More and more South Africans are opting for a “staycation” over December. You save on holiday expenses and its wonderfully relaxing. If you’re staying home and want to bring some holiday magic to your family, here are some suggestions for fun activities that won’t break the bank.
Have a stargazing eveningThe best time to see stars is on a cloudless night with minimal moonlight. Make an event of it by laying out blankets and cushions and consulting a star map to learn the constellations and brightest astral bodies. Starwalk, is an inexpensive app that lets you point your mobile device at any point in the sky and it tells you what you’re looking at.
Have a baking dayNothing beats the smell of home-baked biscuits or cake. While there’s a great deal of joy in the eating, there’s even more fun to be had in the baking. Sit down with your kids and choose an online recipe (or select a family favourite), then spend the afternoon whipping up a storm in the kitchen.
Get giftingUse your creative talents to make gifts for family and friends. If you are handy in the kitchen, try fudge, homemade granola, or a batch of crunchies. Even if you’re not up for DIY gifting, you can still get the kids involved in making gift tags, cards and even wrapping paper.
Do an act of volunteerismVolunteering is a gift to the organisations you spend your time with, but it also enriches your soul. You can phone around your local charities, children’s homes, old-age homes or animal shelter to find out what they need, or you can register with an organisation like Better SA or search on Charity SA or check out this list of options in Cape Town.
Go for a hikeDon your backpack, pack yourself a picnic, some water and sunscreen and head for the hills. Most day hikes around major cities charge only a small entry fee and crashing around in the wilderness can keep you busy for hours. Check out these lists of accessible hikes in and around Joburg and Cape Town.
Arrange a sports or games tournamentIf another family that you are friendly with is also staying home for the holidays, make a plan to hold a games evening or sporting day. Set up obstacle courses or racing tracks in a local park or at the beach, or bring whatever board games you have and compete for points.
Have a potluck dinnerEntertaining needn’t be expensive if everyone chips in. Ask a group of friends to each bring a dish and tuck in!
Camp in the gardenIf you or someone you know has a garden, arrange to take your children “urban camping”. You can set up a tent if you have one, or just lie on a blanket under the African sky (if it rains, you can just go inside). Make it extra exciting by roasting marshmallows around a camp fire.
Start your veggie or herb gardenVegetable seeds cost very little, but deliver so much. If you’ve been meaning to start a veggie garden or a herb pot on your apartment balcony, now’s a great time to do it. Buy your seeds, consult your nursery manager for expert advice and get planting – you’ll be harvesting the rewards for months to come.
Affordable Durban family outings
- Expression on the Beach on Addington Beach hires out go-carts for R90 an hour, and kids (and adults) can have a ball driving along the promenade.
- There’s a fantastic FREE play area at the People’s Park at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. If your kids have rollerskates or bicycles, you can watch them ride from the restaurant deck while you make use of the free wifi.
Affordable Cape Town family outings
- Take the family for a plunge in the Sea Point pool for only R23 for adults and R12 for children.
- The Cape Town Science Centre has fantastic exhibits to entertain and educate children and adults alike. Entry is R55 for adults and children, R25 for pensioners and R200 for a family of four.
Affordable family outings in Joburg
- Visit the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre for incredible tactile exhibits including a construction site, sports science arena, interactive kids technology floor, dinosaur animatronics and toddlers play area. R48 for adults, R32 for kids and children under 3 get in free.
- Kids love trains, and the novelty of the Gautrain hasn’t worn off for adults yet either. Ride the train to Sandton or Rosebank (the Gold card costs R16 and rides start at R21, depending on your point of departure), then hop off and grab a bite to eat or an ice-cream before heading home. As an added bonus, this festive season, kids under 12 travel free to and from OR Tambo International Airport.