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Sometimes the year flies by so fast that it just doesn’t feel like Christmas yet. Do you ever have that feeling? I absolutely love the holidays – cooler weather, time with friends & family, great food, cozy homes, generous & thoughtful gifts – but I’ve learned that it takes a lot of intentionally to really engage them.
And by engage, I don’t mean “do them perfectly.” I’m always working to let go of expectations of Pinterest-worthy decorations or the perfect cookies or trendy, coordinating wrapping paper (although I do really love some kraft paper packages). I just want to slow down & sink myself into the spirit of the season. There’s an inherent joy & comfort & excitement – almost magic- as we give generously, accept humbly, cozy up, and reflect on another year gone by.
To bring some of those magic touches to your home, it really doesn’t cost much!! To prove it, I’m sharing my favorite mostly-free ways to enjoy this holiday season
1. Christmas Scents
A wonderful friend of mine gifted me Aldi’s Huntington Home Harvest Sunset candle last year. While that is really specific, lighting that candle last year as I began to wrap Christmas presents was such a profound moment for me in realizing how little details & scents can really help get you in the holiday mood! It’s such a simple joy but it was really uplifting and fun for me.
While I haven’t been able to find that particular candle again, Aldi always has candles for $2 or $4, which you can’t beat!
Same goes for Essential oils you may already have on hand! Check out these recommendations including pine, cinnamon and anise.
I also love this variation – stovetop potpourri! A combination of spices, oranges, and cranberries really fills the whole house. Ground spices work just as well, or you can even add whatever items or herbs you have leftover or around the house. I love adding fresh rosemary from my front yard! (The only thing that I’ve been able to keep alive 😛 )
2. Printable Decorations
There are so many free printables out there for Christmas! These are just a few of my favorites right now:
- Vintage Christmas Sheet Music
- Heaven and Nature Sing Print
- Truck & Trees Prints
- Good Tidings of Comfort & Joy
Just swapping out a few prints can really bring color & excitement to every area of your home – or even office!
3. Christmas Music
While you’re decorating, or at any point during the holiday season, throw on some Christmas music!
First, if you have Amazon Prime, one of the most overlooked & underused features is Amazon Music! It is included completely free in your annual membership, which means no commercials. I’ve always just used the free versions of Pandora and Spotify – which are great- and put up with the ads. But you don’t have to if you already use Amazon Prime for free shipping, e-books, etc. Just go to Amazon music, search “Christmas music playlists”, and scroll down to Prime Playlists. There are so many genres!
- Classic Christmas
- Christmas hymns
- Christmas for Kids
- Jazz Christmas
- Acoustic Christmas
- Irish Christmas
- Even a Christmas workout playlist!
If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can get a 30-day free trial through this link* just in time for the holidays. Free music, free 2-day shipping for all your purchases, and access to movies & tv shows! (Seriously, it’s the only membership we pay for every year and I have no regrets.)
*Amazon Prime praise session over 😉 *
If you don’t mind commercials, Pandora and Spotify are awesome free music platforms too! In Pandora, you can either choose a holiday station based on an artist or a genre by just typing in “holiday” in the search. You can also search Christmas playlists on Spotify. You can check out my acoustic-chill-cozy playlist here with so many of my favorites 🙂
4. Christmas Movies
There’s nothing better than taking some downtime to snuggle with your family for a movie. While the season can be busy, pausing to be together and relax is so important.
I often forget how many movies are out there already! Even if you don’t have cable and can’t keep up with all the movies airing, these are ALL FREE through Amazon Prime or Netflix memberships 🙂
- Miracle on 34th Street* (Amazon Prime & Netflix)
- Earnest Saves Christmas (Netflix)
- Christmas with the Kranks* (Amazon Prime & Netflix)
- Last Holiday (Netflix)
- Love Actually (Netflix)
- A Christmas Carol* (Amazon Prime – so excited about this!)
- The Legend of Frosty the Snowman (Netflix)
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Netflix)
- Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales* (Amazon Prime)
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer* (Amazon Prime – am I the only one who LOVES claymation?!)
- Jack Frost* (Amazon Prime)
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Netflix – I hadn’t considered this a Christmas movie before but it kind of is! Definitely watching it this year.. along with maybe some Harry Potter 😉 There are Christmas scenes in those, too, right?!)
If you don’t pay for any of the subscriptions, you can of course use the free trial* for this, too, or arrange a movie swap with friends! All best paired with some hot chocolate & popcorn, cozy blankets, and aforementioned Christmas candles 🙂
5. Countdown/Advent calendars
Of course! These definitely capture the excitement and expectation of the season. You can find plenty of craft tutorials or even quick printables online:
- Countdown Chain Printable
- Minimalist Dry Erase Printable (similar to my engagement countdowns here!)
- Chalkboard Dry Erase Printable
- Clothespin Frame Countdown
This year, I’m continuing to focus on gratitude as I did in November (life-changing, by the way.) Our countdown will continue to use “gratitude slips” where we write down what we are grateful for each day. We’ll just grab from the pile, and watch our jar fill up! It’s a simple act and more adult-friendly – but I love that this keeps our focus on how many things we already have to be grateful for, rather than getting wrapped up in our “wish lists” and what can be stress & expectations of holiday shopping.
If you’d like to join us, you can download these simple 2-side slips here.
Phew! There really are SO many frugal ways to make the holidays more exciting, warmer & cozier, or slower – whatever you choose. Pick your favorites and have a very Merry Christmas ♥
PS- if you need help gifting, check out my brainstorming worksheet that got me through my shopping plus a budget & shopping tracker to keep everything running smoothly 🙂