How To Have Family Fun without Spending a Fortune

Taking the family out for a movie has become an expensive event. Tickets cost around $10 each, a soda is $5 to $8 and a bag of popcorn $12. For a family of four that’s an easy $100 for one night’s entertainment.

Expensive Night at the Movies

The good news is that it is possible to have family fun with taking out a loan to go to Disney World. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

The Library

Find out what the local library offers. Not only can your children have free access to as many books as they want, but libraries also offer DVDs and audio books.

They also have story times for young children and programs for older children during spring and summer school breaks.

Zoos and Children’s Museums

Check out fees at local zoos and children’s museums. They sometimes offer a yearly membership that is a very good deal if you and your family visit often. My local zoo has several “free” days. They send out flyers in the mail announcing these days.

State Parks and Historical Sites

Visit state parks and historical sites that are a short drive from your area. Pack some sandwiches and juice bottles or cans of pop in a cooler, to save on eating out when you get there.

Board Games

Plan family game nights of Monopoly or Candy Land. My daughters have recently started playing Uno, and it always makes for a fun evening. Just add a few healthy snacks and something to wash it down with.


Pack a picnic and eat outside on a blanket. You can go to a park, or your own backyard.

A Sundae Buffet

Make your own sundae buffet. Get several flavors of ice cream along with toppings such as peanuts, sprinkles, chocolate chips, crushed cookies and gummy worms. Don’t forget the whipped cream. Now let the kids design their own sundae, and eat them while watching a movie on the TV or Netflix.

Activities at the Park

Check out the schedule for local parks. They often have free concerts or movie nights, especially in the summer. Just spending a day at the park can be great fun.

A Day at the Park

Discount Movies

Speaking of movie night, some movie theaters offer a series of sharply discounted movies (usually kid’s movies and usually matinees) during the summer.

Do Puzzles

Form teams of Mom and the girls against dad and the boys and see which team completes their puzzle first.

Shoot Some Videos

Write a movie and film it on your phone. Start your family’s own YouTube channel.

Get Artsy

Buy paints and have everyone paint a picture to hang on the wall. You can even buy some inexpensive frames to reuse and paint new pictures for holidays, special occasions, or as the seasons change.

Plan Family Night

Get your children involved in family night plans. Have everyone write their ideas on index cards and drop them in a jar. Pick one out each week.

Eat Out

Watch for “kids eat free” nights at local restaurants. Not only will you get a free kids meal with each adult entree, but they often have clowns or entertainers for that night, too.

Kids Eat Free

Make Balloon Animals

Buy a bag of 260 balloons and a small hand held air pump. Then watch YouTube video’s to learn how to twist a variety of balloon animals and hats. Even teenagers enjoy this activity.

Play Video Games

Learn to play a few video games. Your kids will be happy you’re taking an interest in what they’re doing. Yes, they will beat you horribly, but you’ll eventually get better.

Watch for Deals

Join up at sites like Dailydeal and Groupon to get discounts at local attractions and restaurants.

Take a Hike

Go on hikes at local parks or local trails. You can also ride your bicycles. You’ll have fun and improve your health at the same time.

Write A Book

Write your own books together. Have them printed and give them out for Christmas presents.

Learn An Instrument

Learn to play the guitar or the ukulele. The harmonica would be an inexpensive choice.

Go Camping

See if you can borrow a tent or go to a campground that has cabins. This is much cheaper than a hotel and they often have lots of activities nearby. Or, you can pitch your tent in the backyard, and sleep outside.  No tent? Build one out of blankets. Tell a few scary stories, but don’t make them so scary that the kids will want to go inside for the night!

Kids Will Feel The Way You Do

Remember, your children will follow your example.

If you feel down and depressed that you can’t take your children to Disneyworld twice a year, then they’ll be sad about it, also.

But if you’re happy with the activities you’re doing as a family they will be, too.

For the Teenagers

Teenagers are often harder to please. But get them involved with planning activities and even raising the money to pay for family fun.

  • Start a vacation fund for a big trip.
  • Hold garage sales or perform services such babysitting, pet walking or lawn mowing.
  • Get a big jar to save extra change.
  • Get a large poster to color and color in a small section for each $10 saved.

This way your children will visually see their vacation fund growing.

Save On Your Trip

  • Many amusement parks offer special rates if you live in the same state.
  • Rates are usually cheaper during the off season.
  • Looks for online coupons or special deals. My job offers discounted tickets to our local amusement park in the early spring months.
  • You may be able to get a combined rate for a hotel and park admission.

Having fun doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.

Teaching your children how to use their imaginations to create fun activities will not only save money, it will also keep them from feeling like it’s always up to someone else to entertain them.

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