The warmth of the sun is hiding behind cold, gray skies. But, your family still wants to have a good time despite the cold weather.
The thing is, winter activities like skiing and cabin vacations tend to get expensive quickly. This doesn’t mean that all your winter fun has to be tucked away like the sunshine. In fact, there are a lot of exciting activities that you can do as a family that cost little to nothing. With these activities, you can keep your family budget intact and still spend time together (inside and outside).
Of course, the below options will depend heavily on where you live. That being said, there’s at least something for everyone in our guide to cost-effective winter family fun, especially when you’re coming off the heels of Halloween on a budget and a cost-saving Thanksgiving.
If you see the snowflakes falling, it’s time to step outside (but first, grab your coat and gloves). There’s lots of fun to be had in the snow. Whether you choose to go sledding, make snow angels, have a snow fight, or build a snowman (yes Elsa, we are talking to you), anything that starts with “snow” can be made into a free and exciting activity. If you don’t live anywhere where it snows but can take a short road trip to get your feet into snow, then that’s another affordable way to spend time together as a family. Be sure to pack some snacks and sandwich lunches from home to keep costs down on your journey.
What better way to spend time as a family than by giving back together? Volunteering is a win-win for everyone involved. Not only do you get to help others, but you also get to teach a lesson to your kids about the importance of doing so and showcase that it can be an enjoyable experience. Looking for where to volunteer? In the winter, homeless shelters and soup kitchens are especially in need of extra hands. But, you can find volunteer opportunities pretty much anywhere, even if they aren’t called that. By doing something that will help positively impact the community, you are volunteering. For example, you can even spend some time cleaning out your closets and dropping off your old summer clothes for donations.
Have the urge to get creative? There are so many things you can do when it comes to arts and crafts that barely cost anything. Plus, kids love it! For example, you can take some colored construction paper and design paper crafts. It’s also a great learning experience because it helps children to develop their fine motor skills. Need another good reason to spend time making paper crafts? You can use them for budget-friendly Christmas and New Years’ Eve decorations.
Too cold to be outside? Take your mind off cabin fever by adding a little competition to the picture. Game nights are for all ages and can involve friends and family, too. It’s a great way to get your kids off the couch and away from their screens for a few hours. The other upside is that puzzles and board games are educational. They’re also a good way to teach about teamwork; and if you’re choosing competitive games, they can be a way to showcase how to be a good winner (and also how to lose without being a sore loser).
Feed your sweet tooth, pass some time, and fill up your home with an abundance of tasty aromas by hosting a bake-off challenge. It’s a cost-effective way to stir up some desserts because you’ll only need a few ingredients to be able to make a lot of different treats. Be sure to pick up the staples like eggs, oil, flour, vanilla extract, and some chocolate chips.
If you have a backyard, you can host a bonfire night with nothing more than a small fire pit. Grab the s’mores and blankets and take your family out back (or to the front yard). You can turn up the fun with a portable Bluetooth speaker and play some music. Or, if you have a musically-inclined person in your family, let them jam out to create the tunes. You can even consider taking your game night outside with the fire burning high to light up the board and keep everyone warm.
Winter is actually a great time to hit the trails. In the summer, it’s often too hot to hike or you end up spending more time swatting away bugs than focusing on the view. If you can find trails nearby or even take an urban hike by walking in a hilly neighborhood, you can get your steps in while seeing beautiful scenery.
A lot of our options here have involved going outdoors, but sometimes, it’s just way too cold and you’d rather stay cozy. While movie theaters are a fun idea, the cost of going to the movies can add up really quickly and end up not feeling like it was worth the experience. Instead, you can host a movie marathon at home. Whether you still have DVDs or would rather stream on any of the various streaming services, a movie marathon is a great way to cuddle up and stay entertained. Don’t forget to buy the popcorn and Twizzlers for munching on.
The cold doesn’t have to stop your family from making memories, and neither does your financial situation. No matter what you’re trying to save for or spend less on, the winter months bring in their own sense of opportunities. Take your pick from the list above, stay warm, and save up this winter so you can start off next year in a better financial position.