This article outlines suggestions of seasonal leisure activities to be had for little to no money.
Take a park stroll with pals. You’ll have been sick and tired of being cooped up over the winter, and you’ll get to see the work of nature in progress as the world turns green again.
Take up a new sport. Whether or not your New Year’s resolutions have burnt out, spring’s a great time to start jogging, cycling, a ball game or any other high-impact activity – easier to break yourself in than under the scorching summer sun, plus you’ll look great in your holiday swimwear!
If you’ve a young family, get into the spirit of Easter. You can make bonnets for the price of some coloured card, ribbons, glitter and glue. Paint eggs: start by pricking a tiny hole at the top and bottom of an egg. Blow out the yolk, and the painted egg need not be thrown out. On the day, get out to the nearest steep hill and send your chocolate eggs rolling!
Get out into the garden and reacquaint yourself with plants you haven’t seen since autumn. It’s remarkably therapeutic, and even more satisfying with a team of friends or family to help out.
Go retro with a Twister tournament on the lawn. You’ll be unsurprised to learn your co-ordination hasn’t much improved since you were ten. If you like, go the whole hog with the kid stuff and bring out the water guns and balloons to cool off when you’re done.
Obvious, really, but a picnic in the park can be as much of a pleasure as a trip to a sunny beach. Loads of home and garden suppliers sell sophisticated hampers and picnicware, and there are millions of classy picnic recipes online, so there’s no danger of soggy sandwiches and limp salad leaves.
If you don’t have a three-figure sum for a festival ticket, check out boutique festivals happening near you – a lot of the gigs are free to attend.
Have an all-hands-on-deck barbecue. Ask each of your friends to supply something and you’ll have a great evening without having to spend a fortune. Most people end up buying and cooking far too much anyway, so you’re being soft on the planet as much as your wallet. You can also apply this principle to dinner parties year-round.
If you’ve a digital camera, it’s worthwhile going on a nature walk to track the changes in the seasons. Photography hardware and software is becoming more advanced all the time, so you can while away hours tweaking your beautiful autumn pictures.
If window-shopping is frustrating you, (the town centres will already be plying Christmas promotions) take a detour into your local art gallery. Most are free to enter or require only a small donation.
If you’ve children, take them out to get them kicking through the dry leaves. These also make pretty collages.
Have a Halloween party at home instead of an expensive night on the town. Don’t spend a fortune in fancy dress shops for Halloween – you’d be surprised at what you’ll find lying around from previous years. Older relatives are also great sources of quirky clothing and accessories. Turn your hair white with talc, or any other colour with a cheap can of temporary spray: much more convincing than a wig.
Organize a murder mystery or casino-themed dinner party and have everyone dress up and contribute something to the meal (ask them to base their dishes on their character, or devise an appropriate cocktail, if you like). A whole evening’s worth of entertainment for very little initial outlay.
Get reacquainted with your local library. So few people make the time to sit down and read for its own sake these days, so find a stellar read, a quiet corner, and lose yourself for an afternoon.
It’s a time for snuggling in, so plan a movie night with your friends. If everyone brings a DVD and a bottle, all you need do is provide a couple of your own, sofa space, popcorn and nachos, and you’ve a comfy, cosy night in on the go.
Shop-bought fireworks aren’t just dangerous, they’re frequently disappointing. Save yourself the hassle by hitting a local display: after seeing the sights, take your friends back for hot chocolate (or a hot toddy) and bargain snacks such as hotdogs and baked potatoes. So much more satisfying than wet feet and numb fingers.
Get your crafty friends together for a day of handmade gifts – whether it be sewing, cooking, painting, collage or making mix CDs, a few bottles of wine and a handful of craft materials will do far less damage to your wallet than a shopping spree with cocktails. Plus you’ll avoid the savage Christmas shopping crowds!
New Years’ is always the centre of much hype that rarely delivers: skip the huge bill for a ticket to a street party (or even a local pub!) and have a small gathering at home: have a musical friend man the decks, have everyone bring a bottle of their favourite, keep snacks simple and home-made and you’ll bring in a fresh year in the warmth, with loved ones and without having run your bank balance below the ground.