There are a ton of great ways to spend time with your kids this holiday season that won't leave you bankrupt for the start of 2016. While the kids are home from school and full of the energy that Christmas brings, try some of these easy, affordable, and entirely kid-friendly Christmas activities and by the 25th you’re sure to have new traditions to embrace for years to come.

Wreath Making and Decorating

You may think of a wreath as a more “grown-up” holiday feature but with how hands-on and customizable they can be it could be the perfect activity for your kids to do with a little help from you. Simply pick up a basic wreath frame, some loose branches, and a handful of fun decorations or buy a cheap, undecorated wreath already made and let everyone decorate a section that’s just for them. Creativity and cooperation all in one with a festive bow on top. Then hang your new family-made feature in a prominent place like the front door or mantel place for everyone to enjoy.

Baking Christmas Cookies

This is one of the most popular household traditions around Christmas. Many families spend hours on end crowded in the kitchen baking gingerbread men to decorate with frosting. Some choose to follow family recipes handed down from generations. There are plenty of recipes on the internet, however, if your older relatives are still keeping their secret recipes secret. Here’s an easy peanut butter one that you can make with your little bakers. You’ll need:

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • a cup of sugar
  • a cup of peanut butter

Just mix the ingredients in a bowl, keep stirring until it’s a smooth consistency. Then form cookies on a baking pan, with a baking sheet underneath to make cleanup a breeze. Set the oven to 375 degrees and bake for about eight to ten minutes. You can use a fork to make a criss cross pattern on top and your kids can eat cookies they baked (almost) all by themselves!

Sleep Under the Tree

While you might be tempted to send the kids off to their bedrooms early so you can finish laying out presents, a fun way to involve the kids in Christmas is to let them sleep under the tree this year. Just lay out some blankets or sleeping bags around the tree and gently set up the presents when they're fast asleep. This gives your kids more time to eagerly await Santa and gives them an unbeatable morning when they wake up surrounded by presents.

Catch All the Best Christmas Movies

With your kids home from school there’s gonna be plenty of free time and even the best parent with a world’s worth of coffee won’t be able to fill it all with activities and adventures. That’s why a great tradition to fall back on the much more passive Christmas movie marathon which channels like ABC Family have been bringing to home theaters all month. Keep an eye out for movies the kids really seem to love and find them on sale on DVD after the holiday’s over so you can watch them more next year!

Make a Gingerbread House

This one is easy and tasty! Just get a few graham crackers, eight to ten should do the trick, some frosting, and whatever candy you want to decorate. Form the walls of the house with the crackers, and use the frosting to hold everything into place. Then add candy to create whatever décor your home might have. Use candy canes as handrails, Skittles as a walkway, or chocolate bars as windows. Feel free to invent and get creative and be sure to lay some paper towels around your kitchen to keep the mess to a minimum!