Making time for family fun can be a challenge. With busy schedules and budgets, it isn’t always feasible to take your whole crew to the movie theater, amusement park, or on vacation. But while children certainly enjoy special outings, they really just want to spend quality time with you—and quality time doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. In fact, you don’t have to spend a dime or even leave your home to make great memories with your kids.
In this blog, we’re sharing eight affordable and fun at-home family activities that children of all ages (and parents) will enjoy! But first, let’s look at why family time is so important.
What Are the Benefits of Spending Time with Family?
Children who consistently spend quality time with their families benefit emotionally and academically. Here are just a few ways that frequent, intentional family time makes a difference in a child’s life:
- Improves mental health
- Boosts feelings of belongingness and self-esteem
- Reduces behavioral issues
- Increases academic performance
- Strengthens bond with family members
- Encourages open communication
Now, you certainly don’t have to plan a special activity every night (or even every week) to reap these benefits. Just taking the time to eat dinner, play, and engage in conversations with your kids daily counts for something! But there may also be days where you’ll want to break away from the norm and plan something a bit more exciting. That’s when the following ideas will come in handy!
8 Fun At-Home Family Activities Your Kids Will Love
Is playing the same assortment of board games getting old? Liven up your time together with these eight fun at-home family activities!
1) Indoor Camping
Do your kids love to go camping? You don’t have to load up all of your gear and trek into the wilderness to have an exciting camp experience as a family. Grab your lanterns and sleeping bags and set up a tent in the living room. Then, make some s’mores in the oven, get the fireplace going (or find a cozy campfire video on the internet to play), and take turns telling campfire stories.
If the weather allows, go outside and look for constellations in your PJs. When everyone’s all tuckered out, head back inside and snuggle up in your sleeping bags for the evening. If you want to add an extra touch to make the experience seem more authentic, play some relaxing nature sounds on your phone while you sleep.
2) Cupcake Bake-Off
If your kiddos enjoy baking and some friendly competition, then they’ll love competing in a cupcake bake-off! Split into two teams, and explain that each team must find a cupcake recipe using ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Once each team determines what type of cupcake they want to make, put an hour on the clock (or more if needed).
You can even invite grandparents, friends, or a neighbor in on the fun and serve as judges for the competition. Tip: Make sure that your pantry is stocked with baking supplies if you plan to do this activity. No one wants to eat cupcakes made from miscellaneous, old pantry items.
3) Treasure Hunt
Channel your inner pirate and create a fun indoor treasure hunt for your kids! Go to the dollar store and get a few items that your kids will enjoy (ex: candies, small toys, stickers). If you want to do this activity for free, go around the house and sneakily “borrow” a beloved item from each of your kids. Then, find a small empty box to store the items in. Hide the box somewhere in your home that your kids won’t find too easily.
Once your treasure is hidden, create five to ten clues on pieces of paper that you can also hide around your house. Each card should lead your little pirates to another location that contains a hidden clue card. The last clue card should lead them to the treasure!
If you have bandanas, be sure to put one on and use lots of pirate-isms like “arg, ya land lover!” and “aye, aye captain!” to get into character.
4) At-Home Movie Theater
Going to see a movie with family is always a fun time, but between ticket prices and the cost of concession snacks these days, a night at the cinema can add up pretty quickly. While watching movies together on the couch is a good alternative, it doesn’t quite have the same effect.
Fortunately, there are several ways that you can add some pizzazz to your home movie nights! Here are just a few ideas:
- Pick a movie as a family then assign a character for everyone to dress up as
- Print out tickets and formally invite each family member to attend (even extended ones)
- Make homemade popcorn on the stove or in a machine if you happen to have one, then let everyone choose their own toppings like spices, chocolate chips, or just classic butter
- Go to the store and let everyone pick out one special treat or candy for the movie
- Set up a projector and hang a large sheet on the side of your house for a drive-in movie
- Make a big blanket fort and watch a movie on a laptop or tablet inside it
5) Flashlight Hide-and-Seek
Do you have little ones who always want to play hide-and-seek? Make the game a bit more fun and challenging by hiding in the dark! Give everyone a glow stick necklace or bracelet and turn off the lights (except maybe a few nightlights for safety). If you have very young children playing, pair them with an older sibling or parent to keep them comfortable.
The seeker should slowly count to 30, then go around with a flashlight to find everyone else. Once everyone is located, the first one to get caught becomes the new seeker. If your kids are older, you can even play this game outside at night. Just be sure to stay in your backyard or in a safe, contained space.
6) Karaoke Dance Party
A karaoke dance party is the perfect activity for families full of singers and performers! You don’t even have to have a karaoke machine to make a memorable evening. Just get a faux microphone toy from a party store (or use a random item from around the house), hang up some string lights to set the mood, and have everyone dress up like their favorite musician.
Each family member can perform a song of their choice solo or choose to combine their talents. Have one parent be the designated DJ for the evening, and kids can request songs for a dance party. You can even have a dance-off competition to see who busts the best moves!
7) Pizza Party
Why order pizza when you can have much more fun making your own?
For an easy and exciting dinner this week, let everyone in the family create their own personal pizzas! Go to the grocery store beforehand and grab some pre-made pizza dough, shredded mozzarella cheese (or other cheese varieties if you’re feeling adventurous), pizza sauce, and lots of toppings like veggies, pepperoni, and maybe even some pineapple.
On pizza night, put out all of the ingredient options and give everyone their own baking tray. Then, play some Italian music and let the pizza making begin! You may need to take turns baking each pie if they can’t all fit in the oven at the same time. Additionally, if your kids are willing to share, you can all swap slices so that everyone can try each other’s creations!
8) Tie-Dye Extravaganza
If your kids enjoy tie-dye, art, or just making messes, then this family activity is sure to be a hit!
Ask everyone to gather a few light-colored belongings that they want to tie dye such as shirts, sheets, pairs of socks, and pillow cases. Then, go to a local craft store to pick up some dyes, rubber bands, gloves, and squirt bottles. Many stores even sell convenient tie-dye kits with everything you need.
Once you have all of your supplies, set up a tarp in the backyard or garage, and get tie-dying! There are plenty of how-to guides and videos online that show different patterns and techniques. Once you’re all finished, find a good spot to let the dyed articles dry. After a day or two, get everyone together again to reveal your colorful masterpieces!
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make great memories with your family. With a little creativity and intentionality, you can create unforgettable experiences in your own home. Comment below to let us know which of these fun at-home family activities you’re excited to try, or let us know if you have another idea to share!