Home Lifestyle How to entertain your kids and family on a budget

How to entertain your kids and family on a budget

The December Holidays don’t have to cost an arm and a leg – here are some cheap entertainment tips


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December is here! That means gift shopping and spring cleaning for the holiday visits. And your champagne glasses should be out for the bubbly – or, in my case, for the vodka and watermelon to create an inexpensive cocktail drink!

The Big Days force you to spend more than you normally do, but there are ways to curb the spending. You can start by buying grocery stamps or vouchers from stores and to save these for the rainy days, especially for January, which always seems like the longest month.

Secondly, buy extra non-perishable goods like canned foods, dried goods and toiletries and stock it up. Lastly, before going out to buy gifts, set up a budget – determine how much you will spend per gift and also think of what you could possibly buy.

Save on entertainment

One thing I do love about the holidays is playing games with family. My aunty Sophia (Nel) is always the one who makes sure we play silly games; she’ll have you run on the beach competing with each other to fill a bucket with sea water – you have to run a distance to fill it with a water bottle that has holes in it!

The last holiday we had together in Port Nolloth in Namaqualand, aunty Sophia had us in groups, each individual within a team participating in a different game. One of the games was to see who can eat and finish chilli liquorice the fastest.

Here is a list of some of my favourite, inexpensive games and other activities that you can do with teens and adults:

  1. Pass the orange with your neck. The teams should stand in lines. Then the race starts: each team passes an orange, one-by-one, using only their necks and chins.
  2. See who gets the smarties out of the flour bowl first using only a straw.
  3. Play sports like tennis or pass a ball over your head.

    Create your own music quiz show to entertain the entire family over the festive season.
  4. Create your own music quiz show. I made a list of random hit songs over the years, then each team gets a turn to choose a song (on a piece of paper) out of a hat. One team member sees the song, cannot reveal it, gives clues to his team members, who then try to guess the song – each team gets 60 seconds per song.
  5. Play cards or dominoes.
  6. Put together a miniature skateboard or solve a puzzle.
  7. Play board games. My friend, Eleanor Douglas-Meyers, who is a parenting and DIY blogger, told me that board games are a great way to kill time. “You also tend to learn a lot about your child when playing games, like how they deal with disappointments and so on.”
  8. Go picnic. Picnics are completely underrated, says Eleanor. “For an inexpensive day out, I pack the boys’ favourite treats and head down to the park or the beach. Those facilities are free.”

    Colouring books and paint are always a good way to entertain toddlers at home.
    Colouring books and paint are always a good way to entertain toddlers at home.
  9. Go hiking or just go for a walk.
  10. To entertain the younger ones and toddlers: Get them colouring books and paint, do some drawing or let them help you bake. Often toddlers don’t like to do an activity alone, they want to play with other children or with their parents, so take time off to play a little.

Lastly, if you’re buying toys on a budget…

Shop at neighbourhood markets or charity shops. I’ve heard a friend once say “children love playing with toys that are not their own” meaning a second-hand toy can be “new” to a little one. That said, we’ve bought books and a kiddie jewellery box for my toddler at a neighbourhood market and she loved it.

Happy holidays everyone!

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Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan is a freelance writer with nine years’ experience in the media industry. She studied journalism at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and previously worked at leading news publications as well as for Brand South Africa. She enjoys blogging and taking part in Twitter chats.

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