Before the long, cold, dark days of winter zap your creativity and have you positioning the kids in front of the television for an afternoon of fun, start thinking of ways you can make the most of this winter – working with the weather instead of against it.
Winter can be a cold and lonely place for your finances with higher heating costs, and winter clothing and holidays being much more complex and expensive than a t-shirt and shorts or a trip to the beach in summer. However, once you start looking for affordable winter activities, you will see opportunities for frugal fun everywhere. Therefore, use this list of frugal winter entertainment ideas for your kids to start your creative juice flowing – it’ll warm you up too.
1 – Enjoy the cold
It is easy to cuddle up inside in front of the heater, but before you know it, it will be summer again and you’ll be wishing for a gust of cool air. Therefore, take every opportunity to get out and enjoy the season by:
- Taking a walk in the rain. Normally winter means mad dashes to and from the car to get out of the rain, but that is usually because you’re rushing from the supermarket with a cart full of groceries, or you’re rushing your kids inside the school gates before heading to work. However, if you plan a winter walk with your family by getting everyone into their rubber boots, raincoats and hats, and sufficiently bundled up underneath, then you can enjoy the natural beauty of winter rains, puddles and streams running down the footpaths. Plus, it’s not the kids who are rushing to get out of the rain.
- Sit outside. You don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy the beauty of winter, you can simply grab a few large blankets and bundle yourself and your kids out onto the porch to watch a thunderstorm, rain drops or even the sunset.
- Have a winter picnic. Choose a non-rainy day to avoid soggy sandwiches and pack a winter picnic of hot chocolate or hot soup in a thermos, toasted sandwiches or wrap up cookies straight from the oven in aluminum foil for a warming treat. Also remember several blankets and cushions to sit on in case the ground is still wet and to keep out the cold.
2 – Make winter work fun
If you take the right attitude to winter work you can make anything fun, and you’ll get those jobs done around the house too. Working together is also a great way to spend family time together, learn about each other and help each other, not to mention get fresh air away from a barrage of heating systems. For example, you could wash the car or shove the driveway or path – you could even make a game by shoveling a maze or pattern into your front garden path.
3 – Baking
Nothing warms you up in winter quite like firing up the oven so take a look at your fridge or pantry and start cooking. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a winter activity for your kids. For example you could make a pie or a soup with left over vegetables or meats or bake bread which is really just flour and water. Add a bit of chocolate, sugar and butter and you can warm up by whipping up some cookies for that picnic.
4 – Enjoy nature
A whole new world of nature comes out in winter time, but we’re usually too busy rushing somewhere warm to see it. Instead, bundle up the kids and find creative ways to get outdoors and experience nature.
For example, you will have noticed that the snails all come out of your garden when it rains, but you can never find them when they’re eating your flowers. Therefore, get some buckets or ice cream containers and have your kids gently collect the snails in your garden. Then, walk down to the park and release the snail into the wild, to eat the wild flowers not yours.
While you’re at the park you could search for animal tracks in the snow or mud, or collect pine cones for use in the fire at home or to create a winter Christmas wreath.
5 – Family time
Summer can be a busy time of rushing to barbeques and beach parties, but winter gives you a chance to slow down and spend some quality time at home with your family. You can break this time into affordable winter activities by looking at photo albums with the kids who will no doubt find your hairstyle at your wedding hilarious.
You could also have your kids write letters, starting with their grandparents who will certainly appreciate a good old fashioned letter in the mail. The kids can draw pictures, practice their spelling and handwriting, and the whole family gets involved. Another indoor winter activity which won’t cost you anything is to help your kids build a fort out of chairs and sheets.
Or, you and your family could read stories aloud to each other from the forgotten books on the shelves, or you can make up a story together with each person saying a sentence or a word to form a unique story each time.
Alban is a personal finance writer at Home Loan Finder, a home loan comparison website.