten about? Likely not even opened? Depending on their age – grab the toy and re-wrap it – and stick it under the tree.
3) In the boy’s stockings, we put some little toys and fun things – but we also put items like a toothbrush and body wash. If you already have an extra toothbrush stashed in your linen closet – grab it and wrap it up. They have no idea when you bought it!
4) Start NOW! Start early – start stocking up on clearance items today. Buy what you can afford this week, and slowly begin adding what you can. Buying what you can afford now will save you big bucks come December! Not only can you grab the best deals – but it won’t seem like such a hard hit on your budget.
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Creating a Magical Christmas: The Morning Of
We have a tradition of creating a special Christmas morning feast. It is not anything more than a fancy Sunday morning breakfast – but the way I display everything makes it seem extra special.
Morning Of Tips:
1) Decorate the table! I like to have the table decorated and have it “set” once the kids go to bed. Little touches like those super inexpensive candy cane name cards – make the day feel so special. Combine that with a few other bits, and you are golden!
2) Grab a holiday-themed plate or cup or straw. *Seriously, it is the little touches that make it extra special* You can grab a Santa themed curly straw and cup at the dollar store.
3) Use the decorations you already own to create a holiday tablescape. Here are a few Holiday tables that I have done over the years.
–> Grab some decorations off the Christmas tree to place on your table. The kids will be so busy with the gifts they will never notice the tree missing a few ornaments!
4) Use copy paper and make your own paper snowflakes! We did this one Christmas Eve and covered the living room floor with snowflakes and hung some from the ceiling. When Greyson woke up, it looked like a winter wonderland! It cost us barely anything (we have copy paper on hand), and it made the living room feel magical! I do recommend starting this before Christmas Eve. Do a few every night for a week, and you’ll be all set.
5) Pinterest! Search Christmas Tablescapes, and go crazy. (with items from around your house!)
Creating a Magical Christmas: Get your craft on.
I am well aware that you cannot completely ignore everyone else who does not share your same address, as well as you shouldn’t! That being said, you do not need to shell out hundreds of dollars on store-bought gifts.
Get your kids involved to make gifts for people. You can go the cute/crafty route and make ornaments. I LOVE these!
** My favorite and go to every year is – I wait for Michaels Arts and Crafts store to have their big sale and get the picture frame ornaments that have the year on them – I put the boy’s school picture in them. Family loves them, and I love them. I get them when they are $1.00 apiece* BONUS – over the years; they are fun to pull them off the tree and use them on their Christmas presents!
If you do not own one, borrow a pasta roller, and make homemade pasta and sauce. Pair it with a cute tag, and bag and you have an excellent present that is useful, delicious, and inexpensive!
Sugar body scrubs! These make lovely gifts – they are beautiful and useful (especially in the winter months!). Emily from My Love For Words has some AWESOME sugar scrub recipes that are holiday-themed (Peppermint Candy Cane, Gingerbread, and Cranberry)! Bonus – She even has adorable labels to go with them. Put these into little mason jars, wrap a ribbon and label on and you are good to go! You can take it up a notch by including one of these adorable mini wooden spoons. *I know I would love a gift like this!
My son made these amazing Christmas Plates a few years ago. They are precious to me. I do not doubt that Grandparents would absolutely LOVE a set of these – You can make a set of smaller appetizer plates for them. Dollar store plates – and all you need are sharpie markers!
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Creating a Magical Christmas: Activities
This is the real game-changer. Even if you can purchase anything and everything you want this holiday season, these are some great ideas to make Christmas even more special. Once all the presents are open, there can be a sort of downfall after the high. So to avoid it – keep the excitement going all day long!
1) What our children really want is our undivided attention. Commit to being fully present with your children the whole day!
2) After gifts, have your “fancy on the cheap” breakfast. Everyone sit down together and enjoy your beautiful table and eat. Pancakes are so inexpensive, but when you pour the batter into cookie cutters on the skillet, it automatically makes them unique. It does not cost you a dime extra! *Tip- spray the inside of the cookie-cutter with olive oil; otherwise, your pancakes will not come out… and make them “thicker” than usual!
Make the whole day special!
- We always start a family puzzle after breakfast, that is Christmas themed
- You could have a special movie afternoon. Have one of the gifts be a new movie, and snuggle as a family while eating popcorn and Christmas cookies and enjoy the new movie. Bonus – Build a fort and camp out under your Christmas tree!
- If you do not like spending Christmas in front of the television, make the movie a family game instead! So much fun!! Click here to see some of our favorite games to play with our boys! Make a Christmas themed charcuterie/snack board and play games all day while still in your Christmas PJ’s/
- If you live in a snowy region get out and go sledding or make a Christmas snowman
- Make Christmas dinner as a family
Creating a Magical Christmas: Make It Last
I dislike how much time and effort I put into making Christmas Morning exciting – just to have it all done in an hour. The kids rip through their gifts (they are excited)… and then it is 7:30 am, and it is over. Some ways to make the day last a little bit longer
- Gifts are opened one at a time. Do not let it be a free for all!
- Open your stockings, then get some breakfast. Once your special breakfast is done, you can open the gifts under the tree.
- Let the kids play with the gift that they just opened – rather than making them wait until everything has been opened.
- Make the first present the open a treasure hunt to find it!
Creating a Magical Christmas: The whole Season.
The feeling of love and excitement can last longer than one day. Enjoy the whole season! Create a bucket list and enjoy the Holidays with your children.
So many local businesses, churches, and schools throw free events! Do some research and plan your season accordingly. Take advantage of freebies, and genuinely enjoy!
- Pancake breakfasts with Santa
- Christmas crafts and storytimes at the local library
- Bake cookies and pass them out to neighbors. Check out my tips on how to make gingerbread houses with kids – and then do it! Use the houses as decorations on your Christmas morning tablescapes!
- Drive or bike (if you live in nice weather) to look at Christmas lights. Surprise your kids and let them have homemade hot chocolate in the car.
- We love to do a countdown to Christmas. I wrap 24 Christmas themed books and put them under the tree on December 1st. The boys get to pick one to unwrap each night before bed – and that is the bedtime book we read. How to afford this- Instead of buying each book why not get them from the library? The concept is the same – and there is no reason you cannot wrap a library book. Just make sure you have a long enough time before they are due back – you can ask for an extended length if needed. Your kids won’t care if they don’t get to keep the books. They will just love the excitement of unwrapping a new Christmas story each night!