The winter season brings varied weather challenges to different regions, but the same challenges to families everywhere: “what can we do together as a family” is the question that rings out after ringing in the New Year. Most families need to work within a budget during this time of the year after the holidays. Whether your regional weather requires you to get creative indoors, or provides a chance to get outside, there are free and fun winter activities just waiting for you and your family.

free winter family activities

Indoor Activities:

  1. New Year’s Resolutions: Sure, New Year’s Resolutions may not be something the kids usually like to get involved in, however it is a great way to teach them about setting goals, and being proud with a sense of accomplishment when those goals are achieved. Dry erase boards can serve as idea centers to create each family members goal(s) and then chart their progress for all to see. It is a great family activity and a great way to keep track of everyone’s progress. This activity is free and will be worth millions in the lessons learned.
  2. Holiday Thank You Projects: With paper and pictures from the holidays, make thank you notes or thank you cards to send to family and friends along with New Year greetings. No doubt all the special people in your family’s life will be thrilled to get crafts from the kids and pictures of your family. This is practically free, other than paper and ink that you probably already have on hand.
  3. Recipe Calendar:  Studies have shown that getting the kids involved in cooking helps expand their knowledge of healthy food, increases chances they will try new foods, and helps with math, science and reading subjects. So why not take advantage of spending some time together to come up with plans for family meals of fun cooking projects that everyone can get involved in? Whether you decide to get as detailed as a daily or weekly menu, or just plan out monthly recipes to cook for special occasions is up to you. Planning the recipes and meals ahead of time is a free activity, but it can even further help you by knowing what to budget for meals ahead of time.
  4. Movie Night: Dinner and a movie is a good old standby. Freshen it up a bit with a special flavor of popcorn or other movie snacks for dessert. Most cable and satellite providers now have hundreds of free movies on demand to choose from. Planning ahead can allow you to coordinate your dinner and snack theme with the movie, but no make ahead plans are really necessary to just sit down, relax, snuggle together and watch a movie! Bonus tip: while searching through your on demand menu, look for other fun family and kid friendly activities.
  5. Karaoke Night: Who says Karaoke has to be at a bar? Karaoke or sing alongs can happen right in the comfort of your own home. No need for any fancy equipment! Your computer and YouTube can provide you with all of the songs and lyrics you need to cut loose and sing your hearts out.

Outdoor Activities:

  1. Parks or The Beach: Not every city is snowed in during the winter. In fact, some cities in the south are more enjoyable when the sun is not blistering down, making the slide too hot to touch! The park is a fabulous place in the winter, even if it is a little snowy, who says that your snowman doesn’t mind watching you on the swings? The beach doesn’t have to be off-limits in the winter time. Playing in the sand, searching for shells, or a beach picnic can all be done during the winter time at the beach without getting into the cold ocean.
  2. Free local events for kids / Free Museum Days: There are always free events for kids and free family events happening in cities everywhere. The key is to look for these events either online or in any local kids and family periodicals. Randomly check museums and with your local city and community to search for what is free or at least significantly discounted.
  3. Annual Pass Amusement Parks & Zoos: Although entrance to parks, amusement parks and zoos is not free, very often they offer deals such as buy one day and get a year pass, or a discount on annual admission passes. If you take advantage of these, it can really be affordable because of all that you get out of return visits.
  4. Fishing: If you live near the ocean or lakes, fishing can be a fun family activity that can be free, or almost free. You might need to shell out a bit for some fish bait, but if you catch dinner, it’s free! Remember that fishing is not always about getting fish though, if it was, it would be called “catching” instead of fishing! Instead concentrate on spending some quiet time together as a family.
  5. Kite Making: Blustery winter days are not all bad. Think of it as a kite making opportunity! Kites can be made for free with pieces found in your house. What you will need: wood or cardboard for the frame, paper or plastic bags for the kite, glue, and scissors. In some cases, a small cost might be involved for string or some missing components you might need, but in the long run, this is a very inexpensive, if not free family activity.


Finding free activities to do together as a family  not only saves money, but creates bonding time and teaches valuable lessons. Not all family activities and events require money and buying things. In fact, some of the most important things in life are free!

Bio: Laura Wilson is author and Brand Manager for OCM, leading online supplier of dorm stuff.