Last updated on January 8th, 2020 at 12:04 pm
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If you live in a climate that experiences a cold winter, you and your family have probably experienced cabin fever.
When cabin fever kicks in, sometimes you start dreaming of packing the family up and heading some place warmer–but heading to sandy beaches is not in everyone’s budget priorities.
If you are one of those families, here are 15 wintertime, family activities that can temporarily relieve cabin fever–for free!
15 Wintertime Family Fun Activities That Cost Zero
1. Game Night
If you are like most families, chances are you have a few board games collecting dust that when brought out and played together provide a free, family fun evening.
Make the night just a bit more fun by searching your cupboards for snacks and beverages. My 3 ingredient hot chocolate is made with simple ingredients you probably already have on hand and my caramel popcorn crunch recipe can be made with just popcorn or by substituting another type of cereal than what the recipe calls for.
2. Raid The Recycle Bin
Gather the family around the kitchen table and dump out the contents of the recycle bin in front of everyone. Pass out crayons, felts, markers, tape, glue, or whatever craft supplies you have in the house and then encourage everyone to start building.
Mom and dad, get in there and build too! You can either work together on one project or all build different projects. Put on some free music in the background or an audio book from your library that you can all enjoy while you create.
psst…Tyndale Rewards offers Adventure in Odyssey Audio books from time to time (see details about the Tyndale rewards program here).
3. Movie Night
Let everyone get their PJs on and grab their blankets and then head to the family room for a family movie night.
Free movies can be obtained by borrowing them from friends, the library, or by using free Redbox codes (the site Money Saving Mom lists them often)
psst…If you want more flexibility for Redbox movie night without taking money from your budget, join Swagbucks and cash your SB points in for Redbox gift cards. With over 20 ways to earn SB points from Swagbucks, it is so simple to earn 500 SB points for a $5 Redbox card that offers you several free movie nights. You can also earn Redbox gift cards from InstaGC.
4. Get Outdoors
Sometimes the best remedy for cabin fever is to get outside despite the cold. Bundle up well and enjoy the fun winter weather creates. Go sledding, build a snowman, create snow angels, have a family snowball fight, make an ice sculpture, paint the snow with food coloring mixed with water and placed in either a spray bottle or squirt bottle–the list of ideas is endless.
5. Free Community Events
When my children were little during the winter months, I used to make the hour and a half drive to the Indianapolis Children’s museum on the Thursday evening it was free each month. Sure, it was a bit busy and it did cost me gas money, but the children enjoyed it so much and it really did seem to put them in better spirits after being cooped up in our home for weeks.
You don’t have to drive as far as I did to find free community activities in winter. Check out your local newspaper, ask your local Facebook friends, check websites of local museums to see if they have a free day. Local magazines are also helpful for finding free activities in your community.
6. Bake Together
Yes, sometimes baking with children can be very stressful. However, a lot of it depends on attitude and preparation. The children don’t have to be in the kitchen from step one. Get everything out and ready and then invite them into the fun.
Often when I felt baking was too stressful with children, I would simply bake and let them do the decorating with me.
No bake treats are often so simple and make great recipes for inviting children in to the fun of baking from step one. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to no bake treats that you can dig into to see if you have ingredients for any of the recipes.
7. Color Together
Even though my kids are all teenagers and up, my daughter and I still color together once in a while since I have gotten into the adult coloring craze. If you don’t have coloring books in the house, look up free coloring printable pages in your search engine of choice and hundreds of links to free, printable coloring sheets should pop up.
If you happen to have a large roll of paper in the house, cover the entire dining room table with it and hold a family color night. Color and talk the evening away.
8. Lego Night
My daughter has made some pretty amazing things out of Duplo over the years. My sons have also built some pretty cool stuff with their Lego when they were younger too. I have to admit I still love building with Lego and I bet I am not the only adult that does.
Grab your Lego bucket, put it in the middle of the room, and gather the family around. Build something amazing together or each build your own creation and decide whose is the most creative, most useful, etc when you are done.
9. Playdough Night
Another art medium that you are never to old for is playdough. If you don’t have any in the house, you can make your own. Here is a recipe for sparkle snow playdough, but you can find others by completing a simple search either on google or Pinterest.
10. Video Game Night
If you have older children in the house or teenagers, chances are some of the ideas on my list are not going to be very pleasing to them. However, playing video games together probably is. Both my boys love video games and they don’t mind playing a group game on the Wii with the whole family.
If you don’t have a video game console, there are plenty of good free, two player apps available on iTunes and Android. We have a few on our family iPad including Fingle and Hooked On Words. Of course if your family is larger than 2 people, which most are, you are going to want to look for apps that can be played with more than two players. I am sure they are out there, you just need to spend a bit of time searching or asking friends for recommendations.
Puzzles can be fun for the whole family, especially if you have older children. My family once spent an entire winter trying to put together a 1,000 piece puzzle. Honestly, we never did manage to finish it–but we had a lot of fun trying.
If you don’t own puzzles of your own or are just plain bored of the ones you own, host a puzzle swap with friends. It would make for a fun free evening and also gain you another free family evening as well.
If hosting a puzzle swap doesn’t interest you, this activity can still be free by putting out a plea for puzzles on Facebook. I bet you get more offers for puzzles than you need that way.
12. Library Outing
Libraries are not just for bookworms, they are full of all types of media for all types of media lovers. You can borrow movies, audio books, magazines, computer games, and much more. Libraries also hold free events such as puppet shows, movie showings, craft night, knitting circles, and more–all usually free of charge.
13. Build A Fort
If you have enough snow I suppose this could be an outdoor activity, but I was thinking of building an indoor fort that the whole family can crawl under and curl up in together and read books.
14. Bring The Outdoors In
Make snow ice-cream from the freshly fallen snow. Bring in an icicle or two, place it in the kitchen sink or a bucket, and take bets on how long it will take for them to melt. The one who is closest gets to pick a board game or movie for the family to play or watch together, or perhaps they get to pick the next family book.
15. Brainstorming Night
Your brainstorming session could be on the topic of more family wintertime activities that cost zero or it could be on an entirely different topic. Perhaps you want to warm up by thinking summer and create a summer bucket list or decide where the family wants to go for you next family vacation. You could also think of this more like a dream night than a brainstorming night and pass out conversation starters such as, “If money were no object I would like to visit…” Be creative and have fun getting to know each other’s dreams and passions.
Do you have a free wintertime family fun activity to add to my list?
For a list of 52 different websites, apps, and stores our thrifty family uses to help us keep our expenses low, click here to visit our Thrifty Tools Resource Page.