Inexpensive and Simple Holiday Ideas

63775_10152448562790824_9148084265558375089_nby Deborah Taylor-Hough

Since we’re currently in the midst of the December holidays, I chatted at length with Catherine Levison (author of A Charlotte Mason Education). We put our heads together to come up with simple ways to inexpensively add joy and meaning to our holiday celebrations, family times, and Christmas reading materials.

Family Reading Times

A great idea for the holidays is to set aside a special box or basket containing your family’s special holiday-related books. The Holiday Book Box only comes out during the Advent season, and is put away again with the decorations after the first of the year.

This list of favorite Christmas books at the following link was compiled following a discussion between a group of mothers looking for quality holiday reading material for their families’ read-aloud times:

Christmas Books for Family Reading

Many families, including both Catherine’s and mine, buy one new Christmas book a year and have their collection on display. Catherine’s favorite is called The Christmas Story featuring the paintings of Gennady Spirin. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and priced accordingly — however Catherine insists it’s worth every penny. This is one way to include masterpiece artwork into this season of the year.

Many years ago when my children were young, my family enjoyed reading an Advent storybook called Jotham’s Journey. It’s divided into nightly readings throughout the Advent season. The story follows a young shepherd boy  on a hair-raising trip across the countryside surrounding Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. My children (and my husband and I, too!) waited eagerly for each night’s reading as we lit the Advent candles. Many times I found myself choked with emotion while reading this book, and almost unable to read aloud to the family.

Cultural Activities

During the holidays, I frequently discover a large number of low-cost entertainment options by reading the “What’s Happening” section of our local newspaper. For example, this week I found a listing for a singing group performing traditional Celtic holiday carols at a local church for just a small donation. Many churches and community groups put on low-cost (or free) live performances during the holidays.

Rather than taking the family to a newly released holiday movie, consider spending a few extra dollars and attend a ballet or classical concert instead. Many times attending a concert by a local symphony performing familiar Christmas songs is a very child-friendly introduction to symphonic music for children who haven’t previously experienced that type of music. Also, many churches offer sing-a-longs of Handel’s Messiah that are open to the general public.

As we all know, holiday music is drastically varied. Perhaps some attention to playing classical music around the house — while avoiding animated cartoon characters screeching their holiday favorites — would be more soothing.

It’s also time to buy next year’s calendar. If you haven’t thought of it before, hold out until you find one featuring fine art rather than kittens, horses or cars. Along with being a practical item, the calendars often provide excellent opportunities to introduce your children to fine art throughout the year.

Old-Fashioned Fun

While grown children and other relatives visit, provide some old-fashioned fun that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Charades, sing-a-longs, board games and caroling are easy, affordable and fun. Catherine’s family collects Christmas jigsaw puzzles. You could also choose puzzles depicting masterpieces or popular works of art.

Some families construct their own advent calendars from wood and incorporating photographs and other touches. If every- one participated in a project of this sort, then they can all look forward to getting it out each December.

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Well, if the snow doesn’t come to you then go to the snow. Some folks make an annual trek to the mountains during December in order to be assured of some contact with winter weather.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Taylor-Hough, author of Frugal Living For Dummies, the bestselling Frozen Assets cookbook series, and editor of the Simple-Times e-Magazine.


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