Spending quality time with your family does not require any money at all. While dinner, movies or sporting events are great entertainment, the cost can damped the fun. I recently took my niece and friend out to the movies and it cost us almost $26.00 for the tickets, and the concession stand was more. Sadly we only got popcorn and drinks because I smuggled in the cheaper candy from the drug store.
Here are some fun and free activities to do with your family.
Game Night. Our family frequently had a game night growing up and those nights are some of my most cherished and funniest memories. We would have friends and family over, and spend hours playing games like Charades, Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, and our later favorite Cranium. If you don’t own any games, you can still play free things like Tag (come on admit it, it’s still awesome), a homemade version of Win, Lose or Draw, Charades, card games, and even internet games as a family. Also try a jigsaw puzzle together, that can be days of free entertainment.
The Library. Your local library is an amazing and completely free resource. Everyone knows you can rent books, but did you know that you can also check out audio books, DVD rentals, art, and even check out free passes to museums and parks. Some libraries are better than others, but most have come a long way.
The libraries in my area have an extensive DVD collection, not just PBS specials, but new releases and popular movies too. They have far fewer copies than your local video rental store, but there are waiting lists and they are completely free. The audio books are great for car rides or floating in the pool or to listen to while you all clean the house. Some facilities have movie night or other special events. My niece and nephews just got to go to story hour and trick or treat and lead a parade around the library. They loved it and it cost nothing.
Libraries have special copies of books for book clubs, this means they have dozens of copies of the same book. Attend the book club at the library or start a family book club. If your children are older you can all pick a book, read it together or separately and then discuss it at the dinner table or before bed.
One of the most surprising things I discovered about my library is they have passes you can check out for many different places. My local library when I lived in Connecticut had half off passes to the zoo, free passes to several museums, to an amusement park, and an aquarium. You usually have to pick them up the day you would like them and return them by the next day. Go talk to your head librarian and the children’s librarian and ask them what their library offers. The different departments have different passes. These free passes can save you a lot of money. When my family was in town I rented the zoo passes and half off our admission for 6 of us saved us over $40.00.
You could even take an afternoon and just go to the library together and wander around. I love the feel and smell of the books, it always gets me excited to learn something new. The cost to you $0.
Exercise. Oh yea, I said it. While it may not sound like fun to some people, it really can be a lot of fun. My Dad and step Mom bought us a Nintendo Power Pad when we were children. It’s an electrical pad that lays on the ground like a Twister game. It’s hooked up to a video game and there are games you play such as running races. The pad registers when you pick up your feet and put them down, thus gauging who is running faster. It was competitive and really good fun. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we all played it together for hours and I never realized I was working out. We also would take turns on the exercise bike, rowing machine and treadmill seeing who could last longer, who could ride further or who could get the most rows in a minute.
You can take a bike ride together, go for walks, jog, or buy a Nintendo Wii and Wii fit. A Nintendo Wii is a video game system that gets you moving instead of sitting and playing games. You swing your arms for tennis, you dance around for dance offs, you run, you do a lot of fun activities.
Most of us have exercise equipment sitting around with dust on it, make it a cool family night. It’s always free to go for a walk.
Get Creative. Most households have art supplies sitting around in closets and on shelves. Dig it out and make something cool. My sister started with her 3yr old when he was an infant. She put his hands in paint and made cards for everyone. Then as he got older it got more sophisticated. He finger painted when he was one and she framed them and hung them on the walls. It was such a wonderful way to see his artwork and when he got older he could point to them and know he created it.
My friend has very little extra money, so she gets creative with their projects. Instead of buying expensive stickers, they go for nature walks and find leaves, flowers, sticks and other great finds to glue onto paper.
Don’t underestimate this suggestion thinking it’s just for little kids either. Kids of all ages like to create art, especially when it’s appreciated, framed and put in a special place. My ex boyfriend made fun of me when I said I wanted to paint, he hadn’t seen any of my artwork and thought it was something only artists did. He begrudgingly went with me to the art supply store where I got the largest canvas they had and some inexpensive acrylic paint. I made him help me and together we made this very cool abstract painting that people raved about when they came over to the house. That wasn’t exactly free, but you can find old paintings in the attic or basement and paint over them.
Older kids who are more computer savvy can create cards and art on the computer to be printed and given away. Grandma would prefer a card handmade with love and creativity than a store bought one any day. Use buttons, string, and cord, anything lying around to give your art some 3D wow.
Lights, Camera, Action. Get that digital camera out and have a ball. It’s free to take those photos or video and put on the computer for a good laugh or to reminisce over one day. Play dress up, let each family member take a turn being the photographer and posing everyone. Set the camera up and use the timer to get everyone in the picture.
Try recreating famous paintings in photography, make patterns with your bodies and photograph yourselves. Such as laying with all your heads together or spelling out the family name with your arms and legs. Then print and frame it.
You can make a family videography, taking turns telling your favorite, most touching or funniest family memories to cherish forever. You can also make a how-to or funny video for YouTube.
Community Events. Check your local paper or webpage (also check the webpages of nearby cities) for events in your area. Many are completely free, including parades, movies, sporting events, and more. Some museums have a free admission day, call and find out when that is and take the whole family.
Use your imagination to find fun and free ways to entertain your family. Ask friends for ideas or get together and combine the excitement.