Making Christmas Memories on a Dime

Many homeschool families sacrifice the comfort of two incomes in order to educate their children at home. Because of this, we had very little extra money growing up. I think this was one of the reasons my mom had a knack for making simple things seem special. Maybe she would have done this anyway, but I think the fact that we couldn’t afford many things made her all the more determined.

She took ordinary moments and made them extraordinary. How did she do this? There are so many simple and inexpensive ways to create memories as a family. Here are some ideas that I hope will help you find opportunities to create special occasions this Christmas season.

Decorating The House

Instead of slowly pulling out boxes of Christmas decorations here and there, set aside a day and turn it into a family event. All you need is Christmas music playing in the background, hot chocolate to drink, and a bit of time. If you are particular about how you like things to be decorated, choose a few jobs that you won’t mind your children doing. Nothing takes away the joy of decorating like being told you’re not doing it right. Perhaps you like your Christmas tree a certain way. Since children love decorating the tree, consider getting a smaller one just for them. Or maybe you already have a plant in your house that can double as an extra “Christmas Tree”. My dad and brother were usually in charge of hanging the lights outside while mom and I decorated inside. Whatever you choose to do, remember that joy and delight are contagious. If you show excitement, your children will be sure to catch it.

A Few Candles Go a Long Way

An ordinary meal can become a memorable one with just a few lit candles and some table decorations or a nice tablecloth. It truly does not take much. If you have it, pulling out nicer dinnerware can also add to the ambiance. Set a specific time for your meal and have everyone dress up just a little, or a lot if you choose. The laughs and conversations we had as a family during these meals are still cemented in my memory.

Christmas Light Looking

Taking a walk or a drive to look at Christmas lights was always a favorite activity for my family. Several times, we listened to a Christmas story on the radio or on CD during these trips. There’s just something about getting all bundled up with blankets in the car and listening to a Christmas story while watching for lights that easily becomes a treasured memory.

Making Christmas Memories on a Dime - Homeschooling Today Magazine

Apple Cider or Hot Chocolate Date

It doesn’t cost much to get a couple apple ciders or hot chocolates from a coffee shop equipped with cozy places to sit. I can assure you though, it will create a memory for the person you bring. If it is possible to have a one-on-one date with each child, it will be all the more special.

Light Up The Porch

If you live in a part of the country that enables you to sit outside (covered in blankets if necessary), you’d be surprised how inviting a porch with twinkle lights can be. We used to decorate our back porch with Christmas lights each year. Many hours were spent in conversation amid the glow of those lights.

Attend a Play or Choir Performance

Most churches offer Christmas plays and other kinds of performances this time of year. Look in your local newspaper to find out when and where you can visit a neighboring church to take in a show or view a living nativity.

Start a New Tradition

You could choose a particular breakfast casserole or treat to have each year on Christmas morning. Some families plan to open one gift on Christmas Eve for the whole family to enjoy. A new movie to watch or game to play would be a fun way to spend Christmas Eve together. I’ve also known some who make it a tradition to have Chinese food or lasagna every Christmas Eve. The idea is to eat something unique since Christmas leftovers will be consumed over the next few days. One family I knew made it a tradition to pick and harvest an unusual live Christmas Tree each year. They would then choose a name that suited the tree and hang a sign above it displaying the name. They have come up with some creative ones over the years!

Traditions can be simple, silly or odd, but they are uniquely yours. If you haven’t already made some, take time this year to talk with your family and come up with a tradition or two you can enjoy together. Making memories does not need to involve a lot of expense. In fact, it will most likely be the times you spent the least, that created lasting memories.


Ashley Wiggers grew up in the early days of the homeschooling movement. She was taught by her late mother, Debbie Strayer, who was an educator, speaker and the author of numerous homeschooling materials. It was through Debbie’s encouragement and love that Ashley learned the value of being homeschooled. Currently, Ashley is the Editor-in-Chief of Homeschooling Today magazine, Public Relations Director for Geography Matters and the author of the Profiles from History series. Ashley makes her home in Somerset, KY, with her loving husband, Alex, and their precious son, Lincoln.


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