Three Low-Cost Ideas for Family Holiday Fun – Frugal Novice

Three Low-Cost Ideas for Family Holiday Fun


This partnered post is brought to you as part of my Denny’s Ambassadorship. All opinions are honest and are my own.

The holidays will be here before we know it. I know from years past that we’ll get busier and busier as the holidays get closer, so I’m already starting to plan ahead – I know I’ll be thankful when we’re in the midst of the holiday season. And since the holidays can also be one of the most expensive times of the year, I’ve got three great – and affordable – ideas for family holiday fun. You could do all three in one evening, or you can split them up. Either way, these will make for some fun family memories:


1. Make looking at Christmas lights extra special.

Driving around town to look at Christmas lights is a tradition many of us probably experienced as children. I have lots of memories of driving past a particular neighborhood in Fort Worth, where the lights from houses reflected on to a small pond and seemed almost magical. If you’re planning on taking your kids to look at lights, you can easily (and cheaply) step up the experience a bit with a few special touches:

  • Line the car seats with cozy fleece blankets, and have extra blankets and pillows for each car rider.
  • Have everyone (you too, Mom & Dad) wear pajamas.
  • Pack a travel mug of coffee or hot chocolate for everyone, complete with peppermint for an added Christmas flavor.
  • Bring along popcorn, cookies, and/or candy for the kids to have a special treat while you drive around.
  • Have a Christmas music playlist ready to go for background music.
  • Get a cheap pair of binoculars and let the kids take turns looking at houses up close and personal!
  • Play a version of BINGO, having the kids look for various decorations (i.e. inflatable snowman). Here’s a link to a free printable card.

2. Have a fun holiday-themed meal.

Eating out as a family doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact, I’ve written before about how we fed our family of five for just $20 at Denny’s. You can have an affordable – and extra-fun – meal for you and the kids with Denny’s great holiday offerings for kids and grown ups alike:

Dennys Rudolph Pancake Breakfast

The Rudolph Pancake Breakfast is one any kid would love to get! It’s inspired by the classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and includes two fluffy pancakes topped with turkey bacon antlers, whipped cream, chocolate eyes and nose, and is served with two eggs and hash browns. So cute!

Dennys Pumpkin Pecan Pie Pancake Breakfast

The Pumpkin Pecan Pie Pancake Breakfast pretty much sounds like the holidays on a plate. It includes fluffy pumpkin pancakes made with glazed pecans and drizzled with pecan pie sauce. It’s served with two eggs, hash browns, and a choice of two bacon strips or sausage links.

Dennys Santas Milk and Cookies Shake

And to finish off the meal, you can share a Santa’s Milk & Cookies Shake – it’s made with creamy vanilla ice cream blended with sugar cookies & topped with whipped cream.

There are other options, like:

  • The Holiday Harvest Skillet: Hearty gouda-apple chicken sausage is served on a bed of seasoned red-skinned potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, grape tomatoes, fire-roasted bell peppers and onions, topped with an Italian cheese blend and two eggs cooked to order.)

Dennys Holiday Harvest Skillet

  • Holiday Turkey and Dressing Dinner: This traditional favorite includes tender-sliced turkey breast, savory stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce, served with a choice of two sides and dinner bread.

Dennys Holiday Turkey and Dressing Dinner

You can even add some holiday flavor to the classic Denny’s Slam with the Build Your Own Holiday Slam – Gouda-Apple Sausage and fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes provide two new additions to choose from.

3. Have a Holiday Movie Night Slumber Party.

Have your family vote on a holiday movie to watch, and then set up sleeping bags or palettes in your room for everybody to pile in, get cozy, and watch the movie together. Once it’s over, the kids get to have a slumber party in your room! You can have popcorn and movie candy to make it a full-on movie experience.

Whether you do one or all three of these activities with your family, I hope you make wonderful holiday memories this season!


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  • Cindy (Vegetarian Mamma) October 22, 2015 at 10:10 am

    We are certainly a family on a budget and it always seems to be a smaller and smaller budget but the time we reach the holidays. I love your low cost ideas for family fun this holiday season. I think my favorite is the holiday movie night slumber party!

  • Jennifer October 22, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    I love the idea to make looking at light extra special. A yummy breakfast is always important but making it fun makes kids want to actually eat it without complaining. I dind’t know Denny’s made cute holiday theme pancakes like Rudolph – so cute!

  • Beena Bandwalkar October 22, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    We don’t celebrate Christmas but I’m definitely doing the blankets in the car with pajamas thing :d
    love the tips :D

  • tammileetips October 22, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I love these ideas!! It’s not always about having to spend money to make memories especially at the holiday time! I love to drive around and look at Christmas lights it’s one of the best parts of the holidays.

  • Cara (@StylishGeek) October 22, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    I love all your ideas especially the movie night and slumber party! With the holidays coming up I am so glad you brought the idea to think of ways to make celebrating special but not necessarily breaking the bank! Thank you for that! I will start thinking of ways too!

  • Dina Demarest October 22, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    I thought the breakfast looked amazing and then I saw the Santa’s Milk & Cookies Shake. Oh my, I would probably gain 5 pounds but it would be soooo worth it!

  • Kita October 23, 2015 at 12:01 am

    Love these ideas. We do try to make a different type of breakfast every year and introduce something new. I love looking at lights around town I just wish more people would have lights outside in my neighborhood it’s very few people that put it up.

  • Desirae October 23, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Love all of your ideas! We love doing a overnight breakfast casserole for Christmas morning. Its so simple and its nice to just plate it in the morning, no cooking! Now that shake looks pretty amazing. Im sure my little many would love that!

  • Alison October 23, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Taking a long drive one evening in the winter to scope out all of the beautiful Christmas lights something my family has always done and plans on continuing to do. I think the slumber party idea would be super fun one night too – we may have to give that one a try this holiday season!

  • Susan Quackenbush October 23, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    I absolutely love these fun ideas! My grandchildren come visit on a fairly regular basis so we already have fun themed breakfasts on Sundays and the occasional slumber party with their cousins. Thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas with everyone! :)

  • Lashawn October 26, 2015 at 6:22 am

    Love these ideas! We love looking for Christmas lights in all the different neighborhood here. It’s one of our favorite free holiday activities! And we are definitely going to try a Christmas aShawnthemed breakfast. it looks like so much fun.