How to survive school holidays without spending loads

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Holidays from school can be an expensive time. Over the years I have learnt that not everything has to cost a fortune to keep the kids occupied and some things don't have to cost anything at all.

  • Local Library

The Library is not just for old people looking to pass the time, it's a fantastic source of fun for kids and parents. You can rent Dvd's and Playstation games from many libraries for the week for a small charge. If your particular local library does not do this, pick up a multi-media leaflet or ask the staff, there is a very good chance that another library not too far away will.

In most area's, kids can reserve books for free, the staff are always helpful, particuarly with children. It saves you the money of having to rush out and buy the latest Comic book offering for example.

Most libraries have computers for people to use, before we got a computer I would often ring the local library up earlier in the day and book my son onto one of the computers for an hour of interrupted game playing to his hearts content.

Libraries often run schemes during the Summer holidays to encourage kids to read. My son has done one two years on the run now. Kids get a few little free goodies the more books they read and a certificate at the end of it. They only have to read about six books and they can be any type of book, comic books, cookery books, science books, fiction books etc.

Libraries in my area also run drama sessions and arts and crafts sessions in the summer, all free, but there are limited places available and they do go quick. Last year, my son had a 45 minute drama session from some bloke that was in Hollyoaks.

  • Arts and Crafts

For years when my son was younger we collected all kinds of stuff that went into big stacking boxes in his bedroom. Things that went in were bits of fabric, cardboard, plastic, wood, loo roll tubes, fancy paper etc. You can top up the materials by popping in to shops such as Wilko's or the Range, pretty cheaply. We would then every so often have a few hours to do what my son called, "Art Attack", basically you make stuff from the bits and bobs you have collected. We made some great stuff including napkin holders from loo paper tubes which were then given to the Nan's for Christmas and are still used I might add, a few years later. We also made tealight holders which were basically a tealight put into an old jar from cooking sauces, then covered in tissue and crepe paper with shapes cut out of it. They cost very little to make and looked very effective when lit, these were also given as presents to family. Once I had an old lamp I no longer wanted, I managed to make with the aid of a shoebox, plastic for the windows and blue tissue paper, a Doctor Who Tardis that lights up. It still stands proudly in the middle room.

You need not stop there. We cut pictures out of one of my son's Doctor Who magazine, stuck them onto a piece of plain A4 paper with cheap glue, then went to a stationary shop to have them laminated. Not only do they look great, but they clean with a simple wipe of a cloth. I am yet to see such funky placemats in anybody elses home that I visit.

Also, an excellent suggestion from a fellow Ebayer, papier mache. Hours of fun and the kids get a chance to get their hands good and messy. All kinds of stuff can be made. Thank you for that suggestion.

The list of stuff you can make from around the house is endless, hours of fun that cost nothing or very little. For further ideas, check out the arts and crafts books in the children's section of the library.

  • Tv and Popcorn

Sometimes there are some great films on tele or a great series. Instead of spending a fortune buying them on Dvd, tape them from the tele or rent them from the library and save them for a rainy day. We often snuggle up on the couch when it is miserable outside, under a blanket watching films. Popcorn can be bought cheaply from the Supermarkets or you could have a go at making your own.

  • Seasonal Ailses in the Supermarkets

You can often pick up toys and games very cheaply from the Supermarket. My Mum once got us a very cheap cricket set which gave us hours of fun or collect the free frisbees you see around.

All these types of toys don't have to just be used in the back garden, you can take them to the park or beach for a fun and cheap day out, though check the weather forecast first!!

  • Long car journeys

I have quite a distance to travel to work, I get fed up of listening to music all the time and often listen to Audio books. I soon realised my son enjoyed listening to them too so I make a point of bringing them with us on long journeys. We are especially fans of the Horrible Histories audio books. When my son was doing about Henry viii at school we borrowed the Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors audio book from the library, they are so funny we all enjoyed them and all learnt something. When we went to York for the day we listened to Horrible Histories Viscious Vikings before we saw all the Viking stuff in York. You can often pick up Audio books cheaply on Ebay, especially if you think ahead and buy them before summer starts and they get very popular. The Horrible History audio books can be especailly cheap as some Newspapers and Cereals gave promo copies for free which can often be picked up brand new and for very little from Ebay.

  • Buying out of Season

Buying out of season can often save a fortune. I try and pick up outdoor toys and games at the end of summer and put them away for the following year or pick up board games etc in the January sales. Just stuff to keep the kids amused but bought at a time when there is not much demand for it so it can be bought at rock bottom prices. For example, my other half got a 12 foot swimming pool at the end of summer last year for a fraction of the price the exact same pool is now in the Argos catalogue. The initial cost has already been met and now we can sit back in the nice weather and reap the benefits of it, my son adores it and is never out of it on a hot day.

  • Check out the Local and National Papers for Offers

There are often coupons or offers printed in the free papers you get through the door or in the National newspapers, sometimes you can get vouchers when you spend a certain amount at some supermarkets or petrol stations. For example, one year I took my son to the nearest Safari Park and only had to pay for myself or we went to the York Dungeon when we visited York, got two for the price of one on admission there also. Maybe visiting places at certain times can save money also, usually reading the adverts in the paper is a great way of getting to know about these offers.

  • Pampering Days

I suspect this will apply to girls more than boys although my son did like to do some of the stuff when he was a bit younger. Make a really bubbly bath with cheap bubblebath I found was always popular, especially in Winter when it is cold. Let the kids use some of your creams and potions on their sore and tired feet when it has been a long day. An absolute favourite of my son's was to put his feet into a foot spa for ten minutes or so to make himself feel pampered. It wasn't a fancy spa and infact not even mine, I borrowed it from a friend.

  • Cooking up a treat in the kitchen

Another fun thing we did was to borrow a couple of kids cookbooks from the library. As the books are aimed at children the recipes are generally not too complex or require fancy ingrediants, which is just as well, the new Delia I ain't! I let my son choose what we made, mostly cakes. Although when I insisted we chose a meal rather than a dessert, I found that my son ate a lot quicker than he did normally. Perhaps because he had helped to make it?! Don't know but it worked.

  • Offer to sell some of their Unwanted toys and Games on Ebay

If the kids have anything that they no longer want and you think may sell, offer to put it on Ebay for them. I have done this a few times for my son and he can spend his money on what he wants. Especially good if you are planning a holiday and the kids want a little spending money.

I have just put a few ideas down to give you all a few tips on how to save money during the school holidays. I am sure you will be plenty to come up with plenty more yourself and don't forget to scour for all those bargains on Ebay.


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