Summer Fun on any Budget

While the current economy may not allow you to splurge on a vacation, that doesn't mean you can't have summer fun. Whether you're budgeting to keep the savings intact or on a strict budget to make ends meet, treat your kids to special summer fun. Earmark a small portion of your budget for simple and inexpensive good times that keep the kids happy and your wallet fat.

Water Fun

On a Budget

A day at the beach is always great fun and usually comes at a low entry fee. Take advantage of a nearby body of water and spend the day basking in the sun. Make it affordable by taking your own snacks, drinks, and lunch.

On a Strict Budget

A strict budget may not allow for a day at the beach so you'll need to think creatively. Consider a couple ideas for treating the kids to water fun, while still meeting your financial obligations.

Little ones are happy to splash in a small amount of water. Use a bucket, a large metal or plastic bowl or pan from the kitchen. Don't forget to take a wooden spoon for stirring from the kitchen and plastic cups for pouring.

A package of balloons and an outdoor water spigot creates an afternoon of wild, wet fun. Games like the water balloon toss, water balloon relay races, and dodge water balloons is a cool treat on a hot day. Be available to referee the raucous fun.

For a little more money, pick up a squirt gun for each of your children. On hot days let the kids cool off by squirting each other.

Running through sprinklers is an old family favorite. You may want to keep track of the time the sprinkler is on to keep the water bill in check.

Rainy Day Fun

On a Budget

Not every summer day will be hot and sunny, plan for times when rain is the weather du jour. With just a little extra money and a lot of creativity, you can prepare a summer fun box. Items for artistic projects make up the summer fun box. Include new crayons, markers, paints, glue, and paper for starters. Add sewing notions, like an assortment of buttons, sequins, lace, rickrack, feathers, for art fun. Keep the box just for rainy days.

On a Strict Budget

A family on a budget that does not allow for new art supplies can still make a fun summer box. Gather the leftover school supplies that your kids brought home. Sharpen dull crayons with an inexpensive sharpener. Pick up a bottle of glue, if you don't have one. While you're outdoors, keep an eye out for treasures like bird feathers, pretty stones, flowers for pressing, shells, sand, and other items from nature. Call your local newspaper and ask if you can have the end rolls of newsprint.

Party Fun

On Budgets

These party ideas are so cheap that any budget can allow for a little summer fun party with a theme. The most it will cost is some snacks and drinks for refreshment. Help your children make invitations on the computer or by hand using printer or copy paper. Hand deliver the invitations to friends.

Ideas for fun party themes include a dress-up party, a tea party, let's have a parade party, and old-fashioned game party. The dress-up party is self-explanatory. Just have each child bring a few clothing items to share with everyone.

Little girls love tea parties, so throw an inexpensive party. Set up a table outdoors and serve lemonade in cups and saucers along with homemade cookies. Combine dress-up and the tea party for an enchanting afternoon of fun.

The let's-have-a-parade party only requires that everyone show up at your house with a wagon, tricycle, or bicycle. Provide streamers for decorating the little vehicles. Face paint or dress up clothes can be included, if the budget allows. March the children around the neighborhood singing songs as they wheel and pedal. Serve simple inexpensive refreshments after the parade.

An old-fashioned game party brings children together to play games like red-rover, hide and seek, button, button who's got the button, Simon says, and more. With a little research at the library or online you can discover nearly forgotten childhood games from the past.

Refreshment ideas that cost little begin with homemade. Make cookies, brownies, or even ice cream sundaes at home. A pan of popcorn feeds many children, just add a drink like lemonade.

Even on a tight budget, you can come up with fun ideas for children during summer break. By keeping themes simple and refreshments inexpensive, children discover that it doesn't take money to have fun. Tailor parties and good times to what you have, financially and time wise. Libraries are free, as are most parks. Take advantage of what your town offers in the way of festivals and free fun. Perhaps an outdoor movie night at your local park or an evening picnic for a change of pace would keep the kids happy. The discovery that chasing fireflies and enjoying a slice of watermelon in the backyard can be just as much fun as going to a movie is a priceless lesson learned.

author: Teresa Opdycke

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