Summer is coming and I need a bag-of-tricks ready to keep my four kids occupied all summer. I’ve come up with a few staycation ideas that I know my kids will love and remember! As much as I’d love to run away to Walt Disney World right now, sometimes it’s just not in the budget for a big family vacation. The ultimate summer-on-a-budget staycation is easy on the wallet and still full of fun! It just takes a little creativity and planning.
This is the first year that I’ll be spending at home with the kids as a SAHM. I’m equally excited about being able to relax and also worried that I’m going to have four bored kids on my hands after the first week at home! My plan is to get the kids on board and schedule special at-home events on the calendar. Some of these activities could be spread out over the course of the week, leading up to the “big day”. It really gives everyone something to look forward to and not focus on what we “can’t” do (take a vacation).
Here are my 10 budget-friendly staycation ideas!
Art & Craft Show
Kids love to get crafty and it doesn’t have to be pricey. You probably already have some craft supplies laying around that you could dig out. Set up an area outside where you can get messy and creative.
- Local craft stores frequently mail out 50% coupons or you could search for one online or shop the dollar store for cheap crafting supplies.
- Give everyone a sketch book and have a thirty minute session where you draw the portrait of the person next to you (this is sure to induce giggles!)
- Save your glass jars from jelly or spaghetti sauce and use acrylic or glass paints to decorate.
- Make pipe cleaner sculptures.
- Use torn pieces of tissue paper and a glue stick on velum paper to make “stained glass” images.
- Using clean paint brushes and bucket of water outside, have kids quickly “paint” a picture on the sidewalk and see if everyone else can guess what it is before it evaporates!
- Recreate a famous painting in your own style.
- Pull out cheap watercolor trays and paint a scene from your backyard.
- Rainy day? Set up a still life on the table and have everyone draw the same scene then compare your pictures.
- Cut out pictures from magazines and “mod podge” the images onto wooden frames or boxes.
- Make paper bag puppet and have kids create a puppet show with their creations.
- On the last day, display everyone’s artwork in the house and hang a handcrafted blue ribbon on each kid’s best work!
Under the Big Top
After we went to the circus (the animal-free variety) a few years ago, my kids were fascinated with the tricks and skills they saw. Lots of great activity here to get you off the couch!
- Dress up like a clown in old over-sized clothing and costumes.
- A strip of blue masking tape on the patio makes an acceptable “tight rope”.
- See who can keep multiple hula hoops going at the same time (one around your neck and one around your arm?!).
- Practice balancing a balloon on your nose…and then walk the tight rope!
- Create an obstacle course in the backyard.
- Paint each child’s face like a circus animal
- Enjoy a snack of peanuts and popcorn
- Local campsites have inexpensive overnight fees and you could try to catch your dinner in the lake!
- Take a walk with flashlights to explore the sights and sounds after nightfall.
- If you don’t want to stray too far from home, camp in your backyard instead. Pitch a tent, barbecue dinner over coals, roast marshmallows and fall asleep under the stars.
- Or simply roll out the sleeping bags in the living room and “camp” in the house under the comfort of your ceiling fan!
- If you don’t have your own pool, perhaps a family member or friend will let you “borrow” theirs for the day (especially if you volunteer to bring everyone dinner!)
- Our local YMCA has a great zero-entry pool, water slide and play area for just a few dollars per person. Check at your local pools and find out when open-swim time is available.
- High schools often open their pools in the summer for a nominal fee.
- Wash the car, there is always an opportunity for a soapy sponge fight there.
- Or just set the sprinklers or spray the hose and run through the water, every kid loves that!
- I’m not crazy about water balloons because of the mess they leave behind, but sponges soaked in water are perfect for a good super-soaking!
A Night at the Movies…in Your Living Room
- Pull out an old favorite and host a themed movie evening complete with handcrafted posters, costumes and a themed dinner around the film. (ie: Watching Mulan? Make Chinese stir fry and rice).
- Pull out the floor pillows, pop up some kernels and settle down together after the sun has set.
- Give the kids a task of recreating a favorite film in their own interpretation. Come up with a script and costumes and present it to parents!
Gather up stuff from around the house for game play in the yard. Kids love to get in the silly spirit!
- Craft blue ribbons for the winners of the contests.
- Empty 2-liter soda bottles and a ball for a knock ’em down game. Or fill 2-liter bottles with water and use them for ring toss.
- Toss a ball into a bowl or a coffee can.
- Have a watermelon seed-spitting contest.
- Pull out the face paint for added fun!
- Have a mini-pie eating contest.
- Serve hot dogs and potato chips outside, followed up with root beer floats.
If you have a budding baker on your hands (or simply kids who love sweets!), this is a fun way to get creative and maybe a little messy.
- A bucket of vanilla ice cream, a few toppings and candy from the dollar store and you can all have amazing sundaes!
- Or find a recipe online for making your own ice cream.
- Find a delectable over-the-top recipe on Pinterest and make it for dessert.
- Bake cupcakes and have fun creatively decorating them.
- Spoon frosting into plastic baggies and snip off the corner for quick and easy pastry bags.
- Make a summer-time themed “gingerbread house” that requires no baking with graham crackers, store bought frosting and candies.
When it’s too hot to play outside, take refuge in the house under a homemade fort!
- Sofa pillows and blankets are fair game for fort making inside.
- Pull out the dining room chairs, drape sheets and use binder clips to hold them up.
- If you want to get fancy, a string of twinkle lights would be fabulous.
- If you have a few cardboard boxes, take the time to paint and decorate them, cutting out windows and a door flap.
- I think a quiet evening of reading is in order under your forts because horseplay would make your city fall down!
Board Game Bonanza
One of our favorite family events is gathering around a few board games for a fun evening of competition and laughs.
- Borrow some games that you don’t have from friends or family so you have a nice variety for all ages and host a game day at home.
- Simple sandwiches make a great meal and have plenty to snack on between turns.
- Write out your own Pictionary or Charades game ideas.
- Find “Minute to Win It” games on Pinterest that use items from around the house.
An Elegant Evening
- Every kid has a dress up box or can at least borrow something fun from mom and dad for the evening.
- Time to pull out the sequins, get glamorous and have a fancy night at home.
- Light a few candles at the table and elevate even the most boring weekday dinner.
- Serve up a Shirley Temple in a fancy glass and the kids will feel so special!
Hope this list of ideas starts you on your way towards a memorable summer staycation!