Monday, December 5, 2011

Thrifty and Fun Date Ideas with Your Kids

By Nan Gibbons

The kids are bored on a Saturday, so you and your spouse load them up in the van and head to the cinema. Seems easy enough, right? Plus, you haven't been out to the movies in a while.
You arrive to realize the movie they want to see, Revenge of the Sewer Gerbils, is only available in 3D, making the tickets a cool $10.50 apiece. As an added bonus, adult tickets are three dollars more. You briefly consider making your husband wait in the car, but decide against it.

With $60 worth of tickets in hand, your cringe as the pimple faced 16-year-old in a burgundy vest and cummerbund rips the expensive papers and you think, "Careful! Do you know how much those things are worth?"

Still reeling from the sticker-shock of the tickets, the kids tug on your sleeves and tell you they want popcorn. The concession attendant assures you that the Kiddie Combo is the way to go. With popcorn, a drink and candy, the combo carries a retail value of $20, but can be yours for only $10. You'd be stupid to buy anything else. Fifty bucks later, you trudge into the theater.

Sure, the kids loved Revenge of the Sewer Gerbils, and ate most of their Kiddie Combos, but you're still missing that $110 dollars. You had a great time, but can't afford this outing unless you start renting out your basement to twenty-somethings at the local university.

If you're searching for more thrifty ways to spend time with your kids without being cooped up in the house or breaking the bank, check out these few ideas. They're sure to please the whole family, and come in well under the $110 price tag, possibly even free.

A Children's Museum Visit
While Children's Museums can get pricey, doing a little research can save you some serious bucks. Most children's museums offer coupons, discount days and a free night or two a month. You have to plan ahead to take advantage of these deals, but your wallet will thank you.

If you're anywhere near the Indianapolis Children's Museum, it might be in you and your kids best interest to check it out. Touted as one the biggest and best in the world, it's surprisingly affordable and ridiculously easy to get into for a discounted or free price.

Scavenger Hunting
Scavenger hunts at a local park, shopping mall or even neighborhood wide are another great option. You'll have to put some prep work into this, but it can be definitely be done for free or very cheap. Create simple clues based on your location and make it an appropriate level of difficulty depending on how old your kids are. Also be sure to organize teams based on age and skill level and pair older kids with younger. Cater to the attention span of kids, and keep the scavenger hunt to about one hour in length. Try to get a few other parents in one the action to have more supervision and to involve more kids.

Bikes on Parade
In case you've forgotten, riding bikes in big groups is a lot of fun. To give the kids some exercise and have fun at the same time, organize a bike parade. There can be a theme if you want (superhero, cartoon character, etc.) or you can just ride in plain clothes. Have a starting point and then schedule in rests stops during the way, depending on how long your ride is. You can organize different rides of longer or shorter difference depending on the age group.
With these few tips, you can keep your kids entertained for less. You can still go on bigger outings as your budget allows, but don't use a lack of funds to skip out on fun!

Nan Gibbons is a fitness expert and marketer who loves traveling the world to advise at sporting events. When she’s stateside, she enjoys volunteering at environmental organizations and spending time with her wonderful kids. She contributes to Show some love by visiting the site!


  1. awww..these are great ideas and suggestions! in time for the holiday break..thanks for sharing.

  2. This is awesome. I'm a big fan of local museums. In NYC each one has a free day and we try to take advantage. I'm also a member at local museums which costs down on costs tremendously. Sending this around - it's great.

  3. Love these ideas. We've done the children's museum with our son and he LOVED!

  4. These are such fun ideas - i love the idea of a scavenger hunt, esp. as Chase gets old enough to "get" things like that!!!

  5. Great ideas. Try to get the museums as often as possible. In fact, isn't that the last time I saw you??

  6. @Jill -- Yes it was! Can we see each other again, please? Thank you! *wink*


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