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Any parent can attest to the fact that kids can be expensive, but they certainly don’t have to be. It turns out, kids are only as expensive as parents allow them to be. They mostly just want to spend time with you. And when I say spend time, I mean just that.
If you’re in the business of trying to keep up with the Joneses, you could literally go broke spending money to entertain your kiddos.
Fortunately, I’m guessing you’re not one of those parents and, instead, you want to make fond memories with your children that they’ll cherish because you made them together, not because you spent a lot of money.
And with that, let’s delve into some pretty spectacular no-spend activities you and your kids will love.
1. Hiking or Biking
There is hardly a better free activity that will get your kids moving and enjoying nature. Not sure where the trails are in your neck of the woods? Check out AllTrails to find one near you.
2. Go Geocaching
Geocaching is a relatively new outdoor activity that can provide hours of free fun. It’s essentially a worldwide treasure hunt for anyone with a mobile GPS signal.
You could find some or even stash your own. The choice is yours. If you want to learn more, head over to the Geocaching.com.
3. Local Museums
Oftentimes, local museums have free admission on certain days of the week. If you’re flexible, you just might get lucky and be able to get in without paying a dime.
Despite having a sticker price, it is only a suggested price and they will accept a “pay-what-you-wish” donation, including nothing at all.
4. Bake Cookies or a Cake
Kids love helping mom and dad in the kitchen. And kids especially love sweet treats. If you have the ingredients in the house, try whipping up something delicious that everyone can enjoy.
5. Put on a Play
Remember putting on plays for your relatives and friends as a kid? If you have fond memories of building a stage or TV screen and acting out a story you created, your kids should, too.
Get creative with it. Use paints, fabrics, and cutouts for the stage, then line up chairs for your audience. You can even make tickets and hand them out to your future guests detailing the play, date, and time.
6. Go on a Picnic
Picnics can range from a blanket on your family room floor to a couple of chairs in the woods on a winter day. Whatever your picnic situation, make sure the kids help to make the food.
And if you can arrange to have your picnic at a park with a playground, you’ll have more free fun after the food is gobbled up.
7. Get Cozy and Read a Book
Curling up and reading a good book is a great free activity, especially on a cold or rainy day. Make it fun by choosing an adventure book and ensuring everyone has a cozy spot to lose themselves in a different world.
8. Redecorate or Rearrange Their Room
Redecorating or rearranging your child’s room is free and can be tons of fun. It’s also a sneaky way of getting your kids to clean up their rooms. When it’s all done, your kids will have a fresh room that they’re excited to spend more time in.
9. Play Video Games
Channel your inner child and pick up a video game controller. Have your kids teach you how to play their games, then teach your kids how to play yours. There are tons of free video games from your childhood available as apps on most tablets or smart TVs.
10. Paint a Picture
Throw on some old clothes and get messy. It’s no secret that kids love getting messy, and it’s especially fun when mom and dad actually encourage it.
So, do just that. No art frock? No problem. Have them use an old oversized shirt you don’t need anymore. They can even decorate it before they get started. Get excited because this could be good for hours of free fun.
11. Craft a Leaf or Animal Project
Doing a leaf or animal project gets your kids’ creative juices flowing. Sit down and make a paper booklet labeled with different kinds of leaves or animals you can find around your house.
Then, head out with a camera to capture your finds. When you get home, print your pics and glue them into the book.
12. Play a Soccer Game in the Backyard
Luckily, soccer can be played with a little as two people. Backyard soccer games are a great way to get outside and get some exercise. The good news is that you don’t even need a soccer ball. Any inflated ball will do.
13. Pillow Fight
Pillow fights can happen day or night; they can be planned or take place without warning. Word of caution – don’t break anything.
14. Flashlight Walk
Get your kids excited to go on a walk around the neighborhood by going after the sun goes down. Tell them it’s a flashlight walk and arm them with their very own flashlight. You’ll be amazed at how special this walk feels.
15. Play a Board Game or Put a Puzzle Together
If your kids are a little older and you have an afternoon to kill, break out Monopoly, Clue, or a 500-piece puzzle. You’ll have hours of no-spend fun and lots of laughs.
16. Visit with Family or Friends
When you were a kid, wasn’t it always special when you went to your cousin’s house and played all day? Well, it’s still special. Arrange a visit to a nearby friend or relative’s house who has kids that are close in age to your kids. Then, sit back and enjoy.
17. Make an Obstacle Course
Obstacle courses can be made inside or outside. Get creative. Use balance beams, jump ropes, ramps, and more. Just make sure it’s kid-friendly. The last thing you want is to end up in the ER nursing a little one’s broken arm.
18. Have a Dance Party
Pick your favorite music and turn up the volume. If you have access to YouTube on your TV you can even play music videos. Turn down the lights and let loose right in your family room. Your kids will have a blast and they’ll never forget mom and dad cutting a rug.
19. Blow Bubbles
Little kids love blowing bubbles, and you’re bound to have some in the house somewhere. Find them and go nuts.
20. Attend a Free Workshop
Some stores hold free workshops for kids. Home Depot hosts craft workshops while Whole Foods hosts cooking workshops. It’s a great way for your kids to learn a skill and have fun for free. Check your local stores for times.
21. Have a Movie Marathon
Pick a few movies you already own, find a cozy spot, and enjoy. Don’t forget to make popcorn and turn off the lights.
22. Make Your Own Movie
Making your own movie is free and fun. All you need is a script, a camera, and some time. It could take you all day to craft characters and a script, but shooting the movie and watching it afterward will be a memory that will last forever.
Be sure to share your homemade masterpiece with family and friends.
23. Build a Fort
Have some old boxes lying around? Let the kids decorate them and make a fort. You can also do this indoors with some chairs and blankets.
Kids don’t care how well the structure is engineered, they just want a private space they can call a fort. Be ready, they might come up with a password or secret code to enter.
24. Play Dress Up
Go through your closet and find some old clothes and stuff that doesn’t match. Then, have a contest to see who can dress up and look the silliest.
Or, dress up in your fanciest clothes and walk the runway. Make sure you have an audience that can hoot, hollar, and snap photos.
25. Hit the Library
Don’t dismiss your local library as a no-spend fun activity. Most libraries host story time a few days a week for younger children. Regardless of age, checking out new books and videos is a wonderful way to allow your kids to explore other worlds for free.
26. Bonus: Make a Time Capsule
Have your kids select a few items with special meaning and write a note about them. You do the same. Carefully place the items and notes into a container and seal it.
Bury it in your backyard and set a reminder to dig it up in 5 or 10 years. You’ll eventually love what you discover.
Now that you’re armed with a plethora of no-spend ways to have fun with your kids, it’s time to keep your hard-earned cash in your pocket and start making free memories that will last a lifetime.
This is a pretty extensive list, but it certainly doesn’t cover all of the free activities you can do with kids. If you and your kids engage in no-spend fun that wasn’t on the list, we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!