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10 cheap holiday activities for children

This time of year is SO flipping expensive isn’t it?? Presents, Christmas dinner, days out, Santa visits, festive food and drink. You name it, you’ve got to buy it. Then you throw bored children into the mix. Finding cheap holiday activities for children can be hard going but it’s definitely possible. Here are my top 10.

1. Bake

I don’t know about yours, but my children love to bake. It’s something I don’t do enough with them during term time because we just can’t seem to find the time. So during Christmas holidays, we get stuck in.

This year, the girls will be helping me to bake our Christmas cake. Whilst the ingredients can be quite pricey, if you eat Christmas cake it’s definitely better to make it than buy it. It tastes so much better! I always make three cakes and give two away as Christmas presents, so that’s a bit of a saving on buying gifts for those people too.

2. Go for a bike ride

This may seem like more of a summer activity but as long as you wear the right clothing it can be a great activity for the winter holidays too. My eldest loves to cycle since learning on holiday in Scotland earlier this year. I take her to the park to ride as her bike is a bit heavy for her to steer, so I don’t want her to go on the pavement just yet. My youngest comes along too with her toddlebike.


3. Go to the park

I always find the park depressingly quiet during the Christmas holidays. It’s a free activity and the children still need to get outdoors, even in winter. I always take a cloth to wipe the equipment if it’s a bit damp and the children will happily spend at least an hour there running around and playing. Plus during the winter, they usually have the park to themselves!

4. Play hide and seek

We recently stayed with some friends who have children a lot older than our two. The girls all decided to play hide and seek together and they had a brilliant time. The older girls were able to think of better hiding places whilst my two little dots could sneak into the tiniest gaps. They also took great delight in jumping out on each other. Such a great game for everyone to join in with.

5. Play a board game

I have many fond memories of playing board games with my family. Which is odd really, because we didn’t actually do it that often. I think the reason I remember it is because there were no distractions. Just us sitting around the table and fighting over who was cheating enjoying each other’s company.

6. Watch a Christmas film

None of us really watch television much, but at this time of year things just get a bit more relaxed. We’re not so busy, I don’t have so much work to do and a Christmas movie is a great way to pass the time. I asked on my Facebook page for recommendations of Christmas films to watch this year and here are a few of the suggestions:

  • Elf
  • Love Actually (one for the older children I think!)
  • Santa Claus the Movie
  • Mrs Miracle
  • Muppets Christmas Carol
  • Polar Express
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • Rise of the Guardians (probably a bit scary for the tiny ones)

7. Visit a National Trust property

We buy an annual National Trust membership. A family membership costs £111 for the year and we have so many days out for that price. Wherever you are in the country, there is always a National Trust property to visit so we definitely get our money’s worth from it. At this time of year, there are always events going on at the properties which are free for members. They make for a lovely day out.

Thursday photo 116 - weekly update

8. Indoor camping

As a family, we love camping. But at this time of year, our tent has to be retired because it’s just too cold to sleep under canvas with small people. But that doesn’t stop the girls from wanting to camp – so we bring it indoors instead! The girls love camping in their bedroom in their teepee. This is occasionally overnight but usually they just put the teepee up and play in it with their toys. It’s a lovely way for them to pass an afternoon and it encourages imaginative play.

A review of a personalised children's teepee from Izabela Peters

9. Read a book

I read every day with the girls at bedtime. I also read Libby’s school books with her in the mornings. But at this time of year, it’s nice to tackle a slightly longer book that takes a bit more time and attention. Mine aren’t quite ready for full length versions of my favourites yet, so I’m going to have a look for an abridged version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to read.

10. Wrap presents

Every year, I end up wrapping gifts in a huge rush, usually late at night on Christmas eve. But actually, the girls would love to get involved. So this year I’m going to wrap the gifts with the girls. We’ll put on some Christmas music and they can each have a job to do. Of course, I’ll still end up wrapping their presents late at night on Christmas Eve, but at least everybody else’s gifts will be done.

10 cheap holiday activities for children. Many of these activities are free and they're all perfect for keeping children entertained during the Christmas holidays.

What do you do to keep the children entertained during the holidays? I’d love to hear your suggestions!



  1. December 19, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    Love this list. We love trips to the park, baking and playing board games and getting National Trust membership was one of the best things we did – it’s perfect for getting out and about and I love all the different trails that are available at this time of year too. Sitting and doing crafts together also works well for us during the holidays. Hope you and your girls have a lovely Christmas x

  2. December 23, 2016 / 8:02 pm

    Some excellent ideas here – baking is always my go-to activity for a bored 5 year old! x

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