Winter can seem to last forever! Below are some ideas to keep you and your family entertained without blowing your budget.
Go to your local library. This is a great place to read the latest books, magazines and newspapers without spending a cent. You can also borrow CDs and DVDs, often new releases that would typically cost $4 at a movie rental store.
Go sledding. If there are no hills in your backyard, take a short drive to find some. Lots of local parks, schools, or other public areas have hills that you can use. Have contests to see who can sled the farthest distance, shortest distance, backwards, on their belly, or how many you can fit on one sled. End the day with a cup of hot cocoa and marshmallows at home.
Play with snow indoors. If it's too cold to go outside, bring some buckets full of snow inside and dump them in the bathtub. Let the kids play with action figures, cars, and plastic animals in the snow until it melts.
Play board games. Use the games you already have and make a night of it. Invite some friends or neighbors over, pop some popcorn, and make it a party! Pictionary, Uno, CatchPhrase, and Mad Gab work well for groups and most any age can play.
Read. There's nothing better than curling up in bed with your kids and reading a good book. If your kids can read, take turns reading a chapter book together. Reading a family devotional is also a great way to get everyone involved.
Make a craft. It doesn't have to be something fancy. Check out www.familyfun.go.com for great craft ideas, many of which are simple to make with kids.
Make Play Doh. Use your own recipe, or try my mom's famous recipe at: http://www.ehow.com/how_4765450_make-play-dough.html
Have a talent show. Wow each other with a magic trick, playing an instrument, singing a song, cool dance moves, a knack for speed-reading, or whatever your special talent may be. If talent is lacking in your household, have a bubble gum blowing contest or see who can hold their breath the longest.
Bake cookies. Cut out cookies are always a hit, but try out other recipes. Share them with friends, family, and neighbors.
Play Hide the Thimble. Take an ordinary metal thimble and show your kids what it looks like. Have them leave the room and hide it in plain sight (on the tops of lamps or on a curtain rod are great places---try to make it look like it belongs there). Call the kids back into the room and have them find it. Whomever finds it, gets to hide it next. Surprisingly, finding it is harder than you'd think!