One thing I’ve learned over the years is that fun doesn’t have to be expensive.
When my husband and I first got married, while we were both still in college, it was necessary.
We literally had NO extra money and that meant we had to get creative.
Then, when I was first starting my chiropractic office, it was more important to pay off my business loan and our student loan debt.
So, for us the habits of being frugal became ingrained.
Now that our kiddos are here and we’re both working from home, it’s even more important to be careful with our money and not break the bank for a night out with the kids.
Here’s a list of our favorite, cheap family fun night ideas.
Hope you enjoy!
#1 – Movie Night
This is an all-time fave.
Since we use Netflix and Amazon Prime, we have a huge list of movies to pull from.
We started out by having the girls alternating who picked the movie each week but found it led to too many complaints.
So now, I call out a list of 10 movies I’ve chosen one at a time and each girl says “yes” or “no”.
When we land on one with two “yeses” we have a winner.
If there’s no agreement, mommy gets the deciding vote. But, you’d be surprised how quickly they start agreeing the further down we get on the list and the closer to mommy getting the final say.
We like to make the night special by having popcorn and a couple of movie size boxes of candy (bought for $1 at Walmart) on hand and the girls know too that it’s the only time in the week they get to have a small bit of soda.
It’s a great time to curl up on the couch together, laugh, eat and talk about the movie.
#2 – Game Night
If there’s one thing that can top movie night, it’s probably game night.
My kids get a lot of games from their grandparents, aunts and uncles at Christmas so there’s always plenty of choices.
Each child gets to choose one of their games for the whole family to play and we all sit around with snacks and enjoy the time together.
As a bonus, it’s a great way to get the kids working together and they both always learn a lot since they spend much of the time asking us questions.
#3 – Family Campout
I’m not much of a camper although my husband loves it, so we do our camping out inside.
On these nights, our family room gets turned into the great outdoors with a tent, sleeping bags and all of the camping fun you can handle.
We make smores in the microwave, pop popcorn and turn on our solar system lights to look at the stars on the ceiling.
Everyone has a great time even when Mommy sneaks off to crawl into a comfortable bed after the kids fall asleep.
#4 – Chef Night
My girls have been helping my husband cook since the moment they could walk (he’s the chef in our family).
They even have their own chef hats and aprons.
So, we’ve created chef night. We choose a dish that the whole family can make together and have fun in the kitchen.
The girls learn useful skills and they’re much more likely to try new foods when they’ve had a hand in creating it.
#5 – Art Night
Almost all kids love to create their own artwork and my girls are no different.
This love of all things crafty has led to Art Night.
The kids decide whether it will be coloring, finger painting, watercolors, bracelet making, collage time or any of the hundreds of fun crafts available to families.
We all sit together at the table and create our own masterpieces.
The girls especially love that we display them all on display afterward, even mommy’s and daddy’s.
Special Hint: I get all of our arts and crafts supplies from Dollar Tree. They have tons of options from beads and string to glue, googly eyes, coloring books and more and everything is just $1.
#6 – Lego Night
My kids both love to build and Lego sets are another usual Christmas and birthday gift they get.
For Lego Night, we get out all of their sets and decide how many to build or whether to “Free Build.”
It’s always fun to see their creativity and we love listening to all of their ideas.
#7 – Sports Night
Ready, set, go! It’s time for Sports Night, the ultimate family fun night idea for active families.
Gather your sports gear and head out to the backyard or local park for an evening filled with physical activity and friendly competition. You can play anything from soccer and basketball to Frisbee and catch.
Split into teams and come up with fun team names and cheers. Don’t forget to bring some snacks and water to keep everyone hydrated and energized.
If you have young children, you can modify the games to make them more age-appropriate, such as using a smaller ball or hoop. You can also play classic childhood games like Red Rover, Tag, or Red Light, Green Light.
Sports Night is a great way to get everyone moving, burn off some energy, and have fun as a family. It’s also a great opportunity to teach kids about teamwork, sportsmanship, and perseverance.
#8 – Look at Family Pictures and Video
Are you ready for a trip down memory lane? Look no further than family picture and video night!
Dig through those old photo albums and scrapbooks, or pull up digital albums on your computer or phone, and gather the family around for a night of nostalgia.
Laugh at old hairstyles and fashion choices, reminisce about family vacations and holidays, and relive cherished memories together.
To make it extra fun, try turning it into a game. See who can identify the most people in a group photo or guess where a particular picture was taken. You could even make it a competition and award points to the person who correctly identifies the most photos.
And don’t forget the videos! Dust off those old VHS tapes or pull up home videos on your streaming service and watch old family movies together. Laugh at the silly antics of your younger selves and marvel at how much has changed (and how much has stayed the same!).
Whether you’re a family of shutterbugs or just looking for a fun way to spend an evening, family picture and video night is sure to bring joy and laughter to all.
#9 – Read Books Together
Reading books together is a great way to bond with your family while also expanding your imaginations and knowledge. For this family fun night idea, gather everyone together in a cozy spot and choose a book that everyone will enjoy. It can be a classic, a new release, or a book from a series that your family loves.
To make it more fun, you can assign roles for each family member. For example, one person can be in charge of reading out loud, while others can act out different parts of the story or hold up pictures related to the book. You can also take turns reading chapters, or switch off between different family members reading paragraphs.
After you finish reading, you can discuss the book and share your favorite parts or characters. You can also come up with your own alternate endings or plot twists, or even create your own sequel to the book.
If you want to add an extra element of excitement, you can make snacks or drinks that go along with the book. For example, if you’re reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” you can make some homemade chocolate treats to enjoy while reading.
Other Family Fun Night Ideas
- Play Games on the Wii or Xbox
- Play American Idol
- Go to the Park
- Put Puzzles Together
- Go Biking
- Learn Together (a language, cooking, a musical instrument)
The Family That Plays Together, Stays Together
Whatever you choose for your family fun night, the point is the time together. You’ll make memories that last a lifetime and create a strong, loving family.
Try the cheap family fun nights above for lots of fun without breaking the bank. Also when you get a chance, let me know what your activities your family loves to do together.
Don’t forget to spend some time as a couple either. If you need some help planning it, check out our post, 16 Memorable Date Night Ideas to Remember, Reconnect and Light the Fires.
And as always, I wish you a strong family, optimal health and smart incomes.