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Fun Ideas: "Fun, Free, and Cheap Family Activities"
Ideas Main

Frugal Activities
Fun, Free, & Cheap
Family Activities

by Wes Fessler

9 March 2009

Fun, Free, and Cheap Family Activities

In these challenging financial times, families are cutting back on spending, seeking ways to reduce bills, and unfortunately very often missing out on fun they used to have. In tough times it is necessary to reduce the outflows and hold on to what comes in, but family fun should not also have to be sacrificed.

To keep the spirit of family fun alive, Family Fun Shop has compiled a list of fun cheap activities that can be done for free or at very low cost. This is not by any means a comprehensive list, but it is great to get you started on finding fun things to do even when the budget is tight. We hope you will use this list and add activities of your own to have even more fun now than ever before.


List of Fun and Cheap Activities

Picnic – Take your food on the run and head to the park or anywhere.

Fishing – Fishing is a relaxing pleasure for the family even if you come home with an empty bucket.

Catch the Bubbles – Get small canisters of bubbles and allow the whole family to blow bubbles at the same time. While the bubbles are in the air, see how many each person can catch again before they hit the ground.

Gardening – Plant some flowers or vegetables together. Let each person plant something unique.

Backyard Campout – Although camping can get expensive quickly, a backyard campout can be done for almost nothing. Break out the tent, barbeque some dinner, then hit the sack under the stars (well in your tent under the stars).

Board Games – Have a board game night or see our article about how you can have a “Board Game Olympics.”

Bike Riding – Head out on the road with your bikes or drive with your bikes to biking trails. A bike gives you freedom to explore new and exciting places. See our article on “Family Biking Safety” first.

Watch a sunset or sunrise – Sunsets are easy, but try waking the group up for a sunrise!

Charades – Take turns acting out without speaking and see how long it takes your family to guess the topic.

Zoo – Mingle with the animals and see some of your favorite creatures.

Go For a Drive – Get out and explore new places. See sites and have fun with the whole family in the car.

Yard Sports – Soccer, Football, Basketball, Badminton, Volleyball, etc. Get out and burn some energy while having a great time.

Bowling – Hit the lanes for some fun.

Hide and Seek – Inside or outside, hide and seek always makes for a good time. Get mom and dad to play too.  

Visit other family members – This is fun, affordable, and always rewarding.

Visit a Museum – It is fun and educational for the whole family to visit a thematic museum.

Have a Photo Taking Contest – See who can take the best or funniest pictures.

Find books at the Library – Take the whole family and find books of specific interest.

Ice Cream Outing – Get out and treat your family to a scoop or two. Alternatively, head to the supermarket and bring home the makings of an ice cream buffet to have at home. Ice cream purchased from the store can make for a cheap activity that gives everyone loads of ice cream and plenty of fun.

Video Games – Play together as a family, but tell the kids to take it easy on mom and dad.

Build a household hideout – Build a temporary hideout or fort out of chairs, blankets, pillows, etc. Stack chairs near one another and cover leaving space to crawl around. Cover the chairs with blankets and you have a tent-like household hideout for playtime fun.

Roller Blading or Skating – Find a place away from traffic where the whole family can roll together.

Marble Wars – Use a bag of marbles to have an old (colonial) style war. Set up an equal number of marbles in two parallel lines. Make each line distinguishable from the other by style or color. Once the marbles are set up, take turns flicking one marble at a time at each other’s line. When marbles of are hit they are removed from the lines. The last marble “standing” wins.

Learn to Play Musical Instruments – If you have someone in the family who knows how to play an instrument, see if that person will share some musical knowledge with the rest of the family. It is fun to have family members who can play together.

Movie Marathon – Pick any number of movies to watch at home on TV with some popcorn and drinks. Don’t forget blankets, and pillows.

Emergency Plan Test – Get everyone together and pretend there is a fire or other emergency in the house. Everyone should get out of the house in timely fashion and meet up in one place. This is to test your emergency plan. If you don’t have an emergency plan, this will be a great time to make one.

