12 things to do that cost next to nothing

I’m serious, these are fun ideas that will cost practically nothing. This is a truly cheap, yet way fun, list. There is something on here for everyone!

Learn About Your Town

1-We all live in someone else’s vacation destination. Utah is famous for some incredible parks, the Great Salt Lake, Dinosaurs, Skiing, and we can’t forget Jell-o. Learn about the town you live in and why someone would come here, then go be a tourist. Stop and read the signs by the roadside, visit the statues, and read the information nearby. I give my dad a bad time because he’s always going someplace else to fish when he lives near some of the best fishing around. Find out what’s special about where you live and experience it.

2-Free Chamber of Commerce or Community activities. Look on the web for “chamber of commerce calendar of events,” “library events,” or “community events” making sure you include your city, and you’ll get calendars that tell you of all sorts of fun things that are going on. Some have price tags, but a lot don’t. For example, we will start to see county fairs and outdoor events like farmer’s markets appearing in March. Most of these are free to attend and have a lot of fun things to do that don’t cost money either (tip: bring a backpack with drinks and snacks, those tend to be pricey at these).

Do Something Together

3-Get your phones and old cameras out, make sure everyone has one, then begin taking photos. You can just do this in your home, your yard, or go for a walk. The best part is when you start sharing the photos you took. You’ll be amazed at some of the great shots little kids will get. Some will be a guessing game to figure out what something is. Maybe that super close-up of a stick will turn out looking like a lizard. You could all dress up in your finest, your wackiest, or your scariest for family photos. The possibilities are endless, as is the fun.

4-Dance together. Have each person teach the rest of you their dance of choice. You may find yourselves waltzing around the room, getting funky, and then line dancing. There are lots of videos on TikTok and YouTube showing how much fun families have as they dance together and learn new ways to dance.

Get Outside

5-Discover what is out there. Bird watching, stargazing, plant identification, and so much more. You can visit a used book or thrift store and get a book to guide you or use an app. I use Seek app, it is free and will help you identify birds, plants, animals, bugs, and more.

6-Go on a “luck” adventure. Grab something that you can flip or spin to make a choice (a coin, the spinner from a game, even a rock or a stick) and head out. You can start by saying, “Today will our luck adventure be in the car or walking?” You then flip your coin or spinner or whatever to decide. Let “luck” decide whether or not you go in a store, turn here or there, run or walk, and more. You can do this when you go hiking (just make sure you pay attention so you don’t get lost, always stay on the trail), or go grocery shopping and let “luck” lead you to new stores. You can even use it for an evening stroll or to make getting ready for bed a mix-up – should we brush our teeth now or change clothes?

7-Start a collection – rocks, leaves, sticks, shells, etc. Go on walks or to the beach or the hills and each person has a bag or box they can collect their choice items in. Bring them home and you can clean them up and display them in a box or simply fill a jar. You can use them to craft, make mosaics, pictures, or figures with them.

Meet Some People

8-What do you enjoy for those days when we are in the house because of the weather: books, games, puzzles, DVDs? Do you have some that you’re tired of? Trade them with someone else to get something new to you. If it’s a puzzle or game you need to make sure all the parts are still there, then you can post on your preferred social media or set up an activity night with friends and trade around. You might want to make a little flyer and take it around to your neighbors to see if they would be interested in a trade night. You can get to know some people and get some fresh things to do or read. Some places have little “library” boxes they put up outside where these things are available all the time, just leave one if you take one.

9-Make some cookies or cupcakes and then decorate them. You can eat them yourselves or take some to neighbors or friends. Kids always have a lot of fun with the icing. You can often pick up fun sprinkles in the markdown bin after a holiday. Who cares if the sprinkles are red and green from Christmas?

Be Useful and Fun at the Same Time

10-Have you heard of the website www.justserve.org? They are a list of tons of projects, some can be done at home, and others involve going out and working with others in service. There is something for everyone. I was just browsing through and saw several that can be done with even small children. For example, an assisted living place would like people to come in and read to their residents. Take a stack of children’s books and your little kids with you and you can read stories to your children and the residents. Everyone would benefit.

11-While we’re thinking of trading things around, there’s an assignment that is often given in business classes. You start with a paperclip and trade it with someone for something a little bit better and then you trade that, and so on until you’re happy with whatever you have. It’s a fun “game” where you learn about the value of things and advertising. But it’s also something you could do as a family that would continue for weeks, months, or even longer.

12-Do you want to see the latest movies and the kids are a little older? Contact your local movie theatre and see if you can help with clean up. Many movie theatres let you come see the movie before they start showing (they have to run it anyway to make sure it works), and then you come work the nights they show the movies, helping with tickets, concessions, and clean up afterward. You get to see the movies first for free, you get paid to work, and you get to bring the kids!

When in doubt, grab some dice and give them a roll to pick which activity you try first. There’s something here that will create some fun memories for everyone.