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New traditions to kick off that don't kick your budget

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Living in New York City at Christmas time is magical. With amazingly festive store window displays, the Rockefeller Christmas tree lit up, and all of the streets adorned with golden twinkly lights, it's hard not to get into the spirit. Add to that all of the great ways to celebrate - seeing the Rockettes at Radio City, catching the Broadway hit Elf, watching Clara and the Sugarplum fairies dance in The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. I have to say, I'd love to do those things every year, but buying the tickets whomp the ol' wallet.

Now that Kiddo is a little older, she's more aware of the way we celebrate and do things year after year....which makes me more aware we need to have those traditions in place. The dilemma: how to make traditions that we all love...and that doesn't cost $100 per person? 

-- A nod to heritage. Whether it's doing something your great-great-great-grand relatives did in Finland for the holidays or hanging the stockings like you did as a kid, think about incorporating part of your family history into these days. We celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, and it is now tradition to serve latkes with the Christmas dinner.

-- Christmas morning scavenger hunt. My parents did this for my sister and me growing up. When we were asking for money to spend at the mall rather than toys, they would send us all around the house, the yard, the garage finding clue after clue until we reached the final one that had our Christmas money gift with it. I still remember examining under the kitchen sink with my sister and laughing so hard we couldn't stand up.

-- Annual holiday pajamas. My sister does this with her family: each Christmas eve, they open one gift: a pair of new holiday pjs, which everyone dons right away and wears the whole next day.

-- Holiday game night. During the weeks the kids are off from school, have one night where you break out a favorite game and play. Every year when we gather, my husband's family plays poker....for toothpicks or pennies.

What do you do every year? Do your kids notice when you do (or don't do) something? Share your budget-friendly holiday traditions!

©iStockphoto.com/ AnsonLu

by on Dec. 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (41-47):
by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 9:19 AM
We do an act of service for the 25 days of Christmas - like taking gifts to the nursing home we volunteer at, paying for the order in the car behind us in the drive thru, taking cookies to neighbors, etc.
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by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 9:20 AM
We also have a Christmas devotional every night for 25 nights. There is a scripture verse, a Christmas song, and a heart-warming story.
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by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 9:23 AM
We also try to do one fun thing every day for 25 days - like make a gingerbread house, make ornaments, go see Christmas lights, go to the Festival of the Nativity, a Christmas parade, etc.
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by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 9:29 AM
Christmas eve is at my mom's house and we always eat kielbasa because we are Polish and my grandfather's special NY Cheesecake recipe which is THE best cheesecake ever! Then we read Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Sing Christmas carols. We all cry at Silent Night because we miss my grandmother and we cry at the 12 Days of Christmas because it reminds us of my dad who passed away. Then we all go to our respective homes.
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by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 9:32 AM
As far as Christmas Day, we get up super early to open presents. It takes us a LONG time to open presents because we let one child open a present, then another child, and we rotate till all the gifts have been opened. then we have a big breakfast. This year I'll be making a big Christmas dinner too. Kinda nervous but excited about it.
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by Member on Dec. 23, 2012 at 1:06 PM

Thanks for sharing!

by Amber E on Dec. 23, 2012 at 6:33 PM
I'm not good at baking at all.
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