10 Fun & thrifty ways to keep the kids entertained!

It’s not cheap having kids, that’s for sure. Even if you’re a grandparent, offering to babysit for the weekend can quickly end up costing a pretty penny. In-between ice creams, movie tickets and new toys, it’s all too easy for little ones to put a major dent in your pocket.
So how can you keep the little ones entertained without spending a fortune? Here are some top tips from our in-house team of experts. We guarantee, there won’t be an “I’m bored!” in earshot.
Bake instead of buy
cookies for EasterRather than treat all the kids to a round of ice cream at $5 a pop, why not stay at home and whip up your own batch of treats? Head to the supermarket in advance and pick up the ingredients. Opt for budget brands and you should be able to get everything you need for under $10. Find a fun recipe, and get to work with the kids. Pick something like gingerbread men and you can spend hours on end decorating Try our traditional spiced cookies recipe and cut them into gingerbread men or make Easter bunnys.
Sidewalk art
Nope, it’s not graffiti! If you have a sidewalk or pavers in your backyard why not but a bucket of colourful chalk and let creativity run wild? The best thing is, it simply washes away with the next rain.
Hit the beach
Whether it’s hot and sunny or cold and windy, kids always love the beach. Bundle them into the car and head down to the water for an afternoon of fun in the sand. If you don’t live near a beach, try a local lake.
Get wild
Group of friend having party in a camping site atCamping isn’t exactly the most straightforward of activities, but if you want to keep the kids entertained for the entire weekend without spending a cent, pack up the car and head for the bush. New Zealand is peppered with amazing camp sites, and outdoor activities to boot.
People bingo
There’s nothing quite like an hour or so of people watching to pass the time. This one’s great, as you can get creative with the kids. Draw up blank bingo charts and get the kids to give suggestions on what types of people to fill each square with. For example, one square could be a man walking a dog. Another could be someone wearing a hat. The next could be someone on a bike. Make sure each child puts their descriptions in different squares, otherwise all the charts will be the same. Then head to the park, find a bench and start playing!
Check out Groupon
When it comes to being thrifty, Groupon is a terrific resource. Just specify what city you’re in, then start browsing from a huge collection of offers. The ‘Things to Do’ section is packed full of great ideas, at family friendly prices.
Pack a picnic
On a sunny day, head to the park with a picnic basket in tow. Fill it full of delicious surprises, and of course plenty of healthy snacks and staples. Keep the kids entertained with fun games like lawn bowls, croquet and frisbee.
Get your gardening on

children gardening and watering

Teach your kids the joys of gardening and spend an afternoon getting your hands dirty. Assign your little ones their own slice of garden, or if you’re short on space give each one their own miniature planter box. Head to the nursery and let them pick out their own seeds for just a dollar or so a packet. Then get planting!

Head to the museum
New Zealand is home to some fantastic museums, most of which feature family-friendly exhibitions. On a rainy day why not head into town and spend a few hours exploring national icons like the Auckland Art Gallery (FREE!) or Wellington’s Te Papa National Museum (also FREE!).
Hit up the markets
Kids love colour, excitement and sound. Which makes weekend markets the perfect way to keep little ones entertained. Give them a few dollars to pick their own produce, and explore the kaleidoscopic fruit and veg stalls. Try making a shopping list, and getting them to help you find produce and tick it off.
The great outdoors
If camping is a little much, a day trip can be just as exciting. Tourism websites are a great place to gather ideas and inspiration. For example, if you live near Rotorua there’s an amazing write-up on family-friendly activities in the area. Explore the Lake Okareka Boardwalk, get lost in the Redwoods Forest, visit filming locations from Pete’s Dragon and take a soak in Kerosene Creek.
Have you got any clever ways to keep the kids entertained on a budget? We’d love to hear them in the comment section below.