Around the holidays, it can become increasingly challenging to keep you and your family entertained. For example, if you have young children, they likely go on winter break around Christmas while you may still be working and preparing things for the holidays. In cases like these, it can seem impossible to keep everyone entertained on a budget and also accomplish everything that needs to be done.

In this article, we’ll discuss seven popular holiday activities that are 100 percent free to do. You can do these things alone or with a partner, or they can involve an entire family with young children. Hopefully, one of the activities on this list piques your interest, and you can help keep your family occupied without breaking the bank. So if you need some holiday activity inspiration, keep reading!

Attend a Holiday Fair/Parade

Usually, around major holidays like Christmas or Hanukkah, towns will host large holiday parades and fairs. Sometimes, these parades will be filled with people from different local organizations, clubs, or governing bodies. Usually, parades will be during the late morning/early afternoon and last for a couple of hours, so it’s a great way to get your family out of the house during the day. 

Additionally, Christmas or holiday fairs are prevalent during the later months of the year, as they often feature DIY crafts or handmade gifts from local businesses or artisans that you can purchase. If you are looking for gifts, holiday fairs are a great way to find unique items to give to friends and family. However, there’s no need to buy gifts here if you want to keep your excursion genuinely free. Instead, have a look around and get some ideas for making your own holiday gifts. 

See the Christmas Light Displays

In nearly every town, there will be people who go “all out” for Christmas in terms of their outdoor displays. Now that Christmas light technology has advanced in recent years, many festive families feature massive light displays, blow-up creatures/figures, or ice and snow sculptures. Additionally, many families choose to link their Christmas light displays with radio stations so their lights will chime and light up alongside the music. If you have botanical gardens or parks near you, they may also have massive Christmas light displays. So pack up some snacks and make a night of visiting these enchanting displays!

Go Christmas Caroling 

Christmas caroling is one of the oldest Christmas traditions, and it’s one that’s completely free and very enriching! Teaching kids how to go house to house and sing Christmas carols is a way to spend quality time with them and enrich their musical talents. 

For many people, caroling is also a great way to socialize without needing to go anywhere. Some people also can’t leave their homes due to illness, old age, or even the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic if they have a weakened immune system. By showing your family how you can help others and cheer them up during the holidays via the gift of song, they will likely feel more thankful for the lives and connections they already have. And, even better, caroling is entirely free to do!

Visit Santa Himself

Most malls and shopping centers will have special “visits from Santa” during store operating hours. Usually, an actor will come and play Santa, surrounded by a small set of gifts, a large throne, and a fireplace. The set is generally created for memorable photo ops, which can be pricey depending on the cost that the professional photographer sets. However, you can usually go during the hours Santa is present and ask for no pictures to be taken. 

That way, your child can still have the happy experience of sitting on Santa’s lap and telling him what they want for Christmas, but you won’t have to break the bank for this memory. Of course, if you do want to have those photos, they are always an option for an additional cost. Some towns even host free photo sessions with Santa!

Have a Family Photoshoot

As we just discussed, professional photos from photographers can sometimes be quite pricey. However, having an intimate family photoshoot around the holidays doesn’t need to cost anything. If you own a camera or even just a smartphone with a camera, technology has advanced so much that you don’t need any expensive equipment. You can set your phone up on a smartphone tripod or even up against a stack of books if you don’t have one. If you have a camera, you can set it up on any flat surface or tripod and enable the timer function. From there, get your family dressed up, sit against a lovely backdrop, and smile away!

DIY Some Gifts 

If you want to keep your family occupied while knocking some things off your to-do list, you can enlist your kids to help you with some DIY Christmas gifts. Especially if you have young kids, some extended family members would probably love the things they make or the DIY crafts embellished with their handprints and writing. 

While your kids work on their own projects (which could include making some DIY wrapping paper or drawing Christmas cards), you can work on crafting or wrapping some gifts of your own. Depending on the craft supplies you already have at home (or your online design skills), DIY gifts could be completely free!

Bake Some Christmas Cookies 

Many people already have the ingredients in their pantries to make some Christmas cookies, whether they’re three-ingredient peanut butter cookies or highly complex holiday cutout cookies. It doesn’t really matter what kind of cookies they are, as long as you and your family can spend time together and learn about the process of baking them. Baking with children can help teach them about measurements, math, patience, and cooking in general! Baking can even help to ignite a lifelong love of cooking in them. Even if you have to buy a couple of ingredients, baking a batch of cookies is incredibly cheap, if not free. 

Enjoy the Cold Weather

If you live someplace in the frozen North, you’ve got built-in 100 percent free activities that never get old. And as anyone who grew up in a snowy place will tell you, there are plenty of cold-weather things to do that won’t break the bank:

  • Have snowball fights
  • Go sledding or tobogganing
  • Build a snowman 
  • Make snow sculptures
  • Go ice fishing
  • Build snow forts and igloos
  • Go ice skating
  • Go ice fishing
  • Do frozen balloon experiments
  • Shovel snow (This is a great first job for kids)
  • Make snow angels
  • Make a bonfire and roast marshmallows
  • Gather evergreens to make wreaths
  • Play with bubbles 
  • Make a bird feeder and feed the winter birds
  • Play at a local park
  • Go for a nature walk
  • Gather pinecones to make ornaments

Keeping Kids Entertained During The Holidays 

It’s no secret that keeping kids entertained during their holiday breaks from school can be difficult. You have your own to-do list to handle, Christmas rapidly approaches, and you may still be working during the day. The key to keeping your kids occupied during their breaks is to find fun, festive activities that you can plan ahead of time. If you already have craft supplies in your house, set up some craft bins or sensory activities that you can whip out if your kids are getting restless. Additionally, have a list of cheap activities to do with your kids when you have some free time to get out for a while during the day.