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Queen of Free: Affordable family Christmas traditions

Families can try to create their annual holiday traditions by seeing displays and taking part in activities offered in their community.

INDIANAPOLIS — Christmas can get expensive in a hurry for many families. Decorating the tree, buying gifts, office parties and wrapping paper all create hidden costs that strain budgets and leave little left for enjoying the magic of the season.

Cherie Lowe, the Queen of Free, maintains that families can and should try to create their annual holiday traditions and take in as many of the displays and activities offered in their community.

"While we may be able to fit in one or two paid experiences," Lowe said in her weekly blog, "we can’t do it all." 

Queen of Free's list of free holiday fun 

  1. Mail a letter to Santa: Central Indiana offers a number of mailboxes, and some offer a return letter from the big guy if you provide a self-addressed stamped envelope. "I love the round-up that Indy with Kids updates each year to let us know where to drop those special missives," Lowe said.
  2. Crafting: "Spread out some brown kraft paper on your kitchen table and break out the crayons," Lowe said. You can string cranberries or popcorn to make garland for the tree or a doorway. 
  3. Light shows: Holiday lights are set up in most communities, but many require a fee or donation per carload. But if you bring a few friends and hot cocoa, the night turns into a memorable experience. The Queen's blog mentions Christmas at the Zoo, Winterlights at Newfields, A Merry Prairie at Conner Prairie and Christmas Nights of Lights at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, as well as Dasher’s Light Show this year at Castleton Square Mall. There are other shows that are free and offer low-power FM radio signals with music coordinated with the lights.

Watch Lowe's 13Sunrise segment in the video player.

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