Holidays can be really expensive, so finding some free activities for the children is great. Once you start thinking about it, there’s actually lots of 100% free holiday outing ideas. Here’s 23 great ideas to get you started.
School holidays really don’t have to be expensive.
I think a lot of parents fall into the trap of thinking they need to take their kids to new and exciting events and activities. In fact, mostly kids just want to hang out and spend time with you. Sure, they’ll get bored quickly if the activity isn’t fun and engaging. But free can definitely still be fun!
If we use our imaginations a bit there’s actually plenty of activities that won’t break the bank. We wanted to make it easy for you, so we’ve put together a whole heap of ideas. These are ideas using things you’ll already have at home, or visiting places that won’t be too far from home.
100% free holiday outing ideas
- Have a potluck picnic with your children’s friends or other families in your neighbourhood. You can host it at home, or meet at a nearby park, making clean up a breeze.
- Instead of going to the movies or renting a movie on Youtube, reach out to family and friends and find out who has old DVDs you can borrow. You could even pop some popcorn, make some kid’s party drinks and turn it into a proper movie night!
- Go on a bushwalk. Have you heard about the Department of Conservation’s Toyota Kiwi Guardians programme? It’s awesome, your kids can score badges, attend events, and it gets the whole family outside.
- Do some baking. Cakes, muffins, biscuits, slice, loaves … it doesn’t really matter. Your children will love getting involved, and it may even reduce the holiday food budget!
- Take your children to the library and get them their very own library card.
- Blow bubbles. If you don’t have a bubble wand already, you can easily make a giant bubble wand, and your own giant bubble mixture. You can also make bubble wands by cutting out the inside of an icecream container lid, from the rings around milk bottle tops, or wire coat hangers.
- Make a mobile for the garden using shells, driftwood, leaves, pine cones, and any other natural treasures you can find. You could spend the morning looking for treasure, and the afternoon making your mobiles.
- Go to a lake or river and teach your children to skim stones (or maybe they can teach you!).
- Get a ‘Parks and Reserves’ brochure from your local council, and visit a park in your area that you’ve never been to before. You’ll be surprised just how good some of our local parks are.
- Make a new set of crayons for your children. Put all their short broken ones into mini muffin tins lined with baking paper, and melt them down in the oven. Once the wax is melted, remove them from the tin and let the wax go cold. Tip out the giant, multi coloured crayons and they’re ready to use.
- Make up a scavenger hunt for your children, with a list of things they need to find in your garden. Make it hard enough that it takes more than 5 minutes, but don’t make it so hard that it’s impossible for them to complete.
- Older children will enjoy a scavenger hunt that goes further than your backyard. Either go with them, or give them clear instructions about where they are and are not allowed to go. It’s also a good idea to give them a time limit, otherwise they might be gone all day!
- Have an arts and crafts day using materials from around the home. You could invite a few of your children’s friends over, and make a real event of it for the day. Our craft articles have some amazing ideas to get you started. Check out our ideas for 4-7 year olds, 8-12 year olds, and teenagers.
- Challenge your neighbours or your children’s friends to a family cricket match, or game of ripper rugby, at your local park.
- Take the whole family on a bike ride. If you’re feeling really adventurous, check out some of the mountain bike tracks or bike friendly parks in your region. New Zealand now boasts some of the best bike tracks in the world, get out there and explore them!
- Build a sandcastle. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, sandcastles are always fun. In fact, if it is winter time where you live, then a trip to the beach is even more interesting, just rug up the kids and get out there!
- Make your own mini golf course in the backyard using tin cans for holes, and all sorts of buckets, rocks and pot plants for obstacles. You can use garden wire to secure the tin cans in place. And you don’t even need golf gear, a large stick and roundish stone will work fine.
- Visit your local SPCA, garden centre aquarium, or pet store. For more free animal antics, check out ‘Animal Lovers Activities’.
- Make a junk sculpture using all your recyclable rubbish, and anything else that would otherwise end up at the dump. Give your children lots of tape, string and space, and you’ll be surprised by what they create.
- Create a family bingo card game, where each child has to do a range of activities to complete the card. They might be silly things like ‘walk around the house backwards’, or more serious things like ‘do something nice for someone else in the family’. The first person to complete their bingo card wins. You can make this game short and sweet, with simple activities. Or go all out, and make the game last for the whole holidays.
- Take a trip to the local skate park and have a go. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the thrills and spills – just make sure your child has the proper safety gear on before you start.
- Go fly a kite. If you don’t have one, they’re very inexpensive, or you can make your very own delta kite at home. That’s 2 school holiday days taken care of!
- Make some gingerbread men or other sweet treats and take them to a rest home, children’s hospital or community boarding house. You’ll want to make sure that you plan this one ahead of time, so that the staff expect your visit. This is a great idea to teach your kids about volunteering and altruism. Your children will get a real buzz out of doing something nice for complete strangers.
We hope these 100% free holiday outing ideas get your imagination fired up. With a little bit of creativity, and some help from friends or neighbours, you could just about get through the whole holiday without spending a cent! And you can still make it a holiday to remember. For even more ideas for the school holidays, check out our holiday articles.