free family fun
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Lots of people use occasional--or even regular--no-spend weekends as a way to get their spending under control or at least not to go over budget for the month and it's an absolutely effective tool. It may seem close to impossible if you have kids, though. They seem to need--or more often desperately want--something every time you turn around. It can be hard to say no, but sometimes that's exactly what's in order.

More from MamásLatinas: 12 Super fun activities for your summer family bucket list

With just a little bit of creativity and some old-school thinking there are actually plenty of things to do with your family on the weekends that are totally free or only involve the cost of items you probably already have on hand at home. I mean, realistically we all spend tons of money every year filling our homes with diversions that get tossed aside in a matter of weeks, if not days.

A no-spend weekend is the perfect time to take stock and figure out how you can use what you already own to have fun as a family. You might even try getting the whole family in on the planning to pique interest and get your kids excited to try something they're not used to doing. For example, you can assign each kid a weekend that they get to choose the activity or assign each child a different part of the planning process. Keep reading to find some ideas to get you started.

 

Play a new sport together. 1

Play a new sport together.

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Well, it doesn't have to be totally new, but if your kids play soccer or softball on a team, break out some of your family's less-used sports gear and play a different game together. While your children may love their organized sports, doing something different together as a family is always fun.

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Find a new trail to explore. 2

Find a new trail to explore.

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Getting outside to explore some new terrain is a great way to bond as a family without shelling out big bucks for a weekend getaway. Hop online and search for excellent hiking, biking, or walking trails close to your home and head outside for the day.

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Camp out in the living room. 3

Camp out in the living room.

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Turn your living room into a campsite for the weekend! If you don't have a tent, you can even use blankets and pillows to build a fort. Fill the tent with board games, books, and drawing supplies to enjoy together. At night, turn down the lights and watch a movie together, complete with freshly popped popcorn.

Go to story time. 4

Go to story time.

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Many libraries and bookstores host free story times on weekend mornings. They are often themed and involve some sort of learning activity and or craft, which make them ideal for kids of varying ages.

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Look for in-store workshops. 5

Look for in-store workshops.

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Many larger hardware and craft stores host monthly or even weekly free building or craft workshops for children. It's a fun way to learn how to do something new and bring something cool home without having to pay for anything. Just be sure to check online or call first, because some workshops require registration ahead of time.

Create a time capsule. 6

Create a time capsule.

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Have your kids each collect a few things that they feel represent this period in time, grab a box and create a time capsule. You can write letters discussing what you think the most important things people in the future should know about right now. Once your box is complete, bury it somewhere that has meaning to your family.

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Find a new playground. 7

Find a new playground.

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My kids are so excited every single time we check out a new playground. Pack a picnic and you could easily spend a few hours watching the kids play and enjoying a beautiful day without spending a dime.

Teach them a new game. 8

Teach them a new game.

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Dig all the way to the back of the closet and pull out that old set of dominoes or playing cards or that board game someone got as a gift a while back and never opened, and teach your kids how to play something new. Just yesterday, my son learned how to play checkers and he played for two hours!

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Stage your own photo shoot. 9

Stage your own photo shoot.

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These days, technology has made it totally possible to create your own professional-looking family photo shoot at home, even without a fancy camera. Get everyone dressed in coordinating outfits, pick a location and figure out the settings on your phone or digital camera and go for it. Just remember lighting is key and you'll probably have to take hundreds of pictures just to get a handful that are just right--even professionals do.

Reserve free museum passes. 10

Reserve free museum passes.

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Many local libraries have a variety of museum passes that members can check out free of charge. Check what your local library has available. If you live in a less populated area, you may be able to use the passes the same day, but if you live in or near a city you might have to reserve in advance.

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Color together! 11

Color together!

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My kids love coloring, but they really love when I sit down to color with them. And while they like their coloring books, they like it even more when I print a bunch of themed free coloring sheets out for them. For instance, you can print out coloring sheets based on the season or a holiday or a special event that's coming up and use the opportunity to spend quality time together, but to teach your kids more about a specific topic.

Put together a scavenger hunt. 12

Put together a scavenger hunt.

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You can plan an easy no-fuss indoor scavenger hunt for your kids in no time and at no cost. Just think of some items you know can be found around the house and send them out to search for them. Whoever wins can pick a movie for the family to watch, choose what's for dinner or get a chore pass, so you don't even have to spend money on a prize.

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You could even do an outdoor scavenger hunt. 13

You could even do an outdoor scavenger hunt.

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If the weather is nice enough, you can even take the scavenger hunt outdoors and have it double as a family walk. Have your kids search for things like a flower of a certain color, a leaf of a certain shape, a feather from a bird, etc.

