10 Family Fun Things to Learn from Simple, Cheap Holiday Activities

Spending time with the family during all the winter time holidays doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Nor does it mean that everything has to be perfect in an out of budget fantasy during a holiday from school nor a step backwards from learning when the kids are out of school for a long winter break.for Christmas Holidays.

In fact holidays are a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills. I came up with my personal anecdotal list of 10 learning experiences we had with my own family this weekend.

I admit I’m Bah Hug Bug Scrooge on extravagant festivities. I prefer the simple and stress free memory making where everyone contributes what they do best..being themselves and enjoying each other’s company… of course while having learned some thing new.

1. Get organzied by making a list

10 Family Fun Things to Learn from Simple, Cheap Holiday Activites. 1. Get organized by making a list

A few days ago my daugher and I took her 2 youngest children shoppping at my favorite store, The Dollar Tree.

Sophie -Do -It, now in first grade made a list of close family members. The girls were told they each had $10 each to spend on the family. Dollar Tree makes it easy with everything being $1. I got to shop with the 6 year old. while my daughter shopped with her middle child.

The youngest grand child decided to start at the top of her list in order.

She wanted to buy her Daddy a flash light on a key chain. But, alas, Dollar Tree did not seem to have that item in stock, so we had to go to plan B…we looked around in another aisle.

She spied cholcolate, which was what she planned on giving her uncle David. Malted Milk Balls for both Daddy and Uncle David was new plan… some what out of order on her list.

Sophie-Do-it was concerned that she had skipped Mommy who was 2nd on her list. How would she ever keep track of 10 people and not forget anyone?

2. Math and Money

10 people on the list and $10. One Dollar per person. Yep, I am cheap only giving a $10 budget..

Simple math, isn’t it?

(What you don’t see in the image is the 2nd page that has 7 more people. OOOPS! There is new challenge coming… the 2nd page was temporaily missed.)

3. Problem solving

To a grown-up this a minor problem when doing things our of order when using a list. You check things off when you have completed the goal.

But, this is supposed to be learning experience for a First Grader. I let her figure it out… She decided to put hearts behind the names when she found each ones’ gift.

Sophie-Do-It found nice note books for her 2 sisters. That was easy…until she found a mirror, too for Lici the middle sister…if she got bought 2 items for one sister she would not be able to buy something for each person….what to do…what to do?

“Oh, I don’t need to buy anything for myself! I can get Lici 2 presents.” She knew that her sister would be getting her a gift from her on her own list.

Then we saw calanders. Sophie-Do-It already knew I needed a new calender.

“Don’t look Nanna. ..m-m-m Nanna do you like puppies or kittens?’ she asked trying to be sneaky. I played along with the surprise.

it is not an easy choices on what gift to buy for your Nanna. A calendar or sticky notes? Including children is holdiay celelbrations is a priceless gift to your child.

4. Making Decisions

I love the way she gave me a choice. ( YES! I have been a good role model by allowing choices.)

“I like dogs” I answered looking the other way while she slipped the puppy dog calandar into the cart.

That was EASY…until Sophie-Do-It spied the Sticky Notes. We both love Sticky Notes!

I use those little pieces of paper to jog my memory in an organized way. Sophie-Do-It loves to write letters and numbers on the colorful papers then peel and stick them all over.

I looked at the pens while the little girl debated to herself …”Should I get these for myself or for Nanna?”

After a few minutes, my dear grand child coyly queried me, ” Nanna, if you have Sticky Notes, would you share them if someone who needed a few?”

“Of course I would share.”

The 6 years old let out a sign of relief, then exclaimed, ” Don’t look Nanna at what I’m giving you…oh pens. My daddy would like a pen, I’m sure.”

So, Daddy will now be getting pens and Malted Milk Balls. Lucky Daddy. Lucky Lici and lucky Nanna… But, now the generous child is running out of money having spent $2 on several people instead of just 1…Sophie-Do-It really had to solve some critical math problems…

Budget Reality HITS Hard!

How to make money stretch is a little something this 6 year old now has in common with most parents…What about Mimi, Pa and Girl-Girl and cousins who were are the first page of the list? Aunt Aimee, Catrina, Lia, Hector, baby Jonathan, Andrew and Aunt Jelly Toes had been written down in the little note book on the 2nd page. $10 and 17 people! How do you give a gift to eveyone you love with only $10?

What will be a priority and not hurt anyone; feelings is often hard choice to make even for grown-ups.

