Family Fun Time Ideas that Don’t Break the Bank

“You deserve to enjoy yourself and your family this weekend.” – FlyLady

Every week, we get e-mails from our members asking us about ideas for family fun night. Having fun with your family does not have to be expensive. Check out these ideas from our members.

Using What You Have for Family Fun

On Saturdays, our family has movie night. The Financial Super Fling Boogie made me look hard at everything we have been spending money on, including our family movie night. You see, it involves me buying a new DVD (I know renting is cheaper, but I never returned the movie on time and then had to pay big overdue fines), plus our favorite snacks. Of course, everyone likes different snacks, so I would come home with five bags of chips, dip, and pop! It was adding up to nearly $30.00 per week! So, in honor of Financial Super Fling Boogie, we had a family meeting and talked about the movie night. It turns out they were bored with it and wanted to do something different. My husband and I challenged the kids (6, 8, and 11) to come up with something new that didn’t cost anything. Look at what they came up with (I am so proud of them!)

  • Family game night with popcorn and punch. We are playing three different board games (that we already own), making popcorn (that we bought from some fundraiser last summer), and punch (using orange juice and gingerale the kids found in the pantry).
  • Family baking. The kids looked at the cookie recipes you have on your website and found two that we have the ingredients for. My husband raised his eyebrows at the prospect of family baking, but we are going to give it a try!
  • A walk in the dark. The kids decided they wanted to go for a family walk, but in the dark. So they dug out the flashlights and made sure they worked. Since it is dark by 6 p.m., we will go right after supper. Then they want us to make hot chocolate and sit by the fireplace when we get home.
  • Twister and Funny Bone. The kids found my old games in the closet. I do hope my bones can twist and move like they used to. This is going to be hilarious!

They even marked all the events on the calendar with the “Family Fun Time” stickers. They can’t wait and have been telling all their friends that they got to plan the family fun days for the month. I am thrilled to be saving $120!

Staying in instead of going out

My DH and I are going to skip our weekly movie date. Instead, we are going to stay in on Sunday afternoon and catch up on some DVDs we received at Christmas but have not watched yet. We will easily save $16 to pay extra this month!

Treasure Hunt

Our family combined decluttering, having fun, learning, and saving money into one family fun activity. After dinner last Friday, we gathered in our family room and counted the change that we had “harvested” from our coin jars, junk drawers, purses, even under furniture cushions. Using cupcake tins to separate the coins and coin rolls provided for free from our bank, we all counted and rolled coins. This was a wonderful learning experience for our 7 year old, who is just learning about counting change in math, and we all had fun sharing an activity. In the end, we had over $150.00! We set aside some to pay bills, some to help defray the cost of a prom dress for our daughter, and used some to buy pizza and rent a family movie for the following night! Everyone had fun, and I have to give FlyLady lots of credit. BabySteps are allowing me to gain control of the CHAOS and clutter in my home. I now have time to think of and actually carry out fun family activities like this one. FlyLady, YOU are a God Breeze for all of your FlyBabies. Thank you for changing my life. – Grateful FlyBaby in Niskayuna, NY

Lots of Fun Ideas

Family fun together would be to all cook dinner; if it is not raining in the evening, go out and watch the stars and see how many you can see and what designs you can make. Where it is snowy, all go tobogganing together and then rush home for hot chocolate or take it with you. Have everyone wear packsacks and go for a walk around the neighborhood and find all the safe places for your children and see just what you might see; then, the best part is to draw the route out on a large piece of paper when you get home — remember, not everyone sees the same things. Play some games together, or even have picture night and drag out the old pictures and see who is in them. If you got some left over paint and a room or wall that needs sprucing up, get everyone to help create their space on the wall. Have a picnic dinner in your living room one night. Have a really special dinner one evening — candles, everyone get dressed up, serve something absolutely delicious, and make it special. Hot dogs could be made elegant. – FlyBaby from BC Canada

Here are some ideas for family/kid activities: Go to a park and fly a kite. Go sledding. Build a snowman. Print a starmap (find one on-line) and go out at night to stargaze. Build a fort in the living room with cushions and blankets, grab a flashlight and read a story together – make some hot cocoa and s’mores, too. Decorate with paper snowflakes and paper doll chains. Flybaby in Midpines, CA


Here’s an idea for no-cost family fun – a PICNIC! You have to eat, anyway, so why not make it fun? Anybody can make sandwiches, and FlyBabies who like to get creative could probably have a great time thinking up interesting foods to pack. You don’t have to go far; if you don’t have a car, you could go to the park, or even your backyard.

Something our family is fond of doing is going on picnics. Even if it’s too cold to have one outside, we’ve been known to put the blanket in the middle of the living room to have a picnic. The kids love the change of pace from eating at the table. – In Texas

Using Your Library

Use your library! We check out videos for the kids and ourselves for a free family movie night. Our library offers online reserves, so I can go on the computer at home and reserve the popular Disney movies for the kids. While the library doesn’t offer the same variety in grown-up titles as a video store, we have checked out Hitchcock movies, old Westerns, and a lot of great classics. Our last trip to the video store cost almost $15… the library is free. – Flying in Minneapolis!

Hi, FlyCrew! My household has been working hard on not re-cluttering our home. So we’ve invented “Family Library Time” — everyone in the house goes to the library and picks out some nice books; afterward, we get an ice cream cone. After we’ve had time to read the book, to help with oral communication skills, we each take turns telling the others about the book(s). My 9yo DS really likes that part, and he acts out the characters; my 12yo DD adds more drama to her stories. My kids actually want to do this and turn off the television! Best of all, their grades have improved tremendously! Thanks, FlyLady & Crew! – From our AR home

One thing I do when I feel the impulse to shop is go to the library. I get to browse, pick out my selections, go check them out, and go home feeling like I have made a purchase. The best part is there is NO GUILT, and NO MONEY!

