Family Fun on a Budget

Published On September 1, 2013 | By Christa Schueler | Cafe Mom, Community, DIY, Entertainment, Family, Fun, Just For Dads

If your family is anything like mine, then you’re probably on a tight budget. With school shopping completed, my bank account is nearly depleted (hey, that rhymes)! So what can a family on a budget do this Labor Day weekend without spending too much money? Recess has some great budget-friendly ideas that will keep your family entertained without you going into debt.

Have a movie night at home.

Going to the movies can be really expensive, especially if you plan to have refreshments. What my family and I like to do is have our own movie night right at home. Sometimes we watch something On Demand (we have cable through Cox Communications) which will only set us back $5-10 (depending on the film). If you’re able to rent a movie from Cox, Netflix, Redbox, etc., this will save you tons of money since the cost of a movie ticket is pretty much the equivalent of renting one.

Once you decide on a movie, pop a few bags of popcorn and place them in cute old-timey reusable popcorn holders. I bought mine for a $1 each at Target but there are other places that have them such as Party City and I also purchase “movie” candy from Walgreens or CVS (Target has a good selection too). Instead of spending $40 or more on food and drinks at the theater, I usually spend less than half of that on microwave popcorn and yummy treats at the store.

Great Northern Popcorn (8) Premium Plastic Popcorn Holder Serving Boxes at

Great Northern Popcorn (8) Premium Plastic Popcorn Holder Serving Boxes at

Embrace nature!

With tropical storms coming from the South, we’re going to have a weekend of sporadic rainfall and humidity. But if you’re willing to brave the elements, then go out and embrace nature. Family picnics and outdoor barbecues at one of Southern Nevada’s many parks is always fun.


Need picnic ideas? Check out Picnics 101: 12 Perfectly Packable Recipes (and Tips) from Delish

Please note: Right now, there are several closures at various locations at Mt. Charleston so before you head up there, make sure the area you want to visit is open. Go Mt. Charleston has a current list.

Host a game night with friends.


I also have friends who have families and tight budgets, so why not help each other out and have fun doing it? A great way to save money and enjoy a night with family and friends is to host a game night. Go potluck style by asking everyone to bring a dish of food (make sure everyone knows what each family is bringing so there’s not 5 pasta salads).

Want some fun game ideas? Read about Bunco and Crazy Hat Party from our Moms Morning Recess article.

Have a garage sale.

garage sale

This may sound like more work than fun but if you make a garage sale a family affair, you may be surprised. Not only can you make a garage sale fun, but it’s also an excellent way to clean out clutter and make some extra cash. Start by having the kids make signs for your sale (if they are really young, you’ll obviously will need to help them). Please note: Some communities, such as Summerlin, do not allow you to place your own signs around the neighborhood so please check to make sure you are following the rules.

Next, go through all of your unwanted items and tag them with a price. Again, this is a fun project for the kids. When placing your items in front of your house or yard, make a kids’ area by keeping all of the toys, children’s clothes, books, etc. in one place so that your kids can sell those items. My daughter did this one year and had a blast! We even let her keep the money she made.

Another fun idea is to have your children make lemonade and cookies for weary garage sale buyers. They can make extra money too!

Check out this awesome DIY lemonade stand from the Organized Cook.

After the sale, have your children help you pack up the items that didn’t sell and take them to the donation bins. Again, this is fun for kids and it teaches them the value of giving.

Throw a pizza party.

photo courtesy of the Organized Cook

photo courtesy of the Organized Cook

Going out for pizza is a family tradition, at least for my family. But if you’re low on funds, why not make your own pizza and even better, make it a party! What’s cool about this idea is that your kids can make their own pizzas starting with the dough. Let them be the chefs and servers by letting the kids do the work. Trust me, they’ll love every second. Of course moms and dads will need to supervise but that’s okay because you want this to be a family affair.

Learn how to make a pizza party by checking out the Organized Cook’s Kids Pizza Party.

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About The Author

UNLV graduate, wife, mother of three, blogger and aspiring novelist, Christa Schueler brings her writing, editing and research skills to Recess. As an advocate for education and health reform and a 25 year Las Vegas resident, Christa understands the need for providing a platform and a "voice" for women in Southern Nevada. Despite Las Vegas being one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Christa has seen continual lack of community connection and strives to change that. Now, she's joined the sandbox revolution!

One Response to Family Fun on a Budget

  1. These are great ideas. I so need to do a garage sale, but I think I’ll wait till next year, because I’m a bit overwhelmed with a baby in the house this year.

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