Family Fun Doesn't Have To Be Expensive; 25 Places to Go and Things to Do

  1. 1. Zoo Lights at the National Zoo
    11/28-January 5, 5-9pm
    3001 Connecticut Ave,
  2. 2. Season’s Greetings at the US Botanic Gardens
    100 Maryland Ave, SW (national mall)
  3. 3. Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple
    12/4-1/1/16, 10am-10pm
    9900 Stoneybrook Drive (Kensington, MD)
  4. 4. Holley TrollyFest
    Dec. 20, 21, 27, 28, 12:30-4:30pm
    1313 Bonifant Rd (Colesville, MD)
  5. 5. Water Skiing Santa
    12/24, 1pm
    Woodrow Wilson Bridge (National Harbor, MD)
  6. 6. Printable Holiday Lights Scavenger Hunt
  7. 7. Candy Cane Hunt
  8. 8. Make a Hot Chocolate Buffet
    Mmm… There’s nothing like a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a cold December night. Kick it up for the holiday season by making a buffet of toppings for your cocoa. Some ideas include whipped cream, marshmallows, crushed candy canes, shaved chocolate, chocolate chips, and cinnamon dots. Get creative! The kids will love customizing their hot cocoa.
  9. 9. Invite friends over to make “friendship stew”. Each person brings an ingredient and you simmer it on the stove while you visit and eat it together for lunch or dinner. Try this recipe:

    Friendship Stew

    2 pounds ground beef
    4 one-pound cans Italian-style crushed tomatoes
    2 medium white or yellow onions
    4 large potatoes
    1 one-pound can yellow corn
    1 one-pound can green beans
    1 8 1/4 ounce can sliced carrots
    2 tsp. salt
    1 tsp black pepper
    1 tsp. crushed oregano
    1 6-ounce frozen green peas

    Brown the ground beef and drain. Place canned tomatoes in a four-quart stock pot. Peel and coarsely chop onions and potatoes. Add to tomatoes. Add beef and remaining ingredients, except the peas. Bring the stew to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer slowly for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add peas and cook five minutes longer. Serve with bread. Serves about 8. You can make this stew by leaving out any one of the ingredients, except the tomatoes.

  10. 10. Find a puzzle at a thrift store and work on it as a family. Leave it open on a spare table so people can work on it over the course of several days.
  11. 11. Get cheap wrapping paper at the dollar store and use it to “wrap” every family member’s bedroom door.
  12. 12. Have a movie marathon night. Each person chooses a movie and it goes in a hat and you pick 2-3 to watch in an evening. Pop popcorn and string it like garland as you watch. Some to eat and some to decorate.
  13. 13. Go on a change hunt in your house. Look in old purses, change jars, and the sofa! Decide as a family what you will do with the collected money. A good suggestion this time of year would be to use it to buy groceries and go as a family to the local food bank to deliver it.
  14. 14. Try these holiday themed “Minute to Win It” competitions
  15. 15. Fairfax High School Winter Concert
    Dec. 20, 7 p.m. Fairfax High School Choral and Orchestra Department present a performance of Christmas tunes. Bring an unwrapped gift for a child to donate to the Toys for Tots drive.
    Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax; 703-219-2355;; Free.
  16. 16. Watch Night
    Dec. 31, 7 p.m.-Midnight Ring in the New Year with free family-friendly festivities at the 15th Annual Watch Night New Year’s Eve Celebration in the City of Falls Church.
    Intersection of Broad St. and Washington St., Falls Church; 703-534-4942;; Free
  17. 17. Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibit
    Dec. 1-30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (except Dec. 24-25). For 26 consecutive years, Ferry Farm, the site of George Washington’s childhood home, fills with the tempting aromas of cinnamon and the creative expressions of children and adults alike. Come to see the exhibit of hand-crafted gingerbread houses, or participate in a contest and make your own! This year’s theme is “Songs of the Holidays”. Entry form required to participate in the contest.
    Kenmore Visitor Center, 1201 Washington Ave., Fredericksburg; 540-373-3381;; $5/adult, $2.50/child.
  18. 18. LOC Theater Presents: A Christmas Story
    Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. Experience the cult classic, a guaranteed laugh and a sure-fire way to make your holiday bright. Even if you’ve seen the film 100 times, you’ll still be on the edge of your seat until the very end, anxious to see whether Ralphie gets the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle of his dreams. A perfect movie night for the whole family. Reservations suggested.
    Library of Congress Packard Campus, 19053 Mount Pony Road, Culpeper; 540-827-1079 x79994; Free
  19. 19. Christmas at Oatlands
    Through Dec. 30 Visitors can view the holiday decorations displayed throughout the mansion and surrounding gardens.
    Oatlands Historic House and Gardens, 20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane, Leesburg; 703-777-3174;; Free
  20. 20. Holiday Sing-Along – Reston Community Orchestra
    4:00 PM | Saturday Dec 19, 2015
    Bring your voice and your musical instrument. Share a stand with an RCO player under the direction of Maestro Dingwall Fleary. This family-friendly hour of your favorite music is a great way to get ready for the holiday season. Free. No ticket required, but seating is limited. Donations for Embry Rucker Community Shelter are appreciated.
  21. 21. Collect some of your old towels and blankets and drop them off at a local shelter. Spend some time visiting with the animals.
  22. 22. Concert: Marriotts Ridge High School Madrigals
    Saturday, December 19th at 1:30pm
    National Gallery of Art, West Building Rotunda
  23. 23. Kwanzaa Arts and Crafts Day
    Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
    Tuesday, December 29 at 10:30am
  24. 24. Try at little wintery science. Many of these require things you have already around the house.
  25. 25. Road Trip! If the weather stays clear of snow and ice, take the family on a driving adventure. Pull up a map online and circle an area within an hour of your house. Vote on a place to travel to, and plan on pulling up to your choice in time for lunch or dinner. Try a local restaurant in lieu of fast food. Diners and family restaurants are usually just as cheap as McDonalds and way better for you!