As a mom of two active little girls, 10 and 5, I have to find ways to keep them active and entertained without going broke. I am going to share with you 45 Cheap Family Night ideas that we have implemented at our house because going to the mall or an evening at the movies, can be costly. Some of these will be funny, exciting, crafty and Yes, some boring! 🙂 Enjoy!! Some suggestions might be seasonal.
1. Go to Movie Store- This I see often when recommending cheap family nights, but it is because it is such a great idea! For $3 you can sit down with the off-spring and enjoy some laughs or (like us) scares!
2. Game Night- This can be as unique as your family. One that might make your cheeks hurt and possibly pee your pants (or is that just me) is Watch Ya’ Mouth I am absolutely getting this game!! Here is the Video!!
3. Go for a Walk- this is an obvious one. Get outside and see nature my friends!
4. Competition Workouts- This is by far the funniest story I have to tell! My daughter, 10, wanted a dog! So, my husband decided he was going to bet her that he could do more non-stop jumping jacks than her. If, she beat him, she could get a dog! He thought he had it in the bag, I, on the other hand, thought differently (shhhh). They began to start and she did a total of 3! I thought YES, that was easy off the hook let down. Well, my husband decided to explain the directions one more time and give her a second chance (everyone needs those right), so they began again. My youngest daughter and I were sitting, watching, and waiting for the first to give up (it wouldn’t be long now)……both of their faces were beat red, breathing all heavy, I think I saw a tear in my husband’s eye and determination in my daughter’s! By this point, I feel like I’m watching Rocky’s Last Stance right in my living room. I have to be honest here, I am dying laughing, my husband was getting mad at me, my daughter was not cracking, 8 MINUTES LATER, my husband loses! Have you ever tried to do jumping jacks for 8 minutes straight, with some extra weight on you??? Well, turns out it’s hard! So, my advice, have a workout competition, but don’t bet a DOG! (Doberman, 1 year old now, huge flipping dog!!!).
5. Pinterest Craft- Here we can get a little carried away. Watch out for the amount of materials needed when searching for crafts here. I tend to look up dollar store ideas. There are a ton of ways to make cheap dollar store crafts and kids really enjoy getting their hands on glitter and glue!
6. Free Movie Night at local Theater- My kids every month bring home this flyer that states which days have free movies at our local theater’s and what movies are playing. If you are not receiving paperwork home from school (I’ve totally been there too), then contact your favorite theater and ask! Great way to get out and enjoy an afternoon with the little’s.
7. Picnic- This is a great way to get outside during that beautiful fall day at the park. Bring the family, some snacks and a frisbee and get outta that house! Here are 53 ideas for food to bring, click here.
8. Scavenger Hunt- This can be super fun! Use seasonal nature to help create your hunt. Get a few neighbors involved and have the kids do a quick chore for their clue or item. We had one where the kids had to rake the older neighbors yard for 20 minutes to get a unique $2 bill, which was on their scavenger hunt… See how that works! 🙂 It’s a win for all!
9. Cleaning Competition- If you try to get ahold of me on my weekends chances are, I’m playing Cinderella. Being a mother, wife and work full-time kind of prioritizes your weeknights. Instead of doing this by myself I delegate cleaning chores to my children, age appropriate, of course! But, do they think its a chore? Oh no, no, no! Our family is competitive at everything we do, so why not at cleaning as well? The girls have to clean their room – these tasks are judged on, including, but not limited to: neatness of bed, items on floor, closet cleanliness, organization of clothes in drawers and their surfaces cleaned. (I do help my little one with the application of Windex! Have you seen the look in the eye of a 5 year old with a spray bottle? (Not cool!) Once, judging is completed we’ll take a stroll down to the ice cream shop or movie store for an instant reward, because although we are competitive, children need to understand work = reward.
10. Bonfire- This is probably one of our favorite things to do as a family! If you can get past mosquitoes and smoke, turns out you can truly enjoy your time! Roasting marshmallows to your desired perfection is a mouth-watering experience and you all should endure one of those (diet or not). Camp fire stories are a really fun way to enjoy your time as well! Advice: invest in some good bug spray!
11. Bike Ride- Biking a trail with the family is a great way to get the kids outside away from electronics. I would suggest in this case to research some local landmarks or restaurants to ride to. Also, packing up the equipment and driving to another city and riding through is a great way to explore locally.
12. Swimming- Who doesn’t love to swim? Me!! Seriously, I despise water! But, that doesn’t mean I don’t take my kids to pools or beaches. There are also open swim opportunities at your local high school during the colder months, check those times out! Kids love to swim and it also might help them to quit asking about going to that expensive lodge with all the water parks in it! Unless, you’ve put that in your budget, then go for it! 🙂
13. Best Goodwill Find- My mother-in-law is hands down the best bargain hunter! Some items probably should have been left on the shelf, while others, are a win! Give the kiddos their allowance and take them to a goodwill or second-hand store to find a treasure. If that treasure is fine as-is, great, if not, help them redecorate it. If wearable, please WASH!
