School holidays are great opportunities for family fun. Living off the smell of an oily rag is as much about fun as it is frugality so we thought we would look at ways to have fun with the kids without high cost.
Take a hike!
Encourage the family to appreciate nature. Most cities have a number of bush walks. Make an adventure out of climbing local landmarks. Add some fun by taking a historical mystery tour of the city or town.
Take a tour of local businesses
Some of the larger businesses and arty crafty places offer free tours, either as information service tours or in the hope that you will buy stuff while you are there. Other places to visit may include: vineyards, a dairy farm, stables, a chicken farm, the local dog pound, a paint-and-panel shop, the waste-water treatment station, a local council meeting, the airport.
Hire a DVD
Renting a DVD is much cheaper than taking the family to the movies. A recent release's hire costs half the price of a single admission ticket to a film and, what's more, usually you can have it for a number of days. This gives you the chance to swap DVDs with your friends or invite a group around for a BYO in-house movie evening. Cook up popcorn or caramel corn, or chocolate-dip some icecreams for something special, dim the lights, and action!
Try backyard camping
Pitch a tent on the lawn, have a campfire, open a can of baked beans and sausages, and toast bread over the fire. Even better, when nature calls you will have the convenience of using your own loo, and if the weather turns bad you can shelter in the house! Now that's camping without inconvenience.
One nameless oily rag family recalls loading up their camper van and setting off on a grand adventure. They drove around the block only to park back in their own driveway and camp the night. The kids still recall it as one of their most memorable holidays.
Have a games evening
Board games are great family fun and are cheap to buy at garage sales or, better still, cost nothing if borrowed from friends. Lots of games are educational and fun, so they're a win-win. Set aside one evening as a regular games night?
Eat at a buffet
If you do want a cheap meal out with teenagers (who happen to eat more than an adult) take them to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Remember to tell them this is the only meal they'll get this week! Imagine the look on the proprietor's face if you were to turn up with a swag of hungry teenagers!
How about giving a day to volunteer work
There is no end of charities doing good work that would welcome some assistance for a day.
Visit your local library
Not only are there lots of books there but many have interesting activities hosted by interesting people. Our library in Whangarei has some fantastic activities that are greatly enjoyed by our grandkids (and their grandparents).
Let the kids decide
The Ministry of Education website has lots of ideas, including this one: get your kids to write out a couple of ideas for things to do in the holidays and put them in a jar. Each day pull one out to do. These could be inexpensive activities, such as cooking or inviting a friend over for an afternoon.
Another suggestion is to have your kids find some music and make up a dance, or find a favourite story and make up a play. Maybe they can invite some family or friends over for the performance.
Do you have a favourite winter tip you would like to share with readers? Send it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz or write to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.
Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ.