FF: 15 Fabulous Free Family Festivities!

It’s Frabjous Friday, time to have some fun and celebrate our successes. If you have good news, I invite you to let us know about it in a comment so we can happy dance with you.

I’m excited to have author Tammy Barley here today. She writes Western Inspirational Romances for Whitaker House and is a busy mom of three, including a set of twins. When Tammy’s not writing, mothering, or homeschooling, she’s likely to be baking, gardening, taking photos, or hugging a horse.

Tammy likes to have fun with her family, and she’s here to share some great ideas you can use. ~ Keli

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15 Fabulous Free Family Festivities!

By Tammy Barley

Discover 15 free family activities that my family enjoys! Many are inspired by family activities of 19th Century America! Share your own fabulous free family festivities with others! I’ll give away a copy of Hope’s Promise to a visitor who leaves a comment. (See details below.)

Remember the Little House books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder? Over the decades, they’ve inspired countless family traditions in many homes across America. Yep, my family and I have boiled down maple syrup to make maple candy—we’ve even filled a pan with snow like Laura Ingalls’ family did, and drew shapes with the hot, thick syrup, which formed candy! Yum!

Historical stories, journals, and yarns I’ve heard that were spun by older folks have inspired several fun, free traditions that my family and I have enjoyed. Here are 15—please add your own fabulous free traditions, and we’ll see how many we end up with! =)



1. Outdoor Games—Forgot how to play Kick-the-Can or Capture-the-Flag? Look up the directions online! =) When’s the last time you dug through your sports-stuff closet and pulled out the ol’ glove and softball? Ever try tackle Frisbee? Ladder Ball? Horseshoes? You’ve made the original purchase; enjoy those fun sports and games. They won’t cost you another penny. =)

2. Family Slumber Party—You already have sleeping bags and blankets—have fun! (Don’t forget the midnight snack!)

3. Flashlight Tag—Great for winter nights when the sun sets early. Play hide-and-seek with flashlights only. The seeker has to tag the hiders with their flashlight beam.

4. Barbecued Desserts—After the burgers are done, use the coals to toast marshmallows for S’mores. Or cut an orange in half, carefully remove the fruit, and pour chocolate cake batter into the orange-peel bowls. Bake until chocolate cupcakes are done! Yum!

5. Photography—If you have a digital camera, then you have an adventure waiting to happen. Go to a large local park or pond, and take turns snapping photos of chipmunks, squirrels, turtles, baby ducks and geese, butterflies, and each other. Take a hike, discover, climb a tree, and capture the moments!

6. Star Gazing and Meteor Showers—Don’t miss these golden opportunities to enjoy the universe! In your backyard or on your deck, spread out a blanket, bring pillows, and lie down and watch the show!

7. Wash the Car—Wear swimsuits and use a lot of bubbles and drippy sponges. Only one rule—don’t let it be work. =)



8. Family Fun Night—For us, this is every Friday night! We eat fun foods (no extra cost—ya gotta eat anyway) and either play board games like Pictionary or Clue or watch family movies (free from the library). Foods might be tacos, nachos, sub sandwiches (great fun to make at home, and SO yum!), or pizza. We like popcorn or cookies for dessert. When we have a little extra time, we make cream puffs or éclairs.

9. Friday Afternoon Slurp Time—After school (during the school year), and anytime during the summer, we plan Friday Afternoon Slurp Time. There’s no extra cost—ya gotta drink something anyway—so during the summer, we make lemonade or strawberry lemonade from scratch. (For this and lots of easy and affordable recipes, sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, Lassos -N- Lace.) We also make Frothy Coffee—a creamy, cool, frothy beverage like an ice-cream shake made with coffee. (Yep, you’ll also find that fabulous recipe at Lassos -N- Lace.) During the winter, we drink hot cocoa or hot apple cider. We prepare the beverages together, then sit at the table and chat together while we enjoy.



10. International Foods Day—I recently learned this nifty idea from a Lassos -N- Lace member and friend. Once each month, she and her family make one dinner that originated in a different country. The family can choose a country together, research that country’s traditional foods online, and then decide on a recipe and prepare it together. I love this one!



11. October 31st: Harvest Day—Everyone in the family gets to choose his or her own favorite non-dessert food or recipe, and we cook and enjoy them together. The kids look forward to Harvest Day all year!

12. Calvin-and-Hobbes Goofy Snowman Day—Make two-headed or alien snowmen a la Calvin and Hobbes!

13. Christmas Caroling—Around the neighborhood, or right inside your own home.



14. Swizzle Day—Once each year—the third week in January for us, to break up the long Midwest winters—we have Swizzle Day. That’s named after swizzle sticks which are used to stir beverages. This is the one day a year we peruse our recipe books and try a new beverage we’ve never tasted before. This year we tried a yogurt and fruit smoothie. Wow! (No extra cost—ya gotta drink something anyway.)

15. Shenanigan’s Day—My family loves to cook, so we think of our kitchen as a restaurant, which we call Shenanigan’s. (I am mom to three fun, mischievous teens, so what else would we call it?) 🙂 On Shenanigan’s Day, we again peruse our recipe books, this time for the one recipe we’ve all been longing to try. It may be a main dish, or it may be a dessert—whatever sounds good to everybody. The whole family helps to cook. As you might guess, after years of several food-related family traditions, even the teens have the cooking skills of professional student chefs.

Those are my 15 favorite Fabulous Free Family Festivities. They are free and make family time fun for everyone—family time that the kids will always cherish and never forget.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite Free Family Festivities?

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To learn more about Tammy, you can visit her website or read her two RWotJ interviews, which I posted in December 2008 and July 2009.

Tammy’s latest release is Hope’s Promise, Book Two in her Sierra Chronicles Trilogy . . .

For Better, for Worse
Jake Bennett is finally wed to the love of his life, Jessica Hale—but he isn’t convinced she won’t leave him. Life is a constant struggle for the Bennetts as they battle drought and live in fear of raids on Southerners, and he is not sure that Jess knew what she was getting herself into when she married him.

In Sickness and in Health

Jess, however, despairs for another reason—she is unable to conceive a child.

A Solemn Vow to Stand Together

While trying to prove their unconditional love for each other, the Bennetts must defend against attacks on the Paiutes, the doubts that haunt them both, and an unknown force that threatens to destroy all they hold dear. Together, they must stand in faith through betrayal, barrenness, and a very real threat, trusting that God will reward their hopes for a better future.


Tammy’s Drawing

Tammy has generously offered to give away an autographed copy of Hope’s Promise.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Tammy by midnight September 12 (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)

On September 13, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address. (I don’t share your info with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)

Congratulations to the winner of the drawing, Cristy-May!

Note: Offer void where prohibited.

Limited to those with a U.S. mailing address.

Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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9 Responses to FF: 15 Fabulous Free Family Festivities!

  1. Diane says:

    Those are some great ideas! I’m going to write some down and give them a go with the family! :O)

    The book sounds wonderful too!

  2. Tammy Barley says:

    Hi, Diane! Thank you for your kind comment! I’m always watching for new ideas too~that’s why I was so tickled with the recent idea I heard about International Day. =)



  3. christicorbett says:

    Thanks for the great tips. I have twins too and somedays new ideas escape me :).

    I love the Little House books and am enjoying them all over again now that I’m rereading them to my twins (who love them).

    Christi Corbett

  4. Tammy Barley says:

    Happy Friday, Christi! Aren’t twins the BEST twofer ever? =)

    Actually, my trio had never seen the Little House TV series, and we just started watching the first season last night. (Also free~from the library.) They love history, and they love seeing how people lived before electricity. I love the subtle faith messages. Both the books and the TV series are classics. Have fun reading with those twins. I read the stories to my kids too. =)

  5. I have several activities I did with the children. Remember we lived in the city, so we needed to be very creative with many winter indoor activities.

    1) Cleared out small furniture and put a picnic blanket on the floor or the living room. Packed a basket and had an indoor picnic with my kids and kids from the building.

    2) toast marshmallows or make smores with a gas range … good for a rainy afternoons

    3) Sundays certain museums in NYC are free
    4) Central Park is a subway ride away from tons of free fun … their zoo used to be free. I don’t know about now.

    4) Organized the kids in the apartment building for a talent contest.

    5) Had several of the kids help with hand made holiday gifts and baking cookies.

    6) Used a recording of Peter and the Woolf and each kid played a part. My son was always Peter.

    7) Any recording of Winney The Pooh and act out parts. Read books and act out parts.

    8) In October … Apple picking with my mom and the kids. They picked their own pumpkins on the same day.

    9) An entire Saturday walking in Manhattan during the holidays … from the puppets in Lord&Taylor to Macy’s windows and Santa to an afternoon at FAO Schwartz (told them it was a toy museum).

    10) A great Christmas day going to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, buy hot pretzles and eat hot dogs on the street in the wonderful cold weather.

    11) Wake them up in the middle of the night to make snow angels in the center of the road.

    12) Save all loose change every day and let the kids use it at the holidays to buy gifts for each other and grandma.

    13) Played Hide & Seek with my two and whoever else showed up that day. We had a very long hall with lots of places/closets and the stairwell … where they would hide.

    14) Pizza party with English Muffins/my own sauce/cheese and cookie sheets … This was always during a “girly” slumber party while the boys hid in the back room doing D&D.

    15) At least once a year I took some kid or younger relative for a ride on Coney Island’s Cyclone.

    Some of this is free/some a subway token or a bus ride away … but all of it was fun and our house was always filled with my kids, the neighbors kids and Bless my poor neighbors … lots of noise and loud music for the biggest kid … me.

  6. Tammy Barley says:

    Ramblings, you are a wonderful mom~even for kids who aren’t yours by birth. God greatly bless you for all the hearts you’ve touched and the memories you’ve made. I know that those kids and your own will always be inspired by your generosity of self.

    Thank you for your great ideas~ I’m definitely adding pizza parties and midnight snow angels and a couple more to my list (unfortunately, no Central Park here in cow country)!


  7. Cristy-May Delaney says:

    Hi Tammy,

    Those ideas are great, we do a game night at my house once a week and we go hiking a lot. I take my son to art galleries and a lot of educational places as well as things he like to do like skate boarding and scootering. I want him to share with me his interests, as well as me getting him involved in mine. Have a great weekend and I love your website. Take care

  8. Tammy Barley says:

    Hi, Cristy-May (my not-too-distant cousin)! Hikes are another great idea. We can even do that in cow country! =)

    I love that you join in and share your son’s interests as well as allowing him to join in and share yours. Awesome idea!!!

  9. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks again for such a fun-filled article, Tammy.

    Thanks to those who left comments. You were entered in the drawing for the copy of Hope’s Promise, which Tammy so generously offered as a prize. Because I’ve been busy preparing for a writers conference, I’m late with the drawing, and I apologize. I’ve held it now, and the winner is Cristy-May.

    Congratulations, Cristy-May! I’ll be in touch.

Comments are closed.