As a mother of six, I find that our family’s traditions are very different from our friends with smaller families, for two very important reasons. The first is, obviously, cost. Even a trip to the movies with a family of our size can cost $80–and that’s not even including trips to the concession stand. Second is that our children range from age 2 to 17 and each has different interests, so naturally, it’s hard to please everyone with family activities. Although these two problems can pose quite a challenge, I’ve come up with the following affordable and unconventional holiday traditions that will satisfy your budget and the whole family.
1. Choose a buffet instead of a fancy restaurant
Even restaurants on the relatively lower end of the pricing scale can leave big families with a hefty bill after dinner. But just because you have a big family doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a nice meal out. As a compromise to this conflicting problem, I’ve found that buffets are the way to go for feeding the whole family without draining your bank account. That way, you’ll have a set price before you go and will be sure that everyone is fed and happy by the end of the meal. As an added bonus, I always bring a buffet coupon to save even more on these evenings out.
2. Look for free or discounted family activities
From free concerts in the park to family discounts for museums, most educational and cultural activities are light on your wallet and enriching for the whole clan. If your home is located near a college of university, you can take advantage of tons of free and cheap concert performances, plays, speeches, sporting events and other entertaining activities that will provide a variety for the kids to choose from. Local churches are also excellent resources for free holiday programs and family-friendly entertainment.
3. Opt for all-natural fun
With all of the gadgets, computers, social networking and other technological devices that kids are surgically attached to, they could probably use a breath of fresh air out in the natural world. The holidays come with plenty of opportunities for nature-filled activities, such as chopping down your own Christmas tree or making wreaths. If you live in an area with lots of snow, have a snowman-building contest or go sledding in a hilly part of town. At a time where you’re all surrounded by noisy shopping malls and other forms of holiday chaos, it’s nice to just get away from it all in a more rural setting.
Having a big family comes with many rewards – namely, that you’ll always have a big support system and long list of people who love you. I wouldn’t give this up for anything in the world, but I’ll admit that it does become a challenge when you’re trying to have fun with the whole family on a budget. The tips above make it easier to accommodate every member of the family, while accommodating the family budget to create exciting, memorable holiday traditions that bring us closer together each and every year.