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Do you find that you struggle to think of fun things to do with your family because you’re worried about the cost because you’re on a budget or don’t have much money?
In this post I’m going to give you 101 fun things to do as a family on a budget, whether that’s leaving the house, staying at home or trying something creative.
1. Go to a beach
If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, playing in the sand, picking up shells and having a dip in the sea is a great way for families to bond outdoors.
You’ve probably got everything already in your home to make a day of it without spending on those seaside chips, hot doughnuts or sticks of rock, so make yourself something that you can take and don’t forget a pudding.
2. Visit a park
While probably not the most interesting or exciting thing for adults to do, children young and old love a park and for the most part doesn’t cost anything, apart from parking and maybe a packed lunch, but can give hours of fun.
You never know in the heat of the moment the idea of going down a really big slide might seem like a good idea, though as someone in their 40s that is badgered to go on the slide by his eldest, don’t do it, your body won’t be thanking you after.
3. Fly a kite
Kites aren’t that expensive to buy and once you’ve bought one can last a while.
Once you’ve got the basics down and you’re able to keep the kite in the air for more than 2 seconds, you could try something more advanced, try some twists and turns.
4. Go on a picnic
Picnics aren’t just a thing that loved-up couples do when the sun is out.
Sometimes nothing beats going to a local beauty spot or park with your family, with something that you’ve made the night before to sit down in the open air and maybe play a few games after.
5. Go for a bike ride
Dust off your helmet and get your bike out from where you put it before you had children.
A bike ride is not only a great way of getting out to see everything that is around you but its also a great way for you and your family to bond over how unsteady you were, even though you supposedly never forget to ride a bike, it’s easy to forget how to ride it well.
6. Do some bird watching
This is one of those activities that you don’t necessarily have to travel far to do, look out the window and see what you can see.
If you’ve never bird watched before the RSPB has a bird identifier where answering a few questions about the bird you’ve seen provides you with a list of birds that it could have been.
7. Read books
Reading stories, shouldn’t be purely reserved for bedtime.
If you’ve already read the books in your house or you don’t have many, see number 8.
8. Go to a library
If you’re lucky enough to have a library, use it.
We know that children’s books are expensive so take advantage of the ability to take books home for free
9. Learn about the horrible history of where you live
Where you live is going to be surrounded by history, but what about the horrible history of where you live?
Do a search online and see whether you’re able to find anything that might interest the younger ones in the family. It might be a good way of impressing your family with your knowledge about where you live, nobody has to know that you’ve searched for it, do they?
10. Go to a museum
Museums are not only a great way to educate, they can be a great way of feeding creativity.
A visit to a museum might give you some ideas of pictures that you could draw and paint at home.
11. Become photographers
Depending on the ages of your little ones, there are probably going to be quite a few phones in the household with pretty decent cameras.
Choose a subject matter and see who takes the best picture of it.
12. Go indoor camping
If spending the night under the stars with the creepy crawlies isn’t your thing, why not make a tent in your living room and spend the night doing what campers do, just in a little more comfort?
13. Try a new sport
The idea of sport is that it is accessible to all and there is a range of sports that you don’t necessarily need a specialist kit.
Bat and balls from a sports outlet or a couple of racquets bought from local classifieds are a great way of trying out a sport before you invest more money in something likely to end up a passing fad.
14. Go bug hunting
While you can buy bug hunting kits all you really need to go on a bug hunt is a magnifying glass and possibly something to dig or pat the ground to tempt the bugs to the surface.
You’ll probably take your phone with you so if you come across something that you’ve never seen before, take a picture and when you get home, sit down together to see if you can find what it was.
15. Turn detective
Start your own detective agency and have a family member be the client.
Have you lost an item of clothing that only a detective might be able to find, has someone stolen your last biscuit or has someone created a mess and you want to find out who might have made it?
16. Go to a car boot
They say that one person’s junk is another person’s treasure and a visit to a car boot sale is a world of junk and treasure.
To make it more interesting, why not give each family member a budget and try and find a specific item for within the budget then at the end of the visit to the car boot have a competition to see who has managed to find the item at the cheapest price.
