Adorable girls

10 Ways to Survive a Snow Day on a Budget

It’s 6am, you’ve got one eye half open and you’re stumbling to the coffee maker. The sun isn’t up yet, and through the piercing light on your TV screen you see a weather advisory: Snowmageddon has struck your region.

For some parents, ‘snow’ is a dreaded four-letter word when it means winter weather patterns have crippled communities and shut down schools, leaving you to your own devices. Rest assured there are fun ways to spend your impromptu day off with your children. Check out these 10 budget-friendly ideas that will be sure to please kids and parents.

1. Satisfy your sweet tooth

There’s nothing cozier than taking in the wafting scents of chocolate and cinnamon swirling around your home. Check your pantry for some baking staples like flour, sugar and chocolate chips. Whip up a batch of cookies or a tasty dessert with your children. And you won’t have an extensive cleanup because if you remember, kids love licking spatulas and spoons! Here’s a simple recipe you can enjoy together:

Saltine Cracker Toffee


  • Saltine crackers
  • One bag of semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter


  • Spray or lightly grease baking sheet with non-stick spray or coconut oil
  • Place a layer of saltine crackers on sheet
  • Melt brown sugar and butter in saucepan, stirring constantly until it reaches a boil
  • Pour mixture on top of saltine crackers
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 3-5 minutes (or until it begins to bubble)
  • Pour bag of chocolate chips on top and wait 2-3 minutes for chips to begin melting
  • Spread chocolate chips over entire layer with spatula until it is covered entirely
  • Place baking sheet in freezer for 20 minutes to set
  • Remove from freezer and break apart with hands

2. Hit the ice

Ice skating and ice hockey are a couple of fun Canadian pastimes, and local rinks are pretty accessible and inexpensive. Check your community for public skating hours at indoor arenas, or find an outdoor frozen or synthetic rink in your municipality.

3. Family binge-watch

Assuming the weather event hasn’t impacted your power source, TV watching can be a fun family activity on a snow day. It’s different than a routine weekday, and the kids can cozy up on the couch and watch something they will (fingers crossed) enjoy together. Find a television show or a movie that appeals to the whole family, pop some popcorn and throw on your jammies for a fun family bonding experience. If you’re feeling a little cabin feverish indoors, many movie theatre chains offer discounted pricing if your child’s snow day conveniently falls on a Tuesday.

4. Be bookworms

If the roads have been plowed and you can safely make your way out of the driveway, or if it’s within walking distance, head to your local library branch. From books, to computer games, to colouring, libraries have plenty to offer at no extra cost. Venturing out not only offers a change of pace from the ‘everyday,’ your time spent at the library might actually tucker out your kids enough for a rare afternoon nap.

5. Become an artiste

Hand your little ones a paintbrush and let their imaginations do the rest! If you have non-toxic paint in the house, the kids can have fun and make a mess with their own creations. You can also kick things up a notch and make your own DIY paint and molding clay. Here are a couple of easy recipes that are a hit in our house:

Homemade Paint


  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½  cup salt
  • Food colouring


  • Mix together all ingredients until they create a paste-like consistency
  • Pour paint into shallow bowl or divide paint by colours in separate press and seal plastic bags
  • Pour each paint colour into plastic cups

DIY Clay


  • 2 cups salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup cold water


  • Heat and stir salt and water in saucepan (4-5 minutes)
  • Remove from heat; add cornstarch and cold water
  • Stir until smooth; return to heat until thick
  • Cool clay; shape
  • Once dry, decorate clay

6. Build together

If you’re feeling ambitious, dress the kids in their snowsuits and head outside for some snowman making, igloo building, snow angel fun! If building indoors is a better option for you, couch cushions and a large sheet or blanket will do the trick. The children can also bring flashlights, their favourite stuffies and books to complete the fort-like experience.

7. Walk a latte

Heading out for family run to your neighbourhood coffee shop is a great way to spend part of your snow day. If the café is within walking distance, round up the children for a wintery walk and a special hot chocolate treat once you’ve arrived. Opting for something caffeinated for mom or dad will also act as a pick-me-up to get you through the day.

8. Jump around

Schools may be closed, but That doesn’t mean indoor playgrounds are off limits. While some places charge a fee of about $10 per child, most of them offer free admission for children under one. There are more inexpensive options if you, for example, head to a city-run play centre like Playground Paradise in Toronto, where kids can play for a couple of hours for just a couple of bucks.

9. The hills are alive!

Grab the helmets and dust off the wooden toboggan; sledding is a great way to burn energy on a snow day. For safety’s sake, ensure you don’t head down any hills that are close to potential hazards like trees, fences and bumps. Take note–some municipalities have tobogganing bans in place.

10. Clear the sidewalk

All hands on deck! If you have access to a couple of shovels, pass them to the kids. You can all participate in a family-style dig-out from your walkway, to the driveway, to your elderly neighbour’s property. It’s great exercise and your children won’t only feel a sense of accomplishment, they might even earn a little extra pocket change for putting in all that hard work!

These frugal Snow Day activities are proof-positive you don’t need to break the bank when Mother Nature comes calling. Remember to keep it simple, have some fun, and enjoy the extra time with your kids.

Happy Wintering!