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How to keep the kids entertained this half-term on a budget

Tahmina Mannan
Written By:
Tahmina Mannan

Follow our tips to make the week-long break a little less financially frightful.

October half term can be a financially stressful time for parents. With Christmas creeping up, for many it is not the time to start flashing the cash.

But there are plenty of ways to keep kids happy on a budget this half-term.

Here are just a few ideas:

Halloween – Whatever you feel about this so-called ‘holiday’ – there’s no denying that children love it. But the children getting dressed up and being ‘spooky’ shouldn’t mean a scare for your wallet.

Get your children to make their own costumes and lanterns, which can easily be done with a little bit of face-paint and imagination. Pumpkin carving can double up as fun activity for the kids as well as ingredients for a pie later. For ‘treats’ – head to a pound shop and buy a few bags of sweets on the cheap.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November – As the 5th November fast approaches, most local councils and cities will throw open their park gates to showcase fireworks displays. These are often either free or cheap and are a fantastic way to keep the little ones happy. Mix in a little history on why we celebrate this night and reward them if they can recite it back to you, and you get the perfect mix of learning and treats.

If you can afford to push the boat, one notable fireworks display is the Legoland Universe Superheroes themed fireworks night. Displays are on 26, 27 October and 1 and 2 November, check website for details.

Go seasonal – October is prime apple picking season, and could be a good way to get your kids outdoors and picking apples. You may even be able to use the apples to get them in the kitchen and baking goodies.

In fact, autumn is perfect for teaching the kids about seasonal cooking and baking. There are a whole host of sites online dedicated to seasonal cooking – so find a recipe and get the kids involved.

Make monsters – Paper mache has been employed for years to keep our little bundles of joy happy for hours for next to nothing. Set a theme, like monsters or dinosaurs, cover up a part of the house from the guaranteed glue-related damage, get some cheap all-purpose glue and plenty of old newspapers – and let them get creative. This activity has the added bonus of needing drying time, so on the second day you can let your kids paint and decorate their masterpieces.

Head to the cinema – Despite prices of tickets to cinema going through the roof in recent years, families with children under 12 can benefit from cheap tickets on Saturdays and Sunday mornings.

Most of the big name cinemas allow under-12s to watch a kid’s film from £1 -£2.50, with some offering special discounts for teens too.

Orange Wednesdays are also a good way to keep costs down midweek for Orange customers with their two-for-one offers.

Museums and Zoos – Most museums and zoos will be running kid’s activities for free over the break. Take note that queues will be long, so pack some food and keep a few activities handy in case restlessness settles in. Make sure you don’t shun smaller museums for the big names in the cities, as you’ll find they will have more hands on activities and fewer families making a beeline for them.

Don’t forget the library – Libraries may seem like a dying institution, but if you’re lucky enough to have one open nearby, grab the kids and head down. Most local libraries have half-term activities lined up for children and often cost nothing for a few hours of story-time. Check your local council/library website for listings of what’s going on.

Buy half-term deals – Many supermarkets will put on offers for kids’ foods and drinks, but keep an eye out for deals that actually are a good deal, or ones that aren’t actually a great saving. If you plan the week’s groceries right, you can budget in the odd treat or two and still make a saving.

Get the kids to do chores – Whether it’s with the gardening or with the baking, allowing them to get their hands messy will keep them entertained for hours, as well as teach them life skills that will probably pay dividends for you and them later in life. Teach them how to make you breakfast, and you might have a ‘breakfast helper’ for life.