This is a collaborative post by Ellie Jo about budget-friendly family entertainment ideas.
What are we doing this weekend? The question that keeps coming up and no one really has a good answer. If you have a family and not endless amounts of cash to spend, finding entertainment that is not going to break the bank becomes a constant search.
Sure, it would be nice to be able to visit an amusement park or zoo every weekend. Although, even if you had the cash, that would get boring after a while.
Family Entertainment on a Budget
Finding something new and exciting to do is not that hard. It is possible with open-mindedness, creativity, and a willingness to get involved. Better yet, not going with the easy, more expensive option allows everyone in the household to get creative and involved and come up with some fantastic ideas.
You will be surprised how much family members can think outside the box and what ideas they can come up with. Here are a few good ones to consider to get the ball rolling.
Consider making hiking a staple in your family. It’s easy to get into, it’s healthy, and it will barely cost you a thing. Make sure everyone has got good trainers or boots, pack water (and plenty of it) and some sandwiches and pick a place to go.
There are plenty of resources online that can help you find the perfect hiking spot near you. It might cost a little petrol to get where you need to be, but that’s pretty much all your costs. If your family really takes to it, it might be smart to invest in some hiking gear (boots, trousers, coats, and backpacks) but nothing too crazy. One of the cool things is that you can hike almost anywhere.
You can even save up some money and fly the family off to a hiking trip somewhere far far away.
Local Events and Markets
Another good alternative to costly zoos and amusement parks are local events and markets. Find your local paper, and there is bound to be local events held every weekend. Also, the internet might prove quite useful in finding these events.
This could be a local outdoor concert or exhibition or festival. It’s an excellent opportunity for you and your family to feel completely integrated with the local community. Who knows you might want to participate the following year actively?
Besides events, local markets are fantastic as well. Find your local flea and farmers market to get browsing and to shop for some of the best things your locality has the offer. Nothing beats strolling through stalls with different wares and, at the end of the day, come home with a funky little new ornament for your house or a basket of locally grown vegetables that taste so good, you are kicking yourself for not buying more.
Game Nights and Movie Nights
If it’s raining, you might want to consider doing something indoor. A game night could be quite fun if you steer away from family feud causing games like Monopoly. Game nights can become valued family traditions that your kids will pass on to their kids.
Charades is usually a good one to start with, but also a good card game might do the trick. You could also have film nights. Get a nice film from Netflix and have your own makeshift cinema. Now some people will go over the top with their home cinema setups, you can also do it for a lot less.
Being able to stream from your laptop or PC to a bigger screen (or maybe even projector) is all you really need to see all the movies that are out (and even those that aren’t supposed to be). If you have Apple devices an Apple TV would take care of most the MacBook/iMac to TV streaming, but if you don’t have one of those devices you use a Chromecast setup for Mac to get your cinema experience up and running. One additional super benefit: popcorn will not cost you the world!
Here’s something out of the left field: volunteer as a family. It’s win-win: you get to spend the day with your kids, they learn about the joy of helping others, and everybody makes the world a better place. When choosing an activity, take a cue from the things that your kid loves.
If he’s obsessed with dogs, he’ll enjoy rounding up supplies for the animal shelter; a nature nut will dig a trail clean-up. Here are a few other suggestions: young children might visit a nursing home or make cards for people in hospitals, while older kids can collect food for a food bank or organize a car wash to raise money for a cause.
Another fun family event, which will cost you something for the materials, but is entirely worth it is painting as a family. Create self-portraits that will put any picture of a selfie to shame. Drawing self-portraits captures the present in a more revealing way.
Preserve the results for posterity by displaying the masterpieces gallery-style on a wall. Or scan and upload the artwork and make postcards out of them to send out to family and friends. And if self-portraits are just too revealing or tough, why not have a Bob Ross evening? You will be surprised how quickly your family will be whipping out masterpieces!
And finally: go camping in the back garden! You don’t have to drive somewhere remote or deal with the costs or hassles of regular camping. It’s the easiest way to get into camping. Whether you’re a camping newbie or have roughed it tons of times, backyard camping is a blast.
You get to immerse yourself in the outdoors, without all the packing, planning, and gear-buying associated with traditional camping. Plus, having nearby access to a clean bathroom is a pretty big perk. All it needs from you is to brush up on your scary ghost stories and get a pack of marshmallows.
Whether it’s your first time camping as a family, or you just want a mini trip without all the hassle, backyard camping is fun at any age, because adventure can be found right outside their door.
Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.