Last-Minute Christmas Activities on a Budget

The festive period is a busy time so if you've left things a little last minute, we've got you covered. Check out our inexpensive Christmas activities that you can enjoy with the whole family from the comfort of your home.

A happy mother with her two children, decorating Christmas cookies together in a festive, inviting kitchen.
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If you’re running a little behind schedule this festive season, worry not. With our handy last-minute Christmas activities to do on a budget, you’ll be able to make the most of spending time with friends and family during this wonderful time of the year.  

Hold a Christmas Movie Night

A woman eating popcorn while cosying up in a tartan blanket to watch a Christmas film

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Grab some friends or family members, get into your favourite pair of Christmas pyjamas, and enjoy a Christmas movie night. From How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, and A Christmas Carol, to Love Actually, Christmas With The Kranks, and Home Alone, you’re sure to get into the festive spirit without splashing the cash. 

Lots of these films are available on video-streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, so be sure to check out our article on Tips for Saving Money on Video Streaming Services so you can save yourself some extra money this Christmas.  

Bring a Festive Board Night

A wooden table filled with various sweet, festive snacks such as gingerbread men, Christmas cookies, and jam tarts.

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Bring a board night, but make it festive. If you haven’t already heard of the bring-a-board trend, it’s pretty simple. The next time you and your friends fancy a Christmas catch-up, instead of the host cooking or preparing a selection of food (which can often become costly), make it more affordable by each bringing a board. 

What’s more, make it cheaper by shopping in the reduced section, and reading our tips on How to Save Money on Groceries

Your board can have anything you want on it. A fun way to ensure you have a variety of foods is by each choosing a theme for your board, i.e:

  • Classic Board: Cheese, meats, olives, grapes, crackers, chutneys, bread, etc. 
  • Beige Board: Chicken nuggets, garlic bread, chips, bread sticks, curly fries, crisps, etc. 
  • Chips & Dip Board: Tortilla chips, guacamole, sour cream & chive, cheese dip, etc. 
  • Dessert Board: Melted chocolate dip, marshmallows, strawberries, brownies, mini Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Cinnamon roll Christmas trees, etc. 
  • Candy Board: Candy canes, festive sweets, Turkish delight, etc. 
  • Red Board: Ready salted crisps, candy canes, Malteasers, red Skittles Fox’s biscuits, etc.  
  • Green Board: Salt & vinegar crisps, Matchmakers, After Eights, Fruit Pastilles, Aero bars, onion rings, etc. 

You can have fun making these as festive as you like by using Christmas tableware, and by arranging your food in festive shapes such as stars, Christmas trees, and more. If you’re stuck and in need of some inspiration, be sure to utilise social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok.  

Host a Christmas Book Club

A woman sat amidst a cosy, Christmas decorated scene, while reading a book.

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As long as you’ve got at least one family member or friend who is up for reading a festive book, hosting a Christmas book club is an exciting and inexpensive activity to do this year. Especially if you know how to buy books on a budget

Simply choose a book to read, and then arrange a joyful meet-up where you can discuss what you thought over a delicious hot chocolate. If you need some ideas, check out our handy suggestions of festive reads in our article for Secret Santa Gifts Under £10.  

At-Home Wreath Making

A image from above of a girl making a Christmas wreath at a desk with fresh pine, pine cones, dried oranges, and ribbon.

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Whether it’s your first time making a wreath, or you’re a crafting pro, it’s an easy, and affordable way to have fun this Christmas. All you need is a wreath frame, a pair of wire cutters, a roll of wire, your favourite seasonal foliage, and any extra decorations.

Save money by collecting foliage from outdoor areas that you have access to, and have a go at making your own dried orange slices from scratch in the oven. Re-use ribbon from past Christmas presents, and you’re good to go. 

Christmas Decorations Making

A woman led on the floor holding a gold bauble over each eye, next to a Christmas tree.

