Recently I was challenged by Wilson Field insolvency specialists to see just how much family fun we could have for a fiver – or even better, for free I was sent a box of stuff to get me going, but then it was up to us to see what we could with it, and what else we could think up on a budget. So here you go, our recommendations for family fun for a fiver, with a few freebies thrown in too.
The activities supplied were varied. There was a cake-in-a-box – which was handy, as we had a small boy celebrating a birthday, and a big girl who is very good at baking. Cakes in a box seem to come in at around £2-£3 and are an excellent way to go about things if you’re short on baking ingredients. Alternatively, baking with what you’ve got about is likely to be a lot cheaper – I’ve been doing a lot of scones recently. They’re self raising flour, butter and whatever flavourings you want. So I’ve done stilton and ale, or banana and cinnamon, and while the banana were cheaper, I don’t think either batch of around 20 scones will have reached the price of a fiver 😉
The cress seeds were great. I saved egg shells from a variety of baking activities until we’d enough to make up a tray, and then we planted them up in cotton wool. Days of enjoyment watching them grow, and you can call it educational too. And then we had egg sandwiches with home grown cress. Bonus.
The same day that we did cress, we did a free crafting activity. I cut cardboard out of cereal packets, and we used packaging material – maize stuff – to make pictures. Lots of fun, and definitely less than a fiver. Plus you’re reusing stuff that is usually classed as waste rather than using new materials for crafting – very green. All you have to do with the maize is wet it to have it stick together, and it’s a wonderful sensory activity.
Another activity that was included in our box was origami. For this we were sent a book and a pack of the special paper, but you can really use any thin paper – wrapping paper is often good. And there are lots of instructions on the internet, or you can get books out of the library, so this really is a wonderfully cheap activity. It kept the children occupied for ages – Small in particular took to it with some gusto. And it’s another one that’s got lots of benefits – they’re following instructions, it’s manual dexterity and fine motor control, patience is definitely a plus and it’s very creative.
(The last activity supplied was ice lollies. That one hasn’t been used yet, it hasn’t quite been the weather for it!)
And what activities can I add to this list for a fiver or less?
Well, I highly recommend your local library. We often spend an afternoon walking there (free), reading books there (free) and then borrowing more to bring home (free, until you forget to take them back. Oops.) Books are wonderful, but I’m sure you all already know I’m a huge fan. It’s not just fiction either – you can find all sorts of things there. Crafts, cooking, history, drawing – a wide variety, and a really good way to find out about things before spending money on them. And many local libraries have computers with internet that you can use for free. Definitely a top tip.
Another favoured outing for us is the beach. There’s digging and making sand castles, throwing stones into the sea, and making art out of what you can find. Sand angels, treasure hunts for stones that look like hearts – we spend hours and hours at the beach. If you don’t have a beach handy you can do natural art anywhere you like – playing fields, woods, nature reserves.
If you’re lucky enough to live in London, there are many wonderful galleries and museums that are open for free. I’m quite envious of them – for us it’s rather more than a fiver to get there, but if we’re down for some other activity, I do like to add in a museum trip if I can. It’s worth finding out if there’s anything in your local area that’s free as well – when we lived in Brighouse we were regular visitors to the National Media Museum in Bradford for example, and we did make it to the National Railway Museum in York a couple of times too.
Other cheap family activities? Buy popcorn at the supermarket and have a family film night – easily under a fiver if you pop corn yourself and download a film from somewhere like blinkbox, or even rent a DVD from the library. Great way to bring all the family together as well. (If you scan through my Saturday Snippets posts you can find a whole bunch of films we’ve enjoyed on our family film nights too )
So, I hope that’s given you some great ways of entertaining the family without breaking the bank. I hope you’ve found it useful!