Ideas for Frugal Winter Family Fun

by Shaunna Privratsky
Frugal Winter Family Fun photo

Is the cold weather getting to you? No need to plan an expensive trip to a tropical isle! Just try a few of these ideas for frugal winter family fun.

Winter offers a lot of advantages.

The days are shorter, so we can get more sleep. You don’t have to mow the lawn or rake leaves. There are no bugs! If you get too cold, you can always add more clothing or turn up the heat. In winter the television shows have fewer re-runs.

Yet even these positive aspects pale when the winter blues set in.

Here are some fun, inexpensive ways to overcome them.

Get outdoors

Who says you and your family are stuck indoors? Bundle up in warm winter outerwear and head outside to see what the season has to offer.

If there’s enough snow, make a snow fort. It can be as elaborate as you want. Make a snowman, the sillier the better! Or, if there is just a coating of snow, make snow angels. For the uninitiated, this is simply lying flat in the snow and waving your arms and legs back and forth to create wings.

Spend time playing with your kids at the park instead of just sitting on a bench. A simple game of tag is enjoyable and keeps you warm. My children and I play “Troll.” I guard the “treasure,” which is usually a picnic lunch, while trying to tag the kids.

No snow? Take a nature hike, even if it’s just around the block. Go inline skating, walking or jogging. As long as there is no snow or ice on the sidewalks, these activities are safe and can be fun. Wear warm layers of clothing and bring plenty of water.

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Change locations – locally

For a change of pace, take your children to your workplace; on your day off. Show them what you do and explain your latest projects. Introduce them to your coworkers. They will have a better understanding of your responsibilities when you are away from them.

Window shop at the mall, but leave your wallet or purse at home if you don’t want to spend anything. Walking is terrific exercise and a little wishful thinking never hurt anyone.

Browse a second-hand or thrift store. My children and I pick up tons of used books, toys, clothing and home accessories at a fraction of the cost. It is surprising how far $5 goes here!

Have a blast shopping at dollar stores, where everything is priced at $1 or less. Set a limit on your spending so you don’t go over-budget on all your bargains.

If you can’t escape winter by traveling to a tropical island, an alternative is right in your hometown. Have you ever considered staying at a motel where you live? There are no travel expenses, you can book the best rates and you are familiar with local restaurants and entertainment. Look for coupons or go online and check out your favorite hotels.

Bust the Indoor Boredom

When you are tired of the outdoors or you are shivering from cold, head inside for lots of indoor fun. My family loves to have hot chocolate parties. We sip steaming cups around the table and talk about our day.

A novel idea is toasting marshmallows…indoors. A fireplace is ideal if you are lucky enough to have one. Other alternatives are a stove burner or a candle, with adult supervision of course.

Reading is an excellent activity. When the weather is wicked outside, you can transport yourself to another time and place through the pages of a good book. I buy them at garage sales, thrift stores, discount bins at bookstores or check them out for free at the public library. Make it a family affair and share the love of reading.

Board games are an excellent way to pass an afternoon with your family. Some of our favorites are Battleship, Bingo, Sorry and Monopoly. Older kids might enjoy Scrabble, Boggle and Yahtzee. Adults can spend an enjoyable evening brushing up on their poker skills or playing trivia.

Play dress up, the goofier the better. Garage sales are the perfect place to buy silly clothes, hats, jewelry, shoes or props. Or borrow clothes from friends and relatives. Take pictures for lots of laughs later.

Look ahead. Write down a list of summer activities you are looking forward to doing. Plan your garden or outdoor projects. When you are thinking of the future, the present doesn’t seem so dreary.

I find I look forward to winter each year. I can’t wait for the wild winds to blow while inside I snuggle under a quilt with my family close by. You don’t have to spend tons of money to entertain your family this winter. Turn off the television, unplug the video games and do something fun together. This may be your most enjoyable winter ever.

Reviewed August 2021

About the Author

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for her free newsletters at The Discount Diva.

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