Millennium kids of all ages, yes six to 60, are wasting too much physical energy and maybe some mental acuity by hanging out in front of the television and computer. Let’s get off the couch and sharpen our minds and bodies together! Instead of hibernating, let’s generate! Save money, have fun!
1) Pumpkin patches and local farms are always a great source of colorful, inexpensive, green fun! Activities start in August and often run through December offering holiday craft activities for the kids, recipes with locally grown foods for teens and adults. Pumpkin patch pictures are among my favorites!
2) Join the zoo crew! Do you have a zoo within 50 miles of your house? Spontaneous is good, but planning can be better. Most zoos today have websites and offer fantastic activities year round, but especially in fall and winter! Check out my local zoo’s web page: Brookfield, the educational activities are fun and amazing and the holiday activities are fantastic. How about planning in advance for a Christmas holiday zoo walk among the polar bears? Inexpensive or free, memories? Priceless! Find a zoo in your area.
3) Cold outside? Take a day and build a family website. Each family member takes responsibility for a page. If grandma and grandpa aren’t techie then help them out. Upload family pictures, anecdotes, and special stories. Watch your family history grow millennium style. Create your own genealogy.com.
4) Spring plantings in the fall: When is the best time to plant some spring flowers? In the fall of course. Involve the whole family in deciding what plants you want to see pop up next spring. Gather the seeds and bulbs in fall, plan a day of planting, and write on the calendar when you should start seeing those tulips, daffodils, etc. pop up. Upload pics on a family website to get bragging rights!
5) Forest preserve fun: Nature walks, runs, leaf identification and sledding have all been traditional forest preserve activities for preschoolers, grade school students and scouts. But did you know that local and national forest preserves now have year-round ongoing activities in which families can participate? From fishing and golf to hosting weddings, these aren’t your “grandma’s forest preserves!” Just take a look at my local forest preserve’s website: Lake County has things to do to keep you busy all year round! (Google your own forest preserve’s website for local ideas.)
6) Collecting things: No matter where you live in the United States, there are interesting things to collect: leaves and pine cones in the Midwest, shells on the shore, Indian lore in the Southwest. Any or all of these natural collectibles can be fashioned into holiday wreathes, table decorations and even items kids can sell locally to make some holiday cash!
7) Build a bird feeder: As the weather gets colder wildlife gets hungry. How about a family project to build a bird feeder?
8) Board games: Time to click off the Wii and get out the Scrabble. Board games aren’t just for fun, they build camaraderie, help with critical thinking and encourage healthy competition. No one can beat me in Scrabble (at least that is my mantra — come on, try?)
9) Card games: When was the last time you and your kids played anything — from Go Fish to War to Canasta or poker? Some of my best memories were family card games. Why just last Thanksgiving, I snagged $20 from my daughter and her fiancé! You don’t have to play for money. My dad actually taught my daughter to count with cards. Until she was 3, she thought we counted “A, K, Q, J, 10, 9 ...”
10) Cookie day! Who doesn’t like cookies? Who thinks only mom should make 'em, bake 'em, and give 'em to us? Forget it! Plan ahead for a family cookie day. Make one or two favorite recipes but EVERYONE participates in the decisions, creation, shopping, baking and … delights in the eating!
Make your fall and winter count for fun family activities that involve everyone. Don’t forget to check for free admission coupons in local papers, online and in Entertainment books. Remember, as Erma Bombeck said, “Laughter is the Best Medicine!”