5 Low-to-No-Cost, Fun, Indoors Family Nights In

Meg Buchanan

Ahh, the eternal struggle – everyone is bored, nobody wants to color, and the kids are whining about it, too! (See what I did there?) Whether you’re babysitting, aunting/uncling, parenting/grandparenting, or any other -ing regarding children, there’s always some time (usually after the holidays) where you’re broke as a joke and in need of a distraction. Fear not, I’m here with some cheap options for your night in!

Classic Game Night!

Look, I know it’s kinda lame, but some of my favorite memories are playing Scrabble and Monopoly with my family. In fact, I am a bit of a Monopoly addict and have a collection of Monopoly games from an Atlanta-themed knock off to a Pirates of the Caribbean version! I’ve admittedly spent the last 20 years searching the finest clearance aisles to create this collection, but even something as simple as Uno can turn it to a good night! Only have a deck of cards? Go Fish, War, BS, and SlapJack are all easy to pick up and accessible to all ages.

Cookie Decorating!

“But Meg!” you’re saying, “That means I have to make cookies! And icing! And roll dough!” Au contraire, mon frère, there is a MUCH easier way to do this! Just before Christmas, we hung out with some of our favorite kids but had both worked long days and were already tired thinking about a trip to see family. I stopped at Target and got the following: Pillsbury break and bake sugar cookies, Betty Crocker icing tubs, large container of multi-colored sprinkles. We popped those suckers in the oven and went to town – I’ve done homemadehome made cookies and icing with these same kids and they had just as much fun with the store-bought stuff! Even better? The cleanup was a breeze and also kid doable!

Improv Games!

Yeah, I know, you have all the jokes about college improv troupes, but some of those games are actually pretty great party games, especially with kids! Zip Zap Zop, I’m Going on a Picnic, Progressive Storytelling, Alphabet Circle… all take good energy and creativity, things that kids aren’t in short supply of. I’ve played I’m Going on a Picnic with ages 5-15 with stellar results and a quick google of “improv games” will lead you down an endless list! Bonus? No cleanup necessary.

DIY Art Night!

Hitting up one of those places where you get a canvas, some paint, and a glass of wine can be a bit pricey - $35/person if you’re lucky! I vote you head to the arts and crafts aisle at your local Marshall’s/Ross type store and pick up a small set of flat canvases for about $8. If they have it, you can usually get a few paint colors for a couple bucks each, so you’re at $15? $20 left. Get yourself a bottle of Bogle for $10, pick up a fancy frozen pizza for $10. Bam. Date night and/or night in with the kids! Find an easy picture around the house or on the internet (Mickey Mouse ears, anyone?) and have at it.

Good Old-Fashioned Movie Night!

I’m a sucker for a good movie, and there are SO many of them. Grab some popcorn (Jiffy Pop, anyone?), treat yourself to a name brand soda and some Whoppers, and pop in a family favorite. No talking, no phones, no tablets, just everyone piled in the TV room or in the bed snacking and watching and enjoying together. Kids always argue about which movie is their favorite? Pick one from your childhood; just don’t tell them that the dogs in All Dogs Go To Heaven are in an opium den.

Maybe these sound like your kids will think they’re lame, but in spite of themselves, these have been hits with even the teenagers in my life. They’re also flexible enough that you can invite friends over or do it for a big family night during the holidays! So off with you – go forth and have fun!