14. Paint a Birdhouse- This is truly fun! Pretty sure, I enjoyed it more! We chose to build and decorate a birdhouse for a weekend activity and had a Facebook voting competition. Check out our masterpieces and get yours here.
15. Color- My inner child seems to peek out every time we go out for a meal. The lovely waitress hands my children their color pages filled with mazes, crosswords and fun pictures to color, all while I just want to grab the paper and go to town on it! (anyone else?) We have a ton of coloring books and when my kids ask me to color with them, I somehow manage to stop what I am doing, grab my favorite electric blue crayon and start showing my kids how to do this thing! Now, they make adult coloring books! WHAT! Check them out here. Apparently, they are for stress relief, and who doesn’t need that!
16. Video Games- If you are a Millennial, then you know all about Super Mario Brothers! My sister and I used to spend hours defeating Bowser! Who is with me?? Well, now these games are so complicated, I get lost when my kids try to explain the controller. Regardless, I try! Take some time to see what they are interested and play a few levels!
17. Decorate Cookies- This is one of our favorites at my household. One, makes your house smell amazing and they taste like childhood! Go to dollar store for cheap toppings! See who can create the ugliest, prettiest, and most creative cookie!
19. Make a twine Orb- I have been seeing these things all over the place. I plan on making some over here to hang in the kiddos rooms. This is a cheap room decor item using glue,twine and a balloon. Find instructions here.
20. Go to Park- Check out some local parks or venture an hour away to see some new scenery. See if you can find any dog parks, if you’re a dog owner like us!
21. Teach Your Kid Something- This can be anything! Get creative here! I personally like to teach my kids a sport. My sport of choice would be softball. (Trying to re-live my younger days)! Cooking would be another great way to take an evening and teach the kiddos something. I mean who doesn’t want a self sufficient child some days? That plate of chips and cheese done! Plus, the child feels proud of themselves, and that is priceless!
22. Read A Book- Choose your favorite childhood book or theirs. To sit down for an hour and read a few chapters is a great way to relax and enjoy some one-on-one time with your child. My kids love Disney Storybooks. This is one we read often.
23. Go to the Public Beach- I do this every summer multiple times a year. We have a free beach right down the road from us. It is definitely a cheaper route than going to a water park! Grab some plastic shovels, buckets and build a sand castle!
24. Show Kids How To Take Pictures- With all of our smart devices, chances are they might show us a thing or two! Also, the crazy looking selfies I find in my camera, although humorous, I cannot hang up on my walls! Show them how to take a picture of something outside, edit it on Instagram, print, then hang in their room or frame it! My kids love taking pictures and seeing what the final product looks like.
25. Create a Photo Album- From #24, if they get really good and they are taking some decent looking pictures you could invest in a Shutterfly Photo Album. We get these every year as gifts and I LOVE THEM! A year in reflect. That’s the good thing about pictures, they allow us to re-live a memorable time!
26. Create a Scrapbook- My family and I love making these. You can buy cheap fill paper at the dollar store, stickers, fun accessories to glue on or around your photos. If the kiddos really enjoy taking pictures, this is a great way to make their photos come alive. (turns out quite relaxing as well).
27. Go Bowling- This is a great Saturday afternoon activity. Our bowling alley normally offers a discounted rate during the day, so we take advantage of that from time to time. My girls want a lane without bumpers but we get them for my husband so he won’t come in last place every time! 🙂
28. Go Roller Skating- Yes! Bring out those old skates and show these kids how to do the Hokey Pokey on SKATES! Or better yet, skate backwards! We went to a birthday over the summer and I tell you what it was like I had never stopped skating (until the young child fell in front of me and to avoid complete disaster or injury, I decided to take one for the team and jump but landed flat on my butt, ouch!). So, ease into those old moves, please, your body will thank you in the morning!
29. Volunteer- As much as I have gone over and above for my kids to make sure they had everything they need or WANT, turns out they have misplaced my niceness for a weakness! Lately, my kids (10 and 5), have been acting quite unappreciative of their privileges, belongings and lifestyle. Although, you cannot expect them to know about contentment without teaching them, I decided to look into ways to help open their eyes a bit more. In researching, we found Kid’s Food Basket, which is an organization dedicated to feeding kids in our local community. My kids are able to color brown lunch sacks that the children receive their meals in. I am currently waiting to receive the bags, will post later the take-a-ways my kids from this experience.
30. Go Sledding- The winter is upon us! I feel the cold weather setting in, it won’t be long now! (not my favorite season FYI) Regardless, us mom’s, do our jobs and get outside to brace the freezing cold to slide down that gigantic hill they say will be “fun!” Or better yet, mine call me a baby! (I swear they have made a pact to see how crazy they can make me! 🙂 ) We have two large dogs and we tie them (so it doesn’t choke them at all) to the girls’ sled and they pull them all around! Funniest thing and smiles all day!
31. Paint Nails- Dad’s you can do this too! This is a great way to bond with your little girl. Plus, its super cute! I have girly girls and in the summer we are changing up the colors weekly! Granted, my little one likes to see how quickly she can get my 2 minute manicure off but beyond that we have a blast doing this activity.
