Cheap Summer Thrills


Here are a few ideas that won’t break the budget.  The price of gas has already managed to do that for our household!

  • Swimming at a public pool is really cheap, but better yet, if you know someone who has a pool or a pool in their community, you can go for free as their guests.
  • Summer reading programs at your local library
  • A cheap and attractive way to decorate your yard is with “designer stones.”  Buy as many small stones as necessary and many different colors of paint and various brush sizes.  Allow the kids to decorate their rocks and place in the yard.  We just finished designing 15 more small stones to use as a border  for the front of our yard.  My husband even participated in this one.
  • Local musuems are a treasure.  Most of them offer at least one free night per month.  Not to mention that they have all types of them–everything from the state police museum to a Batman musuem in our city.
  • Visit the zoo and take a picnic lunch
  • Feed the ducks at a local lake, pond, river
  • Places such as The Home Depot and Lowe’s often offer monthly craft corners for children free of charge
  • Craft stores such as Michael’s and Hobby Lobby offer crafts for reasonable prices
  • Local parks…need I say more?  Another way to perk up this mundane trip is to take a camera and strike a pose.  I love candid shots, plus the greenery is so lush in the summertime.  Also be sure to take a variety of balls (basketball, soccer, baseball) for more fun.
  • Make use of your city’s downtown.  They usually have neat stores to browse and window shop
  • Play board games and make a popcorn that you have never tried before such as marshmallow or salt and cracked pepper along with lemonade or sweet tea.
  • Catch bugs
  • Create a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood
  • Biking
  • Have the kids go through their possessions in search of things they don’t want and have a yard sale.  Do something fun with the proceeds.
  • Matinees.  Here in our city we have a reduced price theatre that shows movies for .50 cents on Tuesdays.  On other days the price is a mere $1.50 and the movies are pretty current.
  • Drive-in theatres
  • Have the kids create a play and perform it in the back yard for family and friends.
  • Have a family car wash day. Allow the kids to suit up and help wash the family vehicles.
  • Take advantage of restaurants where kids eat free
  • Enjoy plays put on by children theatre groups–they are often reasonably priced
  • Children, ethnic, and cultural festivals.  We recently had a blast at the American Indian Festival.  We had buffalo burgers and Indian tacos.
  • The State Fair–is there anything like “fair food”?  I can’t wait to try a deep-fried latte!
  • Have/help the kids prepare a simple summer dessert.  They will be so proud of themselves!
  • Speaking of dessert, eat dinner at home and take the kids out for dessert at a restaurant.  Our kids love when we do this.
  • If you have voice recording functions on your computer, encourage the kids to make CD’s of any kind, comedy, drama, songs, poems…
  • Take the kids to pick their own berries at a strawberry patch
  • Write poetry
  • Enter contests (coloring, drawing, writing, photographs–any kind), because you can’t win if you don’t enter)
  • Odd as it sounds, allow your older children to help you shred documents.  Nicholas loves to do this.
  • Make pickles, butter, or ice-cream
  • Take them on a shopping spree at a thrift store looking for treasures (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure)
  • Create a family crest ( a good idea for stepfamilies and can even combine last names to make one that includes everyone–silly is good i.e. “The McGarvalaniskis’)
  • Design t-shirts with fabric paint and/or paint markers
  • Create an end of the summer photo essays using pictures to detail all the fun they had
  • Make a scrapbook in which everyone creates a layout
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Write letters/post cards to relatives and friends, even if they live stateside.  Everyone enjoys a pleasant surprise in the mail from time to time
  • Visit a local nursing home and adopt a friend or read stories to them
  • Tour the sports arenas in your area.
  • Form a family band and perform
  • Go fishing
  • Fly a kite
  • Create magnets for the fridge
  • Teens can use the summer as an opportunity to shadow someone in the profession they desire
  • Visit the local farmers market.  I love to do this because I am so in awe of fresh produce and what it takes to grow it because I can’t even grow a cactus!
  • Plant a family garden
