Fun and Frugal Ideas to Keep Your Family Entertained

Friday, October 8, 2010

Life isn’t all about giving your kids everything they want it’s about creating life experiences that will have an effect on them as they move towards adulthood. What they see and hear, learn and experience will help them to become well rounded people.

So how do you fit culture and entertainment into your simple, frugal, homesteading life? First, utilize your community or county’s cultural and recreational events calendar to plan inexpensive experiences. Many towns and cities have a variety of concerts in the park, festivals and founders days that you can build family memories around. The beauty of these types of events is that they are usually outside and small, and can hold your child’s attention. For larger half day or all day events pack a picnic lunch or dinner.

Below are just a few events and activities to look for.

Festivals – most areas have some kind of festival or founders day events. Loaded with crafts, games, carnival maybe even a parade they can be great fun for all ages. Pack drinks and snacks or go all out with a picnic for a great family adventure.

Library used book sales are a great way to feed voracious reading habits without paying bookstore prices. Watch for wonderful videos, both feature movies and documentaries, and CD’s as well.

Pre-Release Movie screenings, get you free tickets, popcorn and a drink.

Many movie companies utilize public opinion to guide their final editing process by having pre-release screenings. You have to call and make a reservation, but the movie is free and so are the drinks and popcorn. After the movie you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire about the movie. Not all screenings are suitable for children, but a good number of them are. Ask local theaters if they screen pre-releases.

Rush Tickets – Most performing arts centers have what’s called “Rush” tickets. They are actually unsold tickets for performances that are drastically reduced and sold about 30-minutes before the performance. And, literally you rush for them because there may not be many left. You take what you can get, but the price is very reasonable. You must be flexible though because you may not get them at all. But, it’s a great way to expose your kids to Broadway quality shows for practically nothing.

Local sports leagues or minor sports leagues can be a lot of fun and inexpensive or free. Plus, you may be watching tomorrow’s major league players today.

High School or college community theater – school plays, talent shows and community theatre are generally inexpensive and a lot of fun. You will be surprised at how much talent there is in your area. Churches also have holiday programs that are open to the community even if you’re not a member.

Free days at Museums, zoos and aquariums – Many museums, zoos and aquariums have free days. This is often one day per month such as the first Tuesday or last Friday. There are a lot of museums that are fun and have areas tailored for kids. Art museums especially have interactive exhibits that are fun for kids.

Local History – Most cities and towns offer some type of historical attraction close by. These little local places we all take for granted can be very interesting if we invest the time to find out about them. If you’re lucky enough to live near a national park or national historical site you’ll have a lot more to chose from…check them out.

Take a hike, literally – Many parks departments host a variety of local walks and hikes suitable for people of all ages. Some even have guided outings to talk about local flora and fauna or evening hikes to star gaze. Take a thermos of hot cocoa and stare at the heavens.

Pick your own produce – kids love to pick their own strawberries, blueberries, whatever you have in your area. They love to see how things grow, and after tasting fresh produce they may be more likely to reach for those fresh fruits and veggies at home. Fall is perfect for hunting down the perfect pumpkin. Take a picnic and make a day of it.

Café Jam Sessions – These are becoming more and more popular, armature musicians getting together at local cafes to play music. For the price of a drink you can enjoy a variety of music from rock, to jazz to bluegrass, just pick the venue and the night and enjoy the variety.

Stay-at-home entertainment

Movie and homemade pizza – Everyone can top their own pizza once the dough is ready. Take turns picking a new movie or an old favorite. Used book sales and thrift stores are great ways to build your own movie library, or check some out from the local library.

Game Night is another great way to bring the family together. Board games, puzzles, cards can all be purchased inexpensively at thrift stores or garage sales. They also come in handy when the power is out.

Craft and Kitchen Time – Kids love to do craft projects, especially around the holidays. There are many websites with great ideas for projects using items you probably have at home. If dad is a handy guy make a few birdhouses out of scrap wood to paint and hang in the garden.

For the little cooks in your house try a cookie day or cupcake day where they all get to make their favorites. For older kids bake and decorate a cake or make a special tea bread. Better yet, try a new recipe using the veggies you picked yourself from a local “pick-your-own” farm. These are great ways to get kids use to being in the kitchen and interested in cooking – from scratch.

The goal is to expose your family to all that life has to offer. So get out there and see what’s in your area…every place has something.

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