Cheap and cheerful Christmas games and traditions

Caroline Cassidy

Pic: Getty

The festive season sees millions of Brits forking out for gifts, decorations and luxury food, but it is often the family traditions and games that really make Christmas come to life. And giving the family a magical Chrimbo doesn't have to cost the earth.

Here are a few ideas for traditions, games and family fun that won't mean you have to empty your wallet.

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The night before Christmas
As anyone with a young family will know, children's excitement levels reach fever pitch as the big day approaches. Keeping them occupied with a few Christmas Eve traditions will stop them running riot, and hopefully send them into a blissful sleep. For instance, ask each child to make their own Christmas tree ornament each year. Supplies such as card and glitter won't break the bank, and the ornaments can be kept for the next year.

Then wrap the little ones up warm and take a sightseeing tour of decorated houses in the area. Add a flask of hot chocolate and a few mince pies in a hamper to make it a real Christmas event. To make the return just as special, ask a friend or neighbour to switch on a secret decoration or light lots of tealight candles in the garden as a surprise.

Finally, don't forget Santa - help the kids hang out their stockings, put out their letters to Mr Claus, and treat him to a glass of sherry, a mince pie, and a carrot or two for the hard-working reindeer.

Christmas morning
If you don't have the cash to lavish on pricey presents, you can make the gift-opening not only fun but something of an adventure by arranging a Christmas pressie treasure hunt. Mums and dads can have fun tailoring the clues to each child, and it makes the present unwrapping last longer.

A similar idea is to organise an amazing Xmas maze. Use a different coloured ball of wool or string for each child, hide a little prize somewhere in the room, and unwind the yarn leading to the gift, passing around furniture, table legs and banisters. Then tie a pencil to the other end of the string, and ask each youngster to wind it around the pencil until they find their little treat. If nothing else, it might just give you a little peace and quiet for breakfast!

Festive fun
Once the pressies have been opened, the kids are generally happily occupied, but there's always room for a few fun family games on Christmas Day.

Simple games that cost just a few pence will get the whole family involved and fill the house with laughter and good cheer. For instance, Secret Snowman is a game that the kids will just love. Cut out a snowman from a piece of white card and attach sticky tape to the back. The object of the game is to secretly stick the snowman to one unsuspecting member of the family. When that person discovers the snowman, it is his or her turn to stick it onto the next person.
A homemade version of Pictionary is another fun family idea, which will amuse young, old and everyone in between. A pad and a few coloured crayons or pens is all you need - just throw all your drawing suggestions into a Santa hat, and split the family into teams. One member must draw the object or subject while the others guess what it is.

For the grown-ups, a game of two truths and a lie is a fun idea, particularly if you have non-family guests. Each person reveals three stories or facts about themselves, two of which are true and one that is not. The others have to guess which is the lie. To give the game a festive theme, you can try this with the 'three worst Christmas gifts' - just be careful not to cause offence!

What are your favourite family Christmas traditions and games? Let us know below...