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35 tips for keeping the kids entertained over the holidays

by - 04/07/2023 in Lifestyle Twitter logo icon link Facebook logo icon link LinkedIn logo icon link
Man sitting with child charter savings bank

Knowing how to keep the little ones entertained and save money over the school holidays can be a struggle for parents, especially during a cost of living crisis.

We all want to avoid them being bored or getting up to things they shouldn’t, but how do you fill the time without spending an absolute fortune?

At the end of the summer school holidays last year we asked our customers themselves this very question, and the responses we received ranged from the conventional to the quirky!

Here, we share some of our favourites that will hopefully help you out once the holidays arrive.


A great option, especially when the British weather is typically unpredictable, is to go homemade. Getting your children to express their creativity through DIY art or garden projects is a great way to keep them busy and help the planet at the same time!

  • We visited a local DIY shop for free wallpaper samples, and decorated a cardboard box to make our own dolls house. Free, and so much fun!
  • We’ve been in the garden growing some veggies and fruit with the kids... They loved it...
  • Have fun crayon rubbing - we have found so many places to get some really interesting patterns, trees, leaves, churches, beaches, woods, at home, just about any place we have been, and it cost next to nothing.
  • I’ve always collected bits and pieces normally put in the recycling, and so we have everything we need for arts and crafts, to make birthday cards for the year, and plant pots, insect hotels and even a fairy garden. It’s fun and it’s free, and we’re doing our bit for the environment!

Picnics and packed lunches

Food and drink costs when out and about can really add up – especially at big popular venues like theme parks, so why not bring your own? Or even better, get the kids involved in baking/cooking?

  • We’ve seen sunsets and lots of picnics - just enjoying the time before they are back to school. Making memories doesn't have to cost the earth.
  • Picnics all the way - no expensive fast food, healthy and cheaper!
  • Lots of days down the beach, take a picnic, invite the kids friends, makes for a wonderful free day out.
  • We love a trip to the Pick Your Own! It teaches children where their food really comes from, gets them outside in the fresh air and then we can make lots of goodies with what we have picked. We have picked some delicious strawberries, raspberries and broad beans.
  • We’ve had lots of picnics out - saves so much money - then we can have an ice cream treat!
  • We also spent the afternoons the day before visiting the beach baking to take tasty treats in the picnics.
Man sitting with child charter savings bank

Find free family-friendly events

During school holidays is often peak time for attending attractions but there are some free events around that just might offer something different than a packed, expensive theme park.

  • With admission costs quite high for local attractions making days out expensive, a trip to our local railway museum with free entry and a homemade packed lunch made for a lovely affordable family day out.
  • My best saver has got to be library activities, our daughter loves the arts and crafts/science activities they offer and they were all free.
  • My local council runs a scheme to keep children active and fit during half term – they’ve done mindfulness, dodgeball, basketball, touch rugby, trampolining, crafts, Lego, made a bug hotel, been to different play areas, had a picnic, explored ruins, and been to sports camp all for free.
  • Most churches arrange days out and things to do during the holidays and libraries have lots of activities.

Seek out vouchers, offers and "kids go free" deals

During the holidays it pays to shop around for special offers. Many restaurants offer “kids eat free” or special family deals. Also looking out for special offers online or in food packets could save a pretty penny!

  • We claimed a family pass to a National Trust property from The Sun newspaper. Saved over £30!
  • Take advantage of the ‘kids eat for £1’ deals in local restaurants.
  • Shop around online to find the best prices and always compare prices on the best value sites.
  • Kids had a blast at Chessington World of Adventures - we had a fab day out as we won the tickets!
  • We joined a free 5 day gym membership and whole family had 5 days’ worth of swimming.
  • We saved the vouchers off cereal boxes for buy one get one free in the Merlin attractions.
  • Checking for codes to go on trips and rounding up the pennies, and saving with online banking.

Explore the great outdoors

From visiting the seaside or exploring local woodland trails to camping under the stars, it's great to get kids out into the fresh air and amongst nature.

  • Our fave activity has been geo caching. The kids get loads of exercise and helps with their searching skills.
  • Trips to our local parks and beach have been our savers this summer in the good weather. Perfect days out for free!
  • They've played in the paddling pool, the river, had water fights, been for cycle rides/walks, played battles in the woods, bug huts, making bird feeder, litter picking, scarecrow making.
  • It costs nothing to organise a treasure hunt in your local park - not only does it get you out in the fresh air but it also creates a lot of fun.
  • I created a list of items for my children to spot on walks around our neighbourhood and local parks with maps to follow, sometimes with a certain colour theme or shape, we enjoyed lots of lovely walks and a picnic in the garden after.
  • We are lucky enough to live near the Norfolk coast so often spend days at the beach with a picnic and playing games all day. And to save on ice creams we buy a pack of lollies from the supermarket, much cheaper!
Man sitting with child charter savings bank

Have Fun at Home

Sometimes you don’t even need to leave the house for the kids to find something fun to do! And for those parents not lucky enough to have endless annual leave, you might have to resort to using your imagination to keep them occupied indoors.

  • Our summer holiday saver was using a projector to watch movies outdoors. It’s been so much fun watching classic Disney movies with popcorn and snacks.
  • Camp in the garden, light a fire, toast marshmallows, tell stories, stargaze and snuggle up cosy in a tent as a family. Memories made and moments spent well.
  • We’ve made smores, played giant Jenga and camped, all from the comfort of home but such an adventure for my son and he said he has had "the best time ever".
  • I made a treasure hunt in our garden with a map and riddles to solve. It kept my kids busy for hours until they found the buried treasure (chocolate bars!).

Be thrifty

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure so some of you sold on your unwanted goods to make money, while others shopped around, and shopped early, for supplies and uniform for the new school year to save money in advance.

  • My daughters had a huge de-clutter of their toys and we did a car boot sale together. With the money we made we put it towards days out.
  • Saved up my Tesco vouchers to buy stationary and clothes.
  • If your little one is going into a new school, find local parents on FB and ask how strict the school's uniform policy is. The school signposted me to an expensive uniform shop with clothes with emblems on but when speaking to others, it was also fine to buy uniform from Asda. So, I did and saved loads.
  • I’ve been buying new uniform including shoes from Vinted. The new items on there are a fraction of the price in the shops!

So, as you can see, there’s plenty of things to do to suit every budget, all you need is a little imagination and pre-planning! Have fun trying some of the things off this list, or think of something new.

And if you’re thinking about your bigger or longer-term savings goals why not check out our latest range of accounts?

Man sitting with child charter savings bank
Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Your eligible deposits held by a UK establishment of Charter Savings Bank are protected up to a total of £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the UK’s deposit protection scheme. Any deposits you hold above the limit are unlikely to be covered. Please click here for further information or visit www.fscs.org.uk.