Friday, March 5, 2010

101 Free Activities

When you are in debt or trying desperately to get out of debt, you simply don't want to/can't spend money on "frivolous" things, like activities to keep yourself and the family amused and entertained. Unfortunately, without some sort of regular diversion, you may go stir crazy or get depressed because life looks like a big, bleak slog instead of a fun, interesting adventure. Here's 101 free activities to consider that are free (just be sure to bring a lunch and beverages from home) and entertaining:
  1. Rent free DVD and VCR movies from the library.
  2. Borrow books from the library.
  3. Take the family to story time and other community activities at the library or local book store.
  4. Go on a nature walk/hike close to home.
  5. Walk with the Volksmarchers (free if you aren't a member; non-members are welcome to participate).
  6. Check online to see when your local museum/zoo/other attraction offers free entrance (often the first Tuesday or Thursday of the month).
  7. Volunteer to help out at an event (fair, community event, play) in exchange for a free entrance pass for you and the family.
  8. Bake cookies or create other dishes at home.
  9. Make a fort inside or outside with the kids (only requires blankets and a way to hang them up).
  10. Take photos around your community with your digital camera.
  11. Check out local activities at your local school (elementary, junior high, high school, or college). Obviously you won't get into a Pac 10 football game for free but watching kids just starting out playing an instrument or acting in a play can be fun!
  12. Host a contest with all of the kids in the neighborhood (jump roping, tall tale telling, etc).
  13. Play games with the kids (board games, play tag, etc).
  14. Blow bubbles with the kids (only requires dish soap and a homemade wand).
  15. Let your kids have a slumber party (or have a slumber party with a group of your best friends if you are a grown up). Popcorn and pranks optional.
  16. Check out the community events section of your city's newspaper (free outdoor movies, concerts in the park, and other free events are a great source of entertainment).
  17. Google for coupons for local vendors (occasionally you will be able to find free passes for the local skating rink, etc).
  18. Make a snowman, or if you are more industrious, an igloo, after a heavy snowfall.
  19. Make your own toys (like kites, boats, cars) with items you have laying around and see if your work will fly, float, or go.
  20. Do craft projects with items you can find for free (everything from toilet paper rolls to rocks and leaves).
  21. Set up a scavenger hunt for the kids by hiding clues and trinkets then making a map for them to follow.
  22. Have a garage sale, not only will you make money but the kids can set up a lemonade or hot dog stand and make their own cash.
  23. Volunteer (everything from the soup kitchen to the zoo to the local hospital love to have volunteers help out).
  24. Go dumpster diving (radical but fun!).
  25. Learn and practice some outdoor skills (as kids we spent hours building forts, sleeping outside, creating snares to catch rabbits, making bows and arrows, etc).
  26. Have a small bonfire and roast marshmallows.
  27. Watch a scary movie on TV then tell ghost stories afterwards (not for the faint of heart).
  28. People watch then make up stories about them (ie: the lady in blue is really a princess from a foreign country and she is hiding out in our town, etc).
  29. Enter a contest. Everything from novel writing contests to kids art contests, to "guess how many jelly beans are in the jar" can be fun and keep everyone busy for a while).
  30. Sing together (a capella if you don't have/play instruments).
  31. Get a book/video from the library and use it to learn something new (how to speak Spanish, etc).
  32. Put together a neighborhood soccer/baseball/stick ball game.
  33. Glean free food (pick wild mushrooms if you know which ones are safe, pick berries that grow along the roadside, pick apples from trees--legally of course, etc).
  34. Go fishing (many counties/states offer a free day of fishing when you don't need a license) even if you have to make your own pole.
  35. Barter. Find something you want then decide what you have that you could barter with to get it.
  36. Start a family blog/website/Facebook page.
  37. Feed the homeless. Use the food that you have at home to create simple meals (like sandwiches) then head out where the homeless gather to distribute them.
  38. Have a "talent night" with everyone in the neighborhood.
  39. Have a movie marathon day by watching four or five free movies on TV in a row.
  40. Hold a family/neighborhood potluck.
  41. Go swimming at the local lake or river (where it is both free and relatively safe).
  42. Write an anonymous letter to someone with all positive comments about them then secretly hang it on their door.
  43. Pierce your ears at home (not for the squeamish).
  44. Camp out in the backyard over night.
  45. Surprise an elderly relative or neighbor with a "work party" at their home to clean up their yard, make simple repairs, etc.
  46. Pick wildflowers for your home or to surprise someone with.
  47. Start a blog and monetize it (use a free platform like Blogger).
  48. Dance, either in the living room or invite the whole neighborhood and hold it outside.
  49. Interview the oldest family member you have and learn about history from them.
  50. Write down your family's genealogy for as far back as possible, use the library to research if needed.
  51. Choose some interesting science experiments from books and perform them at home.
