Enjoy your Family… without Spending a Cent!

How do you plan memorable family time without adding a huge budget item – “Movies, the Zoo, and Amusement Parks”? Read my favorite ideas and comment with your own.

* Read Together – Even before we had kids, my husband and I liked to read to one another! Funny stories, folktales, really anything you can borrow or pull off your bookshelf makes for a great time, whether just before bed or any other time. I have great memories of my dad reading a chapter of Alice in Wonderland to my sister and me every night for weeks.

* Take a Walk – We try to do this every night after dinner, and frequently have our best conversations of the day!

* Watch the sun rise or set – Try this out from different spots: a nice window in your house, the apartment roof, a park. Talk, or enjoy the contemplative silence. Kids can tell stories about the shapes in the clouds as they change colors.

* Window shop – We love to walk the sidewalks of our downtown, looking at the window displays. This is especially fun around the holidays!

* Browse – Stores with seating and/or kids’ play areas make great spots for spending time “just looking.” Kids’ book sections are often set up with train tables, cozy reading chairs, and even fun forts, and a favorite spot of ours when we met was in the comfy chairs near the complimentary coffee right by the joke books. For a relaxed date setting, our local independent book store had rocking chairs around their fireplace in the classics section.

* Get Natural – I love state parks! These not only have hiking trails, camping sites, and picnic areas, but most also offer free events and kids’ programs, especially when the weather’s nice.

* Stargaze – All you really need is a blanket to lay on so you won’t get a neckache, but if you want to learn what you’re staring in awe at, search for a local Astronomy Club. Ours offered monthly Star Parties where all the amateur hobbyists brought out their telescopes and aimed them at the really cool stuff – Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, and so on. They also ran interactive fun kids’ activities and visually wowing slideshows or movies inside. If you don’t have one nearby, you can still use a website like StarDate to find out about sky events such as meteor showers!

* Use your local library – Libraries have always been a favorite spot of mine. You know what you can do there: read newspapers, books, play educational games on computers, surf the internet, get help from the ever-wise Librarians. Most libraries offer events and workshops, especially for kids and especially during the summer. My home library hosted concerts for local schools’ music students, craft workshops, book readings, and much more.

* Sing! Your experience may involve more giggles than music skills, but it will be a time to remember.

* Volunteer – Look in your local newspaper, keep your eyes open for posts on bulletin boards (online and off), and ask around. Washing dogs for an animal shelter, sorting items for a charity rummage sale, visiting people in hospitals or nursing homes, or hosting a knit-athon with neighborhood families is a memorable way to connect with your loved ones as well as with new friends.

* Tell and Write Stories – Storytime doesn’t always have to come from a book! Tell stories you’ve heard, and let everyone practice making up stories. Use history, parables, folktales, your childhood, and the day’s events for inspiration.

…and you?

What are your favorite no-cost family activities? Share ‘em in the comments – I’d love to try them out myself!

Photo courtesy macinate

2 Comments on Enjoy your Family… without Spending a Cent!

  1. Mary Cary
    September 18, 2008 at 11:10 am

    I like to go to parks, play board games and card games, and do cats cradle! They’re all free and fun!

  2. Lori Ann
    September 21, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Cats cradle! What fun. I’m working on a list of hand games for a future post, and this reminds me I should do a separate one for string games since there are so many great ones!


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