Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Keep Your Eyes And Ears Open For FREE Family Activities

A few years ago, we were driving along a highway and saw a big sign in front of a bank that was advertising a grand-opening event. From the road we could see tents, a moon bounce, and a lot of people. It wasn't our bank, but the sign was inviting everyone in.

The event had free food samples from local restaurants, games, prizes, face-painting, a moon bounce for the kids. A local fire department had a big engine for the kids to check out and the K-9 unit was also showing off their working dogs. When we left, our bellies were full and our daughter was exhausted. It turned out to be a fun event and it was totally free. As we were driving away, my husband said, "we need to take advantage of these free community events more often". And that began my mission to find as many free family events as possible.

Another free event that we attended last year was at a local garden nursery. They were holding a spring open house. I signed up for a "vegetable gardening for beginners" seminar and my husband took the kids to the children's activities that were being offered. The kids planted daffodil bulbs, bean plants, and a "potato hedgehog" to take home. Our oldest was so excited to have her own plants. She loves to "help" us outside; that is code for she loves to play in the dirt.

For taking the veggie seminar, I went home with a free heirloom tomato plant and a free 6 pack of vegetables of our choice. I chose broccoli. The photo below is all of the plants that we were able to take home for free. Unfortunately, the hedgehog potato was supposed to end up looking like a chia potato, but rotted before it had a chance. You win some, you lose some...

Some places to look for FREE events and activities include:

  • Your local newspaper. We are 7-day a week subscribers and I always find FREE events listed in our paper. I found the gardening seminar advertised in the paper.
  • Check your Local TV stations websites for community calendars on their websites.
  • Weekly Shopper - this comes in our mail on Wednesdays. It looks like a newspaper and has a lot of local small business advertising and community events calendars.
  • From the weekly story-times to monthly children's events, our library hosts fantastic FREE activities throughout the year. Our library also has a community events bulletin board that I always check out for ideas.
  • Your township, borough, or municipality's website probably lists a calendar of community events. Our township hosts many events like Easter egg hunts, gardening exchanges, and summer Music in the Park concerts.
  • Your local mall should have a community calendar. Our mall hosts children's events throughout the year.
  • Stores like Toys-R-Us, Home Depot or Lowes have family/children's events through out the year. Check their websites and sign up for their newsletters.
  • Local churches. I sign my oldest up for Vacation Bible School every year. This is considered a community outreach program. Most churches welcome new children to their VBS programs. There might be age restrictions. Our church accepts children 3 and older.
  • The YMCA hosts a Healthy Kids Day in the spring and one again in the fall, that are FREE to the community. You usually do not have to be a member to participate. We go every year. The activities at our Y includes: Moon Bounce, Open pool, Healthy snacks, Room to Romp demonstration and community vendors. All children 12 and under are welcome to participate as long as they are accompanied by an adult. This appears to be a national event, so be sure to check out your local YMCA.
  • A different bank than the one above was holding a children's fair last year and my husband won this 5 piece outdoor furniture set in a raffle. Banks are always doing open houses or children's fairs in our area. I have never felt any pressure because we don't belong to the particular bank that is holding the event.

The key is to keep your eyes and your ears open for the opportunities. You just never know where your next activity will be.

What FREE community events have you participated in recently? Where did you hear about them?

Thanks for reading FamilyBalanceSheet.

If you would like to receive FREE updates of FBS through your RSS Feed, please click here to sign up. Or sign up for FREE email updates, by submitting your email address in the top left side of this site.

Or follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/fambalancesheet.

This post is linked to:

This post is a reprint, with a few edits, of a previously published post. I brought it back out because I didn't have the following a year ago as I do now...Enjoy!


  1. Thanks for your post. Great idea to watch for openings and free events for the family.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out on newspapers.

    My "day job" at my newspaper includes getting all those community event notices scheduled. An amazing amount of stuff that I post or link to on the "budget blog" is directly from those public service announcements.

  3. Love all your ideas! How fun that you were able to get all those plants for attending a free event! I'm going to keep my eyes open for free events in my community!

    Thanks for linking to Thrifty Tip Tuesday!

  4. I love free events, now just finding the time for them!

  5. This is something that I hope to explore more in my own hometown this summer. I hate to think of all the free opportunities our family is missing out on, bc I didn't take a few minutes to research! Thanks for the ideas!


Thank you for reading Family Balance Sheet and taking the time to leave a comment. I love to hear from readers.