Family nights are a great way to create some family bonding. However, there are times when the budget does not allow for spendy forms of entertainment. Here are some ideas to spend a family night while spending little to no money.
Family “Camping Trip” or Slumber Party – In the family room, set up a tent or create a fort out of blankets. You can spend the evening watching movies or story telling.
Acting – Acting requires a lot of creativity but little to no store-bought supplies. This is a great cheap family night idea, as “actors” would only use items from around the house. Simply performing improvisation skits for each other is one idea. Another idea is the acting game Charades.
Performing – Family members can take turns singing, dancing, playing instruments, and even jamming in an air band during a cheap family night.
Cooking or Baking – Playing around with food is a good way to experiment and learn in the kitchen. If you already have a lot of ingredients, this can be a fairly cheap family night idea.
Drawing or Crafts– If you already have craft supplies, you can find many crafts ideas online. But because some crafts require a lot of supplies that aren’t always found at home, drawing might be the cheapest artsy activity. Take turns drawing other family members or, my personal favorite, draw different pictures with closed eyes and vote for the best.
Family Portraits – If you have a camera with a timer, creating family portraits can be a way to spend a cheap family night. Choose a different pose or expression for each picture, such as “excited”, “silly face”, “surprised” and so on.
Wash the Car or Family Dog – This is a multi-beneficial way to spend an cheap family night. To make homemade car wash, mix liquid dish soap in hot water and add a couple tablespoons of vinegar (to help rinse off the soap). Be sure to rinse quickly and thoroughly to reduce residue. If you do not want to spend money on dog shampoo, diluted Dawn dish soap or baby shampoo will suffice.
Look at Old Family Photos or Videos – Digging up old family photos and videos is completely free, and it’s a relaxing way to spend a cheap family night.
Outside Games and Sports – Most sports require special equipment. If you do not have equipment, there are still other outside games you can play. Some suggestions that do not require any store bought equipment are Kick the Can, Capture the Flag, and tag (such as regular, freeze or elbow). Water balloon war, Frisbee, and 4-square are games with inexpensive supplies. Also, bubbles and chalk are cheap ideas for younger children.
Board or Card Games – A deck of cards is cheap and yields many games such as Go Fish, Nertz, Rummy, Speed. Board game costs can add up, so unless you already own some, board games might be too spendy for a cheap family night. However, in case a new board game is in the budget, some suggestions are Jenga, Risk, Twister, Rummikib, Life, Yahtzee, Clue, and Aggravation.
Walking, Biking, or Hiking – Walking and biking are simple ways to enjoy the outdoors while staying active. If hunger strikes, stop by a restaurant or ice cream parlor for a treat. Hiking supplies come with rising costs, but if you already own most of the items needed, hiking can be a great activity. Bring plenty of water, high-protein snacks, extra warm clothing, a first aid kit, matches, a flashlight, an army knife, a whistle, sun screen and bug repellent.
Write Letters to Other Family Members – Grandparents and other family members will love receiving personal letters from the family.
Other Indoor Games – Other indoor games include Telephone, Hide and Seek, and the story game. The story game is when one person starts by writing the first line of a made-up story. The person then passes the paper to the next person who reads the line and secretly writes down a second line. That person folds the paper over to conceal the line before his/her own, and passes the paper to the next person. That person reads the last line, and writes another. This continues, each person hiding all the lines except the last two, until the paper is full. Then the mismatched story is read aloud.
Park – Spending time at a park is a great way for children to burn energy during a cheap family night. If possible, try walking or biking to the park. Bring water and maybe even snacks.