Save money this Christmas with LoanPig.
Christmas is on its way! Our recent article Ten Tips to Get Christmas Sorted includes lots of advice about getting ready for Christmas without overspending.
But Christmas also means school holidays, and it can be really expensive taking the kids out and about on top of all the other Christmas expenses. On the other hand, you really don’t want them spending the whole two weeks sitting in front of various screens!
So here are some ideas for things you can do with the family this Christmas – for free:
- Winter Wonderland – London Hyde Park and UK-wide
Entrance to Winter Wonderland is free – though be aware that there are many attractions inside that you will have to pay for. New this year is a dedicated family entrance that takes you straight into Santa Land. It’s free to visit Santa’s Grotto to see the man himself – but do get there early as it operates on a first come first served basis. You can also visit Santa’s Toy Factory Fun House to see the elves at work – and if the children have been good they will receive a gift from Santa!
There is also a traditional German Christmas market, with over 200 chalets selling a wide range of arts, gifts, jewellery and decorations. The surrounding Bavarian Village also hosts many different cafes, restaurants and bars, enabling visitors to enjoy a wide range of festive food, accompanied by seasonal tipples such as mulled wine and hot chocolate.
There are also Winter Wonderlands in other parts of the UK including Cardiff, Manchester and Yorkshire (York Designer Outlet). Check out your nearest Winter Wonderland here.
- Christmas Markets and Fairs
Every year there are more and more Christmas markets in the UK. These have wonderful Christmassy atmospheres and plenty for everyone to see and do. Of course there will be lots of things to buy but it is still possible to go along and either spend very little : perhaps give the kids a small amount of spending money each and when it’s gone it’s gone. Or you could use the opportunity to finish off your Christmas shopping. Find out your nearest Christmas market here.
- Carol Services
Whether you prefer the majesty of a formal carol service in a large cathedral, or prefer something more relaxed and intimate in a small local church, going to a carol service is a must over Christmas. There is always something magical about spending time in a peaceful atmosphere, reflecting on the traditional Christmas story. There are often a range of different carol services, some – such as Christinge – are aimed specifically at children. Many churches also have Christmas Tree festivals on, where you can enjoy displays of Christmas trees that have been decorated in aid of charity.
- Carol Singing
If you enjoy singing carols then why not look for a local group to go carol singing with? There is likely to be group carol singing in shopping centres, and there may well be groups doing other things such as accompanying Santa on his travels or visiting different hospitals and care homes. If not, then you may want to get a few friends together and go round yourself to people you know will appreciate a bit of Christmas cheer.
- Local attractions and community events
There are always many different local events at Christmas that can be great fun and also need our support. You may have missed the local lights switch on, but look out for local Christmas fairs, markets and concerts. Different areas have different traditions. On Boxing Day in many areas you will find Mummers plays (traditional folk plays) and Morris dancers. Other areas have sporting events such as Boxing Day swims or organised walks such as the four mile pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey.
- Enjoy a Winter Walk
Continuing from the above, if walking is something you like to do then a lovely winter walk is a perfect way to spend a day over the Christmas season. Whether you choose open countryside, a national park or a beach you can enjoy the fresh air, the scenery and just being together. Even better, bring a flask of hot chocolate and some cake or mince pies and spend time having a Christmas treat together.
- Winter picnic
A winter picnic can be great fun. Whether you pack a hamper or find somewhere you can take a portable BBQ – or even light a campfire – everyone enjoys the novelty of a winter picnic. You may even want to organise your own winter beach party. Bring chairs to sit on and blankets to stay warm, and organise some games to keep the kids amused. This will be an experience you won’t forget!
- Museums and Galleries
If you prefer to stay indoors then why not visit a museum or gallery this winter? Most have free admission – and many have special exhibitions on at Christmas. This is a wonderful way to spend time but not money. Whether you go local or visit your nearest city, you are bound to find something of interest. Check out this list of museums to get an idea of the range of fascinating places there are to visit!
- Stately homes
There are many stately homes across the UK – for example National Trust and English Heritage. Whilst you have to pay to gain entrance to the home itself, many have gardens or surrounding areas that are free to visit but still give you a glimpse of the grandeur and history of the place. Check out the websites to find attractions near you. And if you enjoy your day then perhaps a membership card – giving you full entry to the sites – could be on your Christmas list for next year?
- Gardens, country parks and garden centres
On the theme of gardens many towns and cities have either botanical gardens or country parks, some of which are free to visit. Check out Visit England to find out what is available near you. Gardens and parks provide lots to see and usually some open space for children to explore and run around. Many also have indoor areas to explore as well. A good alternative is large garden centres that have plenty to see – and often some Christmas events and activities too.
We hope that the above ideas help you to enjoy time together as a family this Christmas without overspending. Remember to check back here soon for more money saving tips from LoanPig.