17. Go to your local market
We’re so used to going to the supermarket that we often forget about our local markets, not only are they a good way of saving money on your fruit and veg and supporting local businesses, they are also good places for younger members of the family to learn the art of negotiation.
18. Become entrepreneurs
There are several ways that you can teach and learn entrepreneurship with your family.
Visit charity shops and car boot sales to see whether you can find anything with the potential to make a profit.
19. Plant flowers
Gardening on a budget isn’t something that is easy to do when you buy plants from a garden centre because they are expensive.
Instead, why not buy a packet of seeds and grow some pot plants from scratch? It’s not going to be instant gratification, but there is satisfaction in knowing that you’ve been able to grow a plant and have it survive.
20. Grow your own fruit and vegetables
Now more than ever is a great time to try your hand at growing your own fruit and vegetables.
Start by growing tomatoes, they are fairly straightforward to grow, you can either buy the tomato plant, buy the seeds or next time you have a salad set a few seeds to one side, dry them off and plant these.
21. Go to a city farm
If you live in a big city, there are probably not many opportunities to visit farms in wide open spaces, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t able to visit some of those animals you would see on them.
You might not even know that there is a city farm near you, but before discounting the fact, do a search, City farms are often cheaper than out of city farms for families to visit and might provide opportunities to hold some of their animals.
22. Do something for others together
There’s a pleasure to be had in helping others and doing it as a family can bring us together.
It doesn’t have to be something that you consider groundbreaking, though it could mean a lot to someone else.
You might consider doing something as a family to raise money for a local charity or doing a few jobs for someone elderly, such as doing their shopping, gardening or just taking a moment to have a chat.
23. Have a play date
Have some adult time and invite your friends and family around and let your children do their thing.
If you want to get out of the house, make up a picnic and go to a local park.
24. Go on a treasure hunt
Create a treasure map where members of the family search for hidden treasure.
Choose a route and lay clues across a route and see if your treasure hunters are detectives in the making.
25. Take a local tour
We often have no idea about our city’s history.
Buy a traveller’s guide or pay someone to show you around, you might be surprised about what you find out.
26. At home spa day
While the idea of a spa day might seem appealing the cost of going to one isn’t so much.
Some of the treatments you’d pay for at a spa can be done at home, whether that’s having a relaxing foot bath, putting on a face mask or relaxing in a bath with some aromatherapy bath salts.
27. Cook a meal together
My wife doesn’t often let me in the kitchen, but if you need an excuse, cooking a meal as a family can be a good one.
Sit down together and choose what you might want that evening, this is also a great way of making sure that everyone is eating something that they want at the same time.
28. Create healthy snacks
Who doesn’t love a snack now and then?
The problem with the snack we enjoy most are full of sugars, ingredients we have difficulty pronouncing, or a long list of E numbers.
Look for healthy snack recipes and spend some time making and baking them, not everything is going to be a hit, but at least you know what you’re going to be putting into your body.
29. Learn some magic tricks
Whether it’s making a ball disappear or something a little more advanced, there are many tricks that you don’t need to be a member of the magic circle to do.
You can watch videos of some tricks, but if you want something a little more structured then why not buy a course, from websites like Udemy or skillshare
30. Become shopkeepers
Use what’s in your house to become shopkeepers and learn the value of money by pricing them up and making money to buy the items.
As we become cashless, the feeling of money is becoming alien and with it the connection between putting something in a trolley and having to give money over to the cashier to be able to take it home.
31. Play computer games
While not the best activity if you want them outdoors.
If your children spend a lot of time in front of their computers, why not have them show you how to play their favourite computer game?
32. Have a family clear out
As a family we accumulate so much stuff, while this doesn’t necessarily sound fun, try and make a game of it.
If you find that you have a lot of items you no longer need you might consider giving them to charity or selling them.
33. Become scientists
There are several science experiments that you can try with items that you probably already have lying around the house and if not won’t cost that much to buy.
This isn’t a lesson so try and make it fun and you might actually learn something too.
34. Learn a new skill
The internet has opened up opportunities to learn a new skill in just about anything, so why not decide upon a skill as a family and watch a few videos to test whether it is something that you might want to do in the long-term.
35. Face painting
Whether it’s a superhero, princess, an animal or just a pretty pattern, painting each other’s face can be a cheap way of having fun with your family, but remember to wash it off before you go out.