  • Check out KidsBowlFree.Com
  • Host a spa day filled with massages, pedicures, manicures, and facials for guys and girls all on the homefront using ingredients on hand.
  • Give each child a plant to “raise” for the summer
  • Design “Russian” eggs by blowing out the insides and decorating the shell
  • Study a foreign tongue using books and tapes and see how fluent you are by summer’s end
  • Listen to books on tape
  • Rearrange and/or redocorate their bedrooms together
  • Be spontaneous when the opportunity arises.  Today while parking the car at my doctor’s office, my husband noticed a Lifeline helicopter.  My husband simply asked if the kids could look at it and the pilot was delighted to oblige them.  While I went inside for my appointment, they spent the hour receiving a personalized tour of the copter and hearing many stories. 
  • Visit a half-price bookstore and allow each child to get a reasonably priced book.
  • Help an elderly relative for a day.
  • Chill out and go ice-skating in the summer
  • Have lunch on a college campus–a good way to introduce your little ones to the concept/importance/atmosphere of college.  Makes for good discussion, too.
  • Volunteer
  • Host a sleepover
  • Play in the sprinklers
  • Teach your children how to prepare simple meals by having a weekly cooking lessons (so important for later in life!)
  • If you have a game system, play with your child once in a while.  Allow them to teach you and find out why it fascinates them so.  The first time I sat down with Nicholas to play he was in total shock.
  • Try foods you have never tried before together to broaden their horizons.
  • If possible, take your child to work with you for a day.
  • Visit a relative that you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Take them for a tour of your old elementary/middle/high school
  • Do crossword puzzles–better yet, create your own.
  • Create your own story using a blank book found at teacher supply stores or craft stores.
  • Record family stories for future generations
  • Make silly family videos
  • Learn calligraphy with your kids
  • Go rock climbling
  • Visit a skateboard park
  • Play double dutch. Rhonda and I did this with a group of kids at a popular children’s spot and had a blast! There were more adults than children participating.  It was like stepping back into childhood.
  • Visit car shows, antique and contemporary
  • Go yard saling.  My mother, stepdad, and her sisters perfected this into an art.
  • Make a pillow or quilt from an old clothing
  • Open at sun tea stand
  • Visit a “bark park”
  • Bake healthy doggy treats together for your (or the neighbor’s) pooch
  • Select a book that everyone in the household reads together.  You can even have members participate on a chapter basis if time issues are a concern.  We did this last summer with “Maniac McGee.”  I began by reading it outloud and then they each took turns helping me read.  They really enjoyed this approach.
  • Upload a funny video on YouTube
  • Create a family newsletter for all relatives
  • Build something original with Legos–the sky really is the limit with this toy!
  • Chill out and go ice-skating in the heat of the summer–need I say more?
  • Your suggestion here:

Here are pictures of our “family stones.”  Enjoy your summer!

Family Stones


Painted Stones

5 responses »

  1. Wonderful ideas, I love them all!!! We often have a family slumber party where we all sleep in one room together, and watch movies in bed, do each other’s toe nails, play with each other’s hair, and just laugh and have fun. This is our favorite thing to do on Saturday nights!

  2. We got the cheap $89 pool from walmart (3 ft deep) and have played in it all summer. They’re probably in and out of it all day but it keeps them cool between other activities.

    We also got a mini-plan from the Rangers pre-season and the tickets doing it that way were about 1/2 price from buying them at the game. If you have a minor league team around there- the tickets to those game are usually fairly inexpensive also

    Love your ideas!

  3. Hey Girls~

    It’s all about having fun! I like your idea Amy about the minor league team. In fact, our reading program at our public libraries offers the tickets at buy-one get-one free as a prize for reading so many books.

    Also I do need to get a small pool for Jazmine. We let her and the boys run through the sprinkler the other day and she was just beside herself with glee.

    And PB, that is our all-time favorite activity for Saturday evenings!

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