I’ve mentioned this here before: often that which is cheaper is also greener. The same principle applies to fun. Spring is on its way and whether the day is sunny or dreary, there’s something fun for you and your family to do that’s both easy on the wallet and easy on the planet.
Movie Night (Recession Style):
Start with a $1 movie rental. Many grocery stores now have kiosks where you can rent newly released dvds for $1/night. If this is not an option where you live, check out the local library for an even better price — free.
Make your own (much healthier) popcorn. If you’ve read about the dangers of microwave popcorn, you know those are chemicals you don’t want to ingest. All you need is a brown paper lunch sack, 1 cup of organic popcorn kernels, and a little olive oil. Combine the popcorn and olive oil in the bag (yes, the bag will get a little greasy), fold the bag over and clamp shut with one or two staples (the metal will NOT cause a crisis in your microwave) and microwave for approximately 2-3 minutes or until there are 3-5 seconds between pops. Be sure to listen for the popping to slow down. You can play around with flavorings by adding salt, Parmesan, or anything else to the bag you like.
Make fruit flavored water to go with the popcorn. Get creative. Add lemons, limes, oranges, or anything that strikes your fancy.
Load the floor with blankets and pillows and pile on for a fun (and cheap) family movie night.
Have a Field Day in Your Very Own Yard
Set up an obstacle course where you (and the kids) have to dodge trees (or sticks, or rocks, or cones — whatever you have). Jump from one spot to another or in and out of rings, if you have them.
Egg run. Make two lines at opposite ends of the yard and try to run from one to the other while balancing an egg on a spoon.
Set up a 3-legged race.
Have a water balloon toss.
See who can jump rope the longest without tripping.
Get creative – make prizes if you like, or reward everyone with popsicles or ice cream when you’re finished.
Family Art Day
Start with paints and paper. Make it a game by having each family member paint (or draw) something that starts with the letter “b.” Keep going with different letters of the alphabet.
Have each family member draw their version of a broad category. For example, draw a dog, or a tree, or a flower.
Ask little kids to paint or draw something and then describe to you what it is. Write their description, along with the date, on their artwork.
Choose one sample of each person’s work to hang in a place of prominence for the next week.
Create a Book.
Cut an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper in half, horizonally. Stack as many sheets together as you want and fold in half vertically. Either staple in the center, or punch two holes along the center line and run string or yarn through the holes to hold the pages together.
Have each person write and illustrate their stories on the pages. Younger children can draw pictures and dictate their stories for you to write in the books.
Create a Gratitude Journal.
Make a book as above, but have each family member write things they are thankful for on the pages. Each person can keep their books and continue to add to them.
Have an Indoor Picnic & Camp-out.
Turn your living room floor into a campground.
Begin by spreading out a tablecloth on the floor and eating dinner picnic-style. Focus on sandwiches and foods that can easily be eaten without utensils.
After dinner, clear away the picnic and set up a tent in the middle of the floor. Load it with sleeping bags and flashlights. Tell camp stories until it’s time to go to sleep.
Start an Indoor Garden.
Paint terracotta pots in various sizes with low-VOC paint in pretty colors, or consider using chalkboard paint so kids can update their designs.
Once the pots are dry, fill with organic potting soil and seeds you’ve pre-selected.
Water and put them in a sunny spot to watch them grow over the coming weeks.
Having fun doesn’t have to require a lot of money or a lot of wasted resources. What does your family do for green, cheap fun? I’d love to read about your ideas in the comments.