Take a Walk – Get out and mosey around the neighborhood with your family. You don’t need a real destination or purpose except to get out and enjoy being together.

Hiking – Take a hike! Hiking is a fun way to get the family closer to the beauty of nature. See our article on “Family Hiking Safety and Tips.”

Out to the Movies – Try the matinee or a low cost theater to save money. It is fun to see the best movies on the big screen.

Fly a Kite – Take a kite to the park or just out in the back yard and enjoy the day beneath it with your family.

Build a Solid Fuel Rocket and Launch It – Perhaps this is more of a guy thing, but it is fun for the whole family when the rocket takes to the sky. Is it a cheap activity? It can be with some rockets as cheap as around five dollars to all the way above a hundred. The cheaper rockets can be a whole lot of fun though, and they are a lot less painful to replace if something unforeseen happens.

Broom Hockey – Tape up your old broom and find a small foam ball to use as a puck. Set boundaries in the yard and use cones or overturned paper plates to mark your goals. Remember no “checking” each other or hitting each other with the broom sticks.

Gather for a Pillow Fight – Pillows are mostly harmless, but keep someone as a referee in case things get out of hand.

Scrapbooking – Capture all of your favorite family moments and photos in a crafty scrapbook. If you can get everyone to help decorate the scrapbook, it will always have your unique “family” personality.

Mystery Treasure Hunt – Hide written clues in various places around the house that lead from one to the next. At the end hide a treat as a treasure to find as a reward for seeking the prize.

Cook or Bake New or Favorite Goodies – Try making some good food together.

Write an Evolving Story – Have someone begin a story with a single sentence, writing it on a piece of paper. Pass the paper to each family member, allowing only one sentence at a time per person. Continue the process until your story is complete. You will be surprised how differently it turns out than you think it will.

Make a Family Movie – Write a short script and act it out (for help with a real family movie see our article about “Making Family Movies.” Alternatively just shoot the every day family moments. The memories are what is most important.

Go Swimming – If you have a pool, what are you waiting for? If you don’t, hit the community pool and recreation center.

Water War – Break out the water balloons and squirt guns, and go have a blast.

Make a collage – Find old newspapers, magazines and just about anything colorful. Trim out small pieces and glue them all onto paper for a unique work of art.

Appreciation Night – Take an hour or so with the family at the kitchen table. Each person will write at least three complements about each member of the family. When you are done writing the complements, have everyone read them out loud.

Snowball Fights – Build snow fortresses and let each other have it with snowballs. Be careful not to hit anyone in the face or throw anything hard.

Feed Ducks at the Pond or Lake – Go to a large body of water with ducks and feed them. This is relaxing and fun. Be sure to buy food that is acceptable for ducks from a pet store or agricultural supply store.

See a Local School Play – Support your local school by watching one of their plays. School plays are often very affordable and a pleasure to see.

Favorite Songs – Get the family together and let everyone take turns playing one or two of their favorite songs on the stereo, MP-3 player, or computer.

Miniature Golf – See who can get the ball in those tricky holes. This is fun once in a while, and a relatively cheap activity.

Pasta Art – See what unusual art you can create with pasta and glue. When your masterpieces dry you can add paint for the final touch.

Puppet Show – Make a puppet show with puppets or even a sock on an arm or lunch size brown bag can do nicely for a puppet.

Old Photo Night – Reminisce on old times with old family photos or videos.

Sled Mountain – Build a mountain of snow over time by shoveling snow into a pile. Sled or tube down the snow pile with your family.

Snow Coloring – Liven up the snow with color. Use spray bottles with water and a little food coloring. These can be sprayed on the snow to create art or to write names in the snow. It is best to do this on snow that is over grass to avoid any food coloring getting on pavement or concrete.

Snowball Fights – Build snow fortresses and let each other have it with snowballs. Be careful not to hit anyone in the face or throw anything hard.


Related Content

Frugal Island Blog: Frugal Shopping, Frugal Tips and Much More


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