Frugal, festive and fun family activities

Holidays mean different things to different people, but one thing that seems to ring true for most of us is the opportunity to make memories with family and friends. 

It can be a great time to try new things, but especially at this time of year, it’s important to respect your budget. Start with these free family activities and mix them up to keep things fresh all season long. 

Indoor activities 

No matter what your weather is like during the holidays, indoor fun can be the best kind of fun, especially with activities like these: 

1. Enjoy movie night…done right

Make some snacks, snuggle up together, and have a family movie or game night. Watch a few old classics or check out a movie you haven't seen before. 

2. Bond with board games

Board games are a great way to kick up some family-friendly competition over the holidays. Depending on your family’s interests, you can find inexpensive board games, a deck of cards or dice at your local thrift or dollar stores. 

3. Bake something special and enjoy homemade cocoa

Baking something warm and yummy together in the kitchen can be very therapeutic—and it’s a perfect reason to pull out those old family recipes. Take a couple of minutes to make hot chocolate, too, and enjoy sipping it next to a warm cozy fire. 

4. Get crafty with paper snowflakes and sock snowpeople

Cutting paper snowflakes and hanging them around your home is not only easy, it can brighten the dreariest day. It’s also fun and easy to make sock snowpeople; you just need some old or orphaned socks, buttons, and scraps of material to create your snowmen and women. Search YouTube video tutorials for all the different ways to make snowflakes and snowpeople. 

5. Make a fort and have an indoor picnic

Bring back memories from your childhood and create new ones by building a blanket fort. Play games and read stories in your fort, then dine in with an indoor picnic.

Outdoor activities

Getting outside in any (safe) weather is great for the mind and body. Check out these ideas to check in with your community and nature: 

1. Enjoy a walk and scavenger hunt

Add some extra fun to a family stroll by turning it into a scavenger hunt. Put together a list of different items to find while on the walk. Here are some ideas, depending on the weather in your location: pinecones, a certain kind of bird, icicles, boot tracks, animal tracks, certain types of holiday decorations, things you’d find in store windows at this time of year…the possibilities are truly endless. 

2. Attend a local community fall or winter festival

Many towns are known for their delightful local festivals. In many cases, you won’t even need to spend any money beyond the entry fee (if applicable). With the holiday decorations, ice sculptures, entertainment and people-watching, you’ll have all the eye candy you can handle!

Heartfelt holiday activities

While the holidays are filled with love and laughter for some, others find this time of year difficult. Following are some great opportunities for you and your family to reach out to those in need—and they’ll make you feel good, too: 

1. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter

There’s nothing more empowering for a child than to learn how to care for others. Pick a day as a family to help serve a meal at the local homeless shelter. 

2. Donate to a thrift store

The holidays are the perfect time to go through all your gently used toys, clutter and household items, and fill a box to donate to a thrift store. It feels good to start the new year fresh and clutter-free, while allowing others the opportunity to enjoy things that are no longer a good fit for your family. 

3. Visit a neighbor

Do you have an elderly neighbor who might enjoy a visit? Or maybe someone new to the neighborhood? With their permission, get to know someone new by paying them a visit to brighten their day—and yours!

No one needs to be cooped up with nothing to do during the holidays, whatever the weather. So shake off those winter blues and go start making memories now! 

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