Our budgets tend to take a lot of hits this time of year, so it's a bonus when we can find festive family fun that's also free. Here are twenty things to do with the kids in and around Boston this month to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah, without even touching your wallet (except maybe to take out your T pass).
1. Get into the Christmas spirit with music and community celebration at a local tree lighting ceremony.
2. Watch world-class ice skaters and local kids perform during the Frog Pond Skating Spectacular, and stay to watch the Common tree set aglow on November 29, 2018.
3. See the grand menorah lit on Boston Common on December 2, 2018 and enjoy live music, warm beverages, and Hanukkah treats.
5. Visit Santa at the farm or a local mall.
6. Step into an Enchanted Village, a longtime Boston tradition revived by Jordan's Furniture.
7. Visit Santa's Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops in Foxboro for free holiday activities, crafts, and a photo with Santa.
8. Experience the beauty and pageantry of the La Salette Shrine Lights.
Have you ever seen a reindog? See a whole herd at Pinehills Holidays on the Green's Reindog Parade. Photo courtesy of Pinehills
9. Explore the North End's jolly, bustling streets and shops on November 30, 2018 at the North End Holiday Stroll.
10. Enjoy free, Christmas-themed storytimes at Barnes and Nobles in the Prudential Center.
11. Have a festive day on December 1, 2018 with barnyard animals, Victorian carolers, Santa, gingerbread houses, "reindogs," and ice sculptures at Holidays on the Green in Plymouth.
12. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 30 through December 9, 2018, tour the elaborately decorated trees and wreaths at Marini Farm's Tree Jubilee. (Trees are raffled off to benefit the animals at the Ipswich Animal Shelter.)
Listen to songs and stories of peace at A Light Through the Ages. Photo courtesy of Central Reform Temple
13. For the Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll on December 6, 2018, Charles Street is shut down to traffic and turned into a winter wonderland with refreshments, music, and carriage rides.
14. Enjoy the ice skating show and glide on ice for free during Community Ice Skating @Kendall's annual Holiday on Ice season kick-off celebration on December 15, 2018.
15. Go ice skating at one of Boston's free rinks.
16. Listen to the annual Hanukkah cantata of A Light Through the Ages at Central Reform Temple in Boston.
17. Browse the eye candy and enjoy free entertainment at a holiday market.
Be dazzled by furry friends and a light show at Blink! at Faneuil Hall. Photo by Scarpetta Photography
18. Be dazzled by Blink!, a light show in Faneuil Hall, choreographed to the music of the Boston Pops.
19. Enjoy festive musical performances, engaging tours, and family-friendly activities at the MFA’s Hanukkah Festival of Lights.
20. Don’t miss one of New England’s signature holiday events: Marblehead Christmas Walk. The Christmas Walk offers a Gingerbread Festival, tree lighting celebration, Christmas Walk parade, and more.
21. Meet the Boston Ballet staff and the giant, cuddly Nutcracker Bear at Nutcracker Story Hour.
22. Celebrate Holly-Day on Atlantic Wharf with a concert, crafts, and more.
The Gingerbread House Design Competition is eye candy for the public. Photo courtesy of Boston Society of Architects
23. Check out the architectural wonders of the Gingerbread House Design Exhibition, on view at BSA Space from December 10 to 30, 2018.
24. Grab some snow shoes, hiking boots, or cross country skis and get the family outside between Christmas and New Year's to seek out an elusive herd of wooden reindeer sculptures found throughout the trails of various Trustee properties across the Commonwealth.
25. Practice kindness and giving each day as you count down to Christmas or as part of your Hanukkah celebrations by volunteering as a family with one of these local organizations.
Post originally published December 2015; updated annually through 2018.