School holiday activities that don’t break the bank- Winter Edition

Does the looming winter holiday immediately strike panic or fear within you? I have been in charge of my fair share of school holidays as head programme director for my household, so I know how tough it can be as you wrestle with the need of getting the kids out and about vs. the instinct to stay and huddle where it is warm and cosy. Never fear! I am here to help by sharing with you my affordable ideas for the next time you are stuck indoors or need motivation to head out when the weather is anything less than wonderful with the kids in tow.

These ideas are with the adult and child in mind, we are a predominantly indoor family as my favourite hobbies include reading, watching movies and volunteering at my local theatre but I still love connecting to and being in nature and I think it’s important to have this balance. So, whether your family is of the outdoorsy or of the indoor variety, you will benefit from these activities as much as your kids and to me, this is win-win.

So, let’s go, my top ideas for surviving and thriving any dreary holiday period!

Tip #1 Get out first thing in the morning.

If you are planning to do anything in the day, there is no time better than the morning. School holidays can be a drain on energy and staying at home in the morning compounds this feeling, I feel generally unproductive, therefore I like to dedicate the morning to the kids as it sets up the day nicely. It doesn’t matter if we are actually doing an activity, meeting friends, going for a walk around the block or just doing errands, as long as you get dressed and out the door, you will feel like you are winning. 

Organise whatever you are doing so that you are done by lunchtime, so you are home to eat and then you can structure your afternoon however you like it, we tend to stick to the same afternoon routine that we have after school, so once lunch is done, a home activity or free time can be done until 3pm and then after 3pm is as usual.

Tip #2 Start a park crawl.

It sounds like a pub crawl, but it’s not all done on the same day and is a much more wholesome destination and activity (not to mention cheaper)! This activity is perfect for the autumn and winter school holidays as the changing colours of the landscape are awesome to see and makes for a great learning opportunity for the kids. Here in New Zealand we are blessed with not only multiple parks from botanic gardens to skateparks in our towns and cities but also abundant coastlines, lakes, bushwalks and district council walkways/bike paths, so take advantage of these great free resources.

So, what exactly is a park crawl? Well it’s when you pick four or five parks or reserves and try and go to each of them within the holiday period. It’s fun, it’s educational and apart from fuel, it’s free! Pack up the scooters or bikes or don your walking shoes, pack the picnic up and make memories- but don’t forget your jacket! 

Tip #3 Spice it up.

My top tip for getting the party started especially if the kids are not keen to go on ‘another of mums boring walks’, is to download a scavenger hunt from Pinterest, appropriate for the area and get the kids involved! There are also some awesome school holiday bingo boards on Pinterest which can give you great ideas for making the morning activities fun for all and have willing participants.

Tip #4 Cheap entertainment

I love going to the movies and I especially love the treat of taking my daughter and niece in the school holidays to see the latest kid flick, but- my wallet does not as last time I went it cost me over $70. However, I have discovered some alternative forms of entertainment which spread the budget a bit further and are just as fun for the whole family;

  • Minigolf, $5 per person if you find a 9 hole course, that means the smallest one’s don’t get bored too quickly and you have money for ice cream afterwards.
  • In-home movies, $20 to buy or $8 to rent a movie on Apple TV (or free if you have Netflix or Disney+) plus snacks. Shut all the curtains, make a pillow fort and snuggle up with a blanket and relax!
  • The Arcade, $20 for 100 tokens at our local and we usually get about an hour of stimulating entertainment. I personally love the arcade and have a great time, if you don’t have one in your town, then you could create your own games day at home.
  • Lego, I save all the instruction manuals and then get the Lego out and have a weekend or week of building the sets all over again. Also our local library has sets you can borrow and do at the venue which is a great alternative if you don’t want the headache of a week of Lego mess!
  • Baking. Go the full hog and bake and decorate something with the kids from scratch or get a box of mix from the supermarket and get it done in no time at all. Usually under $10, and the result is delicious.
  • Craft day. Get the craft supplies out and go crazy or be like me and use this one as a cheat activity. I like to take my daughter to Kmart and spend $8 or thereabouts on a craft activity that does not require my intervention (that’s the rule) and she decorates something like a plaster of Paris butterfly and I get to, well complete a chore without interruption.

What are your affordable kid and parent friendly activities that are weather friendly?

Tip #5 Pre-plan/Set a budget 

Go into it with a plan and set a budget. Nothing is cheap these days with the cost of living and fuel prices forever rising so researching these activities in advance and spacing them out is wise. Last holidays I set a budget of $100 for the entire holiday and went to the movie theatre and that was it as I budgeted but didn’t plan.

I find that kids love routine and like to know what to expect so if you set a budget, do the research and make the itinerary (go on, geek out) you will be armed with the power of intention going into a holiday period, and this my friend is as much peace as a parent can get- controlling only what we can control.

Let me know if this works for you and your family, we are a family of three but often have a friend or cousin in the mix, bringing us up to four, but I’m curious how it works for a family of five or six? 

Stay warm and sane everyone 😊



Emily Gee

Hi I’m Emily and I’m your typical, everyday kiwi girl that is trying to get better at all the things. From decluttering to handling finances and everything in between, I’m your gal, here to break it down and ask the questions to make your life easier.