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7 (Cost Effective) Winter Break Activities For Families

Winter break is coming! I have good intentions of spending quality time with my teens over the long break from school, but it can be hard to find activities we all enjoy. It’s so easy to lounge around the house and enjoy the down time, but having too many days at home with nothing planned gets old fast. We start getting irritated and restless with each other— a clear sign we need to find some fun holiday break activities, and fast!

Cheap Winter Break Activities

If you’re also looking for some ideas for winter break that are small on budget but big on fun, here are a few family activities to try when everyone starts getting stir crazy:

1. Teach your teen how to make that meal they love.

Have your teen choose one of their favorite meals and teach them how to make it. It’s a fun win-win experience, because you’ll have a new cook in the family and your teen will have a new recipe to add to the repertoire of boxed mac and cheese and frozen pizza.

2. Go on a bakery hop.

Map out the bakeries in your area and make a plan to visit a few of them, buying a delicious treat at each stop. Take your treats home or deliver them to an elderly neighbor or grandparent. Get up early and go in your pajamas for a silly, memorable morning!

3. Redecorate a room.

Change things up by redecorating one of the rooms in your house. Maybe your family room needs sprucing up or your teenager has been begging to update the basement. Pick a room everyone in the family uses, move the furniture around, see what you can score for free from Nextdoor or Freecycle, swap out old décor for a few new accessories and enjoy the new space you’ve created together.

4. Be a tourist in your town.

Where do you tell visitors to go in your town? Have your kids research your city’s most popular tourist spots and come up with a list of things they’d like to do. It’s amazing what experiences you can find in your own backyard! Make a day of it and enjoy your hometown in an entirely new way.

5. Enjoy the holiday lights.

Remember when the kids were little and you’d go on a drive to see the holiday lights? There’s no reason not to do it again, even if they’re nearly old enough to drive themselves! Many towns post a list of notable holiday light displays, so put the teens to work researching where to go! Then pack a bag of your favorite cookies, hit the local coffee shop for hot chocolate, crank up the holiday music, and enjoy the lights as a family.

6. Create a family bucket list

Are your kids bored and whining there’s nothing to do? Tell them to make a list of everything—big and small—they want to do in their lifetime. Then as a family, sit down and brainstorm the ultimate family bucket list. Discuss the different places you want to go and all of things you want to experience together as a family. Then pick one thing from your family list and get to work planning it! Put the kids to work: have them identify the steps involved to plan the trip and then set up a timeline to make it become a reality in the new year.

7. Take a walk down memory lane.

Instead of digging out the kids’ childhood videos and picture albums, pull out your own. Go through those boxes of old (and sometimes embarrassing) memorabilia and share the highlights of your youth with your kids. Find pictures from your middle school and high school years and compare fashions and hair styles. Your kids will be amazed at how young you look. (And so will you!)

Christine Carter writes about motherhood and parenting, health and wellness, marriage, friendship, and faith. You can find her work on her blog,, and several online publications. She is the author of Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” And Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. 

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