36. Dust off those old board games
We probably all spend a little too long in front of our screens and as a family, you might not see much of each other because of it.
So get those board games out that you have in your loft and have a night of playing them to see who is the master board gamer in the house.
37. Have your own afternoon tea
With a few sandwiches, drinks and cake you can have afternoon tea at home.
38. Make use of your tv subscription
You pay for your monthly TV subscription so use it, while you might not want to spend hours in front of the TV as a family, there’s nothing wrong with sitting down together and catching a quick movie.
Here are some of my favourite movies about money, if that kind of thing interests you
39. Have a talent show
Everyone has a talent, don’t they?
Get members of your family to show you their talents whereby the winner gets to choose their favourite meal or gets to choose what activity you do next.
40. Find free events in your local area
Have a search online to see whether there are any events in your area that you can attend, some might be free and some might have a small entry fee.
Some events might be advertised in the circulars you receive through your letter box, so before you recycle them without looking through them, just check to make sure.
41. Become circus performers
I’m not suggesting that for one second that you become knife throwers, but every family member could try at least one circus act and show it to the others.
42. Wash the car together
Like it or not, one day the younger members of your family are going to be on the road in their own car so why not get them cleaning the family car so when that time comes they do have their own, they aren’t reliant on a carwash and can take pride in a good job done.
43. Choose each other’s outfit
Probably not something that you will want to do if you’re going out.
You’re going to be mismatched with items that you’d never put together yourself.
44. Indoor obstacle course
With a few well-placed cushions, a box, chairs and blankets you can make a perfectly good obstacle course that would be worthy of any Nina Warrior course.
45. Go on safari
If you’re into animals and dream of going on safari, it might not be out of reach after all.
There are plenty of POV safari videos on youtube.
46. Go to Disney World
If a safari isn’t your thing, why not try why a POV video shot at Disney World or Disney Land
47. Camp in your garden
If you have the equipment but aren’t able to get to a campsite, then your garden can be a great place to go camping with the added bonus of being able to go indoors with the weather is too bad and a toilet that hasn’t been used by any other campers.
48. Have a fashion show
If you’re anything like me, you won’t know half of the clothes that your family have in their wardrobes, so why not have a fashion show and have everyone walk down an imaginary catwalk?
Just try to not tot up the price of those clothes that you’ve never seen before that might not ever see the light of day after the show.
49. Play balloon games
Who doesn’t love a game of balloon keepy uppy or balloon tennis?
Make some room and see who can keep the balloon in the air without it touching the ground the longest or see who has the best balloon backhand or forehand.
50. Make mud pies
What can be cheaper and messier than letting your kids make mud pies?
51. Try Yoga
You aren’t going to be putting your leg behind your head anytime soon, but learning the basics as a family can keep you all supple enough to do those outdoor activities that need you to be a lot more flexible than you already are.
Make & Create something
52. Make shell characters
Whether it’s collecting shells from the beach or buying them, with some glue and sticky eyes shell characters are a great way of showing off their shell collection.
53. Paint Rocks
With some acrylic paint and a paintbrush, you can do almost anything with a rock.
Just create patterns or if you’re a little more creative paint some rock bugs and animals.
54. Make bird feeders
If you find that you’re not seeing any birds in your garden, it might be because there is nothing to temp them to visit.
Making a bird feeder is easy, all you need is the right bird feed, a yoghurt and some lard
55. Make a bug hotel
While bug hotels can be cheap to buy, where’s the fun in that?
There are several ways to make a bug hotel using wood pallets, and bricks or using recycled materials and other things that you would find around the garden.
56. Make your own instruments
While it is simple enough to make a drum kit out of upside-down pots and pans, a drummer alone doesn’t make a band so get thinking about other instruments that you can make from things around the house.
With an empty bottle and some rice, you have a shaker or with a couple of lollipop sticks, some rubberbands and some greaseproof paper you have yourself a harmonica.
57. Create a family story together
Make each member of your family a character in your own book and think of fun ways that you might get yourself into and out of sticky situations.
58. Become movie directors and movie stars
With your phone’s camera and a little bit of imagination to create a script, your family can become directors and movie stars in your own movie.