Plan C

Pa, Mimi, Gifl-Girl, cousins, Aunt Aimee, Catrina, Lia, Hector, Johnathan, Andrew and Aunt Jelly Toes, we love you all and have not forgotten you. You will be getting some thing from Sophie’s heart: this story about her and pictures so you might feel like your were us. (This blog post is a dedicated to our family far far away.)

After an hour of shopping decision making Sophie-Do-It counted her 10 things then confirmed with her big sister that they had no duplicted presents before check out time. When the bill was paid the clerk very kindly kept the girls purchases seperated and handed each one their own bags.

We loaded up the van with our Dollar Tree treaures when Sophie-Do-It has un-expected epiphany.

“I don’t have enough time to do everything!” she blurts out.

What is a busy child to do?

4. Delegating and Dividing Tasks

I found it amusing when Shophie-Do-It announced, ” Well, I have to go home to Mommy’s room to wrap presents, now. Lici and Taylor will just have to make the cookies themselves. I have no time to do it all!”

The older girls were now delegated by a first grader to bake cookies with their mother. ( A family tradition.)

Sophie-Do-it wrapped gifts in the secrecy of Mommy and Daddy’s room… I mean..where else do gifts get wrapped?

5. Following Directions

Baking cookies is great family fun. No matter whether you making goodies from a made from scratch recipe or slice a roll of cookie dough this is great way to practice reading and following directions while working together as a family..

Look what the 2 older girls made for the family. They smelled yummy! ( I did not eat any cookies…)

10 Family Fun Things to Learn from Simple, Cheap Holiday Activites 5. Baking cookies is fun way to learn and practice Following Directions #cookies #followingdirections

6. Correcting Mistakes

Sophie-Do-It did what she does best: apply tape to paper. She wrapped 1/2 the gifts before she got to tired to carry on with any more holiday merriment.

After she rested from her holiday hustle and bustle she realized that she could not remember what gift was for who in what package. She unwrapped then re-wrapped her gifts. This time with names written on the package to her satisfaction.

7. Life Happens

I had high hopes of having all of my house work done and a nice nutritious meal to serve the family.

But, all I was able to get prepared for family company was to get the bills on the dining room table cleaned off and setting out a fruit platter …which I didn’t eat either. But, the kids dug in for a healthy snack.

Healthy snack for the holidays

I got the unexpected role of sickly Tiny Tim in our our Christmas Carrol. I had suddenly gotten sick with a rip roaring sinus infection… and if that was not enough to dampen holiday spirits my dental bridge fell out. I felt yucky!

Here I am, No Non-cents Nanna self medicating with with hot wet wash clothes on my aching head while the family was ready to celebrate our rare time of all being gathered together.

What do you do when the family comes to celebrate a holiday and Granny get sick?

But, it was not the end of the world. My family was able to take on new roles in our simple family get-together.

Chicken soup for the sick.

My family took on new roles. We changed roles when I could not be the hostess with the mostess other than blow my nose the most.

Our High School senior and future doctor made me chicken soup. (I did not eat the noodles.) And she tended to the seasonal aroma therapy we all enjoy.

Thank you!


Make a happy family memory for the holdiay with aroma therapy cinnomon and wild orange essential oils added boiling water. M_M_M Smell so wonderful!

When the winter air is dry I boil water on top of the stove. To make an amazing aromatic memory of grandmas house I add cinnamon and essential oils. The soon to 18 year old, helped me watch the tradional pot boil rather than me forgetting and let it burn since I was not feeling well. Thank You, Taylor.

The soon to be18 year old also stepped in to lead the family games.

Life is never perfect. Stuff happens. We needed to go to Plan D.

I sure did not plan on getting sick. But, it worked out well. The children had an opportunity to either complain that they were NOT having a magical experience handed to them wrapped up in a big red bow or to step in and make the day as pleasant as possible.

The 3 sisters, made a very good choices to pitch in and made my day magical. I think this may the first time in decades where I sat on my butt in the Lazy Boy while everyone waited on me.

My daughter rubbed my feet…aww! What great gift! Thank you!

My daughter hung my new shower curtain, a gift from the 12 year old. WOW! I feel spoiled! Thanks!

8. Getting along

Every famiy is made up of unique individuals, and my family is no exception.

We have diverse abilities and an age spread. When we want to play a game having so many skill levels could lead to a FAMILY FEUD.

Family Fued is a fun family game that encourges family teams to work together.

Before we could start to play games we had to open our Dollar Tree presents. The 12 year old had given the 6 year old a pink tiara and magic wand as her Dollar Tree gift for her younger sibling.

