Despite January being the fresh start of 2016, many of us still have a lingering financial hangover from the festive season. Inevitably, after spending our savings on gifts, festive foods and other luxuries, many of us find our budget is a little tighter than usual come the new year!
But as you get back to the grind of work, there are ways to occupy your family without having to spend money. Get inspired by our 8 ideas for enjoying a family weekend on a budget!
David Attenborough In The Making
From crisp blue skies to beautiful morning mists, this is an ideal time to experience nature in the winter! Blow the cobwebs out of your family’s heads with a day out to the countryside. To keep you all occupied, try to spot different birds, bugs and animals as you explore. Then, when you get home, set off drawing and researching about the different wildlife you came across.
An Indoor Camping Trip
Due to the cold temperatures, setting up tent in the wilderness is not a viable option in winter. However, you will all enjoy the notion of camping - wherever it may be. If you already have a tent, explain to your little ones that you are going to ‘camp’ in the living room this weekend - and that you will eat, sleep, and play card games in the tent just as you would outside. If you don’t have a tent, help your children to build one using blankets hung over chairs.
We are all keen to learn, and teaching our family about gardening is both engaging and extremely affordable! Purchase an array of cheap seeds and use compost from your compost heap. Use old plant pots, as well as a watering can. Using this equipment, spend the weekend as a family and all become gardeners. Each weekend, you will be all able to water the plants and watch them grow. Likewise, if you plant edible vegetables such as carrots, once grown you could all have fun picking, peeling and preparing them for a meal!
Plan A Treasure Hunt
Though money may be tight, children don’t need expensive ‘treasure’ - a bag of their favourite sweeties is treasure enough for them! To occupy your family, plan a treasure hunt in your back garden or local park - all you need is a hand-drawn map, some hidden notes as you all explore the map, and a well hidden prize at the end! Invite along friends to make it an extra exciting day.
The Great Family Bake Off
From cookies to cakes, we all enjoy a good home made treat! So instead of buying readymade snacks when you go shopping, buy the ingredients needed for a sweet treat of your children’s choosing (you may need to give them some ideas!). As your children take to the ‘bakery’, support them in adding ingredients as they follow the recipe.
From January through to December, your family made lots of memories in 2015. Whilst these are still fresh in your mind, suggest that you all create a family scrapbook to remember all of the good things that happened last year. Simply purchase a booklet of plain paper for them to use. From sticking in photographs and school certificates, to writing about special days and drawing memories, you will all be occupied for hours. What’s more, the finished product will be something that you will no doubt treasure forever.
As you know, children can be very, very vocal! Encourage them to channel this noise into something productive, creating a singing competition at home. This could include family members or your children’s friends. Either create a panel of ‘judges’ (i.e. the adults!) or have a feedback box wherein the singers can give their opinion on performances. If you’re going for the latter, consider the ‘two stars and a wish’ method: each person writes two things they liked about the singer’s performance, and one thing that could be improved in the next round (this prevents tears from mean comments!).
Hosting a get-together for your children’s friends doesn’t mean that you have to fork out for the food and drink. Instead, organise a ‘Bring Something’ party: each guest is encouraged to bring one choice of food and drink. This means that your children can enjoy a play day with their friends, whilst the parents share the costs of the buffet! Set your children the task of creating invites to hand out in preparation for the weekend, wherein they can specify what each child could bring along to the ‘feast’!
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