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If your kids are anything like mine, they might be starting to get a little antsy for this spending freeze to be over. Sometimes it seems like every fun thing to do as a family costs money, which means after almost 4 weeks of diligently refusing to spend money on anything “extra” you all might be feeling a little stir-crazy. But take heart.
First of all, you’ve only got a few more days to go. You’ve made it this far, you can all certainly hang on for 4 more days. Second, there are still plenty of things you can do together as a family that don’t cost anything at all! I promise if you take the time to do even a few of these with your kids this weekend, they won’t even notice you’re not spending any money.
Here are 25 fun ideas for FREE family activities to get you started:
- Chore Cards—okay, so maybe doing chores doesn’t scream “family fun” but this is actually a great way to get your kids to actually enjoy participating in housework. Take a deck of cards & write one chore task on each one. (Ex. “unload dishwasher,” “vacuum living room,” “dust bookshelves,” “clean toilets,” etc.) Gather your family at the table, shuffle the cards, then deal them to all family members until there are none left. The cards in each persons’ hands are the chores they must do, but everyone is allowed to trade cards (and tasks). The first person to finish all their chores wins!
- Legos–Most kids love Legos, but even more so when their parents join in the fun. Working together to build something big, like a castle or a city, is a lot of fun and helps your kids improve their construction skills by learning from you.
- Hide-and-Go Seek–Our family has had some of our funniest moments and biggest laughs playing this simple game. It works indoors or out with all different ages. Be warned though, it can go on for hours!
- Rake leaves or do other yard work—Working together as a family outside can be incredibly satisfying. Get your kids to help rake fallen leaves, then have fun jumping in them together. Shovel snow during the winter or plant flowers together in the spring.
- Play board games–Age appropriate board games are a great way to spend an afternoon. Added bonsus? Teach your kids all sorts of important & essential life skills such as problem solving, sportsmanship, math, reading, & more! Our current favorites include Candyland, Richard Scarry’s Busytown Mysteries, Noodleboro Fun Park Sharing Game, Cootie, & Qwirkle.
- Do a puzzle–depending on your kids’ age, break out a “hard” puzzle–100 pieces or more–and spend a few hours working on it together
- Movie night–Nothing makes my kids happier than “movie night.” We get all the sleeping bags, blankets, & pillows in the whole house and build a comfy nest on the floor, then pop popcorn and make hot chocolate and settle in to watch our movie of choice. (The local library has a great selection of kids movies you can check out for free!)
- Build a fort–Grab some old blankets and sheets and spend the afternoon creating a super cool hideout. You can even add some Christmas lights for extra ambiance. We use 2 of these awesome Toobeez sets we bought the girls for Christmas last year, but you can just as easily use tables, chairs, & other furniture to build your creation.
- Go to the beach—The beach is a lot of fun whether it is hot & sunny or not. Collect shells, run from the waves, build a sand castle, or simply go for a walk together and see what you find.
- Make homemade playdoh–-let the kids help with the process of making the play-doh (find a recipe here or here), then spend the afternoon making your own dough creations. Use rolling pins & cookie cutters for even more fun.
- Have a cookie decorating contest–let the kids help with the baking, then gather a variety of icing & other cookie decorating supplies & see who can come up with the most creative design. Award prizes for different categories–most creative, most beautiful, funniest, sweetest, etc.
- Go for a bike ride–Explore an area of town close by your house or bring your bikes to a popular bike trail.
- Do an up-cycling project together-this is a great way to create something useful AND teach your kids about recycling and re-using. Show your kids these awesome upcycling projects for ideas, then decide what to make. Let them help gather the supplies or check for free stuff on Craigslist, then get to work.
- Do a family art project–break out your crayons, markers, or paints & a large canvas or paper, then go crazy. You could do something more structured, like this handprint family tree or this fingerprint heart, or simply just let your kids lead.
- Visit a free museum-lots of community museums offer free admission. Check your local chamber of commerce website for ideas.
- Do a free craft project at a local hardware store–both Home Depot and Lowe’s offer free kids workshops. Home Depot holds theirs on the first Saturday of the month while Lowe’s offers one every other Saturday. Check with your local store for details.
- Make a time capsule–fill a box with mementos from your life right now–pictures, trinkets, letters to yourself, etc.–then seal your box and either bury it or put it away someplace where you won’t open it for 10 or 20 years.
- Make homemade Christmas gifts to give to friends and family—Making gifts together is a great way to teach your kids about the joy of giving, and the importance of giving from the heart, not just giving stuff. Brainstorm some ideas for useful or thoughtful gifts you can make together, then get busy! A few things the girls and I have made in the past include Star-Shaped Crayons, Felt Flower & Button Hair Clips, Homemade Spa Treatments, Fabric Covered Candles, & Faux Silk Pomanders.
- Do a funny photo shoot—Gather dress-up clothes & any crazy hats, scarves, & other funny accessories you can find and set up a “photo booth.” Take turns taking pictures of each other looking wacky, or set up the self-timer and get some silly family photographs.
- Have a Wii Bowling tournament—Break out the old Wii Sports game you haven’t played in years and have an old-school family bowling tournament. Make it an event by donning bowling shirts and serving Bowling Alley-inspired grub!
- Visit a free local festival–check your local paper, library calendar, or community website to find out what free events are happening in or around your town.
- Watch a Dock Dogs competition—if you’ve never watched these amazing dogs leap off the dock, competing to see who can jump the furthest, then you are missing out! Competitions are free to watch. Check the Dock Dogs website for an upcoming event in your area.
- Clean out the garage–entice your kids to help by letting them sell anything you find that you don’t need.
- Go to the library—most libraries have great kids sections with books, games, & free events or story time. Many libraries also often host reading contests where your kids can earn prizes for the reading that they do.
- Go fishing—if you don’t have the right equipment or know-how, try asking a friend or family member who does to give your family a fishing lesson. Who knows? You might even come home with dinner.
Your assignment today is to spend time as a family doing something you’ve never done before. Dig deep and find something creative–and free–that you can all do together. And have fun!
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What are your favorite free or super cheap family activities?