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Opt to make your own Christmas decorations this year and save some serious cash while making festive memories that will last a lifetime. These would also make a thoughtful gift for loved ones or a Secret Santa gift under £10

If you’re looking to make them completely from scratch, all you need is:

  • Air-hardening clay such as DAS White Air Hardening Modelling Clay, £4.79. 
  • Something to poke a hole through for the string
  • Ribbon or string to hang 
  • Optional Christmas cookie cutters in festive shapes such as the Mini Cookie Cutter Set, £7.59, or the Stainless Steel Fluted Edge and Flat Edge Round Cutters, £8.59.  
  • Optional acrylic paint if you wish to paint them once dry 
  • Fun tip: Use foliage from your garden and press into the surface of the clay before leaving to dry to create a textured look.   
  • Fun tip: Utilise sites like Pinterest and Google for Christmas bauble design inspiration.  

Alternatively, if you’re like me and have some leftover baubles from multipacks that you never use, give them a light sanding and a clean, and paint with acrylic paint. Wait for them to dry, and then enjoy your unique, homemade baubles for a fraction of the cost. 

Christmas Baking

A marzipan covered traditional Christmas fruit cake, decorated with holly, berries, and acorns.

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Have fun this festive season by baking a delicious, Christmas sweet treat with the family. Some great, online platforms where you can access an abundance of Christmas recipes free of charge are BBC Good Food and Jane’s Patisserie

Check out some of the best recipes to bake this year: 

Enjoy a Christmas Games Night

A happy family wearing Christmas cracker crowns, playing Christmas dinner games.

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Whether you’re looking for a fun night filled with laughs with your family, friends, or colleagues, you can never go wrong with a games night. 

Some hilarious and inexpensive Christmas games you can play include: 

  • Christmas What Am I?: Grab some post-it notes and a pen, and each write something related to Christmas. This could be a person (i.e. Santa Claus), an object (i.e. Christmas cracker), or a movie character (i.e. Scrooge) for instance. Stick the post-it note on the forehead of the person to your left, and the game begins. Asking only yes or no questions, the first person to guess what they are wins!  
  • Name That Christmas Tune: Have someone create a Christmas playlist with some of the best festive tunes of all time. Play 10-20 seconds of the song, or an instrumental version (if you want to make it harder) and have everyone write down their answers. The person who gets the most correct answers wins! 
  • Cling Film Wrapping Game: This requires a bit of preparation. First, create a cling film ball, with little presents and stocking fillers added in between layers. The first player tries to unwrap the cling film while the second player tries to roll doubles on a pair of dice. Once a double has been rolled by the second player, the cling film ball moves on to them, while a third player tries to roll a double, and so forth. The fun of this game is that each person should have a little something at the end. 
  • Snowman Stack Game: Your players have a minute to see how many marshmallows they can stack on top of each other before the time runs out. If this is too easy, try wearing blindfolds, or using chopsticks. 
  • Gift Wrapping Challenge: Divide yourselves into teams and see who can wrap a gift the fastest and the most neat. Sound too easy? You have to do it with one arm behind your back, so this one’s about working as a team. Are you up to the challenge? 
  • Tree Ornament Guessing Game: Provided you know how many ornaments you have on your Christmas tree, your guests must each make a guess. The person with the closest guess wins a small prize. 

Decorate a Gingerbread House

A mother and daughter decorating a gingerbread house happily together.

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You can find a variety of gingerbread houses available at local supermarkets and online, which are ideal for this time of year. If you’re after a joyful Christmas activity that doesn’t require any baking expertise, then this is the one for you. The best part is, in the end, you’ll have a scrumptious sweet treat to indulge in.  

Luxury Hot Chocolate Making

Three girls in Christmas pyjamas, holding Christmas hot chocolates with mini candy canes.

