Entertaining

LOW-COST IDEAS TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS WITH NEIGHBORS

The holidays are a time for families to come together, but it’s also a great opportunity to extend the celebration to your neighbors, who are often the ones who share those daily moments with you.

This season, take the time to build memories together and strengthen these bonds – without breaking the bank. Neighborhood activities can be as simple as a quick “hello” while dropping off Christmas wishes, or can evolve into a multi-family party. Whatever you do, involve the entire family and share the spirit of the season.

GO CAROLING

For those who love to sing, gather a group, and take it to the streets. You can let neighbors know ahead of time, through either a flyer or Facebook post, to leave their porch lights on if they want your group to stop. It’s often easiest to have a list of songs you’re going to sing before you meet at someone’s house to start the evening. And, at the end of the event, meet back at someone’s home for cocoa and Christmas treats. Here’s a great story on planning your own caroling party.

CREATE LUMINARIA DISPLAY 

It takes a little planning, but when a group of families pull together, they can create a display the entire community will enjoy. Luminarias can be candles placed in paper bags weighted with sand, battery operated tea lights in plastic milk jugs, or anything similar. Talk to local officials to learn any fire ordinances you need to adhere to before determining what you can do. Head out on Christmas Eve afternoon to set out the luminarias, and light them, if necessary, before night falls. To best view the display, either drive without headlights, or better yet, walk them and visit with your neighbors.

BAKE A CHRISTMAS CINNAMON ROLL TRADITION

Instead of the typical plate of cookies, make a batch of cinnamon rolls for your neighbors and drop them off on Christmas Eve. Half the fun is walking from house to house deliver the sweet treats. These are perfect for a snack after midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, or for Christmas morning after the presents are opened. Drop them off in a disposable aluminum container with instructions on reheating the rolls and a heartfelt Merry Christmas.

START A RE-GIFTING GIFT EXCHANGE 

We don’t need to add pressure in buying gifts, but by making a game of the gift giving, a re-gifting neighborhood exchange can provide plenty of laughs and won’t stretch your budget. Draw names for those who want to participate, and instead of purchasing something, make the rules that it has to be something from home. It’s fun to think creatively on what you can give, as well as try to guess who gave you your treasure.

HAVE A CHRISTMAS POTLUCK 

There’s no need to have a stressful Christmas get-together with the neighbors if you have a potluck gathering. You can have only hors d’oeuvres, dessert, or a full blown meal. Either assign specific dishes or, better yet, allow people to make their favorites for a low-stress party that focuses on simply spending time together during the season.

CREATE A NEIGHBORHOOD SCAVENGER HUNT

Engage the kids to take notice of their neighborhood by putting together a Christmas themed list for them to find. You can include items such as a snowman, set of blue lights, lighted reindeer, Santa Claus, and any other features that are unique to your area. Print out the list to give to each child, and come up with a few simple prizes for those who complete the list or find the most interesting examples.

LEAVE A CHRISTMAS GREETING

Even if you don’t have time to get together during the holiday season, you can always leave a note or handmade Christmas card for your neighbors. Everybody appreciates being thought of during the busy time of the year.

HAVE A CHRISTMAS TEA

For a nostalgic afternoon affair, put together a simple Christmas tea for your neighbors. There’s no need to worry about matching China. Use mismatched mugs, or the old tea cups so often found at garage sales. There’s nothing like sitting down over tea and cookies to be able to destress and relax with friends.

The most important aspect of spending time with your neighbors during Christmas is the connections it builds, and it doesn’t need to cost much more than your time to create great memories.

This article was written by Amy Grisak, contributor for The Daily Clutch.