32. Play Dress Up- My girls LOVE my heels! We throw on some music, a set of heels and one of my old cocktail dresses (let’s be honest they won’t see the light of day again anyways!) and we do the catwalk. Take a few pictures and hide to hang up for the next birthday party! 🙂
33. Makeover- My daughter’s do NOT wear any type of make-up to school, just want to point that out. BUT, with that said, they enjoy playing with it here at home. This is a great way to let your little girl feel like a princess for a few hours!
34. BABYSIT EXCHANGE- FOLKS, I have uncovered a fabulous way to enjoy a night out and for CHEAP! Ask your friends or family that have kiddos but can’t always get out due to funds or lack of trust, to watch your kiddos one night a weekend and the next weekend you head out! This is a great way to get some alone time with your spouse and not to mention getting dressed up feeling good! “Look good, feel good,” isn’t that what they say? 🙂
35. Clean Out Closets- We recently took an afternoon and cleaned out the kid’s dressers and closets. You would not believe the amount of clutter we have until we start to organize the mess! I started a sell pile, trash pile and a hand-me-down pile. With the advancement of technology, we are able to post items to social media platforms and sell to our local community without having to drag everything out and price it all out and sit for an entire weekend for few dollars. Post it and leave it! Clean out your clutter and sell some unused items! Try apps like “LetGo,” or “Close5.”
36. Explore Your Local Community- Believe it or not, the community you live in has some amazing history to it. If you have lived in that community your entire life, I bet there is something you still don’t know. I suggest going to your local library or newspaper and seeing what history your community possesses!
37. Create Family Clue Game- I just thought about this one and cannot wait to play it. I might loop in my neighbors! “Bernie did it in the office with a peanut butter sandwich and toothpick!” LOL. You can get as creative as you want. Create envelopes, dress up, props and please include appetizers!! 🙂
38. TIME CAPSULE- Although, we take many pictures sometimes memories, kids pictures from school or a journal get lost over the years. I want to create one for this year and reflect in 5 years. Include pictures of what we look like today, some type of sentimental trinket, picture of what we look like now, a piece of gum (why not!!) and maybe a picture of our fur children. Open to suggestions here!
39. Sleepover- In our house, our kiddos are not allowed to stay over at classmates homes just yet. (Why do you ask? Because I’ve watched too many ID channel episodes!) Seriously, they just aren’t ready yet. BUT, they do sleepover at family and close friends homes. I allow children to stay over at my house though! (Is that hypocritical?) Being we just moved, my kids are still finding new friends, I am sure it will change here in the next year. Anyway, cheap way to enjoy a night in, and you also get to see the friends that end up turning your child against you when they’re a teenager (JK!!). LOL
40. Play a Card Game- My parents taught me how to play Euchre probably before I knew how to play WAR! I absolutely love the strategy, thrill, and poker-face seduction that goes along with it! Here is how you play this fun and competitive game. Now, my sister throws an annual Euchre Tournament and well, “They gonna learn today!” HA! I have won the pot one year and split it the other! It pays to play!! Or, if not so extreme, maybe start at war, solitaire or Rummy.
41. DANCE- OFF – I am seriously like Ellen! I love to Dance! Nothing makes me happier than hearing a great song! Turns out, I passed that lovely gene on to my off-spring! So, we tend to turn the bass down low and get a few moves in before the neighbors pass! 🙂 Plus, you get great exercise, these kids are like energy bunnies and you can’t show weakness! DON’T SHOW ANY WEAKNESS!! They thrive on that! “JUST DANCE” is another great game to add to the mix and helps kids learn to follow directions and memorize sequence.
42. Karaoke- YES! YES! YES! Look, if you sing your lungs out in the car you can sing in front of your children! My mom bought my girls this Karaoke game for our PS3. It is a FUN time! You can create your own icon and grow your skills. They offer full length songs, ranging from easy to expert. (I use the easy song option LOL, my kids think I’m an amazing singer HA).
43. Charades- I love this game! I especially love the Ellen Heads Up Game! They also offer an app!! Download or buy for a fun night!
44. Go Fishing- If you haven’t picked up on it by now, our family can find competition in nearly everything we do. Why not with FISHING too! You do not need a boat to go fishing! Go to a local boat launch or lake, bring you poles, bait, net and bucket and bring home DINNER! OR JUST “Catch & Release” and take a picture with each fish (make sure to have your fishing license). See who can catch the most, smallest or biggest! Plus- kids love catching fish, maybe just not taking it off the hook, or is that just me!
45. GO CAMPING- I have to admit, I have not tried this one! Something about waking up feeling all wet and sticky just isn’t appealing to my girly butt! BUT– doesn’t mean my kiddos haven’t experienced this!! You can camp out in backyard as well. My babysitter’s little sister, had a tent up for like the whole summer, having sleepovers, sleeping under the stars and enjoying childhood! It’s a great way to get the kiddos out of the house, but still close enough to scare! 🙂
Hopefully, I have given you some ideas for a cheap family night you haven’t thought of yet! Have you tried any of these? I’d love to hear your stories! I do hope there are some funny ones! 🙂