Who knows, this could even develop into something which you upload to youtube and start making a little bit of money from.
59. Create a wishlist
There are probably a few things that you haven’t done, that you might want to try as a family.
Use this as an opportunity to sit down and write down all of those things that you would like to do and then see which of those you might be able to do as a family.
60. Make a cake you’ve never eaten before
With thousands of cake recipes available online, there is going to be a cake that you’ve not eaten before.
Pick one, buy the ingredients and see if you can create a new family favourite, you might even want to try making a competition of it and having your own GBBO.
61. Make your own play dough
With plain flour, table salt, vegetable oil and a little water you can make your own playdough.
Simple enough to make and when bagged and stored appropriately can be used multiple times.
It also comes in useful when you’ve also bought various toys that require playdough as buying individual pots can become quite expensive.
62. Paint pottery
You probably don’t have your own pottery wheel at home, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t paint pottery.
Pots can be bought from most hobby stores and Amazon.
63. Create cardboard castles
You can spend a small fortune on a gift that gets played with for only a few minutes only for the cardboard box that it comes in to provide hours of enjoyment.
With a sharp pair of scissors, and a marker pen, why not embrace this and create a castle?
64. Make a dream catcher
If you have a paper plate, some string and some embellishments you can make a dream catcher in around an hour.
65. Do some painting
You probably won’t get away with trying to get your family to paint that room that you’ve been meaning to do for some time, but painting can be a great way of getting your family to be creative, paint some fruit, each other or your favourite animal.
66. Make your own ice-cream
Who doesn’t love an ice cream treat once in a while?
While you can buy a range of flavours from the supermarket, not all tastes are catered for, so why not create your own with ingredients that you really want?
For me, it would be white chocolate and strawberries.
67. Make a collage
While we probably do a lot online now, we might still get the odd catalogue or circular through the post, so get some scissors and glue and get sticking.
68. Make paper plate faces
With string for hair and a few felt tip pens, you can have fun creating all sorts of faces.
If you have any felt lying around use this too.
69. Make paper plate ladybirds
With a little red paint or a red paper plate, black paper, glue, scissors and some pipe cleaners, a ladybird can be made quickly but when done well look really good.
70. Do some water play
Our little ones can spend a good hour or two playing in a bowl of water with some shells and plastic people.
Remember to put a tablecloth down as it’s sure to get wet.
71. Create a time capsule
A time capsule doesn’t have to be just for future generations to open, put items that you value in a box and make a plan to open it in 5, 10 or 15 years.
72. Draw each other
How do others see you in the house?
The only way to tell is by getting everyone to draw each other, if you have insecurities about a certain body part you might want to think twice about doing this as children can be mean or is that honest?
73. Learn more about your elderly relatives
Your elderly relatives had lives before the family that you probably don’t know about, so get to know them by becoming journalists and interviewing them.
Just make sure they know to keep it rated PG.
74. Make toilet roll animals
As a family, you probably get through a few toilet rolls so with some coloured paper and a few other items you could make an animal family.
75. Make seasonal ornaments
Have you got a plate for Santa and Rudolph, if you don’t with a cheap plate and some Christmas stickers you can make a plate that you use every Christmas, so long as Santa doesn’t break it.
76. Make seasonal cards
By using free software like Canva, you can make a whole range of different cards for every occasion.
Best of all it is free and comes with a range of templates that you can use.
77. Make lollipop stick crafts
You can make all kinds of things with lollipop sticks with varying difficulty, from bookmarks to palaces and even decorations to put on your Christmas tree.
78. Make peg aeroplanes
With some wooden pegs, paint and some lollipop sticks and glue, you can make aeroplanes that take little to no time to make.
79. Make wooden spoon puppets
Create a puppet show with wooden spoons.
If you’re stuck on what puppets to make, think about fairy tales, your favourite Marvel or DC Characters or your family’s favourite film.
80. Make cress egg heads
I remember many moons ago, first making cress heads at school, there wasn’t anything really artistic about it, a felt pen a couple of eyes and a mouth and that was it.
Maybe you can get a little bit more creative, use some sticky eyes, paints and assorted pom poms.
81. Have a water balloon fight
Weather allowing, having a water balloon fight can not only be fun but is a great way to cool down.
