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Cheap school holidays

Keep the kids entertained on a budget

Page reading time: 2 minutes

When school holidays come along, there are plenty of cheap and cheerful things to do.

Hanging out at home

With some planning and creative thinking, there are ways to keep your kids busy at home.

Art and craft

Look around the house for things to use for art and craft activities. Anything from making sock puppets from old socks and buttons, to decorating cardboard boxes with scrap paper. Search online for ideas and craft patterns. 


Search online for easy recipes that kids can cook, help make or decorate. Invite family or friends over to share their creations. Encourage the kids to make a scrapbook of their favourite recipes.

Camping out

Set up a tent, cubby or teepee in the backyard, if the weather's good. Or inside if it's not.

Dress-ups and drama

Gather up your old clothes or buy some from an op shop. The kids can use these for playing dress-ups, or as costumes to perform plays or make short movies.

Toy libraries and swaps

Join a local toy library or buy toys from second-hand markets, garage sales or online marketplaces.

Visit Toy Libraries Australia to find your local toy library.

Organise a toy swap with your friends. Most families have lots of toys their children no longer use.

Treasure hunts

Create clues for the kids to find things hidden around the house or garden. Or suggest they plan a hunt for someone else, making their own map and clues.

Vegetable gardening

Get the kids to plant their own vegetables or herbs, in the garden or in pots. Take them to a local community garden or nursery to learn more about what to plant. Or get them do some research online.

Getting out and about

With a bit of planning, there are lots of outings that won't blow your budget.

Check out your local area

See what events your council, local clubs and shopping centres are running. Search online for 'what's on' and for free festivals, concerts and other events in your local area or city.

Find discounts

For paid activities such as movies, check if there are any special deals on certain days of the week. Search online for discount vouchers and codes. If there's a group discount available, tee it up with some friends. 

Get outdoors

Parks, playgrounds, gardens, bike paths, beaches and rivers all offer a great day out. If you can, explore places you've never been. Make a day of it by packing a picnic or letting the kids invite their friends.


Libraries often have story sessions, and free activities for different ages during school holidays.

Check if your library has ebooks or free streaming of movies and TV shows. Some offer free online courses or apps to learn a new language.

Museums and galleries

Museums and galleries often run free or cheap school holiday activities and programs. Check their websites for details.


When you get home, encourage your kids to write a story about the outing. Or draw a picture or make a scrapbook. If they've taken photos or video, suggest they make a short movie or slide show when they get home.

Involve your kids in budgeting

Even with the best intentions, costs can blow out during the holidays. Doing a budget can help keep things in check.

Do a holiday budget

Get the kids involved in setting up a holiday budget. Use this as a way to teach your kids about money. Talk about what you want to do and how much it costs.

Plan holiday activities

Try planning holiday activities with your kids. Set a spending limit and work out what you can do within this amount.