Need some ideas for cheap holiday traditions you can start with your family this year? We asked our staff for their favorite holiday past times. And from it, we’ve pulled together a doozy of a list!
Here are 20 ideas for cheap holiday traditions to make this season your family’s most magical yet.
1. Visit the Bozeman Library
Check out the Bozeman Library’s large selection of holiday-themed books. Consider checking out stories that emphasize the spirit of giving. Or, visit during one of the library’s December events for families, including holiday storytimes, parenting workshops, and a homemade gift-making workshop.
2. Tour your neighborhood’s Christmas lights
Pop in some holiday tunes, bring some hot cocoa to go, and pack up the car for an evening tour of dazzling light displays in the local area. For the classic light display, you don’t have to go any further than Downtown Bozeman. Your own neighborhood may be a good spot. Or, for an over-the-top experience, drive through lights and inflatables at 8670 Fowler Lane.
For help mapping your route, the Bozeman Real Estate Group pulled together a list of light displays in the area.
3. Participate in a community holiday event
Curious about holiday events in Gallatin County this holiday season? There are plenty of holiday events for people of all ages. Best of all, many are free! Get your hats, scarves, and mittens ready and find out what’s happening.
4. Watch a Christmas movie. Or two. Or ten.
‘Tis the season to dig into your holiday movie collection and begin a weeks-long holiday movie marathon. You’ll find a number of new originals and tried-and-true classics on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, as well as regular TV stations. Search ‘holiday specials guide’ online for a full list.
5. Listen to holiday music
Sometimes cheery holiday tunes are all it takes to get in the spirit. Listen to your favorites in the house and in the car. Of course, don’t be shy; sing along!
6. Bake cookies and other festive treats
Grab a few simple ingredients to bake your favorite holiday treats. It’s easy for kids of all ages to get involved in the process with the classic cut outs. You can let them roll out the dough, layer on frosting, and go wild with sprinkles.
7. Host a cookie exchange
Up your cookie-baking-game and host a cookie exchange party. How does it work? You bake lots of one type of cookie and give all the other guests a half-dozen or so to take home. They do the same. You’ll enjoy some seasonal fun and go home with dozens of different cookies.
8. Write a letter to Santa.
Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of postal employees around the country, kids can write a letter to Santa and receive a response back! You can find more information on the Postal Service’s Operation Santa at their website, including mail-by dates.
9. U-cut a Christmas tree in the national forest
Purchase a Christmas tree permit for $5, then take your family into the Custer Gallatin National Forest to hand select this year’s tree. Not only does it get your family spending quality time outdoors in winter, it’s a unique tradition not soon to be forgotten.
10. Make paper snowflakes
Some white scrap paper and a pair of scissors are all you need to make dozens of decorative paper snowflakes. Start with a square piece of paper, follow a step-by-step tutorial on how to fold, and watch the kids happily design and cut snowflakes as unique as them.
11. Make homemade gifts
A quick Pinterest search and you’ll uncover boatloads of ideas for cheap homemade gifts. Some of our favorite family-friendly gift ideas include Hershey kiss-filled whisks, candy cane reindeer, and hot cocoa stirrers.
12. Take a family photo and share it with family or friends
Take the pressure off the clothing-coordinated, professionally-staged family photo and just snap a candid of your family in the backyard. If the cost of envelopes and stamps feel cumbersome this year, attach it to an email with a personalized message. Your family and friends will be delighted to see the faces of the ones they love.
13. Volunteer for a local cause of choice
To emphasize a spirit of giving in your family this holiday season, consider volunteering your time with a local charity. The Bozeman Area Community Foundation can help you identify causes you care about.
14. Give the kids some spare change to drop into the Salvation Army kettle
Along the theme of holiday giving, give your kids a little spare change to drop into the Salvation Army kettle at a participating store. You can take the opportunity to explain how even small gestures can add up to a whole lot.
15. Reach out and call your loved ones
During a time of year that can quickly feel hectic and hurried, take time to reach out and call your loved ones. Connecting with family and friends helps to strengthen your support network.
16. Rent a forest service cabin overnight
If you’re looking for a cozy, inexpensive getaway, consider renting a forest service cabin. Many are available for $20-$30 per night. Check out individual cabin listings for amenities provided. Note that some are snowmobile or ski-access only.
17. Donate old toys
Start a give to receive tradition. Before the holidays, have your kids select one or two gently used toys and donate them to a worthy cause. It can help to explain where the toys will go and who will ultimately enjoy them.
18. See Season of Light at Taylor Planetarium at the Museum of the Rockies
In vivid color, learn how many holiday customs – like the Christmas tree, the Hanukkah Menorah, and Santa Claus – were all taken from different cultures to fill the dark winter months with more light. You can check out a free museum pass for four (two adults and two kids) from the Bozeman Library, which includes the Taylor Planetarium shows. If your family is larger than four people, children under four years old are free.
19. Make reindeer food
As your kids prepare cookies and milk for Santa and anxiously await his arrival, whip up a batch of reindeer food from ingredients you likely already have at home. In a small bowl, throw in a few tablespoons of oatmeal and some colorful sprinkles. Shake it all up. Then, head outside and toss the reindeer treat on the snow.
20. Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve
The classic poem, first published in 1823, has become an annual tradition for many families to read together on Christmas Eve. Nestle your children all snug in their beds and wish them the merriest of Christmases.
Holiday traditions are important ways for building family bonds. This year, try one new holiday tradition – or several – and make your season a little jollier.