With the current economic recession lots of families are searching for alternatives to their regular, costly forms of entertainment. Staycation is the new buzzword and family game night is once again in vogue. Looking for some inexpensive ways to have family time this summer? Here are a few options for you.
1. Have a movie night.
Taking a family of four to the local cinema can cost $50 these days—and that’s just for your tickets. Throw in some popcorn and drinks and you’ve just spent the better part of a $100 bill. Why not have movie nights at home? Netflix.com, Redbox.com, and the video rental shop on the corner are great money-saving alternatives. Your local library probably has a great selection of movies available as well—for free. Simply make your own popcorn and enjoy.
2. Take a hike.
If you live near a national or state park, walking trail, or other safe place away from traffic, take a family hike. You don’t have to be “hikers” to enjoy the time outdoors. Go with a mission. Look for wildflowers or birds for example. Take a field guide with you. See how many species you can identify.
3. Go bike riding.
In the city where we used to live, the unused railroad lines were converted to recreational trails. According to their website, the “Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., whose mission it is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.” This project has provided over 20,000 miles of safe trails for folks to walk, blade, or bike safely. To find a trail near you, visit RailstoTrails.org. If you do not have this option in your neighborhood, just choose safe roads, wear your helmets, and enjoy.
4. Float downstream.
Canoeing, kayaking, or tubing are great ways to stay cool in the heat of the summer, spend time together as a family, and enjoy the outdoors. If you do not have your own floating vessels, borrow what you need.
5. Go fishing.
If you cannot borrow the boats you need, just head down to the river or lake with your fishing equipment and enjoy the shore. This is not just cheap entertainment for the family; it’s a great way to bring home a free dinner.
6. Have a game night.
Make one night a week or month Family Game Night. Visit Hasbro.com for lots of cool ideas, hosting tips, game recommendations, and more. Serve snacks you would not otherwise have on hand to make it extra special.
7. Host a “Friend Night.”
Host a monthly Friend Night for the kids. Let them invite their friends and make pizzas together or cook out hot dogs on the grill. This isn’t just a great way to have fun together; but also a way for you, as parents, to get to know your children’s friends.
8. Take field trips.
Just because school’s out for summer doesn’t mean you can’t do something educational. My mom needs her military identification card renewed, so we are planning to make it a field trip for the little boys. At the Air Force base where we go, you can get pretty up-close-and-personal with some impressive military aircraft and the guys in the office are all too happy to make an impression and answer questions from elementary-aged children. What else is on the agenda? A glass blower’s studio and a hike to a forest fire lookout tower. In the past we’ve visited the potato chip factory, a local Civil War museum, a university’s arboretum, and cemeteries in search of ancestor’s gravesites—and all this for free.
With a little imagination I’m sure you can come up with a few more ways to keep costs down on entertainment.
Please share your ideas in the comments! We’re listening!