One of the best ways to build good, lasting family memories is to spend quality time together as a family. In many cases, this quality family time can be spent at home. A family night can be a great way to have a good time — and it is usually a good way to save money as well. You can enjoy your time together as part of a staycation, or make it a regular, weekly or monthly occurrence.

When many people think of frugal family fun at home, they think of board games and movie rental. However fun these ideas are, after a while they become a little stale. There are only so many times you can replace board games with more active games like Twister or Cranium, and only so many times watching your rented movie from inside a blanket tent to add a little adventure. Here are 5 fun and affordable ways to mix it up for family night:

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Creative Commons License photo credit: oooh.oooh

1. Family Sports

One of my favorite memories is of playing baseball in the backyard with my parents and siblings. I also have fond memories of playing basketball in the driveway with my father, grandpa and brothers. A little friendly competition can be a great way to have fun as a family — and get some healthy exercise. Other games that can be fun to play outside include tag, croquet, badminton, lacrosse and football.

2. Theme Night

Put together a theme night for the family. Everyone can dress up according to a theme, and you can even plan your dinner that night to work with the theme. Make it a point to learn about the theme as well. If you decide to focus on a specific country, learn about some of the customs associated with that country, and enjoy some of the cuisine. You can also have a medieval theme, a circus theme, superhero theme, or any other theme that you think might be fun and (possibly) educational.

3. Theater

There are a number of ways that you can enjoy a little theater at home. Create a puppet theater, or perform a funny play. You can also play charades, acting out different words, or scenes from popular TV shows and movies. You can take turns giving monologues out of character. For instance, perform a monologue from Hamlet in a silly voice, or turn a comic song from Into the Woods into a dirge.

You can also have contests that revolve around recitation. One of my favorite childhood memories of getting together with my extended family was the nursery rhyme contest: Everyone recites nursery rhymes in turn, with no duplicates. If you can’t think of one, you’re out. Last person standing wins.

4. Scavenger Hunt

Put together a scavenger hunt. You can have everyone try to find a certain number of items adhering to a theme, or you can send them on a chase through the house, following clues (with a fun reward or treat at the end). I like book scavenger hunts, in which you try to find something specific in books that are in the house. This is also a great way to encourage your children to read, and enjoy reading.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.