McDonald's newest promotion involves free food and beloved holiday characters

There were rumors circling the web in early December 2020 that McDonald's might release a Buddy the Elf meal for the holidays as part of its celebrity meal promotion. Turns out, the rumors were true. The company created a meal inspired by Buddy the Elf, Will Ferrell's beloved Elf character, but also took things to the next level — incorporating 10 more holiday character favorites and free food every day from Dec. 14 through 24 (via McDonald's).

According to USA Today, the promotion begins on Dec. 14, 2020 with a free double cheeseburger, honoring The Griswolds from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and continues with free items such as a Big Mac for the Abominable Snow Monster, hotcakes for Buddy the Elf, and a McFlurry for Frosty the Snowman. McDonald's celebrity menu meals — such as those teaming up Travis Scott and J Balvin with the fast-food chain — have already helped boost sales for McDonald's, according to CNN. This end-of-year holiday promotion is likely to do the same.

There are, however, one or two small catches that come along with this free holiday food from McDonald's.

How to get in on McDonald's free holiday character food offer

You know that saying, nothing is free? Well, the same may apply to this McDonald's holiday offer. Each day's free food offer requires a $1 purchase within the McDonald's app (no purchase necessary for Santa's cookies on Dec. 24). Guests are allowed just one freebie per day, and holiday menu freebies are only available at participating McDonald's, according to USA Today.

McDonald's is also interested in growing its app users and in-app purchases, which is why you are required to install the McDonald's app and order something for $1 before you can request the free deal inside the app. Why is the company interested in growing app users? McDonald's recently launched, and is currently testing, its own loyalty program. The MyMcDonald's loyalty program connects with the app and will launch nationwide in 2021. Try not to think of all the small print and just enjoy those hotcakes, McFlurrys, and chocolate chip cookies.