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Frugal Family Fun

Ideas for Free or Nearly Free Family Activities


Family fun does not have to be expensive. Some of the best times we had as a family cost very little, if anything. Now when I look back at my most cherished memories it always seems to be those times that were surrounded by simple pleasures where we enjoyed our time together.

1. Craft Projects

Working on crafts as a family can be so much fun. We used to cover our kitchen table with a sheet, place assorted colors of paints in the center, then set a timer for 10 minutes. Everyone had 10 minutes to paint what they wanted and when the timer went off we would switch seats and pick up where the other person left off.

Once we made it all the way around the table and back to our seats, we signed our art and the project was over.

What did do with the sheet? We let it dry and used it as a summer tablecloth.

2. Fun Baking

Getting the entire family involved in baking can be a lot of fun especially when you have all the edible fixings and toppings to decorate your cakes, cookies and cupcakes. Let each child select one candy topping at the store, let them help mix and pour the batter, decorate their masterpieces, then everyone can sit around and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

3. Game Time

Chinese Checkers
It is hard when you have a busy schedule to sit and play a child's game. But they absolutely love it when we do and the more family members who get involved the better. The next time the children are bored, dust off a few old games and give it a go.

4. Garden Delights

Create a garden together full of magical sunflowers, roses, vegetables and herbs. Short on space? Flowers and vegetables can be grown in containers or on a windowsill. Check with your nursery to find out which varieties will work best in your environment and include the children in planting, making garden labels, watering the plants and watching them grow.

5. Ice Cream Time

Ice Cream
There are so many ways that families can enjoy ice cream together. You can make your own, visit your neighborhood ice cream parlor, or crowd around the ice cream truck when it goes through your neighborhood. Ice cream is always fun and the hotter it is outside, the more everyone giggles when they eat it. When everyone is finished, go catch fireflies or play a good old-fashioned game of Kick the Can. Cost? Very little. Payback? Immeasurable.

6. Movie Night

Cuddle up on the couch or with pillows on the floor and watch a family classic movie together. Some that come to mind (and depending on the ages of your children) include Wizard of Oz, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, E.T. and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Add to the fun by giving the children tickets to handout before showtime. Cost? The price of a movie. Remember to check your local library. Many times you can check out the classic movies for free.

7. Nature Walks

Nature Walk
Kids love to go hikes and adventures. There are many places where you can go and walk for free or for a small admissions fee. Pack water and a picnic basket of goodies to add to the fun. And take a lot of pictures! Let each child select one to print, then frame it and hang it their room.

8. Reading

Make a trip to the library and let the children pick out a handful of books to bring home to read. Encourage them to read the books together by participating when they begin reading the books. Many times when Mom and Dad show interest in an activity so do all of the children. Discuss the books or depending on the storyline, let the children act out by pretending to be their favorite character.

9. Time to Get Wet

Water is always a source of fun whether it comes from a hose, a pool, or you just get a bunch of water balloons. The biggest kick for kids is when they get the adults wet, so come prepared. Moms, definitely wear mascara so that it will run all over. The kids will love it.

10. Trip to a Museum

There are times of the year when many of the museums across the country offer free admission or buy-one-get-one-free tickets. Mark the dates on your calendar, take a family day, and go explore a museum near you. Your children will never forget the experience.

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