  52. Visit a different church from the one you regularly attend.
  53. Write up your life "bucket list" then get busy on making it happen.
  54. Research "free stuff" online or at the library then send away for a dozen items.
  55. See if you can sit in on a local band's rehearsal practice.
  56. Check out the offerings at your local university--everything from lectures to free dental care to mini-classes may be offered for free.
  57. Check out free offerings at your local fire department (like first aid and CPR classes) your local hospital (free nutrition classes) and your local utility department (they sometimes offer free water saver shower heads or free light bulbs).
  58. Get a book about astronomy at the library then go outside at night and try to identify the constellations.
  59. Find out about any free factory tours that are available in your area then attend them.
  60. Have a picnic in the park.
  61. Collect bugs.
  62. Find a discarded item by the side of the road, fix it up, and sell it on CraigsList.
  63. Dress in costume then go out on the town (or just to the local mall).
  64. Plan your future, and set goals you will need to meet to get there.
  65. Take digital photos of friends and family then make a memory book (attach photos on card stock or paper then document the date/person/other info about the people in the photos). Bonus points for having the person in the photograph write in your book.
  66. Exercise together--do calisthenics, try parkour, follow along with the morning aerobics or yoga show on TV.
  67. Write an article for the local newspaper.
  68. Do something out of the ordinary--sit in on a city council meeting, visit the Chamber of Commerce, etc.
  69. Participate in a community health fair--get your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels checked for free and pick up lots of freebie handouts as well.
  70. Host a neighborhood dog/cat show.
  71. Teach your dog some new tricks.
  72. Make a fire escape plan and hold a fire drill.
  73. Play with your food--eat an entire meal with your hands, host a midnight dinner buffet, create a dinner in which all of the items are green, make pancakes for dinner, eat dinner for breakfast, etc.
  74. Turn off all the electricity in the house (except for maybe the freezer) and find out what it was like to live in the "olden days" without electricity.
  75. Build something unusual from items on hand--a wading pool dug into the ground, a brick oven to bake a pizza in, etc.
  76. Put on a parade for the neighborhood to participate in.
  77. Teach everyone in the neighborhood how to prepare for a disaster (the local Department of Emergency Management may even send someone to speak at your gathering for no charge).
  78. Get some books on local birds at the library then go birdwatching; record your findings.
  79. Redecorate the house with only items you have (switch comforters with someone else, move the furniture around, hang homemade paper mobiles, get free posters to use as decoration from the local movie theater, etc).
  80. Write a fan letter to someone famous and see if they write back.
  81. Create a family tradition around a holiday.
  82. Try couch surfing in your local area for a change of scenery.
  83. Write a letter (not anonymous) telling someone how they have positively impacted your life.
  84. Complete a crossword puzzle or actual puzzle as a family.
  85. Make a vision board (ask dental and doctor's offices for their old magazines).
  86. Minimize your possessions (consider taking the 100 item challenge).
  87. Make an item from scratch that you would usually buy (ice cream, yogurt, granola, bread, etc).
  88. Invite a friend over who is from another country and have them teach you some of their language or how to cook foods from their country.
  89. Host an "all homemade" party in which everything--from the food to the decorations to the party favors to the gifts--are homemade.
  90. Build your own entertainment in your back yard--everything from mini golf to a slip n slide to shuffle board to hopscotch can be created at home to entertain the family and neighborhood kids.
  91. Play with trees. Go to a grove of trees and hug a tree, climb a tree, play hide and seek behind the trees, etc.
  92. Climb to the highest point (or building) in your area and enjoy the view.
  93. Play outside in the sprinkler, have a water balloon fight, or make homemade items to spray/soak your friends.
  94. Offer to be a human billboard for a local company for a few hours (they may even give you a free pizza/t shirt/etc in exchange for your work).
  95. Write a letter to your mayor/senator/congressman/governor seeking to change something that bothers you.
  96. Walk through a graveyard at night--extra points if it is done on Halloween or during a full moon.
  97. Have a home beauty night--try a different hairstyle, put your make-up on differently, give yourself a manicure/pedicure/facial or haircut (if you are brave).
  98. Visit someone in a hospital or nursing home and cheer them up.
  99. Join a march or protest to support a cause you favor.
  100. Put together a family challenge (such as earning $500 in a weekend through a variety of tasks such as holding a garage sale, mowing yards, etc; or challenging the family not to eat any junk food for an entire month).
  101. Plan a family vacation (that you will use the money from #99 to pay for). Research everything--airfare, driving times, cost for gasoline, hotel rates, attractions, etc. so that you will inspire the entire family to work hard towards achieving such a goal.

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