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Frugal Indoor Fun


by Nancy Twigg

Now that the weather is so cold, the kids can't go out and play for long periods like they can in the summer. This means more hours to fill with fun indoor activities. Although the temptation may be to entertain the family by spending money (going to the mall, renting movies, visiting a fast food restaurant or arcade), there are ways to keep the kids busy without draining your pocketbook. Here is a list of indoor activity ideas that are all either completely free or cost very little.
  • Spend an afternoon writing letters or making homemade cards to send to out-of-state relatives. Let the kids make drawings, finger paint portraits, or collages to send to Grandma and Grandpa to adorn their refrigerator.
  • Help the kids make up skits or act out stories to perform for Dad when he gets home from work. Along those same lines, help the children put together a family talent show in which they sing, dance or do magic tricks. For added fun, use a camcorder to record the performances to watch again later. The children will love seeing themselves on TV.
  • Pull out the teapot and teacups and hold an afternoon tea party. Along with your tea, serve finger sandwiches and cookies. If your children are too young for tea, serve heated lemonade or hot chocolate.
  • On a cold afternoon, spread a blanket on the den floor and have an indoor picnic. Eat the same kinds of picnic foods you would in the summer.
  • Go camping indoors. Pitch a tent in the living room and let the kids pretend that they are on a camping trip. Pull out the sleeping bags and they can take naps in the tent or even sleep the whole night there. Let them invite friends over for an indoor camping sleep over.
  • Get the whole family together to work a giant jigsaw puzzle together. Be sure to have plenty of popcorn on hand for snacking.
  • Provide the kids with fruits, vegetables and snack foods cut in a variety of shapes and sizes. Ask the kids to use the different shapes to create their own edible artwork. The only rule is that they have to eat whatever they put on their plates. Be sure to take pictures of their creations before they eat them.
  • Almost all kids enjoy playing dress-up. Gather up all the outdated clothes, gaudy jewelry, weird hats and bright makeup you can find and let the kids go for it! Be sure to take pictures.
  • Pull out those board games or card games. When's the last time the family enjoyed a friendly game of Scrabble or Monopoly? Turn off the TV and enjoy some family together time as you enjoy some friendly competition.
  • Speaking of cards, why not use those playing cards to build card houses? Compete to see who can build the tallest card condominium.
  • Rather than renting movies from the video store, borrow videos from friends. In return, offer to lend them any videos you own. Be sure to return them promptly when you're done. 

Nancy Twigg is the editor of Counting the Cost, a free e-mail newsletter about simple and frugal living ( For more creative money-saving ideas, visit Nancy's newest website,

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