One of my favorite family activities is playing games and working on puzzles. It’s the perfect activity for those times when the weather is too yucky to go outside.
Puzzles and games can provide hours of fun frugal family entertainment especially when you know how to get puzzles and games for free or cheap.
How to Get Puzzles and Games for Free or Cheap
Games and puzzles can be expensive. But with a little effort, you can score some great deals and maybe even some free entertainment. Here are a few ways to get puzzles and games for free or cheap:
Shop the sales. Most discount retailers have big sales on games a few times each year. For example, Target, Kmart and Walmart always have two big toy clearances (one in the summer, one in the winter) as they make room for new items. These clearance sales are a great time to pick up board games and puzzles for your family. There are also good sales on games and puzzles around the Christmas shopping season. Toys ‘R Us usually has a couple of ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ sales that can help you save money, too.
Take advantage of coupons and rebates. Watch for printable coupons for popular board games and pay attention to coupons on product packaging. (Sometimes cereal boxes have coupons for games). If you’re shopping online, you can use a cash-back site like Ebates to earn a rebate on your purchase. In addition, sometimes game-makers like Hasbro offer mail-in rebate offers you can use to save money on games.
Buy games secondhand. If you’re looking to get puzzles and games cheaply, be sure to shop secondhand. Thrift shops, garage sales, and estate sales are great places to score some amazing deals on board games and puzzles. And remember, if, on the off-chance you get a game home and discover it’s missing game pieces, there are some low-cost solutions for that.
Put puzzles and games on your wish list. Chances are family or friends ask you what they should get you or your kids for gifts. Suggest puzzles and games. They’ll appreciate having some good ideas, and you’ll get to enjoy some free puzzles and games.
Play online. Look for free games and puzzles online or for free puzzle and game apps you can play on your phone or tablet. Make sure to disable in-app purchases and only download games or puzzles from reputable sources. Playing games or puzzles online takes away the “family fun” aspect, as they tend to be more singular activities, but there are a few games (like Scrabble or Words with Friends) that allow you to play with family and friends who live far away. The best part about playing online? No mess to pick up later!
Invite your friends to bring their games and puzzles to your house. In the mood to play a game, but don’t have any good ones to play? Invite gaming friends to your house for an evening of fun. You provide the snacks and they bring the games or puzzles. You’ll have fun without breaking the bank, and the clutter goes back to their house when you’re done!
Borrow games and puzzles. Ask a friend or family member if you can borrow their puzzles and games. Just be sure to take excellent care of their items and be sure to return the favor when they ask to borrow something.
Head to your library or local community center. Some libraries allow you to check out puzzles and games. Or stop by your local community center (youth center, senior centers, etc) and play games or work on puzzles there.
Hold a game or puzzle swap. Sick of your games and puzzles? Maybe you have a friend who is, too! Hold a game or puzzle swap and you can get new (to you) games and puzzles to enjoy without spending any money.
Create your own games and puzzles. Use a blank jigsaw puzzle template to design your own puzzle and cut it out. Play games that don’t need supplies (like charades). A cheap deck of cards and a set of dice from the dollar store can provide you with dozens of great family games to play. You’re really only limited by your imagination.
Games and puzzles are a great way to start conversations with family and friends. They’re also a great way to teach kids how to work together and good sportsmanship. Getting your puzzles and games for free or cheap is just icing on the cake!
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Ben Luthi says
Great tips! We love playing games in my family, but there’s always so dang expensive at the store.
I think thrift stores are great places to find games for less. Sometimes they have hardly been used! Also, if you find just the right game – and you’re into reselling to make a profit – there is some good margins there. :)
Christina Brown says
Good point, Aaron! I hadn’t thought about the resale value. One of the things I love about shopping at thrift stores for games is that you can find some pretty wacky games. They’re good for laughs!