Fun Doesn't Have to Break the Bank | Entertainment Ideas for Families on a Budget

When money is tight, it might seem that you have to sacrifice fun. But you don't need to. There are so many ways to have fun that are low budget, and even many that are completely free. Here's some ideas sent in by a reader.

Family activities don’t need to be expensive. There are lots of free and budget-friendly activities you can do with the whole family. It could be as big as volunteering for a cause together or as simple as jamming along to music at home. 

Here are a few more activities for you to do:

Do Arts and Crafts

You can do origami and papercraft. Play around with clay and form interesting shapes with Playdough. Paint pictures together or build things with popsicle sticks and glue. You could try your hand at sketching and draw each other's portraits or start a DIY project together.

Pick an arts and crafts activity that the whole family can enjoy. Or each one can choose something different to do. Then you can have a little exhibit afterward!

Cook a Meal or Bake Pastry Goodies for Dessert

Cooking is a necessary chore in the household. But it can be a rather fun and relaxing activity to do. Rope in your family on the activity! Choose a recipe you all would like to make. Give out tasks for each family member to do. Then get started on the cooking together. 

You can also try baking together! Try making your own bread or baking a cake together. Experiment with different kinds of cookies and pies. Do basic recipes for desserts to eat after dinner. Bake delicious treats as snacks for your activities. 

Have a Picnic Out

Speaking of snacks, why not have a picnic as well? Prepare the food and goodies together. Bring along games and other activities you can do outside. Set out on a sunny day and go to the park or just lay down the mats outside on your backyard if you'd rather not leave the house.

Family Night at Home

Gather in the living room or a different section in the house that’s big enough to host your whole family. Then, use this “recipe” for the best night ever:
  • Order pizza and get the ice-cream out of the freezer.
  • Bring out the board games.
  • Put on the newest blockbuster film you can find or break out the classics you've never seen in the past. 
You can even turn this into a slumber party with your family. Wear your comfiest pajamas. Lay down blankets and pillows. And build a blanket fort to sleep in!

Spend a Day Out Exploring the Community

For the more active and outgoing families, you can spend a day out. Check out the free or low-cost events and places your town offers. Visit local attractions and museums. Go take a walk at the park or the beach. Go on a local adventure around the community! Check out some more really cool, affordable, family fun ideas on Beingfrugal.

Reenact and Roleplay Scenes

Brush up on your acting skills while reenacting scenes from movies or books. It’s also a good way to practice your singing when acting out musicals. You can make up your own little monologues and lyrics.

Tend a Garden

Tend a garden or start one together if you don’t have a garden yet. Tomatoes, radishes, and lettuce are some of the easiest plants to grow. You could also buy pre-grown, potted plants and put them in the soil out in your backyard. One pretty easy plant for your little one to handle would be mint. It can survive without a lot of proper care.

Take a Ride

Rummage through your attics and garages. And grab your rollerblades, bikes, skateboards, and scooters. Take a stroll to the nearest park or just ride and skate around your neighborhood together.

Play Games

There are all different sorts of games you can do with your family. You could play trivia and other card games with your family. And do challenging puzzles and riddles. You could also try learning to play the online games your kids enjoy. Or you could play games like basketball and soccer, for the more sporty families.

You could organize a scavenger hunt which is especially really fun if you have a big area at home to play in, like the backyard.

Read Stories

Take some time and have all members of the family together to read a book. Select a book that would prove agreeable to everyone. You could take turns reading one chapter a time or just let everyone enjoy some quiet time as they settle comfortably into their seats, reading their own books. The local library offers more books to read. And you even can let the little ones listen in on storytime while the others browse for reading material. Someone, usually a volunteer or a librarian, reads stories out loud to children. That’s also a fun activity to start to do if your community doesn’t handle those types of activities.

Fun doesn’t have to break the bank. What matters is that you have an enjoyable time with your family. 

What are your family's favorite ways to have fun on a budget?   

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. These are all such great ideas, one my mother used regularly was to take us to a different park, one on the other side of town, a new place with different equipment and once corona is over new kids to play with. We also walked different neighborhoods, she always carried a sack, if we came across a fruit tree where there was a lot of fruit on the ground she would go up to the door and ask if we could have some. Many times the owners had more than they could use and were tired of picking it up. Occasionally they would give us bags to clean up the yard. Mom once made enough apple sauce and apple butter to last all winter from just a couple trees.

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