January is here and winter weather is in full swing for many of us. Whether you live in a snowy region or somewhere not cold enough for snow, here are a few fun and frugal activities to keep your family busy during the coldest months of the year.

1. Snowmen, Snow Forts, and Snowballs!

Do you want to build a snowman? When your local park or backyard is blanketed in delicious packing snow, take the kids outside and get building! Rolling a family of snow people and topping them in toques or trimming with carrot noses is a free way to burn some kid energy while harnessing winter fun.

Snow forts may require a few building skills and shovelling tools, so grab your summer sand buckets or food containers and stack a winter fortress worthy of defending from a snowball attack.

2. Throw a Movie Marathon Snugglefest!

Pop some popcorn and chill out inside by cozying up to a movie marathon. Watching a winter flick like 'Frozen' is a win for parents with younger kids who are sleepy or need a nap. The bonus is parents can grab some Z's too.

Treating the older kids to an afternoon matinee or visiting a second-run movie theatre is a warm way to beat winter's chill. Sure, movies cost money, but paying a few bucks for a family experience while getting out of the house is priceless.

3. Get Crafty.

Clear off the kitchen table and get messy with a mixed media craft of finger paint, modelling clay, and markers. Turning empty toilet paper rolls into critters never gets old for kids, and reusing grocery packaging or decorating cereal boxes is a fun activity to boost creativity while staying warm.

4. Go for a great family skate.

Check out your local recreation guide and find the public rinks boasting fun skates and family days. Admission to an outdoor ice sheet or indoor arena is often frugal or free, and renting a pair of skates is a smart way to save money on equipment or a sly way to try a brand of ice skates before you buy your own.

Bonus points if you bring your hockey stick and score a stealth game of shinny.

5. Tobogganing, Sledding, Sliding.

Got a hill handy? How about a park with a few peaks? There's nothing like experiencing the tummy tickle from flying down a hillside in a fast-sliding machine. Snow tubes cost less than $20, while a fancy sled can range from $50 to $500, so there's many ways to get some air on any budget.

6. Get thee to a Gallery, Museum, or Science Centre!

Do you like dinosaurs, spaceships, or organized craft parties? An yearly family pass for the science center, museum, or a kid-friendly gallery may cost around $130, but families in need of frequent weekend outings or winter break activities can save a bundle over buying day passes. Annual science center passes can be used for entry in centers across Canada, while galleries and local museums often offer special events for families seeking fun. Touring the local exhibits while teaching your kids about science, art, and history are experience-based activities that can build childhood memories lasting a lifetime.


Kerry K. Taylor is a consumer expert at Squawkfox.com.