Family Fun for Free

As the weekend approaches I’m often found scrambling for ways to entertain our family. The choices are simple if we have expendable cash; movies, skiing, bowling….the list is vast when the coffers are full. It’s when the budget is tight that my creativity often escapes me.

As a child my family didn’t spend much in the way of outings, my sister and I were often found making forts, snow huts and other imaginative activities…but most of these were with the adults and not always a good idea…cough. Using the toboggans to slide down the stairs sounded like FUN at first…

Nowadays I keep a list ideas for my family to have fun for free; this is my arsenal for times when my daughters whine about being “Booorrreeeddd”

Family Night

  • Check the local newspaper for free events – Towns, cities, libraries, schools, recreation centers and the like often have free events. Check your local museums, parks, and the like for special Open House days or other events that offer free admission.
  • Family scavenger hunt walks – Sit with the children and map a route for a family walk. Have the kids think of what may be in the surroundings and identify things you all have to try to find and take photos of. On the walk, have the list handy and tick off each item as you find it.
  • Family Photo Night – Dress up in your finest clothes and set up a pretty back drop for the perfect family photo. Allow each person to choose a pose and snap away, the results will have you in stitches.
  • Glow Stick Adventures – There is nothing like riding the hill on a toboggan with a glow stick in hand after dark, or in the summer go for a family swim at a local beach or pool with glow sticks.
  • Collage – Print off favorite photos and cut and paste into collages. Then allow the children to decide where they want to hang these works of art.
  • Backwards day – Wearing clothes backwards, yes means no and use utensils in opposite hands….the possibilities are endless and oh so confusing! This entertains the kids to no end and can last a whole day!
  • Dance Party – Invite over some friends and make a list of favorite songs. Have the kids draw out a dance floor and stage and take turns being a STAR!
  • Craft Time – Check out what craft supplies you have in the house and get creative! There are so many ideas on blogs and websites you’ll never been lost for ideas.
  • Cooking Blindly – Choose a dish as a family, such as pizza, then allow the children get to choose which ingredients they are going to use to make their masterpieces. One parent assists in the kitchen and when ready the other has to taste test while blindfolded, prepare your taste buds!!
  • Video Fun – set up your camcorder or computer camera and let the children have fun taping a message for a loved one. Encourage them to make a script, use props and include them in the editing and sending process.
  • Child Labor – Lemonade stand, car wash…need I say more?
  • Fort Fabulous – Using furniture and bedding make a fort in your home. Bring the TV or radio into the fort and have the family use it as their living room for the evening.

These are just some ideas for Family Fun when you’re on a budget, I’d love to hear your ideas!

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15 Responses

  1. Lots of research there and great ideas! We always had our game nights and cooking blitzes :) When you have a family, it can be way too expensive heading out for an evening.

  2. What great ideas Julie! In the summer we love our dusk trip to the beach! we’ll hop in the car after dinner and drive an hour to the beach. We’ll swim and then get ice cream. It’s so fun! The winter is hard because it’s so cold but I love the glow stick sledding idea!

  3. I love this post! We do most of those and it’s so much fun to hang out with my 3 year old and actually spend time with her. We haven’t done the glow stick one, but we should! Little One loves her glow sticks…one would think this 3 year old was ready to hit the rave scene! Bah!

  4. I loved this post.. i’m always trying to figure out what to do with the boys.

    and FYI.. everytime I read ” Forts” I said “Farts” in my head.. can you tell I’m a mom of boys?

  5. excellent ideas!

    We do indoor picnics regularly- the kids choose the space (aka the living room floor or in one of their bedrooms in a fort they have built) and the food.

    We also make cards / homemade gifts / etc. for grandma a lot. She likes those. ;)

    Decorating the windows- if you happen to have window writer markers that’s cool but you can also cut paper out into designs… snowflakes in the winter, flowers in the summer. You can use construction paper and make whole scenes. Tissue paper for stained glass windows. Tiny bits of sticky tac work best but tape can be used if you are have none.

    Spray bottles. With water in them. My kids are young enough that they still love to “clean” the floor. Yes, this requires a lot of extra towels and the floor may or may not be particularly clean… but it is usually cleaner than before they started and they do have fun. I also let them “clean” the bathroom that way. This only works on the right kind of flooring obviously.

    Sewing projects… my mother in law did this with my kids… she is a genius. She got my boys to make small pillows with stuff she had on hand. I was impressed.

    Those are a few of the things I thought up.

    Oh- and I TOTALLY read Farts when I saw the word Forts too. *snicker*

  6. With 4 kids we are always looking for the fun and free things to do around Montreal, there are some great sites that every week send a newsletter to tell you what’s happening. There are so many things that you can do for free and I think it is important to teach our kids that fun does not always come with a price tag.

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