Have fun this holiday season without hurting your budgetChantal Gingras
We all want to take advantage of the holiday season to enjoy activities with family or friends. But this period of celebrations often proves to be very expensive. Gifts, meals at the restaurant, entertaining guests at home, travelling expenditures to visit relatives or friends, have for consequence that there is now and then much less money to pay for other activities.
Quite fortunately however, during the holidays, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy several activities and outings that are relatively inexpensive, if not completely free.
Note: this post was updated on November 24, 2017.
Free holiday season activities
An evening walk to admire the holiday season decorations
A not to be missed activity to do, warmly dressed, next to family or friends, with a tasty homemade hot chocolate. The beautifully illuminated sites always get us into the holiday spirit. There are so many possibilities that such evening walks may be often repeated without even seeing the same site more than once. All of that, at no cost at all.
Some sites and neighbourhoods are just, to put it simply, breathtaking. The most magical public spaces include:
- Place-Ville-Marie and McGill Street, in Montreal;
- Quartier Petit Champlain, in Old Quebec City;
- Parliament Hill, in Ottawa.
Even in the smallest towns or villages, there is always a house or a neighbourhood in particular that’s really worth seeing. Ask your colleagues or friends to see if they have any suggestions.
Snow sliding, the fun for all
Snow sliding is definitely one of the most accessible winter sports. That is why a majority of towns set up sliding installations in their parks, generally at no cost. Equipment rental fees are the only expense to anticipate if you do not have the gear needed to go down the slopes. Obviously, the weather has to be on your side and offer a good build-up of snow.
Skating for fun while being active
Whether you are alone, or with your sweetheart or children, skating is a fun activity which furthermore allows you to stretch your legs. Performed on an outside rink or in an arena during free skating periods, it is most of the time possible to organize an ice-skating outing during the holiday season without spending a cent.
Laughing or relaxing while watching TV
Year after year, television networks propose a special holiday season programming. Public and private broadcasters alike offer a wide range of films, variety shows and Christmas concerts. Streaming services such as Netflix also feature special holiday movies that you could enjoy if you’re already subscribed. There is something suitable for all tastes. Relax and enjoy your favorite shows, all wrapped-up in a warm blanket.
Cheap holiday activities
Baking and eating cookies at home
It’s a well-known fact that Santa Claus is a big fan of cookies! So, why not make this jolly old man happy by preparing some at home. Put on your favorite holiday season music while children cut out Christmas trees and candy canes in the dough. You will suddenly feel the holiday season atmosphere, with the nicest sweet smell filling the house. All you will have to buy are the ingredients needed to bake and decorate the cookies and, if you don’t have some already, some holiday-shaped cookie cutters. If you do not like cookies, you can obviously prepare other meals with your family, and have as much fun!
Choose the potluck solution
Entertaining at home can be very costly, especially if you are expecting a large group. Therefore, why not choose the potluck solution? If each guest brings a dish, you may make significant savings on the cost of food. Not to mention that you will be able to return the favour by advising them in advance not to offer you any gift. The dishes they will bring will favourably replace the wine bottle people traditionally bring to their hosts.
Furthermore, if you are bored with the usual turkey, meatballs and mashed potatoes, you can always suggest an original thematic potluck.
Special activities at the library
As a complement to the loan service for books, municipal libraries often organize special activities during the holiday season: storytelling, handicraft, competitions, etc. Often free of charge, such activities may however require a small registration fee. Contact your library for further information.
Quality time must take precedence over the spent dollars
There is no shortage of activities during the holiday season. Whatever the level of your budget may be, there are always many things to do: building a snow-fort, attending a concert given by a local choir, volunteering a few hours for an organization, playing board games with friends, etc.
Above all, always keep in mind that it is not so much the amount of money spent that will make your holiday season so memorable. It is rather the quality of time that you managed to spend with your children and spouse, with your relatives and with your friends.
The holiday season is a good time to take a break. Spend some time with your dear ones, and enjoy every moment. On my own behalf and on behalf of the entire Ginsberg Gingras staff, I wish you a happy holiday season, and may your finances be healthy all year long.
I look forward to meeting with you again, as soon as January 2018, on our blog.