Every little girls needs a pink tiara and magic wand so she can turn people in to dogs..the post will explain…


The oldest of the girls got games with mind stimulating questions as a gift from me. We were excited to begin the games….I mean all but one of us.

Mind your manners here, a six year old does not have an much trivia in her head as, let’s say a 12 year old. A 6 ear old can have diferent agenda than the rest of the family. ( Know what I mean?) that is noraml to expect.

We have a challenge on how to include everyone in one game from the get-go. My son is legally blind with diminished muscle control ; my vision was all blury from the sinus head ache and the first grader still sounds out words….

We were all ready to play Family Feud when…

…Sophie-Do-It decided that she should tap every one with her magic wand to turn us all into dogs….while the rest of us wanted to play Family Feud… would this turn into a family fight?

Trouble in paradise?

What 12 year old Wednesday-Adams-Wanna-Be wants to sit there to be turned into a dog?

What college bound young lady wants to be a dog? For that matter, what feverish old Granny wants to have kids fighting in crowded room over not wanting ot be turned into a dog?


My son saved Christmas when he suggested that Sophie-Do-It make his a meal from her $1 set of pots and pans, a gift from her sister. Great idea! ( I’m so poud of him, is is getting so close to stop smoking…he really wanted a cigarette instead of peny pancakes.)

Sophie-Do-It then made her uncle penny pancakes in her frying pan using some of the 100 pennies I have given her in M & M a container.

Let the Family Fued Begin!

  • So, the cool thing with Family Fued is that there are no right or wrong answers. Team members only have to come up with some word in hopes of saying what some random people answered in surveys. We can blurt out something dumb and we all laugh. It is fun. Even silly answers given by a 6 year old just may be what the in the survey said. Go figure! The young ones can feel a part of the game…IF she is on her level of thinking.
  • We were all trying to into squeeze into his room around my son’s hospital bed and other adaptive equipment.. Since the man’s wheelchair is so big he had to park in on the other side of his hospital bed… this was a recipe for a disaster or a miracle to hope for.

Pennies make great pretend pancakes when you cook with a $1 pot and pan set.

A Miracle Moment happened when the child realized that her disabled uncle needed to be included in the group…She accepts the fact that her uncle is limited in his choices…she was born years after David’s MS had progressed so far as to leave him wheelcahir dependant. Sometimes he needs help, she knows – just watch your toes so they dont get run over by the wheels of the big chair. The child’s heart went out to her loved one. She gave up her desire to do magic by poofing us all into dogs with her wand. She would feed the most vulnerable in the group pretend food instead.

David was able to do double duty, giving his own little sister, ( mom of the 3 girls) a chance to relax rather than referee. He had fun blurting out his answers for his family team while pretending to choke down pretend pancakes made from pennies made by the princess.

WIn-Win in my book when we can all think of other first and compromise to get along.

Thank you, son.

6 years old included her uncle in family fun.


9. Giving of Yourself is the Best Gifts Ever.

I know how much fun it is open nice gifts that you were hoping for.

Parents want to give their children more and better than they had when they were childen themselves. There is nothing wrong with that wish.


Many families go into debt trying to create the Best Christmas EVER for their families. I’m not here to judge how you choice celebrate this vacation time to spend with family.

I’m practical and simple. I’m not very good at gift giving in a material way. I am a obsessed fuddy-dud about helping children learn in fun away from real life experiences versus spending money I don’t have.

Toys wear out or are outgrown and discarded. Memorable life lessons last a life time.

I believe in the magic of imagination that affords children to figure out things on their own versus parents creating the perfect fantasy for them.

I am opinionated believing that the best gifts come from love in your heart rather than on how much your spend for gifts on an over commercialized holiday. Personally, I think that setting the stage for children to be assuming to be passively receiving everything they want is wrong.

I believe children love to give of themseves. There is great joy in doing for others. that is why I give a little cash for the kids to plan for the seasona gift giving in their own way on theri own developmental level.

Trust me when I say that memories of when a child gave of themselves or learned something new in a fun way will last far longer than after the colorful wrapping paper my daughter just threw away.

10. Making a Memory with Those Who Love Us is the Best Gift EVER.

Do you agree?

It takes time and effort to prepare for memorable family celebrations no matter the event. It is exhausting tp prepare for events that fit the needs of everyone. Including the children as valuable participants in a life event can be valuable life lessons that will will treasure for ever.

Years after the wrapping paper has been thrown away, children will remember the precious time they spent with YOU as the best gift ever.


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