Your Budget-Smart Summer Bucket List

So summer. It goes a little something like this: it gets warm, pool day, pool day, Fourth of July, back to school shopping. Right? How does it go SO fast? Like warp speed? Like speed of light? Like 10X faster than a single week of winter? I mean every single year it seems that just as summer settles in, we find ourselves trading splash park days and backyard barbecues for book bags and back to school night.

This summer, don’t give up summer without a fight. Make a bucket list and get busy making the most of these sunny days. Here are 11 affordable ideas for your family’s summer bucket list so you can make those memories before summer slips away.

  1. Movie under the Stars

Movie-going is pretty synonymous with summer, but you haven’t done it right until you’ve seen a movie under the stars. Search for a local driven-in (yes, they still exist!) or check your city’s calendar to see if they offer a movie night at a park. Even your backyard can become a theater with a sheet and projector on loan. Then you can invite the whole neighborhood and win mom of the week. Complete the experience with some picnic-style snacks, mosquito spray and blanket to sprawl out.

  1. Send Your Little Scavengers on a Hunt

Wind them up and WAER THEM OUT. Customize the search with a checklist to fit your kids’ interests or your neighborhood scenery. My little nature lover could spend all afternoon searching for ladybugs and chipmunks. Work like a charm? You can repeat your hunt all you want if you switch up your list or take it to a local park.

  1. Super Lemonade Stand

Get your kids outside AND teach them about money management at the same time. You can really do a lot with this summer classic. Rally some kids around their “business” by giving everyone jobs. One kid can design a sign, another set prices, and a few make homemade lemonade (or healthy infused water). We add homemade baked goods to the sale, as well. Have a crafty artist at home? You can also make friendship bracelets or other small crafts to sell.

  1. Go Fly A Kite

It seems like this is kind of a lost art, but we love flying kites. My boys love chasing them, my husband gets lots of exercise, and I get lots of fresh air and really cool pictures of my family. If your kids are older, they can go kite flying by themselves once you teach them. You can even help them make their own kites or put together a kite race with friends.

  1. Kid Boss for a Day

Let your kid be the boss and make his idea of the ultimate summer day happen. Call it something fun like “Choose Your Own Adventure Day.” Every kid in your family can have one (if they do their chores, of course) and the whole family has to play along all day long. Set some rules, like a budget or how far you’ll drive or no locking your little brother in the dog crate. For an added bonus, I let my son choose lunch or dinner on his special day.

  1. Homegrown Fun

Starting a home garden or container garden is an inexpensive, awesome educational experience that lasts the whole summer. Get some easy herbs you can all harvest and cook with together. Or watch tomatoes grow and let your kiddos decide what you make with your crop. BLTs? Salsa? Burgers? This is a great way to teach little ones responsibility. Have they been asking for a dog? Dare them to take care of a garden all summer first.

  1. Have a Water Balloon Fight

Summer and water are BFFs, right? Fill up a ridiculous amount of water balloons and let your little rascals do the rest. Throw some super soaker guns in the mix for older kids. Invite friends or make your water fight parents versus kids for an excuse to de-stress and hose your kids down all at the same time. (No need for a bath tonight!)

  1. Host a Garden Party

I happen to be one of those moms that loves any excuse to decorate and throw a party, so a garden party for kids is right up my alley. Make it easy by asking friends with kids to help do the prep. What’s in it for everyone? You get to dust off your Grandma Gloria’s tea set you’ve played with since you were a kid and your little girl gets to dress up in her princess best months before Halloween. It’s a total win-win.

  1. Pajama Party!

For those not-so-sunny days, try an all day PJ party. Pop popcorn, watch movies in your sleeping bags, and play board games. Let your kids do a makeover on you (pics or it didn’t happen) and bake brownies together. It seems so simple to you, but that’s the kind of stuff your kids will always remember.

  1. Give Back Together

Don’t let summer pass you by without helping others. Look for local, family-friendly opportunities to volunteer, donate, or give back in some way. Make sure it’s something that’s fun for your kids, like preparing for a community festival or helping at an animal shelter full of puppies. You could also have a yard sale and donate the proceeds (BONUS: you get to de-clutter!) or collect canned foods around the neighborhood with a wagon since food pantries are often bare this time of year.

  1. Put on a Show

From a living room art gallery to a backyard play, giving your child the opportunity to show off her individual creativity is a summer showstopper. The exhibit can be open to family or friends and neighbors. She can even make tickets and give them out to her VIP guests. Your kid will love the attention and appreciation for her hard work.  A production made by and starring herself? What kid could forget that? Or the awesome way you helped to pull it off?

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