10 fun things to do on a shoestring this half-term

It can be really tough to think of affordable things to do during school holidays, especially if other families around you seem to be doing more exciting or expensive things. But even if you’re on a tight budget there are plenty of available options if you use a little imagination and plan ahead.

Have a picnic on the beach

Food always tastes better when it’s eaten outside, and the beach makes for a perfect sandwich-gobbling location. Pack some of your kids’ favourite treats and spend the day walking, playing games, building impressive moats and paddling – or simply eat your picnic in the car overlooking the waves if the weather isn’t on your side!

Get a cheap cinema deal

Cinemas often offer discounts for families if you’re willing to watch a film during off-peak hours. You may not get to watch the very latest film, but this is a fun and relatively cheap option for a rainy day, particularly if you take your own drinks and snacks along.

Head to your local leisure centre

Whether your family is into swimming, badminton or aerobics, it’s great to stay active together and learn some new sporty skills. It’s likely that your leisure centre will have offers on during the half-term break and it may also be hosting special family-friendly events, so check out the website or pop down to get the scoop.

Take a trip to the library

You may think this sounds like a dull and dusty idea, but libraries not only offer awe-inspiring books for your kids to browse and take home, but often provide entertainment sessions of their own. You might find that your library has special reading aloud events or puppet shows. Book signings and special guests may also prove popular with kids.

Enjoy the great outdoors

Most families enjoy getting out in the fresh air, so why not take advantage of your nearest national park or local woods? You could keep a photo diary of the wildlife you see during your ‘safari’, or find a fun way to get there without taking the car. Try a spot of orienteering or take some bubbles and a ball to keep everyone occupied.

Cook a meal together

It’s important to eat together as a family, but cooking together can be a really fun bonding experience  as well as an educational one. You can learn about different types of food and where they come from as you experiment with different flavour combinations. If you’re feeling super brave you could host a community meal, or if your culinary skills are lacking you could stick to something simpler, such as decorating cupcakes.

Broaden your minds

Interesting museums and heritage sites can really capture kids’ imaginations. Perhaps your family is really into space travel or dinosaurs or historical landmarks. If so, you could set a theme for your half-term and pack in as many relevant activities as possible. Many museums offer family discounts and special exhibitions, while some will provide extras such as craft sessions or face painting.

Visit a decent park

There are very few children who don’t appreciate a good park. It might be worth venturing further afield than your most regularly visited park as a special treat. Look for one with a big adventure playground, a skate park or a cycle trail, for example. An ice cream van is an added bonus!

Make crafty gifts

Head to your local craft store or pound shop and invest in some cheap items you can turn into wonderful gifts (or better still, gather free and natural products such as shells, leaves and feathers). Enjoy a creative afternoon at home together as you put together handmade cards and presents for family members, neighbours or those in need in your local community.

Check out a local festival

Festivals are often free to attend and can offer a broad range of activities, from free live music and food tasting to fairground rides. If the sun is shining and you love a carnival atmosphere, this can be a really fun way to spend a day. Don’t forget to wear comfy shoes, slap on the sunscreen and take some tissues!