This is the most magical time of the year. Holidays, road trips, family time, friends and gifts which means it is also a time when we all spend a little more than we should. Keeping kids busy and trying to stay within your budget can be stressful but it is possible to have loads of fun without spending much money. We are a large family so it becomes even more expensive to take the kids out all the time, even going out for a milkshake can get expensive.
When you look, there is a lot you can do that is either free or costs very little.
Movie nights (or days). We don’t get snow here in South Africa but sometimes it is just too hot to go outside. Make some popcorn (homemade is cheaper and nicer than microwave), set up a Christmas bed in the lounge and binge watch all the Christmas movies. Netflix have some cute movies that the whole family will enjoy. Jack and Emma are loving Matilda and we watch it on repeat.
Go see the lights. There are Christmas lights pretty much everywhere but if you are in Pretoria, take a drive down Lawley Street, it is free and you can even park your car on one end and take a slow walk down the road. Jakaranda Kinderhuis has a stunning set of lights, there is a small entrance fee to visit but Kiara says it is worth it.
Pool party. Organise a small pool party with a friend who has a pool or visit a public pool. Make some homemade popsicles, cut up some fruit, get some blow up balls (China shops have some cheap options) and spray everyone with sunscreen and enjoy a day around the pool.
Get your paint on. We are having so much fun with various painting crafts. CNA had 4 pots of poster paints for R50 and they have lasted us ages. You don’t even have to do anything specific. Lay some paper out and let them paint.
Bake some cookies. Ok so I know this one can go either way but if you lower your expectations and plan for mess, then it can be a fun activity. I stick with the Sasko pre-mixes because they are easy for the kids to mix and they are flop proof.
Check whats happening at your local shopping centres. Menlyn has the ZipZap circus on which is worth the drive from Joburg! They also have a cool Santa the kids can meet. Most of the bigger centres have activities on for the kids during the holidays and a lot of them are free or have a small fee attached.
Make a fort. My kids love doing this. They take all the blankets we own, move the couches and make a massive fort where they hang out for days if we let them.
Kids need a lot less than we think they do, they don’t need to be kept busy all day long every day long. More often than not, the simple things are the ones where the kids have the most fun.