Plan a new dinner using only what you have on hand. 14

Plan a new dinner using only what you have on hand.

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There's no need to go out to eat to try a new recipe. We bet if you dig around in your pantry and freezer and work together as a family, you can come up with a creative and completely new recipe using only ingredients you already have. This is a great way to express some creativity as well as to teach your kids how to avoid waste and to help them try new things.

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Get organized. 15

Get organized.

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You know those organizing and cleaning tasks you've been putting off? A no-spend weekend is the perfect time to tackle them. But the burden doesn't have to fall solely on mom. Cleaning out your closets and other storage spaces can actually be fun and productive for the entire family and it's a great way to teach your kids how to declutter and perhaps even encourage them to donate to those less fortunate.

Plan a vacation. 16

Plan a vacation.

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All that saving money is usually for a reason. Regular no-spend weekends are a great way to save up for things like family vacations, so why not take some time to start brainstorming for your next family adventure together. Gather everyone together and start thinking about destinations and activities. You can even rope older kids into a budgeting lesson while you plan.

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Learn origami together. 17

Learn origami together.

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One of the great benefits of a no-spend weekend is that it often means you have the time to explore potential new hobbies. Origami is a fun one that the whole family can try together and required almost no supplies. You can even use old scrap paper or magazine pages.

Create found object crafts. 18

Create found object crafts.

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Give your kids five or 10 minutes to run around the house and find objects they would like to use to create a craft then set them up with glue, paper, etc. and let them get creative. One of our favorite things to do is simple paper collages.

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Work out as a family. 19

Work out as a family.

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Teaching your kids how to exercise safely is a crucial part of instilling healthy habits in them and it doesn't cost a dime. Cue up some beginner workouts on YouTube, get everyone dressed appropriately and spend 30 minutes getting fit together.

Work together to write a story. 20

Work together to write a story.

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Gather the family together and sit down to write a creative story together. Come up with a topic and go around and take turns writing a paragraph each until your story comes to an end. If your children are too young to write, they can dictate to you.

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Do an informal cleanup. 21

Do an informal cleanup.

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Whether you walk around your own neighborhood, a local park, or beach, cleaning up parts of your community with your children is an excellent and worthwhile way to spend a couple hours of your no-spend weekend.

Find a volunteer opportunity. 22

Find a volunteer opportunity.

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Research volunteer opportunities in your area, such as working at a soup kitchen or food pantry, or helping out at a hospital or nursing home. Plan to spend the day giving back as a family.

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Have an old-school movie night. 23

Have an old-school movie night.

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Pick one of your favorite movie trilogies from your own childhood and have a mini movie marathon with your kids. If you don't own the films already, try checking them out of your local free public library.

Or, have an all-day TV show marathon. 24

Or, have an all-day TV show marathon.

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Cuddle up with plenty of snacks and use your no-spend weekend as an opportunity to introduce your kids--and maybe even your spouse--to your favorite classic TV show. For me, it would be The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I Love Lucy--both best watched in marathon form!

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Build a bonfire. 25

Build a bonfire.

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Have your kids help you gather some sticks and logs from your yard or around the neighborhood and teach them how to safely build a fire. Then, roast hot dogs or marshmallows to enjoy together!

Have a dance party. 26

Have a dance party.

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My kids absolutely love when I turn up the tunes and bust out some moves alongside them. It gives them the chance to get tons of energy out and it's a great bonding experience that requires no prep and no spending.

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Invite friends over for a potluck. 27

Invite friends over for a potluck.

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You have to eat and if you have a potluck and you're only responsible for preparing one dish and providing your home as the space, having friends over for a meal doesn't have to cost you anything extra.

Finally redecorate! 28

Finally redecorate!

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You don't necessarily have to buy new things to redecorate rooms in your home. Sometimes, just moving some things around can make a world of a difference. Make it fun for your kids by allowing them some input into how and where you place furniture and decor items or even recruit them to create some art for their own rooms.

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Go shopping for free. 29

Go shopping for free.

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If you or your children have been in the market for anything, but simply don't have the budget for it, you can use a few hours of your no-spend weekend to search for them for free online. These days there are tons buy/sell sites and social media groups to peruse for exactly what you're looking for.

Hit up yard sales for freebies. 30

Hit up yard sales for freebies.

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If you're keen to get out of the house, try scoping out your neighborhood for yard sales. We all know at the end of the day, most people end up giving stuff away for free at yard sales. Some even start out with a few boxes of free stuff for the taking. We've found lots of books, DVDs, and kids toys this way, and your children are sure to love perusing everything to find a gem.

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Pin It! 31

Pin It!

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