If you’re anticipating spending time with your grandchildren these holidays, you might be wondering how on earth to keep them happily entertained, especially if you have a limited budget or you battle with mobility.
Trips to the movies, Funworld or uShaka can put unwelcome pressure on your finances, especially if there are ice creams, hamburgers and popcorn to buy on top of the tickets.
Picnic in the park
Luckily there are cheaper options that prove just as appealing to active youngsters. If transport is available and you’re fit and active, why not take the kids for a picnic to the beach or a nearby park? Packing juice, fruit, sandwiches or cheese and biscuits is all part of the fun and younger children, especially, prefer the freedom of a picnic to sitting down to eat at a café.
The Durban Botanic Gardens offers plenty of open space for play – plus the attraction of the Butterfly Habitat Garden and the lake area with its abundant bird life. Mitchell Park is another winner – with its large playground. Entrance into the park is free, and tickets into the zoo section are affordable at only R10 for children under 12 and R6 for pensioners!
If you are housebound, there are still plenty of fun activities you can enjoy with your grandchildren. Why not gather together some paper, paints or crayons and paint a picture together? With all the technology and high end toys available these days, many kids still enjoy plain old messy fun.
If you’re a bit of a hoarder, you may have bits of ribbon, buttons, old Christmas cards and so on – as well as everyday household items like tin foil and cotton wool – that can be glued onto your picture to create interesting textures.
Every child kneads play dough
Play dough can provide hours of fun – and is suitable for a range of ages. Get the kids to help you make your own, non toxic dough.
• 2 cups flour
• ½ cup of salt
• 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
• ¾ cup of hot water
• 1 tablespoon cooking oil (or baby oil)
• Food colouring
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and form a well in the centre. Add the oil, water and food colouring* and knead into a soft dough. If the dough seems too runny, allow the mixture to rest for a few moments to give the salt a chance to absorb extra moisture. If the dough is still sticky, add a little more flour. If you want different coloured balls of dough, divide the mixture into before adding the colouring.
Now for the fun! Use cookie cutters, natural materials like stones or leaves that can be pressed into the dough to make patterns, or simply model the dough into animals and people. Play dough can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month and used again and again.
Get creative with FunLooms
Create your own colourful jewellery with the Fun Loom Kit! This kit includes a hook, 600 colourful nontoxic silicone bands, 30 closure clips, a step-by-step guide and an expandable loom board that lets you design and make trendy accessories such as bracelets, rings, hair bands, belts, necklaces and more.
Homemark currently has a promotion on their FunLooms. For R99.95 (including shipping) you can buy a pack that will keep the grandkids busy for hours! The best part about this, is that a portion of each pack sold goes to Tafta to benefit Durban’s elders.
Put the pieces together
Older children may enjoy building a challenging jigsaw puzzle with you. Many thrift shops sell second hand puzzles at next to nothing. Or you may be able to swop puzzles with friends to provide new challenges.
Icing on the top
Kids love to help with baking, especially if there are bowls to lick afterwards or you’re using Smarties or Astros for decoration (just keep little ones away from hot ovens)! Why not rustle up a batch of Christmas cookies together and decorate them with coloured icing? These make wonderful gifts as well – so you can have fun and give pleasure at the same time.
For the sugar cookies you will need:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
Cream butter and sugar until soft and fluffly (at least 3 mins)
Beat in vanilla essence and egg
In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add a little at a time to the butter mixture until you have a stiff dough. Do not refrigerate. Roll out onto a floured surface and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool and decorate with royal icing.
To make the icing, you will need:
3 cups icing sugar
2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Blend together the sugar, cream of tartar and egg whites. Add vanilla essence and beat for one or two minutes. Add water if necessary to obtain a spreading consistency. Divide icing and add different food colouring as required. Pipe or spread icing over cookies and add additional decorations (eg silver balls) if required.
Have more fun ideas for holiday fun on a budget? Please share with us!