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School holiday fun and frugality

School holidays are a great opportunity for family fun time. Living off the smell of an oily rag is as much about fun as it is about frugality so we thought we would have a look at ways to have fun with the grandkids without high cost.

Here are some tips:

  • Go take a hike! Take the family on bush walks and encourage them to appreciate nature. Most cities have a number of bush walks. Make an adventure by climbing local landmarks (like the town clock tower, if you have one!). Why not add some fun by having a historical mystery tour of the city or town.
  • Take a tour of local businesses. Some of the larger businesses and arty-crafty-type places have free tours, either as an information service, or in the hope that you will buy stuff while you are there. Other places to visit could include a local vineyard, a dairy farm, horse stables, a chicken farm, the local dog pound, a paint and panel shop, the council’s waste water treatment station(!), a council meeting, the airport.
  • Hiring a video is much cheaper than taking the family to the movies. A recent release hire costs half the price of a single admission ticket to the movies, and what’s more you can usually have it for a few days. This gives you the chance to swap videos with your friends and invite a group around for a BYO in-house movie theater evening. Cook up some popcorn, make caramel corn or chocolate-coated ice creams for something special, dim the lights … and action!
  • Try back-yard camping. Pitch a tent on the lawn, have a campfire, open up a can of baked beans and sausages, and toast bread over an open fire. And what’s even better when nature calls you will have the convenience of using your own loo and if the weather turns bad you can shelter in the house! Now that’s camping without inconvenience. One oily rag family recalls they loaded up their camper van and set off on a grand adventure. They drove around the block, only to park back in their own driveway and camp the night. The kids still recall it as one of the most memorable holidays they ever went on.
  • Have a games evening. Board games are great family fun and they are so cheap to buy at garage sales, or better still, cost nothing when borrowed from friends. There are lots of games that are educational and fun, so it’s a win-win. Why not set aside a games evening every week or so?
  • If you do want to have a meal out with voracious teenagers (who happen to eat more than an adult) take them to an all-you-can-eat buffet. And don’t forget to tell them that this is the only meal they are going to get this week! Imagine the look on the proprietor’s face if you were to turn up with a bus-load of hungry teenagers!
  • How about giving a day to volunteer work. There’s no end of charities doing good work in the community that would welcome some helping hands for the day.
  • Spend an afternoon in court! As unusual as it may seem, the courthouse is actually a very entertaining place to visit.  The process is an eye opener to young minds as they listen to the proceedings and watch participants take part in a real-life drama.

What do you do to entertain and educate the grandkids during school holidays?


By Frank and Dr Muriel Newman.

Read more Oily Rag articles here.

You can contact the Oily Rag community via the website at or by writing to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.