82. Make egg drop parachutes
You might want to hard boil the eggs before you do this to avoid the mess, but egg parachute making is a great way of getting your family to think about how they are going to do the least amount of damage to the egg.
When you have a parachute that works try dropping it at various heights to see whether you can land it without damaging it.
83. Learn origami
All you need to learn origami is some paper and the right youtube channel.
Not only is it a great way of being creative, but because you’re only thinking of what you’re doing it’s a great way of developing your motor skills and forgetting about the day you’ve had if it hasn’t gone particularly well.
84. Write some poetry
The last time that you wrote any poetry was probably in your English class at school, but poetry is a great activity for all the family as it improves creative thinking skills.
Not only that, the process of writing poetry can be fun, while at the same time developing language skills too.
85. Make fruit ice-pops
If you want to get more fruit into your child, there’s no better way of doing it than disguising it as something else and what kid doesn’t love an ice-pop.
Why not also try adding milk and yoghurt to make creamy fruit ice lollies?
Did you ever to papier mache bowls when you went to school?
Make and paint a bowl, create a mask or create some papier mache animals.
87. Create vegetable stamp pictures
Whether it’s just cutting the vegetables in half and seeing what shapes they make or cutting out shapes in the vegetable to make more intricate patterns, making vegetable stamps is a great way of using those vegetables that you don’t want to make into a meal and would end up throwing away.
88. Play some pen and paper games
There’s more to a pen and paper game than noughts and crosses and hangman.
Here are a few paper and pen games that you might want to try.
89. Make a bee hotel
Help our little pollinators by creating a simple bee hotel.
Make a wooden box and fill it with bamboo bee tubes. Making a bee hotel is a fantastic way of getting your family interested in bees and the importance of the role they play in the ecosystem.
90. Make paper flower leaves
If you’re considering doing another craft that requires leaves, why not try making some of your own? With some coloured paper, you can make leaves with a few simple folds and a little glue.
91. Create a cotton bud maze
Make a complex maze with cotton buds and see who is the first person to be able to find their way to the centre.
Make it more interesting by offering a prize or making the person who takes the longest to find it, do a forfeit.
92. Do some cotton bud painting
When you think of cotton bud painting it might conjure up the thought of just dots on a page, but you can do much more with a little imagination and a lot of patience.
93. Write a letter to each other
Put the phones down and connect by writing a letter to each other, this could be a letter about what you’re grateful for or what you love about each other the most.
94. Make paper hats
Make a basic paper hat from coloured or plain paper and get creative by painting it or using stickers to personalise it.
95. Do some rice play
Put some rice in a tray and let your kids loose.
Make it a little more interesting by adding jars, bowls and kitchen utensils
96. Create your own games
All games start from the simplest idea, so sit down as a family and come up with a game that you can all play together.
Will it be a board game, or will you learn how to do some basic coding and make your own video game?
97. Pinecone painting
If you have a box lid and some paper, paint a pine cone and place the paper in the lid and move it around to see what modern art you can make.
98. Make your own word search
Creating your own word search is simple enough, all you need to do is create a board of squares and write several words in all directions of anything subject or category that you can think of.
It could be superhero characters or their favourite cartoon characters, or you could make it educational and do a number search where they have to solve a math problem and find the number on the board.
99. Make a sun catcher
Suncatchers are a lovely way of reflecting colour into a room when the sun shines on them.
They can be made with coloured tissue paper and some contact paper and don’t necessarily have to take long to make, all you need to do is cut the tissue paper into different shapes and stick it to contact paper.
Once stuck down cut it into any shape you like and stick it where you get the sun in your home.
100. Make sponge art
Sponges can be bought relatively cheaply, so why not cut out some shapes and see what happens?
It’s more than likely that the sponge will be put to one side and hands and fingers used, so you might not want to do this in a room that isn’t easily cleaned.
101. Sock puppets
If you have a few old socks lying around, why not make some sock puppets?
If you’ve already tried any of the makes above, you will probably have some coloured string for your puppet’s hair and sticky eyes.
I’ve given you 101 ideas of fun things to do as a family on a budget, from making your own instruments to making your own ice-lollies.
Are there any others that you can think of? Let me know in the comments.
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