Practically Free Family Night Ideas to Try with Your Kids

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Family Night Ideas don’t have to be complex, expensive, or involve crazy stunts. Our kids mostly want to spend time with us that doesn’t involve laundry or dishes.

Practically Free Family Night Ideas | Life as Mom

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Summer is over. I think it’s official, even if the weather doesn’t always agree. With our regular school schedule, earlier bedtimes, science classes, and train pick-up and drop-off, many of our evenings are taken up with “stuff”. The carefree summer evenings we’ve enjoyed are long gone.

But that doesn’t mean that the fun’s over. Oh no!

It only means that I have to be a little more intentional about how we spend our precious free time, namely Friday nights. If we’re smart, my fellow parents, we’ll choose some family night ideas and make the most of these longer evenings.

Here are some family night ideas to get you started:

Practically Free Family Night Ideas | Life as Mom

Practically Free Family Night Ideas

  1. Make indoor smores — we actually own a fire pit, but it smokes up our backyard something fierce since we live in a little hobbit hole. Well, not really, but we’re surrounded by fence and retaining wall, so it just stays smokey back there. Not much fun for roasting marshmallows. Indoor S’mores help me have the best of both worlds. Good eats and fresh air.
  2. Pop some corn and watch a movie from Redbox or Amazon Prime Instant Video.
  3. Make cards to send to family or friends.
  4. Play a game — One of FishChick8’s faves is The Ladybug Game but we also love Monopoly Empire.
  5. Pull out the playdough — even big kids can get into this if everyone does it and there are enough supplies.
  6. Look through scrapbooks or home movies together.
  7. Take an evening walk and look at the stars.
  8. Go on a jammie run — after the kids are in jammies, load them in the car for a trip for ice cream or donuts.
  9. Read a story together — we’re currently rereading The Mysterious Benedict Society.
  10. Play animal charades — our kids have always LOVED this, particularly the littles.
  11. Make a tent in the living room and camp out.
  12. Set up a tent in the backyard and really camp out.
  13. Play video games together — my littles still doubt that I was once a high scorer on Mario Kart. Eventually, I will set the record straight.
  14. And don’t forget minor yearly celebrations like Pi Day or doing fun things as a fam on St Patrick’s Day.

When my girls saw the list pictured above, their eyes lit up. You can bet some people will make sure that we make our way through the list!

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This post was originally published on September 19, 2013. Updated October 11, 2016.

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  1. We play the word game at dinner. We start with the letter A and go around the table. Everyone has to say a word that starts with the letter. Ex. Alligator, Apple, achieve, etc. It is a great way to learn new words. My kids have taught other families when they have playdates or sleepovers at friend’s homes. We do this every night at dinner. On Friday night’s, we have homemade or $5 little Caesar’s pizza and watch Redbox movie.

  2. I love the idea of making cards and sending them to family members…we could even recycle old artwork into cards and the send ’em out. I also like the idea of a jammie run. I think one of these ideas will be occurring in the two kids house hold soon!

  3. We also like to watch a movie or play a board game – Bird Bingo has become a favorite for us. I like your idea for a pajama run. We will have to try that!

  4. I love your ideas. We really like watching family movies on Friday nights too. Especially since I work late on Fridays and when I get home sitting on the couch cuddling my children and watching a movie is a wonderful thing 🙂

  5. The kids and I love making slushy and a redbox runs. Less than half a mile from us is a corner store that has both so we walk there and pick up a movie and a round of slushies for under $5. When they were younger touring the parks was fun and free.

  6. Tonight after dinner we’re making brownies, and while they’re in the oven we’ll take turns reading aloud to one another. A fun activity for kids could be cutting up old magazines (if not some of your own, they’re easy to come by at local businesses) and make collages. Maybe pick a theme, like next family vacation or new school year?