Game and Movie Night

One night on the weekend (Friday or Saturday), I make junk food (pizzas, corn dogs, burritos, whatever) and we play board games. My son is 8 and loves this. Also, I go to the library where you can borrow DVDs and videos for absolutely nothing! Granted they aren’t new releases, but we have gotten some nice, clean videos that we all really enjoyed! Check out the old classics! At the price of just one video rental a week at Blockbuster, you can save $16 over 4 weeks!

Fantasy Tours

This may sound strange but when I was a kid we used to do this for fun and it didn’t cost a cent. Usually in the afternoon, either Saturday or Sunday, we’d drive to the new areas of town where there were housing developments being built. We’d tour all the show homes and have a fantasy session. We’d talk about what we liked and didn’t like about each home. I think we started this when I was about 10 years old. I haven’t done this for about seven years, but when I do, a feeling of contentment and nostalgia comes over me. It’s sort of like going to Canadian Tire with my dad, which was also a rare treat as a youngster. Another special time with my dad was grocery shopping; most people hate it, but it is really fun for me because of that. This is more of a kids fun event, but we used to spend hours playing kick the can — a version of hide and seek played in a two block radius. – In Creighton, SK, Canada

Train Watching

I’m not sure this tip is for every family, but when my boys were small, we did this almost every weekend. We didn’t have ANY extra money at the end of the week, so this was our entertainment. You have to remember that I had three sons and a DH that loved trains. Any kind of train, short local freight to the long, cross-country ones, and they loved any kind of passenger train as well.

We would get ourselves together early on Saturday morning so that by lunch time we were free to do our thing. We would pack a lunch, peanut butter sandwiches mostly, with cookies, water we bottled ourselves, and some fruit. Then we packed the boys in the car and off we went to one of the local freight yards or Amtrak mainlines. We would park the car off the road and out of the way and sit and watch the trains. Dad and the boys would log what type engines they saw along with their numbers, and take pictures of some of the more unusual freight cars they would see. I remember once, there was a boxcar that was lavender, of course by accident; some other color had faded to a beautiful light purple. That was one car we watched for every week, and I think we only saw it three or four times in all the watching we did. Our boys loved going train watching, and they still do it with their young families today. My oldest grandson could read the many different railroad logos before he could read words.

Now as far as I’m concerned when you’ve seen one train engine, you’ve seen them all, so I would volunteer to move to the back seat. I would knit or read, or maybe write a letter. It was a time that was quiet for me, yet we were together and enjoying each other. It’s funny we still do this with them from time to time when they are back home visiting, some things never change, and I’m glad. – Flybaby in WNY


We love to play Monopoly! We bought the Heirloom Edition, and we play it often on Family Game Night and call it the Executive Game! The kids love it, and while they are playing they are also doing math! An added bonus!

Free Admission Activities

Most museums, botanical gardens, and zoos have days with free admission. Simply call them and ask if they have any free days; you’ll be surprised how many do. Jot that information down for later use. You can almost find a free activity for every day of the week this way. – Tennessee FlyBaby

A nearby university has a planetarium. The shows are free to the public. Some of the shows are for younger children and others are for the general public. Sometimes they set up a telescope outside the planetarium. I took my boys there quite often, and one ended up with an astronomy degree! I still go there by myself now that my boys are grown.

Another idea is to check with your local schools to see what band or choir concerts they may be planning. Sometimes they will put on plays and musicals for a small price. It is fun seeing your neighbors and friends performing and you are giving them support and encouragement to continue in their musical and dramatic endeavors! – An Oregon FlyBaby

Getting In Touch With Nature

My favorite place to take my nephews is into the woods, to a stream. They wear old sneakers in the water and check out all of the cool wildlife. The cool bugs that skitter accross the water on their feet are a favorite, as are dragonflies. (Before we first went they had asked, “Dragonflies? What’s that? Can they really breathe fire?”) We take a picnic lunch, and I’m always thrilled by how happy and relaxed and sweet the day goes by. They tell me they love “exploring adventures.” We have held tiny frogs and a painted turtle. We’ve seen hawks soar in over our heads, and deer running from us. It’s amazing how many times I hear them say, “Wow, come look at this, you won’t believe it!” I love that they are falling in love with nature, as it is my first and deepest love. And I guess I’m thinking the more of you that go out there, the more all of you will love it, too. I also love to see how it changes all the relationships among those that go to something the poets would be proud of. Love just flurishes there.

One less movie out each month is $32 extra dollars for my family of five. We went for a nature hike with the kids instead on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. What a bonus! Thanks, FlyLady!

Free Workshops

I live in TX, and the local Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores offer free kids workshops one Saturday per month. The kids each get a kit to build with mom or dad’s help. The stores provide workspace, safety goggles, and tools, as well as store personnel to help those parents who may be “handy” challenged. Call your local store to see what day/time (i.e. first Saturday morning of each month) your local store offers the workshop. We have built bird houses and feeders, butterfly houses, wooden toy trains, jewelry boxes, plant stands, step stools, and “penny roll” banks to name just a few items. These items haven’t become clutter, because they’re useful items that we’ve incorporated into our indoor and outdoor living spaces.

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