Frugal Spring Break Activities

Spring break is almost upon us. Ahhh, the warm sun, the wind in your hair, the cool sand under your feet, I can almost taste the salt water. Too bad I don’t live next to the beach! No, the frugal family will be spending this spring break vacation at home. For us, it doesn’t make sense to shell out for a big vacation when we are working to become debt free. Hopefully, by this time next year we’ll be able to celebrate with a debt free vacation paid for in cash! Until then, we’ll be thinking up some activities to keep the kids occupied during the week-long spring break from school.

Here are a few ideas we came up with:

young chefMonday: Cooking Classes. What kid doesn’t enjoy cooking things from scratch? Spend the weekend brainstorming some ideas and gathering recipes and ingredients. Pick up some used aprons and let the kids decorate them with decorative glue and bedazzles (my daughter claims these are fun). If you really want to impress us frugal dads bake a goodie or two from our favorites list and surprise us when we get home from work.

popcornTuesday: Matinée Movie Day. Time to get in your pajamas, drag out the sleeping bags and hunt down your favorite movie. If you need a broader selection of movies, check out your local library. Many libraries have a great collection of classics, and a few newer releases as well. Our family loves to gather around a movie on Friday nights with some homemade popcorn. It is even more fun in the middle of a weekday! If you decide to hit the movie theaters, call around first. Many theater chains offer $1 movie matinées when the kids are out of school.

jigsaw puzzleWednesday: Giant Puzzle Day. When I was in elementary school I had to have my leg in a cast for several weeks. I rode the bus home and my grandmother met me at our house to help with a giant jigsaw puzzle. It was just about the only activity I felt like doing after a day of school on crutches. I looked forward to spending time with her every afternoon as we solved that puzzle. Consider picking up a puzzle that can be accomplished in a half a day or so (anything longer and the kids will lose interest). When you have solved the giant jigsaw use puzzle glue to hold it together and pick up an inexpensive matching frame. Hang the new masterpiece in a kid’s room to remind them of the fun way you spent your spring break.

child drawingThursday: Make a “Mini-Me.” Our school’s girl scout troop did this around the first of the school year, and I thought it was so much fun we are planning to duplicate it over spring break. The only supplies you will need to buy is a small roll of butcher paper (unless you just happen to have some at home). Check discount/outlet paper stores or party supply stores for the paper. For younger kids you may be able to substitute a piece of poster board, or large construction paper. Round up all the crayons, pencils and markers in the house. Roll out the butcher paper and have each child lay down on directly on the paper. Take care not to slide around too much or you will wrinkle the paper. Have a parent, or a brother or sister, trace all the way around the child to create a complete outline – head to toe. Next, using crayons and markers try to decorate your “mini-me” drawing with matching clothes and cut out your finished product. Tape it to the back of your kids door, or on a closet door as a fun reminder. The drawing also serves as a measuring stick to compare your child’s height over time.

touristsFriday: Pretend You are a Tourist (in your own town). It is always amazing how much you can find to do if you just look in your own backyard. Sure, it’s fun to load up the SUV and drive a couple hundred miles to put distance between you and the distractions of home. However, if you are trying to get out of debt or build an emergency fund, taking a trip requires associated travel expenses, hotel stays, and expensive meals at restaurants. Contact your local visitor’s center and ask about area attractions, or stop by and pick up some brochures. Chances are there are plenty of museums, landmarks and parks all within a short drive of your home. It is also likely you have yet to visit them all (I’m guilty of this myself).

raking leavesSaturday: Put the Kids on Commission. After being inside all week Saturday mornings are a great time to teach your kids the value of a day’s work (or a half-day). I don’t believe in allowances, so my kids are on commission. If they work, they get paid. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid. I know, what a concept. Getting the same allowance every week whether or not you do anything to earn it sounds too much like welfare to me, and I don’t want my kids expecting that every week. Find some safe, age-appropriate chores for the kids to do around the house such as raking leaves, watering plants, dusting furniture, vacuuming, or washing the family vehicle. Teenagers can do things like mow the lawn or help with landscaping chores such as mulching flower beds or putting down new sod. Schedule these kinds of projects around a spring break and make it a family affair. You’ll get some extra help, and your kids will earn a little pocket money.

What are your plans for spring break this year?

Image Credit: markymarko, plindberg, Bob Jagendorf, terren in Virginia


  1. Wow! This is really amazing. My wife and I were really down last week because our best friends are heading to Florida for spring break. We are in a growing phase in our business so there is no way we are going to be able to go anywhere this week. My wife and I were putting together a Spring Break theme for our money blog. Your kids really don’t care about where they are – they just want to be with you.Very good stuff.

    Thanks, Matt Sullivan, CEO of Credit Dusters

  2. And I bet your kids will treasure these memories so much more than getting sunburned on the beach or waiting in a hot, sweaty line at an amusement park!

  3. Wow! Those are such excellent ideas! I think I will be adding a few of these to our spring plans. Thanks so much for sharing these!

  4. C-U-T-E! Esp the “giant puzzle” one. Anything that uses the brain without thinking too much is okay with me for down-time 🙂

    Looking forward to your take on that Money Mag. article too.

  5. Great ideas! We just finished up spring break and I can attest that these work. It sounds a lot like how my family spent the break. My wife and I also just took our first ever debt-free vacation. It was awesome!

  6. I think we may just be going right off your list because those are some great ideas, thanks.

  7. Great ideas! I always loved cooking as a child. I can’t wait till my daughter gets older and we can do activities like this together.