file3812457842432015 was a blast, and this next year is destined to be just as fun, if not more so. If you’re searching for some new family fun activities that won’t break the bank, you’ve got lots of choices. Why not consider some of these?

Option # 1:  Nature Scavenger Hunt

If there is one thing that Ohio and the midwest area has in abundance it’s the various parks and nature areas. Chances are there is one within a day’s drive of where you are. Why not take advantage of the natural world around you, and go on a natural scavenger hunt? Before you leave, make a list of different things you may encounter in your travels — perhaps a certain type of leaf, a person wearing mismatched clothing, a deer, a robin, anything that you can think of. Then take a few disposable cameras with you on your nature walk and try to take pictures of things on your list. You’d be surprised at how much fun this can be!


Option # 2:  Volunteer Together

People need help all year round, not just during the holiday season. One of the best ways to foster family togetherness is to make it a habit to help others out. Talk to your local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and local churches. Chances are they’ll be interested in your help, and you’ll probably meet quite a few new people. Who knows? Perhaps volunteering at your local soup kitchen will become a true family affair.

Option # 3:  Plant Something

This is one of my favorite things to do with kids once the weather is warm enough and the ground soft enough to cooperate. Go out to the local nursery and have everyone pick out a small plant — a tree, shrub or something of that kind to plant somewhere in the backyard. The process of picking out a plant, digging the hole, putting the plant in the ground, covering the roots with topsoil and tending the new plant as it grows helps your family connect not only with each other, but also with nature and the earth itself. If you don’t have a backyard to plant in, talk to your local park district; they may have options for planting specific plants in their neck of the woods.

Option # 4:  Raid the Kitchen Cabinets

Do you love to cook, or just make a huge mess in the kitchen? Either way, spending time cooking with your family is a great way to bring laughter and great smells into your home. Whether it’s grandmother’s cinnamon roll recipe or a simple Jello dessert, creating food for everyone to enjoy can be a fantastic family activity. Plus, if something goes wrong — like misreading 1/3 teaspoon of salt for 1/3 cup of salt — you’ll have stories to last a lifetime.

Option # 5:  Do a Little Stargazing

If you live with a bunch of night owls, and you’re not afraid to get away from the city lights, take a drive out into the country on a clear night, lay out a thick blanket on the ground or the bed of a pickup truck and stare up at the sky.  See how many different constellations, stars, planets or other heavenly bodies you can identify. Create stories about what you see. Listen to your kids do the same. You can even pack a small picnic dinner and make it a true evening out for everyone.

What about you? What are some of your favorite family fun activities?