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Cheap ideas to entertain the kids these holidays

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We’re nearly three weeks in to school holidays, and the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s has passed. For those with kids at home during the break, it can be a long haul, and it’s easy to plonk them in front of the tv/iPad/other electronic device to fend off the cries of, ‘I’m bored!’

Here are some great cheap ideas for ways to entertain the kids, or for them to entertain themselves, these school holidays.

Get Crafty

Start a Recycled Craft Box where you can store everyday items you use in your house, such as clean boxes, packets, leftover paper, artworks from school, old wrapping paper and cards, boxes, cardboard, envelopes, ribbons, buttons and bows, as well as things you’ve found in nature, like fallen leaves, or gumnuts.

You can reuse just about anything to make craft, costumes and even their own games. Have a smaller box in it, which has the sticky tape, glue (make your own), bits and bobs, scissors, so you have all the things you need on hand.

shutterstock_173383925: Little boy making artworks on art lesson at kindergarten

Happy Everything

The kids have fun, and you have a stack of handmade birthday and special occasion cards at the ready. Use scrap paper, cardboard, recycled ribbon, sequins or other items from their recycled craft box. Decorating cards with crochet flowers or sewn pieces is unusual too.

Check out your local markets, op shops or sewing box for remnants. Keep cards that you or your kids have received, cut off the front or any designs on them, to make collages or cut out designs to put on the front of their handmade cards.

Get into life

The ACT Government’s Good Habits For Life website has some fantastic free resources aimed at getting the whole family moving ‘into life’ – after some festive excess, there’s never been a better time! There are ‘hunts’ aimed at making neighbourhood walks fun, games to play inside and outside, ‘roll and move’ games, and even activities that can be done with a picnic blanket! Need to know some good picnic spots? Check out 10 of our favourites.

Or just go for a walk! Here are five of the best around town.


Countdown to Christmas

Ok, so we’ve only just got through one, but you know it will be here before you know it! While the remnants of this year’s celebrations are still littering the house, get your Christmas decorations, wrapping paper or cards started with the kids help. Make wrapping paper, using recycled paper or scrap paper, paint, recycled foil, potato stamps etc.

Make recycled gift tags from last years’ Christmas cards, by cutting out 3 layers of their chosen shape, and loosely tying them together with recycled ribbon, string or raffia.Perhaps the kids want to give gifts of homemade jams or cordials, potted plants, recycled photo frames or homemade toiletries.

Have a Nature Treasure Hunt

In a small box, bowl or egg carton, send the kids out to collect gum nuts, leaves, shells, bits of Australian nature (without disturbing the flora and fauna, of course) and make collages or dioramas, play games with the pieces, or arrange them in a seasonal display.

Not Sew Bored

Teach your kids to sew using beginners cross stitch or sewing cards. Help them to make softies, dolls, monsters or teddies using recycled materials, from op shops, markets or preloved clothes you have. Kids can be fast learners for crochet or knitting, some may have even learnt at school and can teach you.

Try making recycled wool by pulling apart old or unused items, or try op shops for yarn, where they often have knitting needles or crochet hooks. Perhaps try ‘finger knitting’, or French knitting, also known as spool knitting.

Girl knitting - image from Shutterstock.com

Dressed to the Nines

Create a Dress Up bag or box, if you don’t have one already. Fill it up with your old clothes, hats and glasses, find groovy fancy dress items at second hand places, ask Grandma and Grandpa what fun things they may have in the back of the cupboard to wash and add to the bag. You could have some kid’s beads and ‘jewellery’ in there, some scarves and magical fairy things… all they need is their imagination!

Places Please

Help the kids put on plays, discos or just dress up for a ‘party’, using the dress up bag and craft box. Have music to go along with it, and get them involved based on whatever is suitable, from colouring in the ‘set’ or painting the scenery, to making the characters or deciding on the ‘plot’!

My kids like to create invitations, tickets, name tags etc. as part of their game. They also love making books, with pieces of scrap paper stapled together, and every page illustrated and full of imagination!

Get Outdoors

Gardening is a great way to get kids outdoors, learn about nature and produce edible results, even if it is just containers of herbs and cherry tomatoes. The holidays are a great time to enjoy Canberra’s Nature Reserves and parks, like the gorgeous and educational walk at The Sanctuary at Tidbinbilla and the Nature Discovery Playground there too. You might also like to check out some of the great playgrounds around town.

Family in the garden by shutterstock.com

Cook up a Storm

Cooking with kids can be an educational and fun event, plus they get to eat the results for afternoon tea. Preparation is the key to minimising mess and stress! There are plenty of no-bake recipes available too, or just get to the local farmers markets to make in season snacks, and baked goods, to feed themselves during the holidays. The ambitious kids might plan a dinner they can cook for the family one night, or have a ‘bake sale’ in their neighbourhood, to raise money for a charity or to buy supplies for their handmade Christmas presents! Read more about how to get your child cooking at any age.

Creative Beauty

Making their own toiletries and beauty packs for gifts is a project especially good for older kids. Just as they can do cooking, they can help decide on fragrances or essential oils to add, stir things together, help spoon ingredients into glass jars, make labels and tie on ribbons etc. Use sterilised old glass jars, with small sized baby food jars being good, if you have some or know someone who does! There are loads of ‘natural’ recipes available online.

Images from www.shutterstock.com: Little Boy making artworks, young girl knitting, family in the garden.

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