Of all your adulting duties, being frugal is one that definitely deserves a gold star. Earn yours today when you opt for one of these free family activities instead of reaching for your wallet. Who knew saving money could be so easy and fun? Just in time for No-Spend Month, keep reading to see our picks for best free activities.

1. Head out for a hike. Whether you take the kids on a hike around the neighborhood, or you head to a local nature preserve or park, hiking is a no-brainer, no-cost plan. We love these hiking bucket list spots as a point of inspiration.

2. Remember your memberships. It doesn’t cost a dime to use the memberships you’ve already purchased. That makes a no-spend night the perfect time to hit the zoo, aquarium or museum. Don’t have any memberships? Look into free museum nights in your area, or ask your local library if they have any museum passes available to check out.

3. Practice your pillow fort prowess. Who doesn’t love a good pillow fort? Build one alongside the kiddos or have a family building competition. Flip through these fantastic designs to ignite your creativity. Bonus points if the kids crash in their fort overnight.

4. Make the most of movie night. You don’t have to spend dough at the local cineplex to enjoy a family movie night. Sift through your DVD collection and pull out one everyone loves. Then go all out with ticket stubs, comfy seating that rivals your local theater and buttery popcorn. Read up on creating a theater-worthy movie experience at home to bring your vision to life.

5. Raid your gift card stash. You’ve been saving them for something special … so why not use them tonight? Whether you’ve been holding on to movie passes, restaurant gift cards or big bucks to spend at the toy store, cashing in gift cards equals a free and easy evening plan everyone can enjoy!

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6. Listen to podcasts. If you haven’t tuned in to the family-friendly podcast scene yet, a no-spend night is a perfect time to give one a listen. Queue up a show on your preferred device, then get ready to binge on imaginative, informative stories the whole family can enjoy.

7. Visit the library. When it comes to free, nobody does it better than libraries. From classes, to programs and the books lining the shelves, there are plenty of ways to entertain the family. Check out the country’s best libraries to see what creative freebies they’ve got for your fam.

8. Break out the board games. Raid your game closet, and find a family fave to play. Need some suggestions? Read up on exciting new games to add to your collection. Tired of your go-to games? Simply head to your local game shop, where you can check out games to play for free.

9. Gaze at the night sky. Plan your free night around the stars and you won’t be disappointed. All it takes is some creativity, binoculars or a telescope (if you’ve got one), and a free app to help you navigate the night sky in your area. Explore constellations using these out-of-this-world activities and tips on a clear night.

10. Make music. Who knew that between your cupboards and the recycling bin, your kids have everything they need to start their own band? It’s true. All it takes is cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, rubber bands and some imagination so make one of these DIY instruments that really work. Make ‘em, then play ‘em, for an evening concert you won’t soon forget.

11. Cozy up with a good book. Snuggled under a warm blanket with hot cocoa. Sprawled under a propped up sheet with a flashlight. Tucked into a pillow-laden corner in her room. However your crew likes to read, sit down and do it together. Turn reading into a full night’s activity when you trick out a reading nook for your little readers and then dig into their favorite page-turner.

12. Play twilight games. Grab the flashlights and glow sticks, then head outside (or down to the basement) to get your play on once the sun starts to set. Get ideas and learn the rules for eight different games to play in the dark or create your own.

13. Practice yoga. Taking time out from spending can give you a sense of calm. So can practicing yoga together with the kids. Break out your mats if you’ve got them (if not, no worries), and then check out five easy moves for kids here. Namaste.

14. Host a kid art exhibition. Who needs a local art gallery opening when your home is bursting with kid art in need of an audience. It won’t cost you a dime to have the kids cull their own artwork and put it on display for parents to peruse. Set the scene with mood music and a glass of grape juice bubbly to sip while you stroll.

15. Bake cookies. Nothing says down time like a freshly-baked batch of cookies. Get messy in the kitchen making dozen after dozen of your faves with the kids. Share them with friends and neighbors, or keep them all to yourselves. Either way—yum.

16. Make them laugh. It’s a comedy night in your living room. No two-drink minimum required. Have your kids plan and perform short stand-up routine full of one-liners and riddles for you and your better half. Giggle, set, go.

17. Write letters. Pull out the pen and paper and have the kids sit down to write letters, old school style. Keep it simple by writing to family members or friends. Or try this out-of-this-world idea—write to an astronaut pen pal. The best part? Getting a letter in response.

—Allison Sutcliffe

 

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