Frugal Winter Fun: 15 Cheap (Or Free!) Things To Do in the Cold Weather

Looking for some cheap winter activities?

The winter season can be tough financially, with holiday expenses and colder weather driving up your bills. In summer, it seems easy to spend time outside and have fun without spending any money.

However, when the weather is cold, it can be hard to find things to do that don’t cost a lot of money.

Luckily, there are many activities you can enjoy without breaking the bank in the colder months.

Here are 15 cheap (or free!) winter activities that will help you make the most of the season without going in the red.

Family Outdoors.Happy Family with kid blowing Snow
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How To Have Fun This Winter Without Spending Too Much

It’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! As the weather gets colder, it can be easy to stay indoors in front of the TV, but there are plenty of ways to have fun in the winter without spending a lot of money.

Here are some cheap winter activities that will keep you and your family busy all winter long.


1. Create a Winter Bucket List

Making your own bucket list for the season is so much fun!  Spend an evening thinking about all the fun things you want to achieve this winter – from books you want to read or road trips you would like to take.

There are endless possibilities for what you can include on your list! From fun outdoor activities to indoor family fun, there is so much to do.

Creating a to-do list for winter is a great way to focus on what you want to do before spring. You can even use the ideas below to get started!

Related: 20 Winter Bucket List Activities for Frugal Families

2. Ice Skating

Ice skating is a great way to enjoy the winter weather and get some exercise. An ice skating date can also be pretty romantic.

If you live in a cold climate, you can likely find free skating on public outdoor rinks or, if the weather isn’t quite cold enough, many indoor rinks have super cheap sessions you can attend.

There are also many malls with their own ice rink. Most rinks offer reasonably priced ice skate rentals but don’t forget to check your local thrift shop or Buy Nothing group for used skates to save money in the long run.

If you own ice skates, you can always find a place to skate outdoors. Many cities have ponds or lakes that freeze over in the winter, and these make for great places to skate.

Just be sure to check the ice thickness before you venture out onto it.

3. Snowball Fight

If the weather is frightful where you live, why not get outside and make the most of it?

On snowy days sometimes the best you can do is embrace the weather and have some outdoor fun as a family.

Having a snowball fight is the ultimate in free winter activities and a great way to create memories even on the worst winter day.


4. Make Snow Angels

Sticking with the snow theme, the whole family can have fun making snow angels to blow away those winter blues! See who can make the best one don’t forget to wrap up warmly!

Pro Tip: Have some tea or hot cocoa ready to make when you come inside!


5. Have a Hot Cocoa Bar

One of my favorite family winter activities is our annual hot chocolate competition. All you need to do is make a large jug of hot chocolate and put out bowls of toppings.

The crazier you go, the better! Things like sprinkles, whipped cream, candies, crushed candy canes, and even cookie crumbs.

Each person gets a turn to make their own hot cocoa creation.  You can then have a vote on whose looks the best! Everyone is a winner as you enjoy your delicious hot cocoa!


6. Play Board Games

There is no better way to end the day than with a fun family game night! It is one of the best ways to spend quality time together and get everyone off their screens – for free!

You can take turns picking a fun game to place and make it a weekly tradition all winter long. It is a fun way to while away the winter months by the fire at home!


7. Have a Movie Marathon

Is there anything better on a cold winter night than snuggling under a cozy blanket with a good movie and some popcorn?

To make it extra fun, create a list of your favorite movies and start your own movie bucket list to check off all winter long.


8. Take an Online Art Class

Here is one of the best indoor winter activities that cost absolutely nothing!  YouTube has online classes for everything, and art classes are especially fun.

Search for “Art Class,” and you will find so many options. My favorite channel is ArtforKidsHub. The drawings are pretty easy to follow for all ages.

I can’t think of a better way to have fun in your living room as a family!

9. Take a Winter Hike

Bundle up in your warmest gear and explore the great outdoors. Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy nature and get some fresh air.

You don’t need any special equipment, it is free and a great way of spending time outdoors in the wintertime.

To make it more interesting, use this outdoor scavenger hunt or make your own and see who can find the most items beginning with the letter “P” or see the most birds.

Related: 8 Ways To Entertain Your Kids on a Nature Walk 

10. Go Sledding or Tubing

Here is a classic winter activity that is always fun for all ages. And it’s totally free if you have your own sled or tube. You can even get creative and use a cardboard box or a lid container.

The great thing about snow tubing or sledding is that it is perfect for everyone – it makes a fun winter date idea for a married couple, and, of course, kids love it too!


11. Host a Karaoke Night


You can have a great night without spending any money!  If you own a karaoke machine, why not invite friends over for a fun karaoke session?

If you don’t own a machine, you can still hop on YouTube and get Karaoke music to play.

Karaoke is a great way to entertain guests without breaking the bank, and it is sure to be a fun night that everyone enjoys.


12. Try a New Recipe


Winter is the perfect time to try out some new recipes or learn to bake bread!

Whether you want to create a list of easy recipes for the crockpot or perfect grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, winter is the best time for spending time indoors in the kitchen.

And, of course, the best part about baking is that you get to taste-test everything afterward!


13. Take in Some Local Museums


One of the most fun winter activities is spending a day being a tourist in your own city. Many museums offer cheap or free admission on certain days of the week Some libraries even offer free passes too.

Visiting local tourist attractions off-season is a great way to avoid the crowd too!


14. Host a Clothing Swap


Ok, so decluttering might not feature at the top of your favorite ways to spend winter break.

Between the gifts and the fabulous shopping sales, most of us get new stuff over the winter, and now is the perfect time to clear out your old stuff.

Sort out all the things you don’t want or need anymore and donate or sell them for extra cash. If you want to make it extra fun, why not host a clothing swap with friends?

This a cheap winter activity that could get you a new wardrobe! To host a clothing swap, have everyone bring their unwanted, clean, and in good condition clothes.

Everyone gets to go through them and see if they can find something new – after all,” one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”.


15. Get Crafty


Now is the perfect time to do some crafting at home. Make your own holiday cards, design some art for your living room or get a head start on the holidays by making your own presents for next year!

You don’t have to spend money to have fun crafting. Use recycled items you already have at home, or pick up pinecones and other natural items.

A craft afternoon is one of the cheapest indoor activities you can do!

Cheap and Free Winter Activities

Cold, snowy days don’t have to mean hours spent glued to the TV or video games. With a little creativity, there are many cheap or free winter activities to enjoy – which is your favorite?