Stretch your dollar – Family fun ideas

Bonding on a BudgetFamilyfun1

You don’t have to dig deep into your pockets to have a fun and enriching time with your kids. Use our tips to help you stretch your dollar when planning family activities this weekend.

Family fun on a budget

During these belt-tightening times, taking time-outs with your family during weekends need not be an expensive affair. If you’ve been faithfully subscribing to the Singapore pastimes of shopping and eating, why not vary your family routine with some of the ideas described below? From indoor to outdoor options, we’ve got something for everyone. You may just find yourself saving some money, while gaining a wealth of new experiences.

1. Go fly a kite, really
For as little as a dollar per person, you can have lots of fun on a windy day. Look for open spaces in housing estates or a nearby park, pack along some drinks and sandwiches, and turn it into a picnic. You can also look out for community “Kite-flying Festival” in housing estates and join in the camaraderie. For the ticket price of a few dollars, you may get a goody bag with your equipment (kite), drinks, snacks and even a chance at a lucky draw.

2. Get up close to a fighter plane – for free
Did you know that there are at least 50 museums and display galleries in Singapore? While some are ticketed, others such as the Marina Barrage (a great spot for water play and picnics as well) and the Air Force Museum are free. Do also look out for “open house” days (especially during public holidays) when you can view exhibitions and attend talks while your kids take part in art and craft workshops for free. Start planning your trips now. Check out www.museums.com.sg.

3. Bond with nature, mosquitoes optionalFamilyfun2
With parks littering our green island, chances are there is a park or nature reserve near you. If you have small children, bring them to the Jacob Ballas Garden at Bukit Timah, which was specially designed for young ones and has a great water-play area for them to cool off, while tree-top walks at Kent Ridge and Telok Blangah will bring them close to nature. You will also find plenty to interest you and your family at the HortPark along Alexandra Road – from garden display ideas, children’s playgrounds and even a spice garden. Check out www.nparks.com.sg for details, and don’t forget to bring that insect repellent.
4. Make a scrapbook –  capture your memorable moments
Chances are, you may have some great snapshots in your phone, and collectibles from previous outings and family holidays such as bus tickets, brochures, postcards and more lying around the house. Why not turn them into a scrapbook or collage while you can still recall and write down those humorous anecdotes? Check www.about.com or www.wikihow.com for ideas on getting started.

5. Start a Family Blog – be part of cyberspace
Get a free account from www.blogspot.com or www.wordpress.comFamilyfun3 and use it as a virtual place for your family to write about what’s been happening, and to share photos, videos and news with your friends and extended family. Given a chance, kids love to talk about themselves and what interests them – ask them to describe their family and the events in their lives in their own words.

6. Reduce, reuse, recycle – right at home
This is a good activity for a rainy day! Go through each part of the house to look for “preloved” things could be of more use to someone else. Pack aside old clothes that don’t fit, toys your kids no longer play with (this teaches the children to share), and other assorted knick-knacks to donate to a charity like the Salvation Army, or sell some of them off to a second-hand store like Cash Converters to bring in some extra cash.

7. Catch a free concert
Shopping malls, the Esplanade and the Botanic Gardens are among several places where you can catch a free concert by local as well as overseas bands and music groups. Just come early with your own mat or foldable chairs if preferred, and be prepared for a bit of jostling if need be.

8. Pack up and “go overseas” (passport not needed) Familyfun4
Check out Sentosa or Pulau Ubin, both just minutes away. Bumboat rides to Pulau Ubin from Changi Point cost just $2 per person, and you can then hike around the island or rent bicycles at rates cheaper than many kiosks on mainland Singapore. Take up a Sentosa Islander family membership that will cost less than $10 per person per year, for unlimited entry to the island via the Sentosa Express Monorail, and discounts for most attractions there.

Note: Look up newspapers, local websites and lifestyle magazines regularly to get the latest on upcoming events and activities. A good “round-up” of the weekend events can be found every Friday in the Lifestyle section of the Straits Times.