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‘Tis the season of hot chocolates so why not make the most of it? Grab a few friends and have fun making luxury hot chocolates from scratch. There is a fantastic variety of luxury hot chocolate recipes online including:  

Make an Affordable DIY Advent Calendar

Individual wrapped gifts numbered for the days leading up for Christmas as part of a homemade advent calendar.

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If you’re up for making a more meaningful advent calendar this Christmas, it makes for a great activity. For affordable, alternative advent calendar ideas, don’t miss the following: 

  • Affirmation Advent Calendar: All you need for this one is twenty-four envelopes which you can make yourself out of scrap paper. Then write an affirmation for each of the twenty-four days, and insert them into the envelopes. Your recipient or yourself can get their day off to a good start each morning leading up to Christmas. 
  • Candle Advent Calendar: All you need for this one is a pillar or taper candle. Simply paint the numbers, 1-24 on the front of the candle, and light as the days go by. As the candle melts, so do the numbers, ticking off each day until Christmas.  
  • Compliment Advent Calendar: Similar to the affirmation advent calendar, except you write twenty-four compliments for your recipient or yourself to read each morning. These don’t have to be just physical appearance compliments, be creative and think outside the box. 

Write Letters to Santa Claus

An image taken from above of a sheet of brown paper with the words 'Dear Santa' written in red, surrounded by Christmas decorations such as presents, cinnamon sticks, a hot chocolate, and some fresh pine.

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If you’ve got little ones who are excitedly awaiting Christmas day, why not dedicate some time to writing a letter to Santa Claus? Have fun with it and get creative. Use a tea bag to make the paper feel special and magical, and don’t forget to decorate once the letters have been written. 

What’s more, if you want to go all the way and take the little ones to post their letters, then Royal Mail advises that a letter to Santa should be sent with a postage stamp, to the following address: 

Santa/Father Christmas                                                                                                  
Santa’s Grotto                                                                                                       

Make your little ones’ day even more special with a Letter from Santa which you can find on the Royal Mail website to download for free.  

Christmas Paint and Sip

A person painting a Christmas wreath in watercolours onto a white piece of card, surrounded by art supplies such as watercolour paints and paint brushes.

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Get some Christmas cocktails made, along with some festive snacks, and get creative. Whether you’re sketching a Christmassy scene on a mini canvas, decorating wine glasses, or painting candles, you’re sure to get in the festive mood with your friends or family. What’s more, make it even more festive by coming in your ugliest Christmas jumper. 

For more inspiration for your Christmas paint and sip, check out social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

Decorate Christmas Cookies

Two people decorating gingerbread Christmas cookies on a wooden table.

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Bake some delicious Christmas cookies in advance, and spend the afternoon putting your cookie decorating skills to the test. 

Use the same Christmas cookie cutters as mentioned in the DIY Christmas decorations section for a variety of joyful shapes. If you need some inspiration, check out the likes of Pinterest. 

Build a Snowman

A young child sticking a carrot onto a snowman's face for the nose.

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If you’ve been lucky enough to get blessed with snow this year, get outside and make the most of it. Wrap up warm in an affordable winter coat and have a snowman-making competition.  

Enjoy a Budget-Friendly Christmas Day Out

A magnificent Christmas tree in London, surrounded by a moving bus and large, ornate buildings.

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Despite the cold weather, make sure you get outside this year during the festive season. If you’re looking for last-minute activities that you can enjoy outside of the house with friends and family, then don’t miss our handy article on Budget-Friendly Christmas Days Out.  

Layla Al-Ani
Home & Garden Writer

I’m Layla, the home and garden editor, and I started working at MyVoucherCodes in November 2022. I have always loved to write, especially after getting my degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, and since getting my own place, I’ve gotten stuck into all things home and garden.

When I’m not writing about saving money on homely purchases, I’m either sitting with my head in a new book, painting a piece of art for my walls, or binge-watching an interior design programme on Netflix. I love to get inspiration and transform my space, usually with the help of a few Pinterest boards and a couple of tins of paint.